CEU was established in 1909
by pedagogists Librada Avelino and Carmen de Luna as the Centro Escolar de Señoritas, based in Parañaque. Its main purpose was to teach "ideal womanhood, intelligent citizenry, and democratic leadership that would instill in [the women] the tenets of science and virtue." It was the first nonsectarian women's school in the Philippines. When it opened, CEU only had one blackboard, some benches, and a few books, and it wasn't until 1921 that CEU established its first program: the College of Pharmacy. It was followed by the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Education, Dentistry, and Optometry. It began operating as a university in 1930 and in 1932 was converted into a corporation for financial reasons. Its name was then changed to Centro Escolar University, which still holds today. In 2009, the School of Law and Jurisprudence was established.
Mendiola, the main campus
There is also an Integrated School at CEU, which was established upon the university's founding, where students have the opportunity to attend preschool, primary school as well as high school. The Integrated School was removed from the Mendiola campus in the mid-1990s and in Malolos in 2004 after nearly 100 years open. It were revived starting in the 2014-2015 academic year as the Centro Escolar Integrated School (CEIS) and is offered in Manila, Malolos, and Makati.
Malolos campus: Opened in 1978. This campus has a teaching hotel called the Ada (after founder Avelino) for the hospitality and tourism program. This campus is also home to the Centrodome, an auditorium that seats 5,000 people.
Parañaque campus (defunct): The Parañaque campus was phased out in the 1990s.
Sampaloc campus (defunct): When the university started in 1907, it was held in a rented house in the Sampaloc area of Manila. When its student population became too high, it moved to its permanent home in Mendiola.
The Graduate School was founded in 1926 during Avelino's presidency. CEU is the only school in the Philippines that offers a post-doctoral degree in Total Quality Management in Higher Education.
School of Accountancy and Management: Established in 1928 as the College of Commerce. Previous names include the College of Commerce and Business; the College of Commerce and Secretarial Administration; the College of Accountancy, Commerce, and Secretarial Administration; and the School of Accountancy, Business, Secretarial and Public Administration. The business department has honors from CHED for its excellence. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Dentistry: Established in 1925. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Education, Liberal Arts, Music and Social Work: Established in the late 1990s when four major departments were combined. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Medical Technology: Established in 1960. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Medicine: The school's first graduates finished their degree in 2021 and scored an 80% passing rate. In 2008, CEU established a subsidiary called the Centro Escolar University Hospital, Inc., but no moves have been made to build a teaching hospital. As such, the school works with the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Nursing: Established in 1975. CEU nursing students on the Makati campus earned a 100% passing rate on the licensure exam in 2021. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Optometry: Established in 1928. The school has honors from CHED for its excellence; in 2021, CEU optometry students earned the top passing rate of the licensure exam at 93.6%. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Pharmacy: Established in 1921, the first higher education program at the university. In 1999, the College of Pharmacy became the School of Pharmacy with the introduction of MS and PhD programs. The BS became available on the Malolos campus in 2001 and the BS and Pharm.D. were available in Makati, Gil Puyat in 2005. It is a founding member of the Philippine Association of the Colleges of Pharmacy and the Asian Association of Schools and Pharmacy. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Science and Technology: Established in 1928 as the School of Science. It was the first school in Asia to offer a cosmetic science degree. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.
School of Nutrition and Hospitality Management: Established as the College of Foods and Nutrition. Previous names include the College of Nutrition and Home Economics (1967); College of Nutrition, Home Economics and Tourism (1989); and the School of Tourism, Family Economics, and Nutrition (2001) before landing on the School of Nutrition and Hospitality Management in 2007. The school is based on the Mendiola campus.