The academy of the local Hanoverian mining authority was established in 1775 at Clausthal in the Harz mountain range with its centuries-long history of mining in the Upper Harz (most notably at the Rammelsberg). Initially a school for pitmen and smelter workers, it was raised to the status of a mining college by the Westphalian minister Count Hans von Bülow in 1810. In 1864, at the behest of King George V of Hanover, the spin-off of a mining academy (Bergakademie) was founded.
Both institutions remained under joint administration after the annexation of the Kingdom of Hanover by Prussia in 1866, until in 1906 the academy was separated as an autonomous educational establishment directly subordinate to the Prussian government represented by a curator. It was one of only two mining academies in Prussian, the other being the mining college in Berlin established in 1770, a predecessor of the Berlin Institute of Technology.
After World War II, the academy passed under the authority of the West German state of Lower Saxony, it was renamed Technische Hochschule in 1966 and Technische Universität in 1968.
The CHE-Ranking is the most comprehensive and most detailed university ranking in the German-speaking countries. It is published annually since 2005 by DIE ZEIT. Clausthal is placed regularly among the top universities in the majority of its engineering and sciences programs.
German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche researched the universities with the most alumni at the top of DAX-corporations. Clausthal was placed 5th, however in relation to the size of the student body, TUC came in first.