In 1902, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Columbus, Ohio, established the School of Commerce, the predecessor of Franklin University. This institution initially provided adult men with training in bookkeeping, but by 1913, the School of Commerce was also offering Associate degrees in accounting. In 1921, the Ohio Board of Regents authorized the School of Commerce to issue four-year Bachelors degrees, although the school had already begun offering four-year programs one year earlier.
In 1933, the School of Commerce was renamed Franklin University. Although the college was located in Franklin County, Ohio, the school took its name in honor of Benjamin Franklin. The YMCA remained in control of Franklin University until 1964, when the college formally separated from its founding institution. In 1969, Franklin University relocated to Grant Avenue in downtown Columbus. Over the next forty years, Franklin University's central campus expanded to include five main buildings. Today, Franklin University also offers courses in Dublin and Westerville, Ohio.
Franklin University's primary goal is to provide educational opportunities for Central Ohio's workers. The institution offers many classes at night and on weekends to allow working people the opportunity to expand their education and attain better careers. In 2005, Franklin University offered sixteen Bachelors and three graduate programs. In this same year, approximately ten thousand students enrolled at the university.