Although the University of Potsdam is only a few years old, it nevertheless has its own history. In 1948 the Brandenburg Landeshochschule (school of higher education of the Land Brandenburg) was founded here in Potsdam. Out of this institution developed later the Karl Liebknecht Pedagogical College, the largest teacher training institution in the GDR. After the social and political changes of the year 1989 the University of Potsdam was founded on the grounds of the previous institutions on July 15, 1991. Today it is the largest university in Brandenburg. The University of Potsdam is conceived as a small university. Its motto is: "Klein aber fein," "Small but excellent." Presently approximately 20,000 students study in the various departments of the University of Potsdam, including about 1,300 foreign students from more than 85 countries.
The University of Potsdam was designed as a classical university. Five faculties form the pillars of the institution. They are the Philosophical Faculty, Humanities, Law, Economics and Social Sciences and the Natural Sciences-Mathematics Faculty. With the establishment of supra-faculty, interdisciplinary areas, the University of Potsdam places special emphasis on areas beyond the teaching and research activities of the individual institutes. These fields include the Geo-Sciences, Educational Science, the Potsdam Model of Teacher Training, the Cognitive Sciences, Complex Systems, Comparative Cultural Studies, Life Sciences, Soft Matter as well as Economics/Institutions and Administration.
Proof of the quality of the research carried out at Potsdam University is the steadily increasing funding through industry and other third parties and the financing of two research groups and two graduate seminars by the German Research Society (DFG). These have been established in the fields of Linguistics, Psychology and Jewish Studies. The achievements in these fields is indicated by the admission of the university into the German Research Society (DFG) in the summer of 1998. Moreover, the university is responsible for further academic education, for example in the area of in-service teacher training and additional qualification courses.
There are co-operations with external institutions located in the vicinity of the university: Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert-Einstein-Institut), GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam (GFZ, Germany's National Research Centre for Geosciences), Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Astrophysical Institute Potsdam (AIP).