Government of India founded the Central University of Tamil Nadu, along with eight other Central Universities, through an Act of Parliament in 2009. It is part of the greater role that the Central Government assumed in making higher education accessible to aspirants from the weaker sections of the society. With eight students in M.A. English Studies, the university started functioning from November 2009, at the Collectorate Annexe at Thiruvarur, 60 kilometers to the east of Thanjavur.
The University offers Integrated M.Sc., postgraduate and doctoral programmes. The departments of Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry offer I,M.Sc. programmes. Postgraduate programmes are available in the departments of English Studies, Tamil, Media and Communication, Social Work. At the moment, Economics and Social Work programmes are run in collaboration with mentoring institutions, namely, Madras School of Economics and Tata Institute of Fundamental Sciences. Most of the departments have commenced doctoral programmes too. The Community College of the University offers Water Management, Para Legal Course. For these the University has signed M.O.Us with the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore, and National Law School University of India, Bengaluru. Enthusiastic academic life, encouragement for the conduct of seminars, conferences, and workshops at the national and international level, vivacious cultural activities, debates, sports and games, competitions and festivals from the very first year have shaped the academic ethos of this institution.