Freie Universität Berlin

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Facts & Figures

Das Siegel der Freien Universität nach dem Entwurf von Prof. Edwin Redslob (Gründungsmitglied und von 1949 -1950 Rektor)
The seal of Freie Universität Berlin, based on a design by Prof. Edwin Redslob (founding member and rector, 1949–1950) Image Credit: Freie Universität Berlin

With over one hundred academic subject areas and some 34,000 students – 15 percent of whom come from all over the world – Freie Universität Berlin is one of the largest, strongest-performing universities in Germany. The university stands out in its field due to its modern, international character.

Excellence Competition

On October 19, 2007, Freie Universität Berlin emerged successful under all three lines of funding in the German universities’ Excellence Initiative. This means that Freie Universität is one of the nine universities in Germany whose concept for the future is receiving funding. The following were approved:

The following were approved back in 2006, during the first round of the excellence competition:

For more information on the Excellence Initiative, see

Facts & Figures

Freie Universität Berlin is a relatively young university. Students and academics founded Freie Universität with assistance from the United States in 1948 because they had been prohibited to study at the newly reopened university “Unter den Linden,” which was under Communist influence. Courses started in the 1948/49 academic year with a student body of 2,140 and 128 professors. The original departments were the Department of Philosophy and Humanities, the Department of Law, Business, and Economics, and the Department of Medicine.

Today, research and academic activities at Freie Universität Berlin encompass 11 departments, the Department of Medicine – Charité – University Medicine Berlin (formed from the merger of the former medical departments of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Freie Universität Berlin), and three central institutes, with more than 400 professors and about 1,700 researchers and academic assistants the driving force behind the university’s academic programs. Freie Universität Berlin employs a staff of more than 4,000 in total, making it one of the biggest employers in the Berlin-Brandenburg region.

Excellence in research and instruction is the top priority at Freie Universität. It is currently the lead university in 21 special research areas and four DFG (German Research Association) researcher groups. Two special research areas fall within the field of the humanities. And since 1988, fifteen FU academics have received the DFG’s Leibniz Prize, the highest-ranking distinction for research in Germany.

Freie Universität cultivates a climate of interdisciplinary cooperation. At present, there are “Clusters of Excellence” that accommodate special interdisciplinary research areas. These Clusters of Excellence bring together high-performance, innovative aspects of the research conducted across disciplines and provide answers to social and economic questions of the present and the future.

Alongside “internal” cooperation, Freie Universität also emphasizes its many national and international contacts with academic institutions and with organizations that provide critical impetus for research and teaching. As far back as the nineteen-fifties, Freie Universität Berlin maintained partnerships with highly regarded American universities (including Stanford, Princeton, and Columbia) and with universities in Western Europe. Today, it maintains about 130 partnerships worldwide. Six hundred external academics and scientists contribute to the variety of instructional and research activities conducted each year. Freie Universität has also embarked on a strategic alliance with Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. In addition, it works closely with companies that maintain worldwide operations, such as the BMW Group, Schering, Siemens, Deutsche Telekom, and Pfizer.