Mary Immaculate College was founded in 1898 for the professional education of primary school teachers. Over the years, courses of study were altered to suit the changing times. In academic areas, specialisation was introduced with the advent of elective subjects. In addition to education studies, students were given scope to specialise in areas of particular interest to them from a range of Liberal Arts subjects offered by a number of departments.
In 1974, Mary Immaculate College became a recognised college of the National University of Ireland offering a three-year Bachelor of Education degree. The Arts departments continued to provide a range of academic subjects for the B.Ed. degree. In November 1991 the Minister for Education announced a new linkage between Mary Immaculate College and the University of Limerick.
The BA in Liberal Arts was introduced to Mary Immaculate College in 1992 following the establishment of this link with the University of Limerick. The subjects available in this programme are wide-ranging, varying from languages such as French Studies, Gaeilge and German Studies to widely available subjects such as History, Music, Geography and Philosophy. There are also subjects not normally taught in Arts programmes in Ireland such as Theology & Religious Studies and Media and Communication Studies. In addition, Psychology is offered and this programme of studies is accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland. The BA Liberal Arts programme is different to other arts degree programmes as students spend the third year of their degree off-campus. Students normally undertake either an academic or a work placement (or a combination of both) in the third year.
The Faculty of Arts was established in 2007 and there are currently 12 Departments within the faculty - English Language & Literature, French Studies, Gaeilge, Geography, German Studies, History, Mathematics and Computer Studies, Media and Communication Studies, Music, Philosophy, Psychology and Theology and Religious Studies.