De La Salle University was founded as a college in Manila in 1911 by the lay Catholic order of Christian Brothers and evolved into a more advanced institution, running its first advanced courses in 1920 and bachelor of science degrees from 1931. The oldest of the 17 De La Salle institutions in the Phillipines, it attained university status in 1975.
It continues to be run by the Lasallian order – the president must be a Lasallian brother – and to aspire to its ideals of "the spirit of faith, zeal for service and communion in mission".
One of 40 Filipino universities granted autonomous status in 2011, it has been ranked third among the nation’s universities by the Commission on Higher Education and has six programmes identified as "Centres of Excellence".
It has expanded rapidly in the last decade, opening colleges of Law and Business in 2010. Its main campus remains the bustling 5.45 hectare downtown Taft compound.
Its 19 buildings retain a distinctive, quirky quality exemplified by the art deco at St. La Salle Hall, the allegations that some halls of residence are haunted, and the parallel presence of 84 wild cats and the university Museum’s fine collection of modern Filipino Art. St. La Salle Hall is the only Phillipines entry in the book "1000 Buildings You Must See Before You Die".
Modernity is exemplified by the new 50 hectare Laguna campus, close to the Laguna Technopark and host to enterprises such as a French digital gaming company with 50 employees and priority for students as interns in a state of the art on-campus facility. The Makati City campus is used mostly by graduate business students, with law at the Rufino Campus in Bonifacio Global City.
Sports teams compete as the "Green Archers".