Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg (German: Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg), also referred to as MLU, is a public, research-oriented university in the cities of Halle and Wittenberg and the largest and oldest university in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. MLU offers German and international (English) courses leading to academic degrees such as BA, BSc, MA, MSc, doctoral degrees, and Habilitation.

Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Latin: Universitas Hallensis
MottoZukunft mit Tradition
Motto in English
Future with Tradition
Established1502 (1502)
Budget€182.9 million[1]
RectorClaudia Becker
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,

ColorsEmerald green  
AffiliationsGlobal Compact

The university was created in 1817 through the merger of the University of Wittenberg (founded in 1502) and the University of Halle (founded in 1694). MLU is named after Protestant reformer Martin Luther, who was a professor in Wittenberg. Today, the university campus is located in Halle, while Leucorea Foundation in Wittenberg serves as MLU's convention centre. Both Halle and Wittenberg are about one hour from Berlin via the Berlin–Halle railway, which offers Intercity-Express (ICE) trains.


Diploma 1833 (Source: State Archive in Poznań (Posen))
Wittenberg University, Collegianstrasse, Wittenberg
Quadrangle, Wittenberg University

University of Wittenberg (Universität Wittenberg) was founded in 1502 by Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, as the Renaissance was becoming more and more popular.[3] The foundation of the university was heavily criticized, especially when Martin Luther's Ninety-five Theses reached Albert of Brandenburg, the Archbishop of Mainz. Ecclesiastically speaking, the Electorate of Saxony was subordinate to Albert. He criticized the elector for Luther's theses, viewing the recently founded university as a breeding ground for heretical ideas. Under the influence of Philipp Melanchthon, building on the works of Martin Luther, the university became a centre of Protestant Reformation, even incorporating, at one point in time, Luther's house in Wittenberg, the Lutherhaus, as part of the campus. Notable alumni include George Müller, Georg Joachim Rheticus and – in fiction – William Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet and Horatio and Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.

University of Halle (Universität Halle) was founded in 1694 by Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, who became Frederick I, King in Prussia, in 1701.

In the late 17th century and early 18th century, Halle became a centre for Pietism within Prussia.

The University of Halle in 1836.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the universities were centers of the German Enlightenment. Christian Wolff was an important proponent of rationalism. He influenced many German scholars, such as Immanuel Kant. Christian Thomasius was at the same time the first philosopher in Germany to hold his lectures not in Latin, but German. He contributed to a rational programme in philosophy but also tried to establish a more common-sense point of view, which was aimed against the unquestioned superiority of aristocracy and theology.

The institutionalisation of the local language (German) as the language of instruction, the prioritisation of rationalism over religious orthodoxy, new modes of teaching, and the ceding of control over their work to the professors themselves, were among various innovations which characterised the University of Halle, and have led to its being referred to as the first "modern" university, whose liberalism was adopted by the University of Göttingen about a generation later, and subsequently by other German and then most North American universities.[3]

The University of Wittenberg was closed in 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars. The town of Wittenberg was granted to Prussia in the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and the university was then merged with the Prussian University of Halle in 1817. It took its present name on 10 November 1933.

Nazi period

Under the Nazi regime, more than a dozen professors were expelled. Others were shifted to Halle-Wittenberg from universities regarded as "better" at the time, which led to the university being called an academic Vorkuta (after the largest center of the Gulag camps in European Russia).


Following the continental European academic tradition, MLU has 9 faculties, regrouping academic staff and students according to their field of studies (as opposed to the Anglo-Saxon collegiate university model):

Points of interest

  • MLU's botanical garden, founded in 1698.
  • MLU's historical observatory, built in 1788 by Carl Gotthard Langhans.

Cooperating research institutions

MLU's Lions' Hall ("Löwengebäude"), decorated with neoclassical frescos.
Central lecture hall ("Auditorium Maximum", in the background) and entry of Lions' Hall (in the front).
Thomasianum (office of MLU’s president and chancellor).

MLU is enclosed by a variety of research institutions, which have either institutional or personal links with the university or cooperate occasionally in their respective fields of studies:

  • The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • The Halle Institute for Economic Research
  • The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials
  • The Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe
  • The Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry
  • The Max Planck Research Unit for Enzymology of Protein Folding
  • The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
  • The Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics
  • The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research

Collegium musicum

Even though MLU is an academic, research oriented institution, not an academy of music or conservatory, the university has an academic orchestra, founded in 1779, and a rather prestigious[4] choir, founded in 1950, which together constitute the so-called Collegium musicum. Members are mostly gifted students of all faculties, but also academic staff and alumni. The university choir regularly performs at the international Handel Festival in George Frideric Handel’s birthplace, Halle.

Partner universities

MLU has many international partner universities, including:

Notable scholars

University Hospital, Halle.
Melanchthoneanum (on the right) and Juridicum (on the left).

Given the history[5] and reputation[6] of MLU, numerous notable personalities attended the institution, such as Nobel laureates Emil Adolf von Behring, Gustav Ludwig Hertz, Hermann Staudinger and Karl Ziegler, as well as Anton Wilhelm Amo (the first black Sub-Saharan African known to have attended a European university), Dorothea Erxleben (the first female medical doctor in Germany), Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, the Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America, and his son, Frederick Muhlenberg (the first Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States), and Hans Dietrich Genscher (Germany’s longest serving Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor).

Cultural references

University of Wittenberg is the alma mater of Prince Hamlet (as well as his acquaintances Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Horatio) in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, and Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.

See also

  • List of early modern universities in Europe


  1. "Berichterstattung 2015: Hochschulen des Landes im quantitativen Vergleich" (PDF) (in German). Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Wissenschaft und Digitalisierung des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-11. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  2. "About the university". University of Halle-Wittenbarg. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  3. "Britannica Online". Archived from the original on 2013-05-13. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
  4. In 2007, the "Johann Friedrich Reichardt University Choir", led by MLU’s musical director Jens Lorenz, was awarded the overall distinction "Gold – Excellent" in the "18th International Competition of Choral Music" in Verona, Italy for its performance with spiritual and secular a cappella works from the renaissance, baroque and romantic periods and the 20th century. In addition, the choir was awarded one of three special awards for the best interpretation of the compulsory piece "As Torrents in Summer" by Edward Elgar. Source: Martin Luther University (2008): MLU Yearbook 2007, p. 138
  5. Speler, Ralf-Torsten (2003): 'Die Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg', Erfurt: Sutton, ISBN 978-3-89702-482-3
  6. Due to rather homogeneous standards of teaching and research, German university rankings generally are far less significant than for many other countries. Nevertheless, for example, MLU’s faculty of economics outranks the University of Heidelberg, the oldest (and often considered as the foremost) German university, in 13 of 19 tested categories, according to the 2007 survey of German Academic Exchange Service."DAAD - University Ranking". Archived from the original on 2008-02-09. Retrieved 2008-02-10.


  • The New Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition. Chicago, 1988. ISBN 978-1593392925.
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