Freie Universität occupies an excellent position in national and international rankings. In terms of international comparison, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings are an especially important source. According to the 2015/2016 THE Ranking, Freie Universität is one of the five best universities in Germany, worldwide at place 72, and Europe-wide at 24.
In the latest THE rankings by subject in 2015, Freie Universität reached Rank 1 among German universities in the "Arts & Humanities" subject group. In the same subject group, the university was ranked at 18 worldwide and seventh in Europe.
According to the latest THE World Reputation Ranking in 2015, Freie Universität is one of the 60 most highly regarded universities in the world. As announced by THE in London, Freie Universität's reputation improved markedly during the past year, bringing the university up to group 51–60. It is now ranked as one of the four most prestigious universities in Germany and 18th in Europe.
According to the prestigious QS World University Ranking, Freie Universität is among the five best universities in Germany.
In the Diverse Excellence ranking published by the Centre for Higher Education (CHE) in 2012 and 2013, the following subjects at Freie Universität were rated as particularly strong in research: English language and literature / North American studies, education, psychology, economics, geography, medicine, and mathematics.
In 2011 and 2013 the Center for Excellence Women and Science (CEWS) published university rankings with a particular focus on gender aspects. In these rankings, Freie Universität has been in the top group of German universities since 2005.
In the Europe-wide ExcellenceRanking 2010, biology, chemistry, and physics at Freie Universität rose to the highest category, the Excellence Group. The strength of the university’s research activities and the international character of its course offerings and the scientists and researchers active at the university received especially positive mentions.
In the Funding Atlas (formerly Funding Ranking) published by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for 2015 Freie Universität continues to rank among the strongest research higher education institutions in the country. For the reporting period from 2011 to 2013, Freie Universität ranked in fifth place.
On the whole, the rankings affirm that Freie Universität achieves excellence in research across the full range of disciplines. In the humanities and social sciences, it is the best university in Germany.
The university’s outstanding international reputation is also evident from the rankings published by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Freie Universität Berlin is the most popular destination in Germany for leading researchers and young scholars from abroad, who come to Germany through support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
The rankings regarding teaching activities, such as those published by the Centre for Higher Education (CHE), reflect the mood among students above all. Freie Universität Berlin performed very well in the 2015 CHE Ranking. New good results were achieved for the subject of physics. The university also ranked in the top group in mathematics, geography, pharmacy, Earth sciences, and computer science, just as in 2012 when these subjects were last assessed.
The positive development of Freie Universität Berlin’s performance is also shown by the increase in external funding, which went from 57.1 million euros in 2007 to 112 million euros in 2012. The number of doctoral projects completed rose by ten percent over the same period, to just under 600. The increase in the number of graduates, which rose from 3,775 in 2007 to 4,398 in 2009 – a 17 percent jump – also affirms that teaching activities have not suffered even as intensive efforts were being made in research.
Freie Universität Berlin received basic certification under the Family-Friendly Higher Education Audit (audit familiengerechte Hochschule) program in 2007. At the time of the audit, 53 percent of university staff were female, and 21 percent of professorships were held by women – considerably above the average for Germany on the whole, which at the time was 13 percent. Between 30 and 50 percent of new appointments went to female candidates. In 2010 Freie Universität Berlin was re-certified.
In the Berlin-Brandenburg Business Plan Competition (Businessplan-Wettbewerb Berlin-Brandenburg), Freie Universität Berlin was selected the “Powerhouse of New Ideas for Berlin” (Ideenschmiede Berlin) five times in six years between 2007 and 2012.
Since the 2000/2001 academic year, the use of energy for electricity and heating at Freie Universität has decreased, falling a total of 40 million kilowatt-hours, or about 25 percent, even as overall use of space has remained stable. The university received a distinction for its dedication to climate protection in the future competition sponsored by energy group GASAG, taking the top slot in the “Architecture and Climate” category for its bonus system, which rewards energy conservation.