January 5, 1934 is the day of the official opening of Kazakh state university, which was established at the basis of the Pedagogical Institute by the decree of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars of USSR and VKPb Kazakh regional committee. On December 2 of the same year KazSU was named after the famous Soviet party and state leader S.M. Kirov.
Then, in January 1934 the first entrance exams at the Faculties of Biology, Physics and Mathematics were held, in September at the Faculty of Chemistry. In 1937, the first Faculty of Humanities – the Faculty of Foreign Languages was established, a year later – the Faculty of Philology. In May 1941, as a result of joining to the University of the Kazakh Communist Institute of Journalism the Faculty of Journalism was established.
After the severe years of war new faculties began to open. In August 1947, the Faculty of Geography was established, and in 1949 the faculties of Philosophy and Economics. As a result of the joining of Alma-Ata institute of law in 1955, the Faculty of Law was established. .
The university campus, which is widely known as “KazGUgrad” deserves special attention. Its history began in the same years as described above. In 1966 the decision was taken on the grant of land with total area of 70 hectares for the construction of educational buildings of S.M. Kirov KazSU. In December 1970 the Council of Ministers of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic adopted a decision to start the construction of the first stage of KazSU complex and in April 1971 the unique project of the construction of KazGUgrad campus was launched and was marked by the laying of the basement of the Main Building of KazSU.
During the same period a strong scientific educational and methodological base has emerged at the university. By mid 1980’s there were 98 departments, 43 scientific research laboratories and 9 scientific research groups at KazSU. The faculty staff consisted of 1180 people; among the faculty staff there were 30 academicians and AS KazSSR correspondent members, more than 100 doctors, professors, more than 600 science candidates, lecturers. Human resources were trained on 21 specialties and 74 specializations.
While evaluating the scientific life of the university in the Soviet period, we should emphasize that during those years, the university has become the basis of the formation and development of promising scientific schools and directions. They were headed by outstanding scientists and scientific organizers, well-known teachers and youth mentors.
Since Kazakhstan gained its independence in 1991, the most important aim of the University was the choice of a new path. KazNU has identified consistent advancement into the world education system and adoption of international standards of specialist training as its general direction of development. The status of the university has significantly changed; in the first year of its sovereignty it was named after the great thinker Abu Nasyr ibn al-Farabi.
KazSU was the first university in the country which has set up research institutes and research centers, A natural integration of the educational process with scientific research has been reached. In 1992-1993 the issue of 13 specialized series of “KazSU herald” magazine on all main scientific areas of natural and humanitarian sciences has begun.
On January 9, 1993 by the special Decree of the President of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev “On the status of al-Farabi Kazakh state university” the University has been awarded the status of an autonomous public institution and was renamed al-Farabi Kazakh State National University.
On February 7, 1994 the Government of RK has adopted the Resolution “On measures on the further strengthening of the material and technical basis of al-Farabi Kazakh state national university”, a particular article of which was the building of the second stage of the campus.
An important moment was the formation of the exclusivity of al-Farabi Kazakh state national university not only in the Republic of Kazakhstan, but also everywhere at the post-soviet territory. The exclusivity of the university was defined by the intellectual potential of lecturers and scientist, the quality of training of specialists, the dominating and coordinating position of KazSNU in the system of university education in Kazakhstan, a high level of scientific methodical and research work. On March, 28 1995 the Academic Council of KazSNU has adopted the Regulations on the attribution of academic titles "Professor of Kazakh State National University" and "Associate Professor of Kazakh State National University."
On July 25, 2000 by the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan the Regulations on the special status of Republican State Enterprise “al-Farabi Kazakh State National University” as an autonomous state higher educational institution. And on July 5, 2001 by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan al-Farabi Kazakh national university was the first among the universities of Kazakhstan to obtain a special status of a national university.
Today al-Farabi Kazakh national university is the largest educational and scientific center of Kazakhstan. KazNU possesses over a team of marvelous specialists, who have obtained high academic titles, State awards and government awards. Those are authors of outstanding scientific discoveries, developers of unique technologies.
The university sees its mission not only in the transfer of existing knowledge as an educational institution, but also in the collection of new knowledge based on science achievements. Using this approach not only teachers, but most of the students, graduates and doctoral students of the University are involved in the scientific research. In fact, today KazNU is an innovation-type research university.
The most valuable assets of the University is its top-level faculty stuff. Today there are 102 departments at the university, where more than 2 500 lecturers are employed, among which more than 200 PhD’s and 800 science candidate, 21 honored figures of the Republic of Kazakhstan, more than 30 laureates of State and nominal awards of the RK and 40 laureates of young scientists’ awards, 45 fellows of government scholarships.
The current stage of the development of KazNU is associated with a dramatic increase of the status of national universities, the rectors of which were appointed by the President and are directly responsible to him. This resolution was based on time requirements, Kazakhstan's entry into a new stage of economic development, strengthening of the country’s authority on the world stage, integration into the global economic and political system.
The position of KazNU on the world stage has strengthened. In November 2008 the University has successfully passed the accreditation of the French certification body Bureau Veritas certification. Once again KazNU took the 1st place in the General ranking of Kazakhstani universities. According to a new world ranking of the best universities prepared by Reytor Agency, KazNU has taken the 150th place on educational criteria among the 500 most famous universities of the world.
During the 75 years of its history KazNU has always stayed the most prestigious university of Kazakhstan; the overwhelming majority of the scientific, political, cultural and economic elite of the country has graduated from KazNU. The university strives to maintain this “brand” today as well.
The history of the University shows that each successful step, each scientific discovery, all the daily educational activities and innovative acquisition always have something of our past experiences and successes of today are based on tradition which have been founded throughout the 75-year history of KazNU, on the work of our predecessors and contemporaries whose names and achievements are an integral part of the Great history of our Alma mater, on sincere service to science and bold innovations made by the oldest university of the country. The staff and the university administration are convinced that the history is not just memory and the past, the history - with all its details and pages – is the basis for further forward progression of al-Farabi Kazakh National University into the future.