The University’s Foundation and Organizing Structure: The Faculties

At its inception, the University of Basel was organized into faculties, of Theology, Law, Medicine, and the Liberal Arts. Then as now, the faculties form the foundation for the university’s organization.

The faculties structure the university’s disciplines and departments; it is their responsibility to appoint professors and conduct academic examinations; and since the university was established, it has been the faculties which have awarded academic degrees. Not least, the faculties have been a central part of institution’s academic self-administration since its inception.

For centuries, the faculties changed very little. The twentieth century, however, saw significant differentiation in the pursuit and study of knowledge, as observed in the organizational structures in Basel and at other universities. 

The Faculty of Science emerged from the original Faculty of Liberal Arts in 1937, followed by the independence of the Faculty of Business and Economics in 1997 and the establishment of the Faculty of Psychology in 2003, the most recent addition.

Over time, each faculty has also experienced internal differentiation, leading to the emergence of new disciplines and, in recent years, new departments. Since 2003, the University of Basel has been organized into seven faculties: Theology, Law, Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science, Business and Economics, and Psychology.

Each faculty has its own distinct and sometimes tumultuous history. The following pages aim to provide a succinct introduction to this history, with a particular focus on the developments of the last thirty years. 

Many disciplines within these faculties have contributed their individual histories to this website, accessible through the links in the right-hand column under “Disciplines and Faculties,” allowing for a diverse view of the disciplinary variety within the University of Basel as a comprehensive institution of higher learning.