Peter the Great's ukase (edict) regarding the foundation of a university in St. Petersburg was approved by the Senate of the Russian Empire on 28 January 1724.
In the 1920s to 1930s several departments (subdivisions of the faculties) grew into respective new faculties: the Faculty of Physics, the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics, the Faculty of Geography, the Faculty of Geology, and the Faculty of Biology; a number of new departments and research institutes were created, as well as the following faculties for the humanities: the Faculty of History (1934), the Faculty of Philology (1937), the Faculty of Political Economy (1939), and the Faculty of Philosophy (1940). By 1941 the University had as many as 10 faculties and 7 research institutes. In 1944 the Faculties of Oriental Studies and of Law were re-established
Today St Petersburg State University is a major Russian centre of science, education and culture of international repute. Many important universities in Europe, America, and Asia — notably Cambridge University (UK), Bologna University (Italy), the Free University of Berlin and Hamburg University (Germany), Carlton University (Canada), Amsterdam University (the Netherlands), Stockholm University (Sweden), the Municipal University of Osaka (Japan), to name but a few, — have maintained various academic contacts with the University of St. Petersburg.