The University was established in 1962 by the Government of the then Northern Region of Nigeria to impart knowledge and learning to men and women of all races without distinction on the grounds of race, religious or political beliefs. The founding fathers expected the University to aspire to the highest international ideals of scholarship and to provide learning of a standard required and expected of a university of the highest standing while reflecting the needs, the traditions, and the social and intellectual heritage of the society in which it is located. The University was taken over by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 1975 and has since then assumed a national mandate although its ties with the 19 states created out of the former Northern Region remain very strong.
In the over forty years of its existence, the ABU has grown to become the largest, and the most influential and diverse university in Nigeria. Consisting of eighty-two (82) Academic Departments, twelve (12) Faculties, and twelve (12) Research Institutes and Specialized Centres, the University offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in such diverse fields as Agriculture, Public and Business Administration, Engineering, Environmental Design, Education, Biological and Physical Sciences, Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Humanities, Law and Social Sciences. The university has two campuses located on 7,000 hectares of land.