The history of Cameron University corresponds to the history of the area it serves in Southwest Oklahoma. It was founded by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1908 as Cameron State School of Agriculture, one of six agricultural high schools in the state and placed under the jurisdiction of the State Commission of Agriculture and Industrial Education. The institution was named for E. D. Cameron, first State Superintendent of Schools.
Cameron added junior college work in 1927 when local needs demanded access to higher education. With the changed function came the name Cameron State Agricultural College. It became solely a college in 1941 when the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education was formed, and joined the group of institutions governed by the Board of Regents for Oklahoma A&M Colleges.
Baccalaureate degrees were authorized in 1966 by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, following action by the Legislature. In May of 1970, the first bachelor’s degrees were awarded. The institution's name was changed to Cameron College in 1971, and was further amended to Cameron University in 1974.
In 1988, the State Regents expanded Cameron's functions to include offerings at the master’s degree level. This change in function was the first granted to an Oklahoma institution since Cameron was given authority to offer bachelor’s degrees more than 20 years earlier. The first master’s degrees were awarded to forty‑one graduates in May of 1990.
In recognition that Cameron’s mission had become significantly more complex and predominantly urban, on June 1, 1992, governance of the University was transferred by the Oklahoma Legislature to the governing board for the University of Oklahoma, the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma (“Board of Regents”). With the transfer of governance came new affiliations between Cameron and the University of Oklahoma, which have broadened and strengthened academic offerings by both institutions.