Peking University (PKU) has set up an astronomy division and offered courses in astronomy since the 1920s. In 1960, the Department of Geophysics offered PKU's first degree program in astronomy. The Department of Astronomy was established in the year 2000, then in 2001 became part of the School of Physics, and was given the status of National Key Discipline, after which it expanded substantially.
The Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (KIAA) was established in 2007 through the visionary leadership and generosity of Peking University and the Kavli Foundation, as an institute committed to the pursuit of academic excellence. During the fifty-year history of the astronomy program, PKU astronomy has trained hundreds of professional astronomers; its alumni include three academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and five observatory directors in China.