朔自1872年3月9日，加拿大基督長老教會傳教士馬偕、叡理博士（Rev. Dr. George Leslie Mackay）登陸淡水，作佈教、教育及醫療工作。擇定淡水砲台埔小山丘上（本校現址），興建校舍，並親自規劃監工，校舍建成後，為感念其家鄉安大略省牛津郡的居民（Oxford County）遂命名為（Oxford College），（中文名為：理學堂大書院）後人稱之為牛津學堂。當時所授的課程，除了神學聖經道理，尚有社會學的歷史、倫理、中國字部、中國歷史，自然科學的天文、地理、地質、植物、動物、礦物以及醫學理念、解剖學及臨床實習等，是台灣通識課程的先驅；也是台灣教育史上最早的西式學校，更是本省歷史最悠久的一所學校。現在的台灣神學院，淡江高級中學、真理大學、馬偕醫學院以及遍佈北部台灣的所有基督長老教會與機構，都是直接或間接由此衍生的。
Dating back to March 9, 1872, Rev. Dr. George Leslie Mackay, the missionary of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, first landed in Tamsui and began his decades-long teaching, educational, and medical work. He built a school with his full supervision on a small hill above a fortress in Tamsui (the location of current Aletheia University). After the school building was completed, it was named “Oxford College” in honor of the donations from residents of his hometown in Oxford County, Ontario. Later generations called it “Niu-Jin Xue Tang” (in Chinese). A pioneer of general education in Taiwan, Oxford College included a variety of courses such as theology, the history of sociology, ethics, the Chinese Characters, Chinese history and natural sciences such as astronomy, geography, geology, plants, animals, minerals, and medical concepts such as anatomy, and clinical practice, etc. The school was the earliest Western-style and the oldest in Taiwan's education history. After Oxford College, there are quite a few other institutions directly or indirectly derived from it, such as Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, Tamkang Senior High School, Aletheia University, Mackay Junior College of Medicine, Nursing and Management, and Presbyterian churches and organizations throughout northern Taiwan.
由北部台灣所屬各基督長老教會所組成的「北部台灣基督長老教會大會」為繼承馬偕博士對台灣文化、教育、醫療的功勞與貢獻，於1959年決議在淡水「牛津書院」原址，籌設大學。於1965年（民國五十四年）八月奉教育部核准設立「私立淡水工商管理專科學校」，英文校名為Tamsui Institute of Business Administration，1971年四月英文校名改為Tamsui Oxford College。
To inherit Dr. Mackay's contributions to Taiwan's culture, education, and medical care, in 1959, the "General Assembly of Northern Taiwan Presbyterian Church" which is composed of various Christian Presbyterian churches affiliated in northern Taiwan, discussed the plans of setting up a university on the location of "Oxford College" in Tamsui. In August 1965, the Ministry of Education approved the establishment of such institute. The school name was “Tamsui Institute of Business Administration” but changed to “Tamsui Oxford College” in April 1971.
1994年8月1日，奉准予改制為四年制獨立學院，定名為：「私立淡水工商管理學院」英文校名為Tamsui Oxford University College。
On August 1, 1994, the school was restructured into a four-year independent college and was named "Private Tamsui Institute of Business Administration" with English school name “Tamsui Oxford University College”.
On August 1, 1999, the school was renamed “Zhen-Li University” and the English name was “Aletheia University” after approval by the Ministry of Education.
On August 19, 1985, by Order (74) Tai-nei-min-zi No. 3309 the Ministry of Interior designated Oxford College as a second-class monument, later as a national monument after the province was abolished. In order that this monumental building should be properly used to remember the hardships of the sages, the school recommended to Northern Taiwan Presbyterian Church that this building be used to preserve the historical relics, promote the gospel, so as to provide tourism, academics, historic sites, guidance for teaching and practice, the school formally proposed to the Executive Committee of the General Assembly and was approved in 1986, using the "Oxford School" as (1) the History Museum of Aletheia University (2) the Mackay Memorial Museum (3) the History Museum of Northern Taiwan Presbyterian Church.
Since 1986 the University has actively collected, identified, and sorted out related historical materials, cultural relics, publications, etc. of Dr. Mackay and of his preaching life in Taiwan, as well as the relevant records of Northern Taiwan Presbyterian Church. For the past years the school has kept on making precious historical materials available to the world through exhibitions, international academic seminars, etc. It also provides research materials for many domestic and foreign historians, and keeps on expanding while making the exhibition hall available to the public at its best efforts. The number of visitors has continuously increased, reaching 55,000 a year. In terms of group tours, more than three hundred or four hundred groups visited, including church groups, teachers and student groups at all levels of schools and the society, as well as foreign groups. Today, the "Oxford College" has become a must-visit place for tourists, and a field trip of local education for primary and secondary schools.
The History Museum of Aletheia not only collects many precious historical materials worthy of scholars' research, but is a living subject for teachers at all levels and the church members in search of their roots. It is also a must-visit place for foreign visitors from Canada. Since March 2002, the “Oxford College” has joined the National Digital Archives Program to digitize and to properly preserve and integrate all its precious historical materials so the public can have a broader, better, and faster kind of service.