The Universities of the Black Forest College Visit: An Overview

This fall, we'll be visited five universities in the state of Baden-Württemberg, a region tucked away in a beautiful corner of the country bordering Bavaria, Switzerland, and France. To better help you know the region and its universities, we've put together an overview with a little history and information about the programs at each college we'll be visiting.

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Karlsruhe is the second largest city in Baden-Württemberg and the home of the Bundesverfassungsgericht, Germany's Supreme Court. The city has a long tradition of higher education going back to the founding of the University of Karlsruhe in 1825. The city's academic reputation has grown in prominence in subsequent years, culminating with the creation of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the result of the merger of the University of Karlsruhe with the Karlsruhe Research Center in 2009. 

KIT has an especially strong reputation in engineering, computer science and the natural sciences, and is a member of the TU9, an organization of the top technical universities in Germany. In rankings of Germany's engineering sciences departments, KIT's is regularly among the best, with a recent survey placing it number one in the country. Its Mechanical Engineering also received top marks in a recent countrywide poll of students.

Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg

Freiburg, the Jewel of the Black Forest, is both a popular hub of tourism in southwestern Germany as well as one of Germany's most famous centers of higher education. The University of Freiburg is the fifth oldest in Germany, and has hosted some of the greatest minds in the Western intellectual tradition, including Max Weber, Martin Heidegger, and Friedrich Hayek. Today, it maintains its reputation as one of the top public research universities in Europe.

The University of Freiburg is a comprehensive university, offering degrees in 11 academic departments, with particular strength in German Linguistics, Natural Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and Area Studies. The Economics department also has a long and distinguished history. For students interested in finding a middle ground between the German and American systems, Freiburg offers a unique bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts designed to give students a strong foundation across multiple disciplines. 

University of Konstanz

Although it did host the faculty of the University of Freiburg for a short time, Konstanz doesn't have the same historical importance as the other destinations on our tour. But in its 50 years, the University of Konstanz has quickly risen to a place of prominence within the German university community. The "Little Harvard" on Lake Constance was founded in 1966 as a "Reform University" and has become famous subsequently for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to higher education.

Unlike the other universities on our tour, the University of Konstanz is not a comprehensive university, and is much more focused on undergraduate studies. It has very strong degree programs in the natural sciences, for which it received extra funding from the federal government through the Excellence Initiative. Economics and Political Science are both also very strong at Konstanz, buttressed by the university's strong international collaborations. 

Eberhard Karls University Tübingen

With one student for every two residents, Tübingen is a true college town. Founded in 1477, it is the 7th oldest university in Germany and the largest college on our tour, with nearly 30,000 enrolled students. Like Freiburg, its prestigious history includes some of the greatest names in academic history, including Johannes Kepler and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Historically, Tübingen has been particularly famous for its Theology department, which even has an academic school of thought named after it. The university is also well-known for its programs in the humanities and social sciences, with very strong programs in linguistics, especially German Linguistics, and respected programs in Sociology and Political Science. 

University of Stuttgart

It shouldn't be a surprise that the home of Bosch and Daimler is also the location of one of Germany's top technical universities. The University of Stuttgart, founded in 1829, was also the alma mater of Gottlieb Daimler, and has educated many of Germany's engineers in the subsequent 150 years. 

The University of Stuttgart is mainly known as a technical university, with an excellent reputation in the fields of automotive engineering, process engineering, and aerospace engineering, and mainly offers programs related to engineering or the natural sciences. Like KIT, it is a member of the TU9 and is generally considered to be one of the top 5 technical universities in Germany. It also has the highest international enrollment of the universities we'll be visiting, with 20% of the student body coming from abroad.