Stephen James Randall was born in Toronto on September 9, 1944. He graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours History (1966), and from the University of Toronto with his Master of Arts in United States and European History (1967), and a Ph.D. in History/International Relations (1972). His initial academic appointments include Instructor, National University, Bogota, Columbia (1967), Lecturer to Assistant Professor, University of Toronto (1971-1974), and Assistant to full Professor at McGill University (1974-1989) where he was also Chair of the Department of History (1975-1978).
Randall moved to Calgary in 1989 with an appointment as Professor in the Department of History. During his tenure at the University of Calgary, Randall has also held the Imperial Oil-Lincoln McKay Chair in American Studies (1989-1997), Director of the Institute for United States Policy Research (1994-2006), Special Advisor to the President for the Academic Plan (2002-2005), and Director of the Latin American Research Centre (2010-2014). Randall was granted Professor Emeritus status in 2014.