Central State University’s history began when Wilberforce College was established in 1856. This was founded as a partnership between the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1887, the Ohio General Assembly enacted legislation to create the Industrial Department at Wilberforce College, to provide training for teachers of lower grades and vocational education. This department operated as part of Wilberforce University, since 1863 owned and operated by the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 1941 the Normal and Industrial Department expanded from a two- to a four-year program. It was legally split from Wilberforce College in 1947, when it became the College of Education and Industrial Arts at Wilberforce, Ohio. In 1951, it was renamed Central State College. With the expansion of graduate departments, the institution achieved university status in 1965. Central State is commonly referred to as “C-State,” and operates four colleges: the College of Education, College of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, College of Business, and College of Science and Technology.