The need for the creation of a higher education institution in Crete had arisen from an early age; geographical and demographic reasons forced the operation of the third Greek university here, but for various reasons its creation was delayed. The founding decree was published in 1973. The seat of the University was designated Rethymno, where it was decided to remain the then single School of Philosophy and to establish the School of Sciences in Heraklion..
The timing of the creation of the University of Crete was particularly positive; society had the will and the strength to renew itself. Thus, the university proceeded from the first moment to innovations and fruitful experiments. The University of Crete was happy from the beginning to be staffed with renowned scientists, many of whom came from European and American institutions, where they were already enjoying international recognition.The first professors who undertook to organize the University, but also the next generations, paid special attention to the creation of favorable conditions for the cultivation of research, both within the University and in connection with research centers.
The School of Philosophy (Rethymno): Admits students for the first time in the academic year 1977-1978. Since 1983, the School of Philosophy now operates with 3 distinct Departments: Philology, History and Archeology and Philosophical and Social Studies.
School of Sciences and Technological Sciences (Heraklion): Initially as a School of Physics and Mathematics it accepts students in the academic year 1977-1978. Since 1983, as a School of Sciences, it has continued to operate with 5 distinct Departments: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Computer Science and Materials Science and Technology. In 2002 the school was renamed "School of Sciences and Technological Sciences". In 1999, the Department of Applied Mathematics of the School of Sciences and Technology started operating, while the Department of Materials Science and Technology accepted students for the first time in the academic year 2001-2002..
School of Education (Rethymno): It was founded in 1995. It included the Pedagogical Department of Primary Education and the Pedagogical Department of Preschool Education, which operated independently from 1984-85 and 1987-88 respectively.
School of Social Sciences (Rethymno): It was founded in 1984, but began accepting the first students in the academic year 1987-1988, in three Departments: Economics, Sociology and Psychology. The Department of Political Science belonging to the same School accepted the first students in the academic year 1999-2000.
School of Health Sciences (Heraklion): It was founded in 1976 and started operating with the Department of Medicine in the academic year 1984-1985, when it accepted the first students.
The work of the University administration was assigned to Steering Committees until September 1987 when it came under the responsibility of elected rectory authorities.