Mission and History
Central European University was founded in 1991 with the explicit aim of helping the process of transition from dictatorship to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. It was committed to bringing together students from these 30 countries and from the West in order to nurture respect for diverse cultures and opinions, human rights, constitutional government, and the rule of law. In its first decade, CEU sought to contribute to innovative academic research, progressive higher education and the development of dynamic, sustainable open society primarily in the former "socialist" countries. More recently, its interest has become global, with special attention paid to emerging democracies throughout the world. These aims – all in step with promoting the values of the Open Society – remain fundamental to CEU, but our mission has become global with special attention to emerging democracies worldwide. Nowadays, half of the applicants to CEU come from almost 100 countries of all five continents beyond its historic focus region.
Central European University is a graduate university concentrating on the social sciences and the humanities as well as law and management. The university strives to achieve excellence in teaching, and research with a special focus on contemporary challenges of building open societies. It also closely engages with issues of public policy in order to support better governance in developing, developed and transition countries.
CEU is a research-intensive university with more than 400 out of its 1,600 students pursuing doctoral degrees. Accredited both in the United States and in Hungary, CEU embraces the Bologna Process, actively partaking in the modernization of higher education across Europe, while also cultivating its ties to leading universities in the US.
The university’s commitment to academic excellence and the social dimension of its mission are mutually reinforcing: being a regional thought-leader enables CEU to support and advise policy initiatives for social and economic reform. CEU has been working hand-in-hand with the Open Society Institute (OSI), providing academic and professional backing for OSI’s global agenda of democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal and social reform. The university has also been an active academic partner of local initiatives to strengthen good governance and address challenges as diverse as supporting independent media and promoting public health. CEU’s knowledge-based social engagement not only offers students a greater academic choice, but also helps to prepare them for a future of service and leadership.