Founded in 1856 by the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) Niagara University was first chartered in 1861 as a seminary. In 1883, Niagara was rechartered as a university for “the instruction of youth in the learned languages and in the liberal and useful arts and sciences.” In the years since its founding, NU has retained this tradition of emphasis on both the liberal and useful arts and sciences while it has grown into a mid-sized university of approximately 2,800 undergraduates, 850 graduate students, and continuing and community education.

In January 2007, Niagara University, with Ministerial Consent and accreditation by the Ontario College of Teachers began to offer its Bachelor of Professional Studies program leading to Ontario Teacher Certification. Since then, program has graduated more than 600 teachers.