The Kyoto University was established in 1897. It is the second university to be established in Japan. Within ten years of the founding of the University, the Colleges of Science and Engineering, Law, Medicine, and Letters were opened. In July 1914 the College of Science and Engineering was divided into the College of Science and the College of Engineering, giving the University five Colleges. In accordance with the promulgation of the Imperial University Law, the Colleges were reorganized in February 1919 to comprise the Faculties of Law, Medicine, Engineering, Letters, and Science, and in the following May the Faculty of Economics was established.
In the early period of the University, Presidents were chosen by the Ministry of Education. However, Faculty members increasingly desired more autonomy. In 1915, for the first time, the opinions of the Faculties were considered in the selection of a new President, and eventually, in 1919, a system for the election of Presidents by the faculty members themselves was introduced.
The university has three campuses in Yoshida, Uji, Katsura.