It was founded by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen in 1495 as Kings College. In April 1593 a second institute of higher learning in Aberdeen, Marischal College, was founded by George Keith, the fourth Earl Marischal. In 1858, the Universities of Scotland Act merged Kings College and Marischal College. The Act also created a new medical school at Marischal.
In 2000-2001, the number of full-time students at the Institution was 13,278, including 9,906 undergraduates and 3,012 postgraduates. There are five faculties (Arts & Divinity, Education, Medicine & Medical Sciences, Science & Engineering, and Social Sciences & Law) and 48 academic departments.
Famous alumni of the University include Nicky Campbell (radio/TV presenter), Alastair Darling (politician) and James Naughtie (radio presenter).
Robert Gordon University is also located in Aberdeen.