Sam Ratulangi University has evolved from a number of local universities starting as far back as 1954. At that time, Pinaesaan University was begun on October 1, 1954 with only the Law Faculty. Then in 1957, Permesta University was started. These two smaller universities were merged to become the University of Manado in 1958, with 4 faculties: Law, Economics, Letters, and Political Science. Subsequently, in 1961 the Ministry of Education recognized the newly named, University of North and Central Sulawesi, as a state university having seven faculties: Law, Medicine, Agriculture, Economics, Political Science, Letters and Education. After several changes and re-organizations, the university was renamed Sam Ratulangi University in 1965. The new name of the university was in honor of Dr. Gerungan Saul Samuel Jacob Ratulangi, renowned throughout Indonesia, but hailing from Manado, as a leader in the field of education.
Initially, UNSRAT had only eight faculties: Law, Economics, Medicine, Agriculture, Animal Sciences, Fisheries, Political Science, and Engineering. Since then, the Faculties of Mathematics and Science, and Public Health have been added along with the establishment of Post-graduate Program. UNSRAT has always welcomed progressive change since its inception and continues to do so. It is a hallmark of successful university growth in Indonesia: learning from the past, focused on the present, and ever mindful of the future