Eberhard the Bearded, Count and later Duke of Württemberg, set the tone when he founded the University of Tübingen in 1477 – displaying a farsightedness that characterizes the University to the present day. Eberhard Karls Universität helps to shape the state's intellectual life and contributes to its further development with internationally-recognized achievements. The University got the official name it bears today – Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen – in 1769, when Duke Karl Eugen added his own name to that of the founder.
The University's history is closely tied to the Evangelische Stift, founded in 1536 as a school of divinity, teaching Protestant Theology. A number of famous names studied at the Evangelische Stift – Johannes Kepler enrolled in 1587; other students here include the poets and writers Hölderlin, Hauff and Mörike and the philosophers Hegel and Schelling.
At the start of the 19th century, the University experienced remarkable growth; due to its renowned professors, its reputation spread beyond the borders of Württemberg. In 1817, faculties of Catholic Theology and Economics were added to the original four, and in 1863 Tübingen became the first German university to have its own faculty of Natural Sciences. The first University hospital was set up in 1805 in the Alte Burse. That building, constructed in 1478, is the oldest still used by the University.