Madurai Kamaraj University was established as a State University in 1966 under the Madurai Kamaraj University Act 1965. In 2007 it attained the status of University with Potential for Excellence in ‘Teaching, Research and Outreach’. It has been accredited with “A” grade in the 3rd cycle (2015) by NAAC. Similarly in the "SWACHHTA" Ranking of Higher Educational Institutions in the Country, the HRD Ministry awarded Second Rank to the University in the category of Government Institutions.
The University has 20 Schools comprising 77 Departments; they offer 44 Post Graduate, 40 M.Phil. and 57 Ph.D. programmes. Twelve schools are recognized by the University Grants Commission under Special Assistance Programmes (SAP) such as CAS, DSA and DRS at various phases. Department of Science and Technology (DST) New Delhi has selected seven science Schools for its PURSE programme.
The University has the record of having 4 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awardees, 8 FNAs, 8 FNAScs, 11 FAScs, 2 TWAS, a Senior Spallanzani Fellow and 16 Tamil Nadu Scientist Awards. Fourteen faculty members of the University have been elevated as Vice-Chancellors of various universities in India including the present Vice-Chancellor.
The Directorate of Distance Education of this university was established in 1971. It is one of the pioneers in the field of non-formal education in the country. It has student strength of about 1.20 lakh (0.12 million). Currently it offers 23 UG/PG programmes and caters to the educational needs of predominantly rural and underprivileged students.
The Departments of Political Science & Public Administration are the oldest departments in the Directorate of Distance Education offering both UG/PG programmes from 1970s onwards. Nearly half a century of their existence, these departments have metamorphosed from the avatar of correspondence course mode to the new age technologically savvy online course mode.
Recently, the departments have signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand and with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Hanoi, Vietnam for promoting student mobility and collaborative research.