The institution was founded in 1925 as the Civic College, teaching public administration, organisation management and journalism.
From 1930 onwards it was known as the School of Social Sciences. The institution's vocationally oriented bachelor's degrees were expanded into municipal administration, public law, child protection, and civic education as well as a master's degree in social sciences. The first faculty, the Faculty of Social Sciences, was established in 1949. The programmes offered by the school grew, such as degrees in social and youth work, librarianship and economics as well as a prison officer's diploma.
In 1960 the institution relocated to Tampere to its new Päätalo main building, designed by Toivo Korhonen. After the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration were established in 1964 and 1965, the institution was renamed as the University of Tampere in 1966.
The University of Tampere merged with Tampere University of Technology on 1 January 2019, creating the present Tampere University. Campus at the centre of Tampere City is a hub of leadership studies, education, natural sciences, medicine and life sciences, communication and social sciences.