University of Rostock

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University of Rostock
Universität Rostock
Siegel Universitat Rostock 1419.svg
Seal of the University of Rostock
Latin: Universitas Rostochiensis
Traditio et Innovatio
Motto in English
Tradition and Innovation
Type Public
EstablishedFebruary 13, 1419;603 years ago (1419-02-13)
Budget€214.4 million [1]
Chancellor Jan Tamm
Rector Wolfgang D. Schareck [2] (906th rector)
Academic staff
1,341 [1]
Administrative staff
963 [1]
Students13,766 [1]
1,322 [1]
Location, ,

54°4′32″N12°6′12″E / 54.07556°N 12.10333°E / 54.07556; 12.10333
Nobel Laureates 5
Colours Blue and Black and 
Affiliations EUA
Rostock University Logo 2009.png
University of Rostock's main building Rostock asv2018-05 img29 University.jpg
University of Rostock's main building

The University of Rostock (German: Universität Rostock) is a public university located in Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. Founded in 1419, [3] [4] [5] it is the third-oldest university in Germany. It is the oldest university in continental northern Europe and the Baltic Sea area, [5] and 8th oldest in Central Europe. [6] It was the 5th university established in the Holy Roman Empire.


The university has been associated with five Nobel laureates: Albrecht Kossel, Karl von Frisch, Otto Stern, Pascual Jordan, and Walter H. Schottky. It is a member of the European University Association. According to a ranking published by Times Higher Education in 2018, it is the most beautiful university in Germany and the fourth most beautiful university in all of Europe. [7] The language of instruction is usually German and English for some postgraduate studies.

Detail of the central building depicting the coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Schwerin Rostock Universitat 2.jpg
Detail of the central building depicting the coat of arms of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Memorial stone to the foundation of Rostock University, quadrangle of Wittenberg University Memorial stone to the foundation of Rostock University, quadrangle of Wittenberg University.jpg
Memorial stone to the foundation of Rostock University, quadrangle of Wittenberg University


The university was founded in 1419 by confirmation of Pope Martin V and thus is one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe.

In Germany, there are only five universities that were founded earlier, while only Heidelberg and Leipzig operated continuously since then: Heidelberg (1386), Cologne (1388), Erfurt (1392/1994), Würzburg (1402/1582) and Leipzig (1409). That makes Rostock University the third oldest German university in continuous operation.

Throughout the 15th and 16th centuries, the University of Rostock had about 400 to 500 students each year and was among the most important universities in Germany and Northern Europe at the time, with many of its students originating from the Low Countries, Scandinavia or other countries bordering the Baltic Sea.

In the course of political struggles and due to pressure from the church, the university moved to Greifswald in 1437 and remained there until 1443. From 1487 to 1488 teaching took place in Lübeck.

A few years after the city of Rostock, the university became Protestant in 1542. Henceforth, Humanism and Lutheranism were defining characteristics of the university. After the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), however, for about two centuries the University of Rostock played only a regional role. After the "ownership" of the university had moved from the city to the state (Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin) in 1827, however, things changed for the better. The second half of the 19th century saw generous building activity in Rostock's alma mater and the university soon regained its old reputation amongst German universities.


On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the university, Albert Einstein and Max Planck received honorary doctorates on 12 November 1919. This made the University of Rostock the world's first institute of higher learning to award this honour to Einstein. The doctorate was not revoked during the Nazi rule in Germany (1933–1945), despite such orders by the Nazis. The reason for this remains unknown. Psychologist David Katz and professor of dentistry and dean of the medical faculty Hans Moral  [ de ] lost their posts in 1933 among others.


The end of the Second World War in 1945 brought many changes. The university, now finding itself in the Soviet Zone of Germany (the later German Democratic Republic), was re-opened on 24 February 1946. The Faculty of Law was closed in 1951, a Faculty of Agriculture was introduced in 1950 and in 1951 saw the opening of a Department of Shipbuilding (renamed Faculty of Technology in 1963). The University of Rostock was the first traditional university in Germany to open a technical faculty. In 1952, the Faculty of Aviation was opened, but eventually relocated to Dresden.

In 1976 the university was renamed Wilhelm-Pieck-Universität after Wilhelm Pieck, the first president of the German Democratic Republic. The renaming was annulled after the German reunification.

1989 to present

External funding increased by 83 % between 2005 and 2010 alone and currently is above 47 million Euros per year. Over 500 million Euros have been invested in the university infrastructure since 1991, reaching 750 million Euros by 2015. The numbers of young people from Germany and of international students who choose Rostock as a place to study are increasing every year. As of today, students from at least 99 different countries have studied at Rostock. In 2007, the University of Rostock reorganized its research capacities into three profile lines: Life, Light & Matter, Maritime Systems, and Aging of Individuals and Societies. In 2010, a fourth profile was added, called Knowledge - Culture - Transformation.

Organization and structure

Like many continental European universities, the University of Rostock is divided into academic faculties (German: Fakultät). Those can be sub-divided into academic departments (German: Institut) and chairs (German: Lehrstuhl).


It is divided into the following nine faculties:

  • Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
    • Plants and Soil
    • Ecology and (Coastal)-Landscape
    • Biomass, Aqua and Livestock Sciences
  • Faculty of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
    • Institute of Computer Science
    • Institute for Visual and Analytic Computing
    • Institute of Electrical Engineering
    • Department of Computational Engineering
  • Faculty of Law
    • Department of Law
    • International Commercial Law
    • International Business Administration
  • Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Marine Technology
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Marine Technology
    • Mechatronics
    • Biomedical Technology
  • Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
    • Institute of Biology
    • Institute of Chemistry
    • Institute of Mathematics
    • Institute of Physics
  • Faculty of Medicine
    • Albrecht Kossel Institute for Neuroregeneration
    • General Medicine
    • Dental Medicine
    • Anatomy
    • Medical Biotechnology
    • Informatics in Medicine and Gerontology
    • Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology
    • Experimental Surgery
    • History of Medicine
    • Immunology
    • Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
    • Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    • Medical Biology
    • Medical Genetics
    • Medical Microbiology
    • Medical Psychology and Sociology
    • Pathology
    • Pharmacology and Toxicology
    • Physiology
    • Proteome Center Rostock
    • Forensic Medicine
    • Transfusion Medicine
    • Institute of Experimental Gene Therapy and Tumor Research
    • Cell Biology
  • Faculty of Humanities
    • Department of Educational Science
    • Institute of General and Social Pedagogy
    • Institute of Educational Psychology Rosa and David Katz
    • Institute for Teacher Education
    • Department of English Language
    • Department of German Studies
    • Department of Romance Language
    • Heinrich Schliemann Institute of Classical Studies
    • Institute of History
    • Institute for Media Research
    • Institute of Philosophy
    • Institute of Sports Science
    • Institute of Folklore
    • Moritz Schlick Research Centre
    • Centre for Logic, Philosophy and History of Science (ZLWWG)
  • Faculty of Theology
    • Institute of Image Theory
    • Institute of Text and Culture
  • Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences
    • Institute of Business Administration
    • Institute of Marketing and Services Research
    • Institute of Sociology and Demography
    • Institute of Political and Administrative Sciences
    • Institute of Economics


Rostock University Library

Michaeliskloster, part of the Rostock University Library (Special Historical Library Collections) Michaeliskloster.jpg
Michaeliskloster, part of the Rostock University Library (Special Historical Library Collections)

The Rostock University Library consists of 3 divisional libraries and several specialized libraries provides scientific literature and information for research, education and study. The university statistics shows about 3 million physical volumes recorded in the catalogue. It provides access to electronic journals (EZB) and specialized databases (DBIS). The library possesses large special collections of culturally historical and scientifically historical old books. [8] In the Patents and Standards Centre (PNZ), all DIN norms and regulations as well as the VDI guidelines are provided. [9] Moreover, the library also contains the university archive and the art treasure collection. [10]

Rostock Student Services

The Rostock Student Services (German: Studentenwerk Rostock) provides accommodation for newly arrived international students who plan to study at the University of Rostock and the Rostock University of Music and Theatre. International students, who have not lived or studied in Germany, are considered for a Starter Package service. However, short-time students and students on a programme (ERASMUS; Sokrates) are given a low priority. [11]

Rostock University Hospital

The university operates a hospital, which has several teaching and research institutes. [12] Among those are the Albrecht Kossel Institute for Neuroregeneration.

Points of interest

The Rostocker Pfeilstorch, on display at the Institute of Zoology Rostocker Pfeilstorch.jpg
The Rostocker Pfeilstorch , on display at the Institute of Zoology

Academic profile


University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World [13] 501–600 (2019)
QS World [14] 701–750 (2021)
USNWR Global [15] 624 (2020)

University of Rostock was ranked in 2014: 401–500 in the world in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities. [16]

The CWTS Leiden Ranking ranked University of Rostock as 405th in 2014. [17]

Moreover, QS World University Rankings ranked University of Rostock as 551st within the top universities in 2015. [18]

However, Times Higher Education World University Rankings has not listed University of Rostock within the top 400 universities since 2011. [19]

In 2014, the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) ranked University of Rostock as 481st in the world. [20]

According to the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP), Rostock University was ranked as 34th in Germany and 428th in the world in 2014. [21]

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranked University of Rostock among 101–150 in Chemistry in the world in 2014. [22] In 2014, the CWTS Leiden Ranking ranked University of Rostock in the world as 269th in Natural Sciences, 336th in Life Sciences, 463rd in Medical Sciences, 449th in Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering, and 245th in Cognitive Science. [23] According to the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP), Rostock University was ranked 224th worldwide in Chemistry in 2014. [24]


In recent years, the University of Rostock has undergone significant conceptual and organisational changes, which included the bundling of competences and research activities in the interdisciplinary, cross-faculty departments of the Interdisciplinary Faculty. Scientific priorities of the faculties have improved by including the interdisciplinary-based research units: Collaborative Research Centres, Research Training Groups, and Research Units. [25]

The university cooperates with several independent research centres. Among those:

Partner universities

Although cooperation and student exchanges are possible with many more institutions, the university has signed cooperation agreements with the following international universities:

Notable alumni and faculty

Honorary doctorate certificate of Rostock University to Albert Einstein in 1919 Ehrenpromotion Albert Einstein.jpg
Honorary doctorate certificate of Rostock University to Albert Einstein in 1919

In nearly six centuries numerous notable students and professors have had ties with the university, for instance:

550 years Rostock University: Stamp of the GDR from 1969 Stamps of Germany (DDR) 1969, MiNr 1519.jpg
550 years Rostock University: Stamp of the GDR from 1969

See also

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