University is organised into ten schools, each of which has several centres, and four independent special centres:
Centre for the Study of Law and Governance: Founded in 2001, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance is a special interdisciplinary centre focussing on critical social science approaches in its attempt to explore how practices of law and governance are embedded in political, economic, social and historical processes; how practices of governance are dispersed over various sites ranging from the government, bureaucracy, judiciary, community and family; the socio-legal processes that deter or provide access to justice; and notions of governmentality, sovereignty and rights in specific politico-jural regimes.
School of Arts and Aesthetics: This is one of the newest schools in the university. It is one of the few places in India that offers post-graduate degree courses in the theoretical and critical study of the cinematic, visual and performing arts. Moreover, it is the only place in India where these disciplines are offered in one integrated programme that allows students to understand the individual arts in a broader context of history, sociology, politics, semiotics, gender and cultural studies apart from being able to integrate the study of one art form with the other arts. The three streams of study offered at the school are Visual Studies, Theatre and Performance Studies and Cinema Studies.
School of Biotechnology: This school was set up in 2006 from the earlier Center for Biotechnology. BioSpectrum magazine rated the Bio Technology program of JNU as third ranking institute among all public schools in India.
School of Computer and Systems Sciences: Since its inception in 1974, this school has been attracting the largest number of applications as compared with the other schools. The school specially caters to three fields of study: Master of Computer Application (MCA), Master of Technology (M.Tech.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The faculty and students deal with a wide range of computer science and technology areas, for example: Database Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Networks, Operation Research, Mathematical Modelling, Optimization Techniques, Software Engineering and many more. A student placement cell facilitates the students to enter the global IT market after completion of the course.
School of Environmental Sciences: Research into remote sensing application in geosciences, especially groundwater and earthquake forewarning and Sun-Earth connection. Other research includes Environmental Biosciences, Ecology, Geomics, Glaciology, Chemistry, Cell Biology, Immunology, Pollution studies, Radiation Physics and Environmental Physics.
School of International Studies: This is the oldest school. It predates the establishment of JNU as the Indian School of International Studies, which was set up in 1955. The centers in this school are the Center for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, the Center for East Asian Studies, the Center for European Studies, the Center for International Legal Studies, the Center for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament Studies, the Center for International Trade and Development, the Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies, the Center for South, Central, Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific Studies, the Center for West Asian Studies, Centre for African Studies and the Group of Comparative Politics & Political Theory.
School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies: This is the only school that offers undergraduate courses with several centers: the Center for Arabic and African Studies, the Center for Chinese and South East Asian Studies, the Center for French and Francophone Studies, the Center for German Studies, the Center of Indian Languages, the Center for Japanese Korean and North East Asian Studies, the Center for English Studies, the Center for Linguistics, the Center for Persian and Central Asian Studies, the Center for Russian Studies, the Center for Spanish, Portuguese, Italian & Latin American Studies.
School of Life Sciences: The School of Life Sciences (SLS) was established on the basis of a report prepared by a working group headed by Prof. M.S. Swaminathan in 1970. The school stands today as a unique institution in the country where multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and research in life sciences have established permanent roots. The uniqueness of the school essentially lies in the fact that in the faculty there are experts and active researchers representing almost all areas of modern biology. The school has been recognized as Center of Excellence under UGC-COSIST and DSA Special Assistance Programmes. Almost all the students completing Ph.D. degrees from SLS (285 till date) get opportunities for post-doctoral work abroad, and a great many return to serve the country. The school’s faculty and students publish extensively in reputed national and international journals: To date, SLS has to its credit over 2000 research publications.
School of Physical Sciences: This school was formed in 1986 with a faculty in Physics and later added with faculties in Chemistry and Mathematics. The degree programs offered are M.Sc. (in Physics) and Ph.D. (in Physics, Chemistry or Mathematics). The areas of research interests include Theoretical and Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, Soft-Matter Physics, Non-equilibrium Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Field Theory, Classical and Quantum Chaos, Low Temperature Physics, Materials Science, Supramolecular Chemistry, Ultrafast Laser Spectroscopy, as well as extensive computational facilities with a dedicated Nonlinear Dynamics laboratory.
School of Social Sciences: It is the largest school (in terms of the number of faculty members) in JNU with nine centres. Its centers include the Center for the Study of Regional Development, which is accredited as the Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) by the University Grants Commission and is the premier center in the field of geography, the Center for Economic Studies and Planning , which is a premier institute in the field of economics, the Center for Historical Studies, which regularly brings out a reputed peer-reviewed journal Studies in History, the Center for Philosophy, the Center for Political Studies, the Center for Studies in Science Policy, the Center for the Study of Social Systems, the Center of Social Medicine and Community Health, the Zakir Husain Center for Educational Studies,
In addition, the university has exchange programmes and academic collaboration through the signing of MoUs with 71 universities around the world. The University has also sent a proposal to set up a Center in Bihar.
The university has been modernising by moving toward "paperless" transparency and e-governance with the help of Wipro and a wireless network to connect the students and the teachers to the library.
The university is known to have a long tradition of alumni who now occupy important political and bureaucratic positions (see Prominent alumni). This is in part due to the strong prevalence of Left-Centric student politics and the existence of a written constitution for the university to which noted Communist Party leader Prakash Karat contributed exhaustively during his education at JNU. However, on 24 October 2008 the Supreme Court of India stayed the JNU elections and banned the JNUSU for not complying with the recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee. After a prolonged struggle and multi-party negotiations, the ban was lifted on 8 December 2011. After a gap of more than four years, interim elections were scheduled again on 1 March 2012. Following the election results declared on 3 March 2012, AISA candidates won all four central panel seats and Sucheta De, the president of AISA became the president of JNUSU.
Communism wall painting in Jawaharlal Nehru University, based on Picasso's Guernica mural.
The International Student's Association (ISA) is an official Jawaharlal Nehru University body. It was instituted in 1985 with a view to promoting friendly relations and cultural exchange. The ISA has a constitution and elected executive, cultural, advisory and financial committees. All foreign students of JNU are also members of the FSA. The university has 133 international students.