In winter semester 1984-85, Peter Herborn and Thomas Hufschmidt were appointed to teach jazz at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen.

As jazz was neither an independent subject nor assessed in the curriculum of any other programme at the time, the course was open to all areas in the school.

Actors sang in the jazz chorus; future orchestral musicians with a penchant for jazz played in the big band; and church musicians and school musicians received tuition in arranging, took part in improvising exercises and set up small ensembles.

After four years the request to set up an independent course was granted by the Ministry of Education. The first students were admitted to the course in winter semester 1988-89 and graduated as jazz musicians with the degree of "Diplom-Jazzmusiker".
The following majors were available from the very beginning:

Alto Saxophone (Hugo Read), Trumpet (Ulrich Beckerhoff), Trombone (Dave Horler > Peter Feil > Henning Berg > Ansgar Striepens > Bart van Lier), Voice (Lauren Newton > Sylvia Droste > Romy Camerun), Piano (Thomas Hufschmidt, Simon Nabatov), Guitar (Axel Zinowski > Frank Sichmann), Double Bass (Tim Wells > Gunnar Plümer > John Goldsby), Electric Bass (Michael Schürmann), Big Band Drumming (Sperie Karas), Percussion (Thomas Alkier), Jazz Electronic Media (Raimund Hüttner > Stefan Hüfner/Hans-Jörg Rüdiger > Max Schmitz) and Composition / Arrangement (Peter Herborn).

Soon more were added: Woodwind Instruments as a secondary study for saxophonists (Wollie Kaiser), Tenor Saxophone (Matthias Nadolny),  Piano as a minor subject (Stefan Bauer > Peter Walter / Rainer Lipski > Bernd Kämmerling), Jazz History (Rolf Weyer, Jürgen Schwab).

In 1992 Ulrich Beckerhoff, Peter Herborn, Thomas Hufschmidt and Hugo Read took up the call to teach as part-time professors in the jazz course at the Folkwang University of the Arts. In 1997 Peter Herborn was made a full professor. In 2005 a part-time professorship in Trombone was established; this was held by Bart van Lier until summer semester 2008. Ansgar Striepens is acting professor until the position is filled again in Summer 2009.