Honorary professorship

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Honorary professor ( Prof. hc , Prof. E. h. , Also Prof. without addendum) is a title awarded worldwide by numerous institutions such as universities, governments or foundations in particular to people who render services to the institution or state concerned have acquired.


An honorary professorship is also awarded in some German federal states . Honorary professors are to be strictly distinguished from honorary professors who are assigned to the academic teaching staff of a university. In contrast to these, honorary professors have neither authorization nor obligation to teach. The awarding of honorary professorships is mainly regulated in the university laws of the respective countries. The number of honorary professorships awarded is very small. It will have to be assumed that such regulations are materially based on the legislative competence addressed in Section 1, Paragraph 2 of the Ordensgesetz . The federal government, on the other hand, has not yet made use of its authorization, mentioned in §§ 1, Paragraph 1, 2, Paragraph 1, Sentence 2 of the Ordensgesetz to establish such titles.

Individual federal states


In Baden-Württemberg it is not the Higher Education Act, but the Awards Act , Section 2 of which empowers the Prime Minister to determine and award the honorary title of “Professor”. The official justification for the Baden-Württemberg distinction law states: “ Due to the pre-constitutional imperial law repealed in 1995 , the Prime Minister had the power to confer the honorary title of professor; Since then, the Prime Minister has practiced the award of the honorary title of professor on the basis of the allocation of competencies resulting from the state constitution . ”In the previous section of the justification, reference is made to a state practice of assigning the state representation to a head of state in the conventional sense to the Prime Minister, and also to the provisions of the constitution the representation of the country to the outside world, the right to grace and the execution of laws. Well-known personalities who have been awarded honorary professorships include: B. Jürgen Schrempp and Bernhard Vogel .


In Berlin, on June 18, 1974, the Senate passed the award Professor e. H. introduced. Since then, the title has been awarded about 70 times. The first honorary professorship was received on January 16, 1975 by Fritz Ganss , the production manager of a record company. Every citizen of Berlin has the right to propose. The decision on the award is made by the Governing Mayor in agreement with the Senate Department for Science, Research and Culture. The resolution requires the approval of the Senate .


In the state of Brandenburg, the honorary professorship is regulated in Section 53 (4) of the Brandenburg Higher Education Act. The award is made by the Minister of Science. Those to be honored should have a scientific or artistic reference or represent a special service to the universities in the state of Brandenburg.



In Hesse , honorary professorships are regulated in Section 73 of the Hessian Higher Education Act. They have been awarded since 2006. It is an honorary title for personalities who have made a special contribution to science and art. The honorary professorship is awarded by a cabinet decision on the proposal of the Hessian Minister for Science and Art . Owners are:

Lower Saxony

According to § 27 para. 8 of the Lower Saxony Higher Education Act , the state government exceptional personalities who in a special way to science, technology, culture and art in Lower Saxony have rendered outstanding services to the proposal of the Ministry of Science and Culture , and in agreement with the State Higher Education Conference title Award "Honorary Professor" or "Honorary Professor". This does not involve membership in a university.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Section 69 (8) of the Higher Education Act of North Rhine-Westphalia stipulates that the state government can award the title of professor, which can be used as an additional option, to persons who have performed special scientific, artistic or cultural achievements outside the university and who meet the requirements of the law Fulfilled vocations. The qualification assessment of the government level is not legally verifiable.


In Schleswig-Holstein, the Prime Minister awards the title of professor for outstanding achievements, primarily in the cultural and artistic field, due to his honorary sovereignty.


In Austria, the title of professor or university professor is awarded as a profession-specific honorary title for

  • Persons who are active in the field of adult education, art, folk culture and museum collecting
  • People who work in the field of science
  • Associate university professors at universities after several years of teaching and research and
  • Teachers (university lecturers who are not in a public service contract) at universities after at least 15 years of teaching and research

by the Federal Ministry of Education or the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy .


One accusation about the award of honorary professorships is that regulations have been incorporated into university laws that allow the political level to decorate personalities with the coveted title of professor, which - conceived as a state honorary title - is completely wrong in the legal system of university laws. The legal regulation of the award of such titles is always preferable to the unregulated award of honorary professorships, which in individual countries are based, among other things, on an appeal to the prime minister's right of grace.


  • NB Wagner: About degrees, titles and human vanity. In: Bundeswehrverwaltung. 2010, pp. 94-102.
  • W. Klein: Title, medals and decorations on a legal basis - the award law of the state of Baden-Württemberg. In: VBlBW. 2010, pp. 63-66

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.landtag-bw.de/wp14/drucksachen/4000/14_4366_d.pdf  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.landtag-bw.de  
  2. LT-Drucksache 14/4366, p. 9 ( http://www.landtag-bw.de/wp14/drucksachen/4000/14_4366_d.pdf  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically saved as marked defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ).@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.landtag-bw.de  
  3. Professor e. H. on the side of the city of Berlin
  4. BbgHG (PDF; 306 kB)
  5. http://presseservice.pressrelations.de/pressemitteilung/staatsminister-wintermeyer-dr-herbert-guenther-hat-sich-grosse-verdienste-um-die-wissenschaft-erworben-494540.html
  6. Honorary professors on the website of the State of Schleswig-Holstein ( Memento from March 22, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  7. help.gv.at
  8. On April 15, 2005, the state government of Baden-Württemberg answered a small request that Berlin, Hamburg, Saarland, Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein would also know the head of government's lending right (LT-Drucksache 13/4185, p. 2). [1]