The University of Osijek was founded on 31 May 1975 after the Croatian Parliament adopted the Decision on granting consent for the establishment of the University on 26 March 1975. At the beginning of 1970s, developing higher education in Osijek pointed out the need for better coordination of higher education activities at institutions in order to create more favorable conditions for scientific and teaching activities through establishment of a public university. Recent university history marks a continuation of more than three-century-long tradition of higher education in the city of Osijek, as Studium Philosophicum Essekini was founded in 1707, and Studium Theologicum Essekini in 1724, which in 1735 developed into general higher education institution of the first class – Studium Generalae Theologicum Prime Classis, i.e. institution of the highest faculty level with preparatory department of philosophy.

At present, the University of Osijek consists of 12 faculties, one Academy of Arts and Culture and four university departments. Since 1990, it carries the name of Josip Juraj Strossmayer, prominent citizen of Osijek, bishop, educator, exceptional philanthropist, humanist, founder of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, politician, visionary and certainly one of the most influential persons in our region living at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Unfortunately, in more than four decades of recent history, the University of Osijek suffered significant destruction during the Homeland War, as 24 students and 5 university teachers lost their lives, and faculties and university institutions suffered great material damage. After 1995, in addition to rebuilding and renovation, the University undertook a series of significant changes, especially referring to organization, establishment of new study programs, significant capital investments and an increase in the number of students, teachers, associates and administrative staff.

The University implements functional integration that is based on the unified and coordinated action of all scientific and artistic constituents and infrastructural institutions. Considering the fact that Croatian higher education is based on the European humanistic and democratic values, the efforts of the University of Osijek are focused on involvement into modern European systems of higher education and science while preserving its own uniqueness and identity. As a modern European university, it emphasizes the need to harmonize Bologna reform processes directed towards study system, student and teacher mobility, liberalization and permanent development of higher education area in the Republic of Croatia, as well as to increase availability of international research programs and projects and to develop new technologies within the European Research Area.

The University is particularly proud of the fact that it is seated in the city where many well-known individuals were born, lived and worked, such as Nobel prize winners Lavoslav Ružička and Vladimir Prelog, artists Julije Knifer and Oskar Neumann (Oskar Nemon), Oscar Award winner Branko Lustig, many successful athletes, as well as 54 members of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, counting from its foundation until today.

Up to present, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek conferred 17 honorary doctorates and 18 professor emeritus titles.