The Helmut Schmidt University

Mission Statement

The Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg is a place of science. She lives the idea of ​​education through science. Like its founder and namesake, she sees science as “a search for knowledge that is committed to social responsibility”. The university is located in an international research landscape through competitive basic and applied research. The quality of their teaching arises from the free research activities of their academic members.

With excellent research and teaching, the university is a scientific partner of the federal government and strives to open up further, particularly in the context of European integration. At the same time, it strengthens Hamburg as a science location. It is committed to the ideal of a diversity of disciplines and scientific cultures as well as international scientific cooperation.

The university provides its military and civilian students with technical expertise and a science-based ability to criticize and judge. Its degrees are equivalent to those of the civil universities, and thus it makes a significant contribution to the attractiveness of the Bundeswehr as an employer. Through research and teaching, she also develops the academic basis of the citizen in uniform and the inner leadership.

The university thus makes a significant contribution to the qualification of officers for complex tasks in a multinational environment. The university manages its academic affairs itself and thus, as a Bundeswehr institution, maintains its academic independence. It is a campus university in a growing metropolitan area. It is a place where gender equality and diversity are lived. She pays particular attention to promoting young academics. Its modern administration supports the scientists in research and teaching as well as in self-administration and actively faces the challenges of digital change.

(Resolved in the 481st session of the Academic Senate on April 11, 2019)


Teaching and Studying

The most obvious feature distinguishing our academic organisation is the fact that our academic year is divided into trimesters, i.e. into three lecture blocks of twelve weeks each, followed by only one lecture-free period per year (from July through September). All academic programmes are designed as intensive study programmes, which means that students can obtain up to 75 ECTS credit points per academic year. For this reason, the standard duration of study at the HSU is much shorter than at public universities. Students can graduate with a bachelor’s degree after seven trimesters and with a master’s degree after another five trimesters, which means the standard period of study on a master’s programme is merely twelve trimesters (four years). Students at Bundeswehr universities finish their studies with a master’s degree as standard degree. Every student who has accumulated the 180 credit points necessary to obtain a bachelor’s degree in the 7th trimester (or in the 8th trimester at the latest) is admitted to the master’s programme.


In terms of research, the Helmut Schmidt University is closely connected to other universities, non-university research facilities and industrial companies both in the city of Hamburg and its metropolitan area: For example, the university forms part of the Hamburg Aviation Cluster, one of the first excellence clusters distinguished by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and with a total subsidy volume of 80 million Euros. Moreover, it is a partner in the BIOCATALYSIS2021 research cluster that develops biotechnological procedures for industrial production processes—the so-called white biotechnology. The HSU also cooperates with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht in terms of materials research. On this field, both institutions are worldwide leaders in their respective disciplines. In cooperation with the University of Hamburg, the Hamburg University of Technology, the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and the HafenCity University Hamburg, the Renewable Energy Hamburg research cluster was created. It is now one of the focal points of research at the HSU. In the field of international relations and regional governance, the HSU cooperates with the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA). Together with the Kiel Institute for the World Economy we conduct research projects concerning key issues of environmental, climate and development economics. Research clusters established at the HSU focus on cognitive science, aeronautical research and sustainable energy supply. In 2019, around 13 million Euros from external funds were spent on research.


The variety of the different fields of study allows for a unique approach: establishing cross-departmental interconnections between the different subjects by interdisciplinary studies. These interdisciplinary studies are an obligatory component in all available study programmes. Their purpose is to improve the students’ ability to reflect, analyse and take action, and to enable them to take responsible decisions and measures in the areas of politics, society, culture, economy and technology. Students of mechanical engineering, for instance, have the opportunity to study the “History of Ethics” or “Governance in Western Democracies”. Students of political science, on the other hand, can also attend seminars on “Astronomy and Optics” or learn something about “Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia”.

Campus University

Most students enjoy affordable accommodation in the university’s living quarters only a few minutes’ walk from the education and research facilities. These short distances enable our students to organise their academic life effectively and keep in close contact with their fellow students. This is an extraordinary feature compared to other universities in Germany. Several on-campus sports facilities with gyms and fitness rooms, an indoor swimming pool, a sports field and small sports grounds provide attractive opportunities for students to spend their free time. Our academic sports programme includes almost everything from American Football to kite surfing and triathlon.

Organisational Structure

In addition to the organizational areas for research and teaching (with the four administratively self-sufficient departments) and a central administration that ensures university operations, there is a so-called Students’ Section at the universities of the Bundeswehr. It forms a military structure — parallel to the academic departments — which is entrusted with the supervision of the student soldiers and ensures the continuity of studies. In addition, the Students’ Section organizes military training courses that serve to maintain individual basic military skills.


The university library of the Helmut Schmidt University is characterized by the highest quality of service and customer orientation.

In addition to the classic offers of a scientific library, an excellent media inventory and a broad portfolio of digital resources are offered, which cover the range of subjects at the HSU: 711,000 titles (including approx. 142,000 eBooks), approx. 1,600 current print journals and approx. 66,000 electronic journals in full text.

The systematic, balanced and continuous inventory building and the high level of networking with competent partners in the library network of Hamburg, in Germany and with information providers worldwide, are the central basis for research, study and teaching at the Helmut Schmidt University.

The library’s offerings are open to teachers and learners from Helmut Schmidt University, students and scientists from other universities and also to all those interested in knowledge and education.

Continuing Education

In continuing education, the university has set itself the goal of being an internationally oriented science partner of the federal government. The maxim for action is to realise high-quality continuing education programmes, above all as a cooperation partner with public employers, and of course in particular as a partner of the Bundeswehr. The programmes serve in particular to develop executives in federal ministries and subordinate areas at a high scientific level.

On behalf of the faculties, the Centre for Scientific Continuing Education (ZWW), as the central institution of the university, organises the continuing education measures. The ZWW’s cooperation partners are, for example, the Bundeswehr Command and Staff College, the Bundeswehr Central Medical Service, the Federal Ministry of Finance and NATO’s Civil-Military Cooperation Centre of Excellence (CCOE) in The Hague (NL). The ZWW is committed to the idea of education through science and the concept of lifelong learning and follows the guidelines of the European (EQF) as well as the German Qualifications Framework (DQR).

The portfolio of continuing education measures includes, in addition to certificate programmes and individual measures for leadership development, the degree programmes Military Leadership and International Security (M. A.), Civil-Military Interaction (M. A.), Leadership in Medicine (M. Sc./M. A.), Behavioural Leadership (MBA), Leadership in Financial Management (M. A.) and International Procurement Cooperation (MPA).

Equality, Gender and Diversity

In accordance with its mission statement, the university advocates diversity and equal opportunities in study and teaching, research and administration, also in order to strengthen the university as an attractive place to study and an employer. An equal opportunities officer is responsible for the civil and military sectors. These are involved, among other things, in all personnel, organizational and social measures of the agency that relate to equality between women and men, the elimination of underrepresentations, the compatibility of family, care and work, and protection against sexual harassment at work. Other areas of activity are protection against discrimination, diversity and the provision of extensive information. The Academic Senate has set up its own Senate Committee for Equal Opportunities, which deals with the general requirements of diversity-oriented and equitable university development at the scientific, administrative and organizational levels. The university’s guideline for protection against discrimination and the use of violence for relatives and guests, developed by the committee, implements efforts to create a university culture that is sensitive to discrimination.

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Facts and Figures 2022

Letzte Änderung: 29. September 2023