Mercator College

Jacobs University Bremen

Jacobs University Bremen is an independent, privately-funded and highly-selective research university in Bremen, Germany. The university was founded in 1998.

Jacobs University is English speaking and has quickly become recognised for its teaching and research. The university is a recent addition to the growing number of privately-funded German universities not part of the German public education system. In terms of organisation, Jacobs University combines aspects from the American, British and German academic systems to form an environment with a "trans-disciplinary" approach between diverse disciplines and subject areas.

The university has already established a reputation for national excellence and has a growing reputation for international achievement in both research and teaching. The school has been involved in a number of important research initiatives.

In August 2008, an international team lead by Jacobs Professor Andrea Koschinsky-Fritsche registered the record water temperature of 464 degrees Celsius at a deep-sea hydrothermal vent and, also in August 2008, Jacobs Professor Günther Zupanc for the first time provided evidence that even a profound deviation from the number of chromosomes typical for a species does not necessarily result in programmed death of the cells affected or in physiological and behavioural deficiencies of the organism.

The university's national reputation has been achieved partly by applications to the Excellence Initiatives funding programmes organised by the German Research Council (DFG) (for example BIGSSS ), the research output of the academic staff, the partnerships with the University of Bremen and neighbouring research institutes (for example ESSRES with the Alfred Wegener Institute Bremerhaven and MarMic with the International Max Planck Research School of Marine Microbiology), and partly because of the University's rigorous selective admissions processes for both undergraduate and graduate programmes.

There are approximately 1,100 students from more than 90 countries pursuing Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD degrees. Many of the academic research staff are themselves international and have their own international collaborations and research funding. This student and academic staff demographic are proportionally more diverse than other German universities.

Jacobs University has established international exchange programmes with Universidad de Murcia Spain, Rice University, Washington State University, Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, Sciences Politiques in France and more recently with Lafayette College in the USA and the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

The university as a whole is accredited nationally by the City-State of Bremen and by the Academic Council of the Federal Republic of Germany (Wissenschaftsrat). The undergraduate major courses are accredited by ACQUIN, a German higher education accreditation agency. The university has also made an application to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, USA. Jacobs University has also been certified as a family-friendly institution by the Hertie Foundation since 2005 for introducing and maintaining measures for university members with family obligations.


Jacobs University was founded in 1999 as the 'International University Bremen (IUB)' and changed its name early in 2007 because of a major donation (see below). The university developed from an initial collaboration between the local government of the city-state of Bremen, the University of Bremen and Rice University, USA. Like British and American universities, Jacobs University is a campus university. The campus grounds and buildings were developed from the former grounds of the Roland Barracks in Bremen-Grohn.

On November 1, 2006 the current President, Joachim Treusch, announced a donation to university by the Jacobs Foundation of 15 million per year during the next 5 years. The Jacobs Foundation plans to make another donation of 125 million in 2011. This donation is conditional on the university achieving new funding goals and the implementation of an international profile during this period.

Jacobs University Bremen was recently the focus of a five-part television series produced by Deutsche Welle titled "Leaders of Tomorrow."


Jacobs University comprises two Schools that provide undergraduate programmes, and a Research Center:

Undergraduate courses (Majors)

BA Majors in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences:

BSc Majors in the School of Engineering and Sciences:

The BSc and the BA degrees qualify students to proceed directly to Masters or PhD programmes, but they also prepare students for immediate employment upon graduation. To achieve "trans-disciplinarity", students complete additional courses from their School (but that do not stem from their Major), from the other School, respectively, and courses that are typically taught by one professor from each school presenting a common topic.

Masters and PhD programmes

MA programmes organised by the School of Humanities and Social Science (SHSS) or the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), the joint Excellence Initiative funded by the German Research Council (DFG) between Jacobs University and University of Bremen:

  • Comparative Politics & Sociology
  • Global Visual Communication
  • Intercultural Humanities
  • International Political Economy
  • International Relations: Global Governance and Social Theory
  • Modern Global History
  • Integrated Social Sciences

Complete graduate programmes (MA and PhD) organised by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) or the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), the joint Excellence Initiative funded by the German Research Council (DFG) between Jacobs University and the University of Bremen:

  • Integrated Social Sciences
  • Intercultural Humanities

MSc programme organised by the Jacobs Center for Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development:

  • Human Development, Lifelong Learning and Institutional Change

PhD programme organised by the Jacobs Center for Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development:

  • Productive Adult Development

Additional integrated graduate programmes (MSc and PhD) are organised by the School of Engineering and Sciences (SES), where continuation to the PhD is conditional on the successful completion of the MSc and acceptance by a PhD supervisor. The programmes are 2+3 years, where the first two years are often funded by a stipend directly from Jacobs University, and the following three years supported by research grants.

  • Astroparticle Physics - This programme leads to a PhD and is intended for international students with an undergraduate education in physics or a closely related subject.
  • Molecular Life Sciences (MoLife ) - This new MSc and PhD programme starting in 2008 replaces the previous Biological Recognition (BioRec) programme. MoLife offers the choice of two Specialisation Areas (SAs) out of Molecular Biophysics, Computational Biology, Molecular Biotechnology, Molecular Genetics and Cellular & Molecular Biology.
  • Communication, Systems and Electronics - This features both coursework and research project work in various fields of electrical engineering in first three semesters.
  • Mathematical Sciences - Offering pure, applied and computational mathematics, as well as in mathematical physics.
  • Marine Microbiology (MarMic)- This is in collaboration with the International Max Planck Research School of Marine Microbiology and only for highly qualified and motivated students.
  • Nanomolecular Sciences - This provides graduates with excellent career prospects in interdisciplinary physical sciences focussing on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
  • Smart Systems - This is a highly innovative and future-technology oriented programme coordinated from the Computer Science Group.
  • New from 2008 - Earth System Science Research School (ESSRES) coordinated by the Alfred Wegener Institute Bremerhaven and also in collaboration with the University of Bremen.

Most of these programmes provide funded places and stipends. At Jacobs University, the convention is for PhD students to meet members of their examination committee early and submit yearly reports to assess their progress. Often an alternative academic advisor is appointed in addition to the PhD Supervisor.

Professional programmes

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences also provides an Executive MBA:

  • Executive MBA in European Utility Management (EUM)

Research facilities

Inside the campus there are several buildings that contain both offices and research laboratories, called Research I, Research II, Research III, Research IV and Research V . In addition there are four laboratories - Laboratory I (sponsored by E.On energy), Laboratory II, Laboratory III and the "Ocean Lab." There is a modern library with subscriptions to on-line journals, a language centre, a merchandise outlet , a travel agent, computer support facilities, a large conference facility and attractive study facilities for Masters and PhD students in both Schools all housed in a central building called the “Information Resource Center” (see the picture above).

Residential colleges

Jacobs University has three residential colleges modelled on student halls of residence and residential colleges found in UK and US universities. These residential colleges (Krupp College, Mercator College, and College III) are intended primarily as accommodation for new undergraduate students, although a limited number of rooms are available for graduates. The three colleges are neighbouring one another on the campus and are not financially independent institutions. Each college is headed by a College Master, a professorial member of academic staff and their spouse or family, and each has its own own canteen, common room, full-time support and catering staff. Some colleges have associated members of faculty who are active in social and extracurricular events. Experienced PhD students or staff and their families are appointed as Residence Associates (RAs). Third-year undergraduate students may move out from their College into one of the additional residences off campus, called the Blue, Yellow and Red Houses, and the Cigar Factory. These external residences are modern or renovated and have the similar resources as the colleges including RAs. Graduate students can also live in the external residences, but many find private accommodation near to the campus.

The college buildings were designed by German architect Jürgen Böge. A fourth college is being constructed and will be available in early 2009.

Alfried Krupp College was the first residential college to be established at Jacobs University in 2001, named after the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation. The College Masters are Klaus and Isabelle Schoemann. The college colour is red and the mascot is a chili pepper. Former Masters have been: Isabel Wünsche and Kevin Pfeiffer (2001-2002), and Hartmut Wessler and Marita Hartnack (2002-2004).

Mercator College is named after the Mercator Foundation GmbH in Germany and the Mercator Foundation in Switzerland, the main donors for its construction. It was established in 2002 and opened officially on April 8, 2003. Like Krupp College, there are approximately 200 students living in the college. The first college Masters were Klaus and Mandy Boehnke who were succeeded by Vikram Unnithan and Nicole Brauch in February 2007. The mission statement of the college reads: "(1) Make Diversity an Asset, (2) Care for Emotions, (3) Foster Personal Growth and (4) Experience the Community." The college defines itself as the Arts College and hosts the Mercator College Country Information Days (CIDs), unique events for one day where students from one country or region get together and present information about their respective country and cultures. Each CID ends with the cuisine from this country; the food is prepared by the students themselves. The college colour is blue, and the mascot is a cat nicknamed the "MerCat."

College III was established in 2003. Accommodating approximately 240 students, it is the largest of the colleges, since the building has one more residential wing than the other two colleges. The first College Masters were Ryan and Sarah Richards who were succeeded by Götz Pfander and Tijana Janjic Pfander in August 2007. College III has the distinction of being the five-time running champion (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008) in the annual campus-wide sports event, the "Olympix." The college colour is green and the mascot a dragon.

Staff and student facilities

For the benefit of all staff and students, there is a gym and two sports halls and playing fields, there is a cinema, bar/nightclub, a dedicated student's facility building including a very late night/early morning shop, the Interfaith House and Chaplaincy, a cafe and even a kindergarten/preschool. In terms of academic resources, there are common rooms and lecture halls distributed around the campus and a minibus that transports staff and students.

Freshmen Info

Recently on July 08,2008 the Undergraduate Student Government at Jacobs University launched the freshmen blog. Aimed at increasing pre-university awareness for the incoming freshmen, the blog would serve as a means of providing valuable information to its readers which would otherwise be difficult to obtain. The blog is run and maintained by the Internal Affairs Committee of the Student Government and can be reached at .

External links

The Residential Colleges

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