University of Jena

The University of Jena, officially the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (German: Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, abbreviated FSU, shortened form Uni Jena), is a public research university located in Jena, Thuringia, Germany.

Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Latin: Universitas Litterarum Jenensis
EstablishedFebruary 2, 1558 (1558-02-02)
Budget€ 372 million[1]
PresidentWalter Rosenthal
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
CampusUniversity town
AffiliationsCoimbra Group

The university was established in 1558 and is counted among the ten oldest universities in Germany. It is affiliated with six Nobel Prize winners, most recently in 2000 when Jena graduate Herbert Kroemer won the Nobel Prize for physics. In the 2023 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the university was awarded 189th place in the world. It was renamed after the poet Friedrich Schiller who was teaching as professor of philosophy when Jena attracted some of the most influential minds at the turn of the 19th century. With Karl Leonhard Reinhold, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, G. W. F. Hegel, F. W. J. Schelling and Friedrich Schlegel on its teaching staff, the university was at the centre of the emergence of German idealism and early Romanticism.

As of 2014, the university has around 19,000 students enrolled and 375 professors. Its current president, Walter Rosenthal, has held the role since 2014.


University of Jena around 1600. Jena was the center of Gnesio-Lutheran activity during the controversies leading up to the Formula of Concord.

Early history

Elector John Frederick of Saxony first thought of a plan to establish a university at Jena upon Saale in 1547 while he was being held captive by emperor Charles V. The plan was put into motion by his three sons and, after having obtained a charter from the Emperor Ferdinand I, the university was established on 2 February 1558. The university, jointly maintained by the Saxon Duchies who derived from partitioning of John Frederick's duchy, was thus named Ducal Pan-Saxon University (German: Herzoglich Sächsische Gesamtuniversität) or Salana (after the river Saale).

Prior to the 20th century, university enrollment peaked in the 18th century. The university's reputation peaked under the auspices of Duke Charles Augustus, Goethe's patron (1787–1806), when Gottlieb Fichte, G. W. F. Hegel, Friedrich Schelling, Friedrich von Schlegel and Friedrich Schiller were on its teaching staff.

Friedrich Schiller.

Founded as a home for the new religious opinions of the sixteenth century, it has since been one of the most politically radical universities in Germany. Jena was noted among other German universities at the time for allowing students to duel and to have a passion for Freiheit, which were popularly regarded as the necessary characteristics of German student life. The University of Jena has preserved a historical detention room or Karzer with famous caricatures by Swiss painter Martin Disteli.

In the latter 19th century, the department of zoology taught evolutionary theory, with Carl Gegenbaur, Ernst Haeckel and others publishing detailed theories at the time of Darwin's "Origin of Species" (1858). The later fame of Ernst Haeckel eclipsed Darwin in some European countries, as the term "Haeckelism" was more common than Darwinism.

In 1905, Jena had 1,100 students enrolled and its teaching staff (including Privatdozenten) numbered 112. Amongst its numerous auxiliaries then were the library, with 200,000 volumes; the observatory; the meteorological institute; the botanical garden; the seminaries of theology, philology, and education; and the well-equipped clinical, anatomical, and physical institutes.

After the end of the Saxon duchies in 1918, and their merger with further principalities into the Free State of Thuringia in 1920, the university was renamed as the Thuringian State University (Thüringische Landesuniversität) in 1921. In 1934 the university was renamed again, receiving its present name of Friedrich Schiller University. During the 20th century, the cooperation between Zeiss corporation and the university brought new prosperity and attention to Jena, resulting in a dramatic increase in funding and enrollment.

Nazi period

During the Third Reich, staunch Nazis moved into leading positions at the university. The racial researcher and SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Astel was appointed professor in 1933, bypassing traditional qualifications and process; he later became rector of the university in 1939. Also in 1933, many professors had to leave the university as a consequence of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. Student fraternities – in particular the Burschenschaften – were dissolved and incorporated into the Nazi student federation. The Nazi student federation enjoyed before the transfer of power and won great support among the student body elections in January 1933, achieving 49.3% of the vote, which represents the second best result. Between the Jena connections and the NS students wide-ranging human and ideological connections were recorded.

When the Allied air raids to Jena in February and March struck in 1945, the University Library, the university main building and several clinics in the Bachstraße received total or significant physical damage. Completely destroyed were the Botanical Garden, the psychological and the physiological institute and three chemical Institutes. An important event for the National Socialist period was the investigation of the pediatrician Yusuf Ibrahim. A Senate Commission noted the participation of the physician to the "euthanasia" murders of physically or mentally disabled children.


In the 20th century the university was promoted through cooperation with Carl Zeiss (company) and thereby enabling it to increase the student population as a mass university. In 1905 the university had 1,100 students and 112 university teachers, so this figure has since been almost twenty-fold. The Friedrich-Schiller University is the only comprehensive university in Thuringia.

Since 1995, there is a university association with the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg and the University of Leipzig. The aim is firstly to give the students the opportunity to visit with relatively few problems at the partner universities and events in order to broaden the range of subjects and topics. Currently e. g. has joined a cooperation in teaching in the field of bioinformatics. In addition, the cooperation provides the university management the opportunity to share experiences with their regular meetings and initiate common projects. So z. B. went from the successful bid to the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) from the university network. The co-operation continues at other levels: for example in a joint mentoring program for female postdocs or in the central German archives network. And last but not least, there are common sports activities.

Since October 2014, the pharmacologist Walter Rosenthal is the president of the university; Chancellor is since 2007 the mathematician Klaus Bartholmé.[4]


Inner courtyard with cafeteria of the Old University Building.
The Old University Building.
The new built Ernst-Abbe-Square

The university is organized in 10 schools:


University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[5]401–500 (2022)
QS World[6]352 (2023)
THE World[7]189 (2023)
USNWR Global[8]379 (2022)

Research at Friedrich Schiller University traditionally focusses on both humanities and sciences. In addition to the faculties the following "Collaborative Research Centers" (German "Sonderforschungsbereich", short: "SFB") operate at the university:

  • CRC 1076 AquaDiva : Understanding the Links Between Surface and Subsurface Biogeosphere
  • CRC/TR 124 FungiNet: Pathogenic fungi and their human host: Networks of interaction
  • CRC 1127 ChemBioSys: Chemical Mediators in Complex Biosystems
  • CRC/TR 166 ReceptorLight: High-end light microscopy elucidates membrane receptor function
  • CRC 1278 Polymer-based nanoparticle libraries for targeted anti-inflammatory strategiesde
  • CRC / TR 234 CataLIGHT: Light-driven Molecular Catalysts in Hierarchically Structured Materials – Synthesis and Mechanistic Studiesde
  • CRC 1375 NOA: Nonlinear Optics down to Atomic Scales

Participations in DFG-Collaborative Research Centres:

  • CRC 950 Manuskriptkulturen in Asien, Afrika und Europa
  • CRC/TRR 212 A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution: Niche Choice, Niche Conformance, Niche Construction

In 2006 the research center, Jena Center – History of the 20th century, was founded. In 2007 the graduate school "Jena School for Microbial Communication" (JSMC) was established within the German Universities Excellence Initiative. In 2008 the Center for Molecular Biomedicine (CMB) and the interdisciplinary research center Laboratory of the Enlightenment were developed as research institutions. 2014 the "Center of Advanced Research" (ZAF) was established.

Jena University is one of the founder of The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, that was founded in 2013. It is a research centre of the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Friedrich Schiller University is the only German university with chairs for either gravitational theory or Caucasus Studies.

Notable faculty and alumni

Museums and collections at the University

Among the collections which are open to the public are the Jena Phyletisches Museum, an institution which is unique in Europe for illustrating the history of evolution, the Ernst-Haeckel-Memorialmuseum, the Mineralogical Collection which traces its roots back to Goethe and the second oldest Botanical Garden of Middle Europe. The Schiller Gardenhouse (Schillers Gartenhaus) and the Goethe Memorial at the Botanical Garden are reminders of the two towering geniuses of Jena. Both buildings are also open to the public.

Oriental Collections / Papyrus Collection

  • The Alphons-Stübel-Collection of Early Photographs from the Orient (1857–1890)
  • Hilprecht Collection
  • Orientalisches Münzkabinett (OMJ)
  • Papyrus Collection

Archaeological Collections

  • Collection of Ancient Art
  • Collection of Plaster Casts of Ancient Sculpture
  • The Photo- and Slide Collection of the Institute of Classical Archaeology
  • The Collection of Prehistory and Early History
  • The Bilzingsleben collection
  • Departement of Art History and Custodia

Natural Sciences and Natural History

  • The Ernst-Haeckel-Haus
  • Zygomycetes (Mould Fungi)
  • Didactics of Biology
  • Herbarium Haussknecht (JE)
  • Botanical garden
  • Phyletic Museum

Mineralogy & Geology

  • Mineralogical Collection
  • Teaching Collection of Models for Mineralogy

History of Sciences

  • Collection of scientific and technical devices for physics
  • Astronomical collection


  • The Meyer Steineg Collection of Medical History in Jena
  • Anatomical Collection
  • Medical History
  • Goethe Memorial

See also

  • List of early modern universities in Europe


  1. "Budget and Infrastructure". University of Jena. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  2. "Staff". University of Jena. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  3. "Student Statistics". University of Jena. Archived from the original on 9 November 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  4. Klaus Bartholmé (FSU)
  5. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2022". ShanghaiRanking. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  6. "QS World University Rankings 2023". Top Universities. Retrieved 19 September 2022.
  7. "THE World University Rankings 2023". Times Higher Education. 4 October 2022. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
  8. "U.S. News Education: Best Global Universities 2022 – Friedrich Schiller University of Jena". Retrieved 17 December 2022.



  • Mayhew, Henry (1864): German Life and Manners as Seen in Saxony at the Present Day: With an Account of Village Life – Town Life – Fashionable Life – Domestic Life – Married Life – School and University Life, &c., of Germany at the Present Time: Illustrated with Songs and Pictures of the Student Customs at the University of Jena. In Two Volumes. London [Vol. II, Section VII, Chapter VI-XI: Student Life at Jena].
  • University of Jena Archived 6 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  • University of Jena, statistics Archived 29 July 2016 at the Wayback Machine (in German)
  • Norbert Nail: Der schottische Dichter Charles Hamilton Sorley als Student im Sommer 1914 an Saale, Lahn und Mosel (in German)
  • Norbert Nail: John Baillie – Schotte, Pastor, Student 1909/11 in Jena und Marburg. In: Studenten-Kurier 3/2017, pp. 16–18. (in German)
  • Norbert Nail: Ein tödliches Pistolenduell 1848 auf der Trießnitz in (Jena-)Winzerla. In: Studenten-Kurier 1-2/2019, pp. 12–17 (in German – a deadly student duel at Jena)
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