The Holberg Prize was established by the Norwegian Parliament 1 July 2003, and was awarded for the first time in 2004. The objective of the prize is to increase awareness of the value of academic scholarship in the arts,humanities, social sciences, law and theology. The Prize has a money value of NOK 6 000,000 (approx. EUR 620,000 / USD 700,000). The Prize is named after the Danish-Norwegian writer Ludvig Holberg, who excelled in all of the sciences covered by the award.
The Holberg Prize is funded by the Government Budget through a direct allocation from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research to the University of Bergen, who administers the Prize on behalf of the ministry. As part of its research dissemination targeting younger people, the Holberg Prize also awards the Nils Klim Prize to an outstanding Nordic scholar below the age of 35, and a prize to a Norwegian High Schools through the Holberg Prize School Project.