University of the German Federal Armed Forces

Thursday, 26 November 2020 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Hamburg, Universities, Colleges, Academies

Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg - Campus © Reinhard Scheiblich

Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg – Campus © Reinhard Scheiblich

The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) runs two universities: one in Munich, (Bundeswehr University Munich) and another in Hamburg (Helmut Schmidt University – which focus on the scientific work and the academic study of the German armed forces’ officers. Unlike other nations’ military academies, both universities only offer courses of study which have almost no relation to the military and correspond to courses at regular German universities. All professors at both universities are civilians. The future officers, who must serve for at least 13 years (16 for pilots), obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree comparable to the academic degrees granted at the other universities in Germany. Students at the Federal Armed Forces Universities need at least four academic years to achieve the master’s degree. Since 2003, civilian students have also been admitted to study at the universities of the Federal Armed Forces, provided that spaces for enrollment are available and that industrial companies are willing to underwrite the costs. The academic program at the universities of the Federal Armed Forces can be finished faster than at civilian universities because the curriculum contains about one third more content per year (trimesters instead of semesters are utilized). In exchange, the officers and officer candidates are fully paid and do not have to work in their free time.

The Helmut Schmidt University, located in Hamburg, was founded in 1973 at the initiative of the then-Federal Minister of Defence, Helmut Schmidt. Teaching first started in Autumn of 1973. In general, it is accessible only to officers and officer candidates of the Bundeswehr, hence its original name. However, since it started teaching, there have been cooperation agreements with allied countries, on the basis of which a handful of selected officers from these states have been able to study in Hamburg. Since 2002 there has been a small number of civilian students at the university. A prerequisite for studying as a civilian at the Helmut Schmidt University is a business scholarship. These scholarships are usually awarded by foundations with close relationships to industry – thus, these students are at least indirectly being supported by their future employer, usually large companies. As of 2011 training costs are currently 6000 euros (humanities), 8000 euros (economics) or 10000 euros (engineering) per academic year.

The academic division takes care of teaching and research, to which end it maintains 4 faculties. The number of departments was designed so as to allow for intensive study through teaching in small groups, and for the pursuing of research at the same time: Faculty of Electrical Engineering: 13 professorships, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering: 7 departments, 19 professorships, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences: 9 departments, 27 professorships and Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences: 19 departments, 40 professorships.

The personal guidance, training and education of the studying officers and officer candidates is the responsibility of the “Studentenbereich” (SB) or “Student Division”. The Studentenbereich is headed by an officer of the rank of Colonel or Captain at Sea. Apart from headquarters staff, he oversees 3 “Studentenfachbereiche” (SFB) or “Student Department”. These are headed by a Lieutenant Colonel or Commander: Student Department A: Engineering, Student Department B: Educational sciences, History and Student Department C: Political and Economic Sciences. Usually sorted by year, one Student Department currently has 6 (SFB A and B) or 8 (C) “Studentenfachbereichsgruppen” (SFBG) or Student Department Groups, headed by an army Captain or a naval Captain Lieutenant. In the course of the reforms of army training and the correspondingly higher student numbers in 2007 and 2008, 2 more group leaders per Student Department were added for the period 2007-2011, which meant an increase from 4 to 6, or 6 to 8 for SFB C. The staff-student ratio is currently at around 140 to 180 studying officers and officer candidates per group leader. Apart from the administrative management of the soldiers, the Student Division takes care of military training and advanced education so as to maintain the necessary educational level. If compared with a normal military unit, the Student Division would be equivalent to a regiment, the Departments to a battalion and the Groups to companies.


Bundeswehr University Munich - Main library © Hiwimunich

Bundeswehr University Munich – Main library © Hiwimunich

Bundeswehr University Munich (UniBw München) was founded in 1973 as part of the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr). As an uncommon feature amongst German universities Universität der Bundeswehr München unifies a more theoretical research university division and a more practical-oriented College of Applied Sciences branch.> Today, the university has an increasing number of civilian and international students. The academic year at the university is structured in trimesters and not the usual semesters, to offer intensive studies with more credit points per year. Very capable students can therefore achieve a bachelor’s and a master’s degree within less than four years, while this would usually require five years. Universität der Bundeswehr München has well-established scientific research and forms part of two excellence clusters of the German government’s university excellence initiative. Bundeswehr University is one of only very few campus universities in Germany.

Similar to some other military run universities like the École Polytechnique the university only offers civilian study courses. The contents generally have no relation to the military and correspond to courses at regular German universities. Bachelor´s and Master´s studies in total consist of 400 ECTS credit points. Due to this there also is a small number of highly gifted civilian students who are sponsored by industrial and financial companies like Allianz, Bosch or Munich Re. In addition to that other German ministries and federal institutions like Federal Intelligence Service also educate some of their employees at the university. In cooperation with George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies a course of studies for senior leaders (International Strategic Studies) has been introduced. The university also has international students and offers individual mentoring and tutoring programmes. Universität der Bundeswehr has concluded partnership contracts with an increasing number of international universities. Furthermore, it is possible for civilians to receive a doctorate or to qualify as a university lecturer (Habilitation). All of the professors are civilians and the number of professors per student is significantly higher than at normal German universities. Thus in general the conditions for teaching are better. In autumn 2009 the university introduced the first military related engineering course of study called Defence Engineering, which is solely dedicated to civilian students from industrial companies and federal institutions. Military students of the university usually only have a maximum of 4 years to pass their Master’s within the intensive studies with more content. If they do not finish their Bachelor’s after 2 1/4 years with the necessary grades they cannot proceed. As the studies have to be finished in a shorter time than at common German universities the academic year consists of three trimesters instead of the normal two semesters.

The university is well established in different fields of research, especially when it comes to aeronautical engineering (e.g. participation in the GALILEO satellite program and development of different parts of space probes), computer-driven cars and information security. Bundeswehr University has the largest aviation and aerospace faculty in Germany. A main focus of the university are all kinds of security technology. The university is part of two excellence clusters of the German government universities excellence initiative (Cognition for Technical Systems and Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics) The university hosts the ESA Summer School on Global Navigation Satellite Systems and the Munich Satellite Navigation Summit. Bundeswehr University forms part of the joint research and academic center Munich Aerospace, founded in 2010 and the Bavarian International Campus Aerospace & Security, founded in 2012. The university also has a number of partner companies which rely on the universities research expertise and support the university with products and facilities for testing and research. To strengthen its research profile and enhance cooperation between the faculties, Bundeswehr University Munich has created several interdisciplinary research centers: SPACE, MOVE (Modern Vehicles), RISK (Risk, Infrastructure, Security and Conflict), MARC (Military Aviation Research Center), CODE (Cyber Defence). CODE is planned to have around 250 research personnel for Cyber Security. Germany’s federal cyber security research agency Central Office for Information Technology in the Security Sector is to be moved with 400 employees to the Neubiberg campus of Universität der Bundeswehr München until 2023. With both organizations on campus the federal government aims to build up a cluster for cyber defence and security unique of its kind within Germany. In 2017 new Center for Intelligence and Security Studies (CISS) was created by the Universität der Bundeswehr München in cooperation with the Federal University for Public Administration, Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). Besides training future senior intelligence personnel the Center is engaged in intelligence and security research.

Read more on Helmut Schmidt University/Bundeswehr University Hamburg, Bundeswehr University Munich and Wikipedia University of the German Federal Armed Forces (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.








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