RMC was founded in 1874 by Alexander Mackenzie to establish a military college "for the purpose of providing a complete education in all branches of military tactics, fortification, engineering, and general scientific knowledge in subjects connected with and necessary to thorough knowledge of the military profession." On June 1, 1876, the Military College of Canada opened its doors to the first class of eighteen gentlemen cadets in Kingston, Ontario. These are the "Old Eighteen," known by name to all cadets today. Two years later, in 1878, Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, granted the College the right to use the prefix "Royal". RMC now offers a wide variety of programmes in Social Sciences and Humanities, Science, and Engineering.
The Division of Graduate Studies was established by the RMC of Canada Senate in 1959. The title became Division of Graduate Studies and Research (DGSR) in 1963. The first graduate degree was granted in 1966. DGSR now offers graduate programs at the Masters and PhD levels in many programs in Social Sciences and Humanities, Sciences and Engineering on site though as well by distance learning through the Division of Continuing Studies.