Kutztown University was founded on September 15, 1866, as the Keystone Normal School on what is now the site of Old Main. The purpose of the school was to provide teacher education. The school grew over the following decades and in 1928 the institution was designated Kutztown State Teacher's College and authorized to confer the Bachelor's degree.

As the twentieth century continued, the school branched out and offered more majors in different fields. In 1960, the Pennsylvania Department of Education changed the institution's name to Kutztown State College and diversified its goals toward "a center for learning for the best possible education of the youth of Pennsylvania in the arts and sciences and preparation of able and dedicated teachers." Since 1960, the school has grown, teaching a student body of more than 9,500 with more than 365 faculty members.

On July 1, 1983, the institution became Kutztown University of Pennsylvania as part of the State System of Higher Education. Since that time the institution has continued to grow and diversify in facilities, research and staff toward the future. During the 1991-92 academic year, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania celebrated its 125th year of service to the region and community.