Freie Universität Berlin was successful in both rounds of the Excellence Competition sponsored by the German federal government and the governments of the individual states in 2006/2007 and 2012. The university's future development strategy was chosen in both phases, making it one of eleven universities of excellence in Germany. There are currently three clusters of excellence and seven graduate schools funded within the Excellence Initiative that are based at Freie Universität Berlin or with participation by Freie Universität.
Several Excellence Clusters – large collaborative interdisciplinary projects – in which Freie Universität is involved were selected for special funding in the Excellence Initiative:
Freie Universität Berlin established Dahlem Research School (DRS) to provide an overarching framework for structured graduate education. The seven graduate schools receiving funding under the national Excellence Initiative are also hosted there.
With the “International Network University” future development strategy, which won a funding award in the Excellence Initiative in 2007 and again in 2012, the university is focusing on three main areas of emphasis: developing research alliances, promoting junior scholars and scientists, and supporting international cooperation. To pursue these topics, the university established three strategic centers: the Center for Research Strategy, formerly the Center for Cluster Development; Dahlem Research School; and the Center for International Cooperation. Through transporting the core values of Veritas – Justitia – Libertas into the expansion of academic networks, Freie Universität is reacting to the challenges of a globalized world while retaining and securing the superb quality of its research.
The Center for Research Strategy plans and supports the long-term development of research at Freie Universität Berlin. The team supports and assists the university’s scholars and scientists in developing research alliances.
Dahlem Research School offers doctoral candidates high quality standards assured by its doctoral regulations and supports acquisition of a wide range of key transferable skills during the doctoral study phase. It acts as the umbrella organization for the university’s outstanding structured doctoral programs. The DRS offers funding options for doctoral candidates that help them to enter their fields of research early on or enable them to take on even highly qualified activities outside of academia by way of the skills and qualifications offered outside of their own disciplines.
The Center for International Cooperation focuses on promoting international networks and graduate programs and supports the international activities of the scholars and scientists at Freie Universität. The CIC formulates university-wide internationalization strategies and functions as an intermediary in the development of strategic partnerships.