The excellence of the research activities extended over an impressive range of subjects in the period in question from 2008 to 2010. This makes Freie Universität the front-runner in humanities and social sciences among all German universities. Freie Universität received 94.6 million euros from DFG external funds for these research fields; this amounted to 67.7 million euros in the years from 2005 to 2007. In the life sciences, Freie Universität improved its position from 8th place to 7th place. It received 84.5 million euros in this area and thus 18.5 million euros more than in the comparable period. In the natural sciences, 5.1 million euros more of external funding was obtained than in the comparable period, totaling 42.2 million euros. Freie Universität Berlin numbers – alongside Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg – among the three universities in which the humanities and social sciences, life sciences, and natural sciences all ranked among the top ten universities.
The DFG funding ranking also takes the degree of internationalization and networking of the German higher education institutions into consideration. The orientation point for international attractiveness and visibility is, among others, the number of visiting fellows funded by the German Academic Exchange Program and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In the humanities and social sciences, Freie Universität took first place in both categories. From a cross-curricular standpoint, Freie Universität Berlin took first place for the German Academic Exchange System and second place for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
The DFG also reported the proportion of women among the successful applicants. Freie Universität is also a leader here. No other German university has more women scholars who successfully applied to the DFG for a research project than Freie Universität. In the report the DFG credits Freie Universität with "a high dedication to the advancement of women."
According to the DFG, an increasing number of higher education institutions and research institutions outside of the university are competing for external funding. Between 1991 and 1995 - the period in which the first DFG funding ranking was made - 89 higher education institutions successfully applied for funding to the DFG. Between 2008 and 2010 - the reporting period of the current Funding Atlas 2012 - the number was 186, more than double as many higher education institutions than 20 years ago. In addition to this, there are currently 433 research institutions outside of universities that conduct research with DFG funding.