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Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Coordinates: 51°29′11″N 11°58′08″E / 51.48639°N 11.96889°E / 51.48639; 11.96889
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Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Latin: Universitas Hallensis
MottoZukunft mit Tradition
Motto in English
Future with Tradition
Established1502; 522 years ago (1502)
Budget€182.9 million[1]
RectorClaudia Becker
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,

51°29′11″N 11°58′08″E / 51.48639°N 11.96889°E / 51.48639; 11.96889
ColorsEmerald green  
AffiliationsGlobal Compact

Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (German: Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg), also referred to as MLU, is a public research university in the cities of Halle and Wittenberg. It is 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.

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.


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 to propagate the principles of Renaissance humanism.[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[edit]

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):

  • Faculty of Theology
  • Faculty of Law and Economics
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • Faculty of Philosophy I (Social and Cultural Studies, History, Archaeology and Art History)
  • Faculty of Philosophy II (Ancient and Modern Languages, Communication Studies, Music)
  • Faculty of Philosophy III (Paedagogy)
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences I (Biochemistry, Biology, Pharmacy)
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences II (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics)
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences III (Agriculture, Geology, Computer Science)

Points of interest[edit]

Cooperating research institutions[edit]

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:

Collegium musicum[edit]

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[edit]

MLU's international partner universities include:


University rankings
Overall – Global & National
QS World 2024[5] 611–620 36
THE World[citation needed]
ARWU World 2023[6] 601–700 37–40
QS Europe[citation needed]
QS Employability[citation needed]
THE Employability[citation needed]

The university is recognized in several university ranking systems. In the 2024 QS World University Rankings, it was placed in the 611–620 bracket worldwide and ranked 36th nationally.[5] Similarly, the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) positioned the university within the 601–700 range globally and between 37th and 40th at a national level in its 2023 edition.[6]

Notable scholars[edit]

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

Given the history[7] and reputation 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 Georg Cantor (mathematician known for set theory and the theory of infinity), Hermann Ebbinghaus (psychologist who pioneered the experimental study of memory), Anton Wilhelm Amo (the first coloured 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[edit]

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 of the titular magician in Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "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 11 August 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  2. ^ "About the university". University of Halle-Wittenbarg. Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Britannica Online". Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  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. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2024". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 16 July 2023.
  6. ^ a b "2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities". Academic Ranking of World Universities. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  7. ^ Speler, Ralf-Torsten (2003): 'Die Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg', Erfurt: Sutton, ISBN 978-3-89702-482-3


External links[edit]