The university was founded in 1998 and is composed of four independent departments/study models: IU Campus Studies, with a focus on international management programmes; IU Distance Learning; IU Part-Time; and IU Dual Study. The university serves about 70,000 students in total.
All current courses are state-accredited (or currently in the accreditation process), bear the seal of the German Accreditation Council, are certified and have received various awards, e.g. the FIBAA Premium Seal. IU is also the only German university in the Hotel Schools of Distinction Association. It is a member of the Global Compact networks, such as the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).
IU Campus Studies offers English-language lecture-based study programmes with an international focus. The Campus Studies model at both the Bad Honnef and Berlin campuses features Bachelor, Master and MBA programmes in the areas of hospitality, event management, healthcare, transport and logistics, IT and engineering, business and management, and human resources.
The Dual Study model includes dual Bachelor and Master programmes in the fields of tourism, health and social affairs, transport and logistics, IT and technology, business and management, media and communication, and human resources. By regularly alternating between theory and practice, students can simultaneously undertake academic studies and gain professional experience in their partner company.
The Distance Learning model includes German and English-language Bachelor, Master and MBA distance-learning courses with specialisations for various industries and areas of responsibility. All programmes can be studied module-by-module: full-time or part-time, digitally (through scripts, video lectures and online tutorials) or with some classroom hours. Students may sit exams in one of more than 40 exam centres in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, at one of more than 150 international exam centers worldwide, or online.
IU offers part-time courses with a combination of classroom and online participation.
IU was founded in Bad Honnef in 1998; lectures began in 2000. In July 2007, the university was taken over by the private equity firm Auctus (Munich).In 2008, IU opened a second location in Bad Reichenhall. In July 2009, the Science Council institutionally reaccredited the university for a period of ten years.
In November 2011, IU began offering Distance Learning courses at Bachelor and Master levels. In mid-2013, IU merged with the Adam Ries University of Applied Sciences, thereby adding Dual Study to its study models. With the establishment of the IU Corporate Programmes in 2014, the rectorate was expanded to include the position of Prorector for Corporate Programmes. On December 10, 2015, the parent company of IU, Career Partner GmbH, was taken over by the Apollo Group; since November 2017 Career Partner GmbH has been owned by the British private equity investor group Oakley. In March 2016, IU merged with the University of International Economics & Logistics (HIWL) and since then has been offering the Dual Study model in Bremen under the name IU.
In 2019, the headquarters of the university was relocated to Erfurt. Since then, the university has been subject to the Thuringian Higher Education Act.