The University of Kragujevac rose from the foundations of the Lyceum of Serbia's Principality, the first higher education institution in modern Serbia, established in Kragujevac by the decree of Prince Milos Obrenović on July 1st, 1838. Its first rector was Atanasije Nikolic (1803 – 1882). The Lyceum of Serbia's principle planted the seed of higher education, from which the first modern higher education institutions originated at the beginning of the 1960s. University of Kragujevac was founded on May 21, 1976. At that time, the University incorporated five faculties: Mechanical Engineering, Economics, Law, Natural Sciences & Mathematics, Medicine and College of Mechanical Engineering in Kraljevo, and two research institutes: Small Grains Research Institute in Kragujevac and Fruit Research Institute in Čačak.
The University was established and developed based on the concept of dispersed university, comprising 12 faculties in six towns of the Central Serbia region: Kragujevac, Čačak, Jagodina, Kraljevo, Užice and Vrnjačka Banja. However, the University managed to turn this into one of its most distinctive advantages, which allows it to use economic and geographical potentials and human resources from the territory, which spreads over an area of 5000 square kilometres and has about 2.5 million citizens. Today, the University of Kragujevac is a modern education and research centre embracing almost all major teaching and research areas, with a student population of 20,000 and 1,200 academic staff.