Founded in 1755, the university was renamed in honor of its founder, Mikhail Lomonosov, in 1940. It also claims to have the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy.
A few more narrowly specialized Moscow colleges, including the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations were split off from MSU at one time or another and have since established strong reputations of their own, arguably even surpassing their parent in terms of prestige and quality of education.
The university has well-established contacts with the most distinguished universities in the world, exchanging students and lecturers with the leading international institutions of higher education. It houses the UNESCO International Demography Courses, the UNESCO Hydrology Courses, the International Biotechnology Center, the International LASER Center, courses or seminars on Russian as a foreign language. In 1991 the French University College, the Russian-American University and the Institute of German Science and Culture were opened.
The university has awarded honorary degrees to more than 60 scientists, statesmen and politicians from abroad. Many prominent university scholars and scientists in return hold honorary degrees from foreign academies and universities.