After 30 years as an Extension Center of the University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was designated as a separate campus in 1966. In 1969, UAB became an independent campus within the University of Alabama System, which is governed by a Board of Trustees and administered by a Chancellor. Each campus (Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Birmingham) has a president serving as chief executive officer. Since its establishment as an autonomous institution, UAB has grown from 15 to more than 75 blocks, with approximately 220 buildings providing over 7.8 million square feet of assignable space. For fiscal year 2004-2005, the University's budget was over $1.6 billion.

UAB and the City of Birmingham are linked in a dynamic partnership of growth and development. The annual economic impact on the Birmingham area was over $2.9 billion in fiscal year 2003 and has increased over 15% since then. UAB is Alabama's largest employer and provides Birmingham and the surrounding area with the state's most comprehensive health care facilities and most outstanding research centers along with the best of educational opportunities. As the largest employer in the metropolitan area, UAB generates almost 53,000 full┬Čtime equivalent jobs, translating as eight out of every 100 jobs in the Birmingham metropolitan area, as well as three of every 100 in Alabama.

UAB consists of six academic affairs schools including Arts and Humanities, Business, Education, Engineering, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. In addition, UAB has six health affairs schools including Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Health Professions, Optometry, and Public Health. The UAB Academic Health Center had its beginnings in 1945 when the primary campus of the School of Medicine was relocated from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham.

The UAB Academic Health Center, with its affiliated University Hospital and The Kirklin Clinic as its multidisciplinary outpatient center, has become Alabama's principal tertiary care center and has attracted some of the most outstanding faculty and staff in the nation. The School of Medicine is a designated Carnegie I Research Institute and their work has won international attention for research into cancer, heart disease, viral infections, and diabetes to name just a few examples. UAB as a whole ranks among the nation's top public institutions in federally funded research support with 2,653 active grants and contracts receiving over $433 million in support.