Since the begining more than 180 symposia have taken place in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace, and Economic Sciences, as well as interdisciplinary endeavours. The symposia are devoted to areas of science where breakthroughs are occurring or deal with other topics of primary cultural or social significance.

Since 1993, the Norwegian Nobel Institute has hosted over a dozen Nobel Symposia on a variety of topics spanning from the rise and fall of great powers to nuclear arms control and the causes of war and peace.