At the initiative of the Catholic Hierarchy of Korea, Pope Pius XII gave assurance that a Catholic institution of higher learning would be established in Korea. In 1948 he entrusted the task to the Society of Jesus. In October 1954 Jesuit Fr. Theodor Geppert from Sophia University of Tokyo came to Korea in search of a suitable site to establish a Jesuit college. In February 1955 Fr. Leo Burns, Superior of the Wisconsin Province of Jesuits, came to Korea and, with the Catholic Hierarchy, began negotiations with the government for the foundation of the college. In January 1957 the Society of Jesus purchased a property of 67,075 pyong (217,323 sq. meters, 53 acres) at Nogo San, Sinsu-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul. The site was prepared for construction of an Administration Building, which was completed in November 1959.
The founding Fathers named the college "Sogang" (the West of Han River). The charter for Sogang College was granted by the Ministry of Education. In February 1960 Fr. Kenneth E. Killoren, S.J. was installed as the first president. Sogang College opened its doors with six departments: Economics, English Language and Literature, History, Mathematics, Philosophy and Physics. Out of 600 applicants 166 were admitted as the first class. Classes began on 18 April 1960, just one day before the April Revolution.
In December 1969 a university charter was granted by the Ministry of Education and Sogang College became Sogang University. The University consisted of a College of Arts and Science with six departments, College of Science and Engineering with five departments and a College of Commerce with three departments .
On March 2, 1970, the inauguration and the president's installation were held at Mary Hall. Fr. John P. Daly, S.J., took office as the first president. He spoke on "Education Based on Belief and Reason". On April 7, 1970, South Korean President Park Chung-hee donated two buses to help transport faculty and staff, but they later had to be sold because of management difficulties. Life as a full university meant more students and the library, which had moved to Ricci Hall, needed its own building. Construction of Loyola Library to the north of the sports field took all of 1973. It was South Korea's first fully open-resource library.
The campus festival was an annual event that fostered student solidarity. Since 1969 it has included a series of academic symposiums.
On April 24, 1985, Sogang's 25th anniversary was commemorated, with Sogang's founder Fr. Geppert as a special guest.
The 1979 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mother Teresa visited Sogang in May 1981 and gave addresses in the auditorium and at the basketball court, appealing for all to practice a charity that is universal.
In 1984 the Korean Catholic Church celebrated its bicentennial. For the celebration Pope John Paul II visited Korea on May 5, meeting with priests along with men and women religious in the gymnasium and with Korean intellectuals in the auditorium.
The high point of the 30th anniversary commemoration was the unveiling of a statue symbolizing the Albatross soaring with its great white wings. The Alumni Association presented the statue at an April 17 unveiling ceremony. Sogang's appearance was further improved during the 1990s with a marble front gate, by the Albatross statue. The small playground was renamed Cheongnyeon Gwanjang (Youth Square) and given a neater look. As new buildings were built there was a shortage of parking space, so a lot was built under Albatross Square and in November 1997 stage facilities for cultural events were constructed above the lot.
The cardinal red university color symbolizes love, the Holy Spirit, martyrdom, loyalty, and victory. The silver chevron comes from the first letter 'ㅅ' of 서강 (Sogang), representing the intellectual spirit of Sogang and an ivory tower. The "IHS" comes from the first letters of the Greek name Ιησους (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ) for Jesus and is also found on the seal of the Society of Jesus, the Catholic religious order that founded the University. The medieval crown stands for the Virgin and Trinity, symbolizing wisdom.
Sogang University's ranking tends to lag behind its reputation and evaluation results, because it has no medical school and has only 1/3 the enrollment of competitive universities in Korea.Ranked 28th in Asia on Arts & Humanities (2010 QS University Rankings: Asia).
Ranked 38th in Asia on Social Sciences (2010 QS University Rankings: Asia).
In October 2009 Sogang University received accreditation in business from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) .
It is among the top five business schools in Korea. Located near the financial hub in Seoul, it had the highest job-landing ratio for undergraduates among universities in Korea in 2006, 2007 and 2008: the percentages of employment in major companies measured by the Ministry of Education have been 55.1%, 53.3% and 54.9% for these years.
The University has contributed significantly to the rapid economic growth of Korea during the last four decades. Some faculty members have been deeply involved in the design of Korea's economic development program through top-level cabinet positions in the government. Due to these important engagements, a group of economists affiliated with the University and engaged in policy-making came to be called the “Sogang School.” Based on its reputation, the School has consistently attracted young talent of the highest caliber, mostly from the top 1% in the national college entrance exam. Reflecting its excellent research capacity, the Economics Department has been recognized by RePEc as near the top in Korea in international journal publications.Sogang Game Education Center(SAGE)
Park Geun-hye, The 11th President of the Republic of Korea
Choi Soon-hong, United Nations Chief Information Technology Officer-Assistant Secretary-General
Kim Tae-young, Former Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Korea
Moon Sung-keun, actor and former chairman of Democratic United Party
Jeon Yeo-ok, politician
Park Young-sun, Member of National Assembly Minjoo Party of Korea
Byeong Soo Seo, Former Member of National Assembly, Governor of Busan Metropolitan City
Yoon Min-joong, chemist
Lee Bae-yong, president of Ewha Womans University
Choe Yun, professor of French literature
Almas Heshmati, professor of economics
Yoon Kyung-byung, professor of chemistry
Brother Anthony, emeritus of English literature
Yoon Nung-min, former professor of chemistry
Lee Ki-baek, former professor of history
Nam Duck-woo, former professor of economics, former Prime Minister of South Korea
Chang Young-hee, professor of English literature, columnist, motivational writer
Kim Chong-in, former professor of economics, member of the National Assembly
Sohn Hak-kyu, former professor of political science, former governor of Gyonggi-do, former minister of Health and Welfare, former member of National Assembly
In July 2010 four professors in the department of Business Administration were dismissed after exposing the mishandling of grant funds by a fellow professor. The professors appealed to the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology. Neither the professors nor the university were satisfied with the Appeal Commission's ruling, with both sides filing suit.