JKUAT was started in 1981 as a college (Jomo Kenyatta College of Agriculture and Technology) by the Kenyan government with the support of the Japanese government.
In September 1988 JKCAT was declared a constituent College of Kenyatta University and it operated this way until December 1994 when it was established as a full university, thus changing its name to JKUAT.
JKUAT emphasizes on science and technology and it has the following college and institutes: College of Engineering, Institute of Energy & Environment Technology, Institute of Computer Science & IT, Institute of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases and Institute for Biotechnology Research.
The university has the following schools: School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Materials Engineering, School of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering, School of Human Resource Development, School of Architecture & Building Sciences, School of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering.
In recognition of the potential benefits of distance education, JKUAT Vice Chancellor appointed a committee of Open Learning, Distance Learning and eLearning whose mandate is to create modalities for delivering education through eLearning.