Coppin State University was founded in 1900 at what was then called Colored High School (later named Douglass High School) on Pennsylvania Avenue by the Baltimore City School Board. It first had a one-year training course for the preparation of African-American elementary school teachers. By 1902, the training program was expanded to a two-year Normal Department within the high school. Seven years later it was separated from the high school and given its own principal.
In 1926, this facility for teacher training was named Fanny Jackson Coppin Normal School in honor of an African-American woman who was a pioneer in teacher education, Fanny Jackson Coppin.
By 1938 the curriculum of the normal school was lengthened to four years, authority was given for the granting of the Bachelor of Science degree, and the name of the Normal School was changed to Coppin Teachers College. In 1950, Coppin became part of the higher education system of Maryland under the State Department of Education, and renamed Coppin State Teachers College. Two years later Coppin moved to its present 38-acre (150,000 m2) site on West North Avenue.
In acknowledgment of the goals and objectives of the college, the Board of Trustees ruled in 1963 that the institution's degree-granting authority would no longer be restricted to teacher education. Following this ruling, Coppin was officially renamed Coppin State College, and in 1967 the first Bachelor of Arts degree was conferred. In 1988, the College became part of the newly organized University of Maryland System (now the University System of Maryland.) The school was officially renamed Coppin State University on April 13, 2004.
Coppin's first president (1930–1956) was Dr. Miles Connor. He was succeeded by Dr. Parlett Moore in 1956, who served until Dr. Calvin W. Burnett took over as Coppin's third president in 1970. Burnett served the institution for thirty-three years, until Coppin's fourth president, Dr. Stanley F. Battle, was appointed on March 3, 2003. After Dr. Battle departed for North Carolina A&T State University in 2007, Coppin's fifth president, Dr. Reginald Avery was hired. Avery announced his resignation (effective January 22, 2013). Dr. Mortimer H. Neufville, become the university's sixth president president Jan. 23 after Avery, stepped down. Dr. Maria became the university's seventh and first woman president, July 1, 2015.
Organizations participate in the Student Government Association at Coppin State. There is currently a board called the SAPB (Student Activities Planning Board) which plans students events for and by the student body.
Coppin has an Honors College, where students take accelerated classes. The Honors Student lives on the same floor in the Daley building. Honors Students are recipients of one or more of the below scholarships. To remain at Coppin Honors College, students must maintain certain GPA. Honors Scholarships; Golden Eagle Honors Program Scholarship, Eagle Honors Program Scholarship, Honors Associate, and Upper-Division Honors Program Scholarship.
The Coppin State Eagles compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and in the NCAA Division I. The school has men's teams in baseball, basketball, cross country, tennis and both track, and women's teams in basketball, bowling, cross country, softball, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field and volleyball.
In 1997, the Coppin State Men's Basketball team defeated the University of South Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship becoming just the third #15 seed to defeat a #2 seed. In the 2007–08 season, Coppin State became the first team in NCAA College Basketball history to reach the NCAA Tournament with 20 losses.
Under the direction of Coach Leon Stewart, these women began breaking school records in bowling, one of the newer teams at CSU. In 2012 the Eagles signed two premier women bowlers in Kache Woods and Kristen Sharpe. The 2013 recruiting class included Woods and Sharpe, along with Erica Washington, Loren Johnson, and Heather Josker. With this influx of talent, the 2013 Eagles broke the school record for most wins. The Eagles upped that performance in 2014 they once again set a Coppin State record for wins in a season..
Coppin is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition, the undergraduate and graduate academic programs are accredited by a number of specialized agencies. Teacher education programs are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and are approved by the Maryland State Department of Education.
The nursing program is approved by the Maryland State Board of Examiners of Nurses and accredited by the National League of Nursing. The Social Work and Rehabilitation Counseling Education programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and the Council of Rehabilitation Counseling Education, respectively.