University of Zagreb is the oldest university in Croatia, and among the oldest universities in south-eastern Europe. The history of the University of Zagreb begins in 1669 with the recognition of university status and privileges to the Jesuit Academy in the free royal town of Zagreb with a chart issued by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor and Hungarian-Croatian king Leopold I. Since that date Philosophical study in Zagreb started with its formal and legal activities as Neoacademia Zagrebiensis.
The Academy stays under the Jesuits more than one century, until 1773. There are 200 students on both studies (philosophical and theological) in 1772.

In 1776 the Empress and the Queen Maria Teresia established the Royal Academy of Science (Regia scientiarum academia) with three faculties: Philosophical, Theological and Law. Though the Academy in Zagreb changed organizationally, in each phase of continuous work (till 1874) it remained the highest educational institution in Croatia and Slavonia, institution that educated most of the Croatian intellectuals.
With the encouragement of the big patron of the Croatian education, culture and art, bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer in 1861 the Croatian Parliament brought legal foundation of the University of Zagreb. During his visit to Zagreb in 1869 the Emperor Franz Joseph signed the chart that had the emperor’s sanction since 5.01.1874. On 19 October 1874 the modern University of Zagreb was officially established. There were four faculties: Law, Theology, Philosophy and Medicine.

The Faculty of Philosophy began with its work in 1874/1875 academic year. There were six Chairs (Philosophy, History, Croatian history, Slav Philology, Classical Philology (Latin) and Classical Philology (Greek)). There were six professors and 26 students. The Chairs gradually became Departments, more complex scientific and educational units, each with several Chairs.

During the First World War there are 74 professors working at the Faculty and during the following years the number of the professors and the studies offered has increased significantly.

Today Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is the largest higher education institution in Croatia and offers more than 100 study programs in BA, MA and PhD level.