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Merz Akademie is a nationally accredited, non-profit University of Applied Art, Design and Media. Its history dates back to 1918 when it was established as a “Free Academy for Cognition and Design” by Albrecht Leo Merz, an unconventional pedagogue and educator. It roots lie in the emancipatory reformist movement of the early 20th century and rest on Merz’s educational theory that sought to integrate intellectual and physical work into a holistic process. What the founder conceived as a kind of “general study of design” for the industrial age is being set forth today within the changing cultural, aesthetic, and technological conditions of the so-called information or media age, in the higher education of designers and authors of print media, moving image media, and electronic media.
With a strong interest in the disciplines of the humanities, social and cultural studies, design, art, and technology, Merz Akademie positions itself as an innovative place of learning and research between a traditional art academy, a college for applied arts, and a department of humanities. It aims to facilitate the professional and academic education of design-authors who are prepared not only to fulfil but to define the requirements of an ever-changing professional field.
Our focus is on expanding and strengthening the international dimension of learning and research. Merz Akademie has a strong program to regularly include international guest lecturers and guest professors for intensive, short workshops and for regular semester-long offerings. Each semester at least 4-8 guest teachers from abroad enrich the teaching, learning and research activities. Merz Akademie is a respected partner in international projects, be it EU-funded or in a wider context. Many of our full-time professors have an international practice as artists, designers and academics in their field. We regularly accept international students, as exchange students or on a full-time basis. Members of the senior management team (the rectorate) are members of international networks and organization such as ELIA or the quality assurance agency EQ-Arts and our work is regularly called upon to consult as experts in quality audits, stakeholder meetings and political agenda setting.
Merz Akademie is one of only a handful German non-state, non-profit universities in the area of art and design. Since its full state accreditation in 1985, it has received national stature and acclaim, particularly for its innovative approach to teaching and learning and its strong focus on theory and research and its openness to technological developments. It has a strong department for New Media since more than 20 years, with a focus on web design and art and VR/AR. It is well connected locally and nationally with strong bonds to like-minded partner institutions to enhance the offerings to its students as well as its research activities.
The goal of the Bachelor of Arts program is to develop competence in design, art and media as basis for a professional career in the field or further studies. Students combine the practices of design and art with theory and technology in novel ways and learn to apply their knowledge in innovative, self-directed creative projects. After an in-depth introduction to the subjects and methods of Crossmedia Publishing, Film and Video, New Media, and Visual Communication students select one of the four fields of study as their major. The core study program includes in-depth creative projects based on research, context and production. Subject specific and general theory classes accompany the project work. Practical seminars and workshops supplement the program. The combination of a design curriculum with a rigorous interest in media culture and cultural theory is one of the most important features of the studies at the Merz Akademie. Collaboration beyond the boundaries of the individual study areas is made possible through elective and international workshops as well as interdisciplinary projects.
The Master of Arts program is aimed at graduates with degrees in art or design, as well as graduates of humanities. The aim of the program is to consolidate and foster an independent artistic position as well as to qualify for further, 3rd cycle studies.The master program aims to lead beyond traditional subject boundaries and is situated at the junction between applied art, human sciences, digital humanities and artistic research. The program focuses on how knowledge is developed through aesthetic practices strategies, thus addressing the increasing importance of knowledge building in contemporary society. Students are challenged to engage in their own artistic research projects within the areas of Crossmedia Publishing, Film and Video, New Media, and Visual Communication in order to encourage -confidence both in their critical reflection and their individual creative practice.
Faculties and Departments
Faculty: Art, Design and Media
Departments: Crossmedia Publishing, Film and Video, New Media, Visual Communication, Theory
Bachelor Level Programs
Name: Art, Design and Media
Duration: 7 Semesters
Master Level Programs
Name: Research in Art, Design and Media
Duration: 3 Semesters
Research Activity and Main Areas
Merz Akademie has a teaching and research profile that emphasizes theoretical reflexivity, (artistic) research and aesthetic experimentation in the media, but also takes the teaching of professional qualifications seriously. Merz Akademie's basic principle is the equal treatment of scientific and artistic research by professors and their independent and applied art and design practice. We strive to provide space for the most diverse, knowledge-driven and creative activities of its teachers and researchers, to orientate its teaching accordingly, to open itself to the debates, discourses and practices of science, art, design and media design and to participate actively in them. The critical questioning of 'given' phenomena in society and the (digital) media is an essential qualification goal of the course of studies, an important moment of external presentation and determines the working methods of the university as a whole. Based on a design practice that is strongly oriented towards theoretical and contemporary discourse, the Merz Akademie's primary goal is to make a contribution to complex questions of contemporary society. In this sense, "design" is understood across all media as comprehensive authorship in social space. It is in the nature of a small, artistic university that the research and art activities of the university are aligned with the research and art profiles of its full-time professors. Current projects are located in these areas: screenbased (crossmedia) narration and publication, politics of film aesthetics, aesthetic theory, artistic research, web art, VR/AR, visual communication. Merz Akademie is also a partner in an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership about the development of artistic 3rd cycle programs.
Doctorate Level Programs
Subject Areas for Exchange Students
Crossmedia Publishing, Film and Video, New Media, and Visual Communication
01/05 for the winter semester
01/11 for the summer semester
Our main language of instruction is German; however several course offerings are available in English (including week-long intensive workshops taught by successful international producers and professionals). Students that do not have the B2 German language qualification are requested to choose classes that are taught in English.
Winter semester: 01/09 – 28/02
Summer semester 01/03 – 31/08
Cost of Living Per Month (Studying and Living)
Approx. 700-800 EUR per month for:
Rent: approx. 250-375 EUR per month
Health Insurance: 90 EUR per month and miscellaneous costs.
Merz Akademie usually waives student fees for exchange students if there is an institutional partner agreement.