Bundeswehr University Munich is one of only two federal research universities in Germany that both were founded in 1973 as part of the German Armed Forces . Originally called Hochschule der Bundeswehr München the institution was supposed to offer civilian academic education for military officers. Today, the university has an increasing number of civilian and international students. The academic year at the university is structured in trimesters and not the usual semesters, to offer intensive studies with more credit points per year. Very capable students can therefore achieve a bachelor's and a master's degree within less than four years, while this would usually require five years. Universität der Bundeswehr München has well-established scientific research and forms part of two excellence clusters of the German government's university excellence initiative. Bundeswehr University is one of only very few campus universities in Germany.
In 1970 the then minister of defence Helmut Schmidt decided that the education of military officers in Germany had to be reviewed and had to include full academic studies. After one year the Ellwein commission presented its proposal for the creation of two civilian colleges within the armed forces. Students should get fully recognised civilian degrees independent of their military profession, to have a higher qualified officer corps and more incentives to join the military. The idea was that students would have better conditions than at normal universities so that they could cope with a higher workload and study faster. After almost two years of discussions and the necessary legislative procedures, both universities could open. University education normally being a responsibility of the German states, Universität der Bundeswehr München and Helmut Schmidt University are the only federal universities in Germany. With their innovative concepts Helmut Schmidt University and Universität der Bundeswehr München quickly became widely known as reform universities within the very traditional German university landscape. In the following years the universities had to establish their image and reputation and finally were accepted as full universities with the rights to award doctorate degrees as well as Habilitations to qualify university professors in the 80s. In the 90s and 2000s the university has started to open its teaching towards civilian students and to extend its international relations. While the researchers and doctorate students always used to be mainly civilians, the student body still had been purely military in the 90s. Today, Universität der Bundeswehr München has concluded partnership contracts with different major financial and industrial companies, which send students to Universität der Bundeswehr München. In the past few years different federal agencies have started to qualify their employees at the university. Since 2007 Universität der Bundeswehr München has changed its degree to the harmonized Bologna system. It has completely restructed its curriculums and awards bachelor's and master's degrees instead of the former German Diplom.
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