The establishment of Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College in 1875 marks one of the most important events in the educational and social history of modern India. Its establishment is considered as the first significant response of the Indian Muslims to the challenges of post 1857 era. It was an important catalyst in a process of social change among Muslims. "An epoch in the social progress of India" - with these words on his lips Lord Lytton laid the foundation stone of the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College on January 8, 1877. Nearly eight years later, when the noted Orientalist Sir Hamilton Gibb looked back at the history of Muslim Transition from the medieval to the modern way of life, he characterized this College as "the first modernist institution in Islam".
The M.A.O. College was originally affiliated with Calcutta University, and was transferred to the Allahabad University in 1885.It was also around this time that a movement began to have it develop into a university to stand on its own. In 1920, the Act of Indian Legislative Council elevated the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College to the status of a Central University and it became the principal Muslim Institution in India. Section 2(1) of the AMU Act says the university means the "the educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India".
AMU occupies an exalted position among Indian Universities and its contribution to nation building is in no way inferior to the best among the lot. AMU is perhaps the only University in the country, which has high schools in its domain. It has as many as five high schools including one for the visually handicapped, and two senior secondary schools for boys and girls. With more than 30000, students, about 1400 teachers and some 6000 non-teaching staff on its rolls, it has 12 faculties comprising a wide spectrum of academic disciplines (95 departments, 5 institution and 13 centres) and 18 halls of residence with 73 hostels. The University offers 325 courses.
The University has the Z.H. College of Engineering and Technology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Dr.Ziauddin Dental College, Institute of Opthalmology and Food Craft Institute, Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Unit, Centre of Advance Study in History, Centre of West Asian Studies, Centre of Wildlife, Academic Staff College, Women's College, Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College, University Polytechnic for boys and girls, separately and Computer Centre. The University has a campus spread over 467.6 hectares of land.
It attracts students from all over the world, especially Africa, West Asia and South East Asia. The language taught here includes English, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, French, Turkish, German and Russian. The medium of instruction is primarily English