Further information


The Universität des 3. Lebensalters (U3L) was founded as an association in 1982 with its registered office in Frankfurt with the purpose of opening lectures and academical courses to senior citizens.

By now the U3L implemented its own educational program whose lectures are given within the facilities of the Goethe-Universität for a monthly rental payment.

The board consists of 9 members, partly professors, partly older students, and our office personnel consists of six employees and several auxiliary workers.

Target group and general aims

The U3L defines itself as an academic institution with primary purpose of addressing individuals who find themselves in their third phase of life and after their professional careers.

Our basic aims are to provide an opportunity for the elderly to familiarize themselves with new found research knowledge and to address questions of aging as well as offering an intergenerational learning environment on an academic level.

 Students of the J.W.Goethe-Universität Frankfurt may attend without additional application.

Access and organization

Everyone interested in engaging in new academic methods to contribute to scholarly exchange and general academic education is welcome. Participation is possible without further formal educational requirements.

The registration for one semester includes all lectures and seminars offered by the U3L taking place during all semester with no mid-term or final exams.  No academic degree can be acquired.


Study program

The U3L assgins lectureships and cooperates with the faculties of the Goethe-Universität which opens their courses for our students. Our study program includes the following:

  • Open lectures (no fee)
  • Orientation and academic writing introductory exercises
  • Seminars, lectures of various areas of study, interdisciplinary structure through central themes
  • Study groups and projects from a gerontological point of view
  • Self-organized study and work groups specializing in internet communication (Enigma)
  • Teaching assignments and lectures in cooperation with the Goethe-Universität
  • Currently: Developmental psychology, interdisciplinary gerontology and sports medicine.
  • Cooperation with different institutions specializing in education and work with the elderly
  • Structured 4 semestral study program (with U3L certificate): “Ageing in Science and Experience”.


Lectures and outlines

The lectures are based on the university curriculum and principles of teaching but are still conformed to individual interests and requirements. In addition to that we also offer an online learning system that allows us to be even more efficient regarding the distribution of information

Gerontological study and project groups develop self-organized and research orientated forms of working.


Registration with the U3L requires a tuition fee of 110€ regardless of the number of lectures that will be attended.

The minimum fee for members of the association U3L e.V. amounts to 15€ a year. A membership is not required  for subscription to the academic program.


The U3L reports an increase of attendance numbers. The age range with over 3700 students varies from the age of 50 to 90 with the majority being between 71-80 years old, followed by students between 61-70.

In the last years the average age increased from 65 to 71 which can be attributed to a long residence time and the aging of registered students.

In this collective group the gender relation has been widely steady for several years with a 2/3 proportion of female and 1/3 proportion of male students.

Formal education varies. 1/3 of the students have a middle school degree, half of the students a high school degree and a small proportion (7%) a Hauptschulabschluss. 37% Students have a university level degree and 18% college level degree.

The formal school and university level education has a gender-specific distinction with a higher percentage of male students with higher level education.


Membership and Cooperations

The U3L is a member of BAG WiWA (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung für Ältere in der Deutschen Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung und Fernstudium DGWF e.V. - German Association for University Continuing and Distance Education) an maintains partnerships with the senior council of the University of Chemnitz, the U3L in Slupsk (Poland) and the U3L in Zagreb (Croatia) as part of a EU-Grundtvig-Project.