From 1972 to 1978, Faltings studied mathematics and physics at the University of Münster. In 1978 he received his Doctor of Philosophy in mathematics and in 1981 he obtained the venia legendi (Habilitation) in mathematics, both from the University of Münster.
During this time he was an assistant professor at the University of Münster. From 1982 to 1984, he was professor at the University of Wuppertal. After that he was professor at Princeton University from 1985 to 1994.
In the fall of 1988 and in the academic year 1992–1993 he was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study.
He was awarded the Fields Medal at the ICM at Berkeley in 1986 for proving the Mordell conjecture, which states that any non-singular projective curve of genus g > 1 defined over a number field K contains only finitely many K-rational points. As a Fields Medallist he gave an ICM plenary talk Recent progress in arithmetic algebraic geometry.
In 1994 as an ICM invited speaker in Zurich he gave a talk Mumford-Stabilität in der algebraischen Geometrie. Since 1994 he has been a director of the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in Bonn.
German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. North Rhine-Westphalia Academy for Sciences and Arts.