It was founded on 28 March 1919, having grown out of the previous General lecture system (Allgemeines Vorlesungswesen) and the Colonial Institute of Hamburg (Hamburgisches Kolonialinstitut) as well as the Akademic Gymnasium. In spite of its relatively short history, six Nobel Prize Winners and serials of scholars are affiliated to the university. Hamburg University is the biggest research and education institution in Northern Germany and one of the most extensive universities in Germany. The main campus is located in the central district of Rotherbaum, with affiliated institutes and research centers spread around the city state.
The annual recruitment of about 7,000 freshmen contributes to the current total of 41,000 students, out of which 6,000 graduate every year, including around 900 with a doctorate. Students can choose from a 149 different majors which are offered by six faculties. With almost 700 professors engaged in teaching and research, the University of Hamburg is the largest in Hamburg. In addition, over 3,600 academic staff and 6,100 administrative and technical staff members are employed in the university.
The University of Hamburg supports seven Collaborative Research Centres (German: Sonderforschungsbereiche) sponsored by the German Research Foundation.