De La Salle College was founded in 1911 when the Brothers of the Christian Schools opened their first school in the Philippines on General Luna Street in the historic city of Manila. Classes were conducted in Spanish for the first 125 boys of varying ages and grade levels who enrolled and began their schooling in June 1911. During those early years, the Brothers were allowed to offer the full primary and intermediate programs (grades 1-4, 5-7) and a three-year commercial secondary school program. The Commercial High School Diploma was given for the first time to three graduates in 1915.
In November 1917, the school was granted a charter authorizing it to confer an Associate in Arts degree. In 1920, the school opened a two-year commercial course. The school's catalog for 1925 listed courses for an Associate in Arts, a two-year Commerce curriculum, and a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts (although the last two degrees were never conferred before World War II). In 1930, the College was authorized to confer the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Science of Education.
The last pre-war arts degree holders were graduated in 1931; the Associate in Arts Program was then discontinued because the department was understaffed. The Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree was first conferred in 1931 after a third year had been added to the two-year commercial sequence.
During the Second World War, the College grounds were seized by the Japanese occupation forces and made into defense quarters. Classes continued during the war years, but academics suffered from a greatly reduced curriculum. Repeated bombings of the area resulted in the total destruction of the gymnasium and the loss of library holdings and laboratory equipment. On February 12, 1945, a band of Japanese soldiers massacred 16 Brothers and several families who had taken refuge with them in the College Chapel.
Home from concentration camps at the end of the war, the Brothers resumed classes in July 1945 despite a lack of manpower and facilities; 60 boys were graduated from the high school at the end of that school year. Seeing the important role they were to play in rebuilding the Philippines through education, the Brothers enriched the Commerce curriculum, expanding it into a four-year program.
During the following years, the undergraduate schools of Engineering (1947), Arts and Sciences (1953), Education (1959), Industrial Technology (1973), and Career Development (1980) were established. Also established were the graduate schools of Business Administration (1960) and Education (1963). The College of Industrial Technology was integrated with the College of Engineering in 1979 as an Engineering Technology Program. The Bachelor of Science in Computer Science Program was started in 1981 upon the organization of the Center for Planning, Information, and Computer Science. Beginning 1984-1985, the Computer Science Program was spun off as a program under the College of Computer Studies.
The La Salle Teacher Training Center, put up in 1982 to revive the earlier education program, was elevated to the La Salle School of Education in 1987. The events of the 1970s have been crucial to the development of De La Salle as a social institution. In 1973, the College recognized the need for Catholic women's education and opened its door to female students. That same year, the blueprint of a scheme projecting the planned improvements of the school from 1973 to 1983 was published. This document, called De La Salle Ten Years, was updated yearly.
The greatest step forward taken by the school in this decade was the change of status from a College to a University. The change took effect on Feb. 19, 1975 and was a result of the outstanding academic and professional contributions the school had made to Philippine private education. The beginning of school year 1981-1982 was another milestone in the University's history. This year marked the change from the traditional semestral academic schedule to the year-round trimestral calendar for all units of the University, including the different undergraduate colleges.
Today, the University believes the Christian man and woman will provide needed leadership in the development of the Philippines. The school seeks to develop this leadership quality in its students through a liberal Christian education. Its commitment to this kind of education is based on a belief in the importance of Christian values and in the development in its students a concern for the country's social and economic problems.