We do not know for sure all the details of his family origins, but we know he was well educated. He attended the University of Padua where he learned about Aristotle and his writings. This instruction in philosophy would become the foundation of his later work.
Sometime around the year 1223 or so, Albert experienced an encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary. This encounter moved him so much that he chose to become a member of the Dominican Order. He thereafter studied theology.
He excelled in his studies and later became a lecturer for the Dominicans at Cologne. He also traveled around the region to lecture gaining regional, then international acclaim.
At the same time he started lecturing, Albert produced “Summa de Bono,” after collaboration with Phillip the Chancellor, who was a renown theologian from France.
In 1245, Albert became a master of theology under Gueruc of Saint-Quentin. He was the first German Dominican to achieve the title. He later went on to teach theology at the University of Paris, and became the Chair of Theology at the College of St. James. One of his students was the famous Thomas Aquinas who would also become a doctor of the Church and a saint.
Learn more on St. Albert the Great: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=144