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The Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies was established in 1986 at the Freie Universität Berlin with a seed grant from the Volkswagen Stiftung. Since 1993, the Freie Universität Berlin has been funding the program with additional support from the German Marshall Fund, the Halle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The preeminent place the Berlin Program holds in European Studies is demonstrated by the career paths of more than 360 scholars the program has supported. Berlin Program alumni now teach and complete research at some of the most influential universities and colleges in the US and Canada, including Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, George Washington, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Rutgers, Toronto, Virginia, Wisconsin (Madison), Wesleyan, and Yale.