Georgia Southwestern State University, a four-year unit of the University System of Georgia, was founded in 1906 as the Third Agricultural and Mechanical School. In 1926, the General Assembly granted a charter authorizing the school to offer two years of college work and to change its name to the Third District Agricultural and Normal College. The new charter resulted in the expansion of the curriculum to include courses in teacher training, and the State Department of Education gave teacher certification to students who completed the program.
In 1932, by legislative enactment, this college and other state-supported institutions of higher learning in Georgia were organized into the University System of Georgia and placed under the jurisdiction of the Board of Regents. As a unit of the University System, the College continued its two-year curriculum and changed its name to Georgia Southwestern College.
In 1964, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia authorized Georgia Southwestern College to begin its transition to a four-year degree-granting institution. This action resulted in the development of baccalaureate programs, and the first bachelor's degrees were conferred in June 1968. The name of the institution was changed to Georgia Southwestern State University in July of 1996. A program of graduate studies leading to the Master of Education degree was approved by the Board of Regents and initiated in June 1973. This program has undergone continuous growth and development, and the Specialist in Education degree was begun in the summer of 1982. The Master of Science in Administration was added in the winter of 1983. The Master of Science in Computer Science was added in the spring of 1986, and the Master of Business Administration was added to the curriculum in 2003. Most recently, the Master of Arts in English was added in the fall of 2011, and the Master Science in Nursing (online) was added in the fall of 2012.
Among distinguished GSW alumni are former President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jimmy Carter, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, and the late Griffin Bell, former U.S. Attorney General.