The Vidyodaya Pirivena which was established in 1883 by the Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thero at Maligakanda was transformed into university status in 1959 under the Universities Act No. 45 of 1958 and named it as Vidyodaya University of Ceylon. In 1978, the name was changed as University of Sri Jayewardenepura (USJP) due to the fact that Sri Jayewardenepura received the status of the administrative capital of Sri Lanka. Present location of the university is at Gangodawila, Nugegoda. At present USJP has five faculties viz. Humanities and Social Sciences, Applied Sciences, Management Studies and Commerce, Medical Sciences, and Graduate Studies. Further, the university has already taken steps to establish a Faculty of Engineering and Technology in order to be aligned with the contemporary socio-economic requirements of the country. The main purpose of the university is to create a valuable Sri Lankan citizen through teaching and researching. Today, USJP is one of the leading universities of the nation which is not second to any other local or international university in terms of knowledge creation and ability of making a complete person who is nurtured in both materiality and the spirituality.
External Degrees and Extension Course Unit of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura commenced in 1979 with the commencement of the External Degree Programme in B. Com. Subsequently B.A General Degree Programme commenced. In 1997 the External Degree Programmes in B.Sc Business Administration and Public Administration also commenced. Currently there are six external degree programs offering by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and Faculty of Management Studies and Commerce.