The Sambalpur University Act was passed by the Odisha Legislature on 10th December, 1966 to fulfil long cherished dream of the people of Western Odisha for establishment of a University. The University started functioning from 1st January, 1967 with Prof. Parsuram Mishra as the first Vice-Chancellor. The University was inaugurated on 4th January, 1967 by Hon’ble Chancellor A. N. Khosla. The University started functioning in 1967 in a rented private building at Dhanupali, Sambalpur and in Government building at Ainthapali, Sambalpur from 1968 - 72. In the year 1973 the University was shifted to the present campus named Jyoti Vihar at Burla.
The territorial jurisdiction of the University covers 10 districts of the state of Odisha namely Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh, Bargarh, Bolangir, Subarnapur, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Boudh and Athamallik Sub-Division of Angul District.
The University at Jyoti Vihar provides Post-Graduate education in Twenty-seven subjects through Twenty Post-Graduate Departments. The University Post-Graduate Departments offer one-year study Programme for M.Phil Degree, two years study programme for the Degrees of M.A. / M.Sc. / LL.M. / Business Administration / M.Lib & Inf.Science, One-Year P.G. Diploma Course in Computer Science & Application and Diploma Course in Sambalpuri Studies and Three-Year course in M.C.A. and Executive M.B.A.