Who we are

Our story

The Hertie School is a private university based in Berlin, Germany, accredited by the state and the German Science Council. It prepares exceptional students for leadership positions in government, business and civil society. Interdisciplinary and practice-oriented teaching, first-class research and an extensive international network set the Hertie School apart and position it as an ambassador of good governance, characterised by public debate and engagement. Our motto is "Understand today. Shape tomorrow".

The Hertie School was formally founded as a private, non-profit institution in December 2003 by the Hertie Foundation, thereby becoming the first professional school for public policy in Germany.

Offering programmes that emphasised academic excellence and practical orientation in the reunified capital of Berlin, the Hertie School was, from its start, a unique educational institution in Germany.

The school began by organising panels, symposia and discussions as well as providing a platform for policymakers, professionals and practitioners from the media, NGOs and business to engage with academia.

In February 2005, the Hertie School was granted official state recognition and given the authority by the Berlin Senate to award the academic title Master of Public Policy as an institution of higher learning.

The first cohort of students in the two-year Master of Public Policy programme began their studies in September 2005, and the programme has grown considerably each year.

In September 2008, the school launched its second master's programme: the Executive Master of Public Administration. Together with the Freie Universität Berlin and the Social Science Centre Berlin (WZB), the Hertie School established the Berlin School of Transnational Studies in 2008.

In 2011, the Hertie School was one of the few private universities in Germany to receive the right to award doctorates. The Doctoral Programme in Governance started in 2012.

The first cohort of the Master of International Affairs began their studies in 2015, the first cohort of the Master of Data Science for Public Policy will begin their studies in 2021. 

Our School bears a household name in Germany, which belonged to a successful chain of department stores – Hertie.

The stores were founded by a German Jewish family, led by Oskar Tietz, with the support of his uncle, Hermann Tietz (the name “Hertie” is derived from his name). In the early 1930s, the department stores were ‘aryanised’ and a consortium of banks effectively dispossessed the Tietz family, who immigrated to the US in 1934. After the war, a financial settlement was reached with the Tietz family and Georg Karg, the subsequent owner of the Hertie stores.

From the 1960s Hertie became one of the most successful department store chains in the Federal Republic of Germany during the ‘economic miracle years’. In 1974, the Gemeinnützige Hertie-Stiftung (Hertie Foundation) was founded by Georg Karg’s son, Hans-Georg Karg and his sister Brigitte Gräfin von Normann. The Foundation focuses its work on two themes: researching the brain and strengthening democracy.

An expanded version of this history is visualized on campus in a timeline and can be read on the Hertie Foundations' webpage.