Having begun as Chittagong District school (now Chittagong Collegiate School) in 1836, it became an intermediate college in 1869. Its academic activities as a college started at a Portuguese-merchant built building beside the Parade Ground.
The first principal was J C Bose. Initially, it used to offer law education, but the subject was suspended in 1909. In the same year it started providing science education in the intermediate section from the 1909. The institute became a graduation college in 1910 after University of Calcutta recognized it as a first class degree college. From then it started providing honours degrees on Arabic, Bengali, Pali, Sanskrit, history, mathematics, physics and chemistry.
In 1926,A. K. Fazlul Huq established Muslim Chattrabash which is now known as Sher-e-Bangla Chattrabas. The students of this institution participated in Language movement in 1952, Bengali Education movement in 1962 and Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.