Our History

Higher Education for Adults Since 1902

What began as a promise more than 115 years ago has become Franklin University’s single-minded mission: to make a college education possible for everyone. Today, we’re still giving hope to graduating high school seniors, working adults, military service members and international students from around the world.

Founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1902, under YMCA sponsorship as the School of Commerce, Franklin is a well-regarded leader in meeting the needs of busy adult students with nearly 45,000 of our alumni found working in and serving communities across the country and around the world.

History Highlights


  • Courses offered at the Columbus YMCA are formally brought under the YMCA School of Commerce


  • The YMCA School of Commerce is renamed Franklin University


  • Franklin makes an amicable separation from the YMCA


  •  Franklin celebrates the opening of its first building, Frasch Hall


  • Franklin earns accreditation by the North Central Association


  • Franklin launches first graduate program (MBA)


  • Franklin forms the Community College Alliance
  • Franklin offers first online class


  • Franklin one of first education institutions chosen as to participate in the U.S. Army’s GoArmyEd program


  • Franklin celebrates its 100th anniversary


  • Franklin earns a "Best Buy" designation from GetEducated.com


  • Franklin establishes the Four Cornerstones of Educational Philosophy


  • Granted re-accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission for 10-year period
  • Franklin earns its first Top Military Friendly College & Universities honor
  • University introduces new majors in Operations & Supply Chain Management, Public Relations, and Emergency Management & Homeland Security


  • Franklin opens first out-of-state location in Indianapolis
  • Recertified by the Ohio Board of Regents
  • Franklin introduces on-campus international offerings in Macedonia, Poland and Slovakia
  • Franklin receives inaugural Exemplar of Integrity Award
  • Franklin designated a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs
  • Ancilla College and San Jacinto Community College join Franklin's Community College Alliance
  • Franklin announces four new undergraduate majors: Applied Psychology, Interactive Media Design and Healthcare Management
  • Franklin and Columbus State Community College expand their 3+1 Partnership


  • Franklin’s business programs receive specialized accreditation by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Franklin ranks as a Best Value in regionally accredited online MBAs by GetEducated.com
  • Franklin introduces on-campus international offerings in the Ukraine, Turkey and Oman, and enlarges presence in Poland
  • Minnesota West Community and Technical College and Kentucky Community and Technical College System join Franklin University's Community College Alliance
  • Franklin University designated a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine
  • Franklin University designated by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) as a sponsor within the DOS Exchange Visitor Program (J-Visa)
  • Franklin welcomes National Society of Collegiate Scholars chapter


  • New master’s degrees in Accounting and Instructional Design & Learning Technology Program announced
  • Pima Community College and Pennsylvania Highlands Community College join Franklin's Community College Alliance
  • Franklin Purchases Neff Building on Grant Avenue to house the College of Arts, Sciences & Technology 
  • New majors in Criminal Justice Administration, Information Security, and Financial Planning, as well as a new B.S. in Nursing (RN-BSN) announced
  • Franklin introduces on-campus international offerings in the Republic of Serbia
  • Franklin holds commencement ceremony in Wroclaw, Poland, to celebrate the graduation of its first international MBA cohort
  • Franklin named the Best in Business for Online education winner in Columbus CEO magazine reader survey


  • Franklin MBA offered in Delaware, Ohio
  • Franklin accepted for membership in the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)
  • Franklin announces the start of its international Business Administration (BSAD) Subsequent Degree program
  • Franklin celebrates the graduation of its 5,000th MBA student
  • Franklin offers Information Systems and Public Administration majors and an enhanced online Health Information Management major
  • Franklin announces the addition of four new graduate programs: Master of Science in Business Psychology, Master of Healthcare Administration, Master of Science in Human Resource Management and the Master of Public Administration
  • Franklin announces new online Financial Aid Tool
  • Franklin University awarded Military Friendly School Title from G.I. Jobs magazine
  • Franklin opens new regional location in Beavercreek, Ohio
  • Franklin announces on-campus offerings through co-location agreements with North Central State College, Zane State College, and Southern State Community College
  • Franklin announces on-campus offerings at Cuyahoga Community College’s Brunswick University Center and Lakeland Community College’s Holden University Center
  • Franklin’s Testing Center awarded Test Center Certification by the National College Testing Association (NCTA)


  • Three Franklin University faculty members named Top Business Professors in Ohio
  • BlueQuill, Franklin University’s LMS, becomes a resource available to partner organizations. 


  • Franklin announces a partnership agreement with Urbana University, a private university in west central Ohio 
  • Franklin announces new Social Sciences and Entrepreneurship bachelor’s-level programs.
  • Franklin announces new co-location agreements with Rhodes State College and Southwest Technical College (WI).
  • Franklin University granted specialized accreditation by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) for two additional Ross College of Business programs, Financial Planning and Operations & Supply Chain Management.
  • Franklin University named an Honorable Mention winner in the annual Institute of International Education (IIE) Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education recognizing its best practices within its international partnership with the Wroclaw School of Banking in Wroclaw, Poland.
  • Franklin's online M.S. in Accounting program again ranked by GetEducated.com as a "Best Buy." 
  • Franklin announces the creation of its International Institute for Innovative Instruction. Capitalizing on the University’s curriculum design and faculty expertise, the Institute physically and intellectually integrates all of Franklin’s design-related functions and design-related academic programs under one roof.
  • Franklin University selected as a Top Military-Friendly School
  • Franklin University Best in Business - Online Degree Program


  • Franklin announces new Energy Management and Logistics Management bachelor of science majors and Certificate in Criminal Justice.
  • University launches FranklinWORKS, a portfolio of learning solutions that deliver learning solutions for partner organizations. 


  • Franklin announces new doctoral programs in Business Administration, Healthcare Administration and Instructional Design Leadership.