John Carroll University, one of twenty-eight colleges and universities established in the United States by the Society of Jesus, was founded as St. Ignatius College in 1886.  It has been in continuous operation as a degree-granting institution since that time.  In 2011 the University is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

In 1923 the college was renamed John Carroll University, after the first archbishop of the Catholic Church in the United States.  In 1935 it was moved from its original location on the West Side of Cleveland to its present site in University Heights, a suburb ten miles east of downtown Cleveland.

In September 1968 the University made the transition from full-time male enrollment to a fully coeducational institution as women were admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences for the first time.