Bonn is one of the biggest universities in Germany, with around 28,000 students, 500 professors, 3,500 other academic staff and 4,800 technical and administrative staff (also at the university hospitals). It offers a very wide disciplinary spectrum comprising some ninety different degree programmes, from Agricultural Science to Tibetan Studies. This diversity is what characterises Bonn as a full-range university. The university is academically divided into seven faculties:
• Faculty of Law and Economics
• Faculty of Medicine
• Faculty of Philosophy
• Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
• Faculty of Agriculture
• Faculty of Catholic-Theology
• Faculty of Protestant Theology
Bonn is a modern research-centred university with a strong international orientation. Its academic and research profile features internationally renowned specialisations in the fields of Mathematics, Physics/Astronomy, Economics, Chemistry, Pharma Research, Biosciences, Genetic Medicine, Neurosciences and Philosophy/Ethics. Other disciplines, such as Geography and Law, are of outstanding importance within the German research scene. Bonn's identity as a research-oriented university means that success in research feeds back into our teaching programmes, where we set very high standards. Students are able to participate actively in research projects from an early stage in their courses. Around 3,000 students graduate each year in Bonn, and quite a few of them decide to pursue a career in science and academia.
The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn is rooted in a long tradition going back almost 200 years. It was founded in 1818 by Friedrich-Wilhelm III, the Prussian king whose name it bears. Imbued with the spirit of Wilhelm von Humboldt, the university quickly joined the circle of Germany's most distinguished universities and became a major pole of attraction for leading scholars as well as students. The list of famous professors ranges from the astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander (1799-1875), through the chemist August Kekulé von Stradonitz (1829–1896) and political economist Josef Schumpeter (1883–1950) to the philologist Ernst Robert Curtius (1886–1956) and the theologists Karl Barth (1886–1968) and Joseph Ratzinger (born 1927), now Pope Benedict XVI. Bonn's best-known students include Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Konrad Adenauer.
The University of Bonn has been very successful in attracting third-party funding for research. We currently run a number of collaborative research projects, including 13 Sonderforschungsbereiche [collaborative research centres], 16 Forschergruppen [research units], 7 Graduiertenkollegs [research training groups], and one BMBF-Forschungsschwerpunkt [research focus funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research]. Under the government's Excellence Initiative the University of Bonn has so far been granted a Cluster of Excellence (Mathematics/ Economics) and two Graduate Schools (Economics and Physic/Astronomy in collaboration with the University of Cologne). We can also boast a long list of award-winning scientists and scholars, with more than a dozen Leibniz Prize winners. Indeed, in the last 25 years two professors have received the Nobel Prize: Wolfgang Paul (for Physics, 1989) and Reinhard Selten (for Economics, 1994).
Employing a range of funding instruments, the university makes every effort to offer its top-level researchers the best possible conditions in which to work. High-achieving research fields are granted special allocations for staffing, facilities and materials. The university rewards successful bids for third-party with its own allocations under a bonus system und supports the best initiatives for new collaborative projects with seed money awarded through an internal competition. In this way, successful researchers receive recognition and reinforcement for their efforts.
As a research-oriented university, Bonn builds alliances with strong partners at all levels. Thus, it has developed close relations with the major research institutions in the region such as the Forschungszentrum Jülich, the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt (DLR), the Center for Advanced Studies and Research (caesar), the recently founded Deutsche Zentrum zur Erforschung neurodegenerativer Erkrankungen (DZNE) and the local institutes of the Fraunhofer Society and Max Planck Society. Cooperation agreements in both research and teaching also exist with 59 partner universities in five continents and other partners worldwide. International degree programmes and bilingual or purely English-language courses make the University of Bonn even more attractive for foreign students.
In Bonn, the university and the city are tightly intertwined. The university and the university hospitals are two of the region's biggest employers. The alma mater owns or uses more than 350 university buildings throughout the Bonn area. The most impressive building, located in the heart of the city, is undoubtedly the historic Main Building, which was originally the palatial residence of the prince elector and is now home to the Humanities and Theologies as well as the administration. Together with the adjacent Hofgarten park, this architectural landmark is an important ingredient of Bonn University’s unmistakable charm. Other important university sites include the nearby Juridicum (for Law and Economics) and the grand buildings in the Poppelsdorf district, housing Pre-clinical Medicine, Agriculture and Natural Sciences. The teaching hospitals are located above the city on Bonn's Venusberg.