Freie Universität received excellent ratings for the disciplines of English studies and American studies in a research ranking performed by the German Council of Science and Humanities comparing the performance of German universities and independent research institutions. As the German Council of Science and Humanities announced in Cologne, American studies at Freie Universität received the best assessment of "excellent" in three of the four criteria. The best ("excellent") assessment was achieved for the quality of research, reputation, and facilitation of research, and knowledge transfer to other areas of society was rated as "very good." American studies, based at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, is one of 17 disciplines out of a total of 190 that in the "quality of research" criteria received the best assessment. "English Studies - Literature and Cultural Studies" as a subject taught at Freie Universität was judged "very good to excellent" in all four criteria. Freie Universität with seven ratings of "excellent" and "very good to excellent" placed second nationally just after Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München.
In English linguistics Freie Universität was rated "good to very good" in the criterion "knowledge transfer to other areas of society." The evaluators rated a total of 190 research units at 60 universities nationwide. It was the first time the German Council of Science and Humanities ranked subjects in the humanities.
The Council utilized a complicated methodological procedure to conduct the ranking. Data with regard to students, completed doctoral dissertations, publications, awards, and research activities were collected and analyzed using a synthesis of qualitative and quantitative methods.
The performance of the institutions was evaluated for the period between 2004 and 2010. In December 2007 Freie Universität placed well in a comparable research ranking for chemistry and in December 2008 for sociology.