Already in the 13th century in Genoa there were Colleges which conferred degrees in law, theology, medicine and arts. The College of Theology was established officially in 1471 with a Papal Bull of Sixtus IV (Francesco della Rovere). Some years after dates the promulgation of a Statute of the College of Medicine by the Council of the Elders in 1481.
In 1569, by a decree of the Senate of Republic of Genoa, the Colleges were incorporated into the schools run by the Jesuits. The Jesuits settled near the old Church of San Girolamo Del Rosso, and enlarged their premises by buying some land on which to house their College and schools. The building, which is now the main University premises, was designed by the architect Bartolomeo Bianco, and began to be used in 1640. After the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773, a special Committee reorganized the various courses of study, dividing them in higher education (Canon Law, Philosophy, Civil Law, Theology, Logic and Metaphysics, Physics) and primary education (courses in Rhetoric, Reading and Writing).
After the establishment of the French Empire, which absorbed the Republic of Genoa, higher education was subdivided into different special Schools: Law, Medicine, Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Commerce, Language and Literature, Chemistry. The University of Genoa was affiliated to the Imperial University of Paris. It was reinstated as a separate university in 1812. After the fall of Napoleon, the provisional Government of the Republic appointed a new Committee in charge of higher education, and at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 it was decided that the University of Genoa be entrusted to the Kingdom of Sardinia, enjoying the same privileges as those granted to the University of Turin. The university was closed owing to political disturbances between 1821 and 1823 and again between 1830 and 1835.
In 1870, two first technical institutes of higher education were established: the Royal Naval School and the Royal School of Economic Studies, that in 1936 were absorbed by the Royal University of Genoa, becoming the Faculties of Engineering and Economics respectively.
In the late 20th century, the university expanded rapidly, with new regional campuses. In 1996 some departments were established in Savona within a remodeled Army Barrack area. That campus hosts the Department of Engineering and also courses in Business. New laboratories have been made in Simulation, Logistics & Industrial Engineering, among others.
In January 2001, an "Institutional Review of University of Genoa" was given by CRE Institutional Evaluation Programme. This evaluation, surveys taken and reports made, explain The University's current promotion of invitations to outside professorships and student body.