Geiger's "General Introduction to the Science of Judaism," "Introduction to the Biblical Writings," and "Lectures on Pirḳe Abot" were originally delivered as lectures at the seminary.
They taught in the spirit of the Wissenschaft des Judentums movement. Teachers included some of the best German-Jewish teachers: Hanokh Albeck, Ismar Elbogen, Julius Guttmann, Franz Rosenthal, and Leo Baeck.
Moritz Steinschneider referred to the Hochschule as a "new ghetto of Jewish learning," which he felt could ultimately not produce the standards of scholarship achieved in the university setting .
Officially the institution was not affiliated with a movement or denomination. It sought free inquiry and research without any restrictions. The "Lehranstalt" stood for a conservative Judaism; but its main object is the scientific study of things Jewish, freed as far as possible from denominational disputes. There was no religious test for professors but it was assumed that all of the faculty lived according to the Jewish tradition and were fluent in Hebrew. The school was never dependent on any religious or public organization. Therefore, the board was constantly engaged in raising money from wealthy contributors, sponsors of scholarly “chairs” and scholarships.
In 1872, the first year, there were only 12 students, including four women. In 1921, there were 63 full time and 45 part-time students enrolled in the “Hochschule”. Many of the students came from the Eastern European countries, notably Poland, as graduates of Orthodox Yeshivot. By 1930-1933 the school had achieved so great a reputation that many non-Jews, especially Christian clergy enrolled.