Government Arts College, Maravaneri, Salem is the oldest higher education institution in Salem District. It was improved as an Anglo-Vernacular School in 1857 by A.J. Alexander Arbuthnot and converted into District School (Zillah High School) with 195 students. The school functioned in a rented building till 1863, then it moved to its own building, constructed in collaboration with public subscription and Government grant. In 1864 the school sent its first batch of students to Madras University’s Matriculation Examination.

In March 1879, the school was upgraded and affiliated to Madras University. Seven students attended First Arts Examination held in 1880-81. Salem Municipality had the privilege to manage and develop the higher educational institution in the district.  In 1944, it was raised to the status of the first grade college. The new building was not sufficient to accommodate the increased strength of the students. Rathinasamy Pillai, the Municipal Chairman, played a prominent role in making the college to cope with the increased number of students. With great effort, he was able to construct a second building with subscriptions and donations received from the public and other institutions. Hence during that period, the student strength of the college increased from 408 to 1008.

In 1st April 1960, the college was undertaken by the Government and began to function under the Education Department of Tamil Nadu Government. In 1969, P.G. Courses in Maths, History and English had been introduced. In 1979, B.A. Degree course in Co-Operation had been introduced. In 1994-95, B.Sc. Degree course in Computer Science had been introduced.

The centenary celebrations of the college took place on 19.11.1998 owing to the genuine efforts taken by the Honorable Minister for Agriculture, Mr. S.Veerapandi Arumugam. He presided over the function and honorable minister for education Prof. K.Anbazhagan laid the foundation stone for the centenary Building.

The construction of the first floor of the centenary building commenced on 04.11.2000. The Honorable Chief Minister for Tamil Nadu Dr. M. Karunanithi inaugurated the building on 04.11.2001.

In 2000, the NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) inspected this college and granted three star status. The Department of Tamil started its Research programmes in 2001-2002.

From the year 2002-03, Botany – Vocational Biotechnology (E.M) Course has been conducted in the department of Botany with the monetary support of the UGC. Since 2003-04 M.Phil and Ph.D., both full – time and part-time, courses have been taught in the department of Economics. From the academic year 2003 – 04, under self-financing scheme B.B.A., M.Com. and M.A.(Co-Op) courses have commenced for the first time.

In the academic year 2004-05, some more self-financing courses like B.Sc.(Statistics & CA), BCA, AICTE approved MCA and M.Sc (Computer Science) started functioning . From the year 2005- 06, B.A. Co-Op (T.M), M.Sc. ( Stat. ) and M.Sc. Botany courses also were commenced under self-supporting scheme. In the same year English, Geology and History departments started offering M.Phil and Ph.D research programmes (Full –time and Part-time).

From 2008-09 Ph.D Full-time and Part-time research activities began in the department of Statistics. All self-financing courses started until 2005-06 were converted into regular courses by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu in the year 2006-07.
Representatives of the NAAC, appointed by the UGC reaccredited the college in the year 2006 and conferred B++ status.

A body of academicians appointed by the UGC to grant autonomy to college visited the college and offered autonomous status to our college in the year 2007-08 . From the commencement of autonomous status, the old method of examination was replaced by an alternative system with internal marks in semester system.

In accordance with the order of Government of Tamilnadu, shift system was introduced in the year 2007-08 and the second shift classes started functioning in departments like Maths, Computer Science, Tamil, English, Commerce, History and Co-Operation for the benefit of the students from the lower strata of society.

The college timings is subject to change as per Government orders. Accordingly, the college working hours for both shift I and Shift II are observed as follows:

Shift I : 9.00  pm   to 1.25  pm
Shift II : 1.30 pm to 5.55 pm