Benedict Institute was founded in 1870 by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to provide education for freedmen and their children. The school was named for Stephen Benedict, an abolitionist from Rhode Island who left money to the Society at his death.
Established to train teachers and ministers, the school expanded its curriculum in 1894, was chartered as a liberal arts college, and changed its name to Benedict College.
The first seven presidents of the school were white Baptist ministers from the North, but in 1929, Dr. J.J. Starks became the first African American president. It had an enrollment of some 200 students.
In the mid-1930s, the curriculum was restructured and the elementary and high school programs were discontinued.
The college continues to be affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Education and Missionary Convention and the American Baptist Churches, USA. The school offers 25 major areas of study to its approximately 3,000 students.