In the fall of 1945, just weeks after the end of World War II, a group of Japanese Christian educators initiated a move to establish a university based on Christian principles. The Foreign Missions Conference of North America and the U.S. Education Mission, both visiting Japan at the time, gave their wholehearted support, conveying this plan to people in the U.S. Amidst the post-war yearning for reconciliation and world peace, Americans supported this project with great enthusiasm. In 1948, the Japan International Christian University Foundation (JICUF) was established in New York to coordinate fund-raising efforts in the U.S. People in Japan also found hope in a cause dedicated toworld peace. Organizations, firms, and individuals made donations to this ambitious undertaking, regardless of their religious orientation anddespite the often destitute circumstances in the immediate post-war years. Bank of Japan Governor Hisato Ichimada headed the supporting organization to lead the national fund-raising drive. ICU has been unique from its inception, with its endowment procured through good will transcending national borders.

On June 15, 1949, Japanese and North American Christian leaders convened at the Gotemba YMCA Camp to establish International Christian University. With the inauguration of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Councillors, the founding principles and a fundamental educational plan were laid down. Establishing an interdenominational Christian university had been a dream of Japanese and American Christians for half a century: the Gotemba Conference had finally realized their aspirations.

In 1950, ICU purchased a spacious site in Mitaka City on the outskirts of Tokyo with the donations it received within Japan. The campus was dedicated on April 29, 1952, with the language institute set up in the first year. In March 1953, the Japanese Ministry of Education authorized ICU as an incorporated educational institution, the College of Liberal Arts opening on April 1 as the first four-year liberal arts college in Japan.

The university celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1999, with diverse events and projects during the commemorative five-year period leading to March 2004. In 2003, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology selected ICU's "Research and Education for Peace, Security and Conviviality" for the 21st Century Center of Excellence Program and its "Liberal Arts to Nurture Responsible Global Citizens" for the Distinctive University Education Support Program (Good Practice).

In 2008, an academic reform was enforced in the College of Liberal Arts, which replaced the system of six divisions with a new organization of the "Division of Arts and Sciences" and a system of academic majors. As of April 2008, all new students simply start as College of Liberal Arts students, making their choice of major from 31 areas by the end of their sophomore year. Students now have more time to make a decision while they study diverse subjects through general education and foundation courses. MEXT chose ICU for its fiscal year 2007 Distinctive University Education Support Program, "Educational Support for Liberal Arts to Nurture International Learning: From Academic Advising to Academic Planning" in acknowledgement of the university's efforts for educational improvement. In 2010, the Graduate School also conducted a reform and integrated the four divisions into a new "School of Arts and Sciences."

ICU is continually working to reconfirm its responsibilities and fulfill its mission for the changing times.

June 15 1949 International Christian University founded at Gotemba Conference
April 1 1952 ICU Language Institute established
April 29 1952 ICU Campus Dedication Ceremony
March 23 1953 ICU authorized as a school juridical person
April 1 1953 ICU College of Liberal Arts founded
April 1 1957 ICU Graduate School founded
April 1 1978 ICU High School established
June 15 1984 35th Anniversary Ceremony
May 26 1999 50th Anniversary Ceremony
September 11 2002 Ichimada Memorial Peace Bell Installed in the ICU Chapel
April 1 2008 6 Division system of the College of Liberal Arts replaced with a new organization of the "Division of Arts and Sciences" and the system of academic majors
April 1 2010 4 Divisions of the Graduate School integrated into "School of Arts and Sciences"