Government Arts College, Tiruvannamalai was established in the year 1966 as per G.O.M.S.No.502 Edn., Dated: 06-07-1966 of Tamilnadu. Initially four science courses and two arts courses were started in 1966-67 B.A. History, B.A. English Literature, B.A. Tamil Literature, B.A. Economics were started in the academic year 1969–70, 1972-73 and 1979-80 respectively. Further B.Sc. Botany, Chemistry, Physics, and M.Sc. Physics were started in the academic year 1969-70, 1970-71, 1972-73, 1977-78 and 1982-83 respectively.
NCC was started with an intake of 132 cadets in 1971-72 and students’ Co-Operative society was started in 1976-77. In addition to the various arts and science courses, B.Com (day) and B.Com (evening) course was introduced in 1983-84 and 1984-85 respectively. Part time sequential M.Phil. courses for staff members were started in 1985-86.
The college got ‘B’ Grade by NAAC in 2004. The college also ventured and started self financing PG courses like M.A. History, M.A. Economics and M.Com in the academic year 2004-05 and M.Sc. Mathematics, M.Sc. Botany, BBA (UG) courses were introduced in 2005 – 06, but all these courses were regularized by Government of Tamilnadu in 2006-07. B.Sc. Computer Science course was introduced in 2008-09. Apart from the above courses M.Phil., Mathematics, Physics, Botany, History, Economics and Commerce were also introduced in 2009-10, M.Sc. Computer Science was started in the academic year 2010-11, M.Sc., Chemistry, M.A., English, Tamil were started in the academic year 2011-12, M.Phil., and Ph.D., Chemistry, English were also introduced in 2012-13.