UIN Walisongo was established under Presidential Decree No. 130/ 2014 on the conversion of Walisongo State Institute for Islamic Studies into UIN Walisongo Semarang with its inauguration on April 6, 2015. The conversion was a continuation of Walisongo State Institute for Islamic Studies which was based on Ministry of Religious Affairs Decree No. 31/ 1970 on the opening inauguration of State Islamic Institute of Al Jami’ah “Walisongo” in Semarang, Central Java with inauguration ceremony on April 6, 1970.
At its inception, the Islamic Higher Education had five faculties which were spread across various cities in Central Java, namely Faculty of Dakwah in Semarang, Faculty of Islamic Law in Bumiayu, Faculty of Islamic Law in Demak, Faculty of Theology in Kudus and Faculty of Islamic Education in Salatiga. However, the idea and the effort of its establishment had been made since 1963 through the establishment of the Islamic faculties in those regions sporadically by ulemas as the representation of religious leaders and the bureaucrats.
The existence of this university, at first, could not be separated from the real needs of students in Central Java for higher education institutions post-Islamic boarding school (Pesantren) graduation. This was due to the fact that Central Java was an area with a very large basis of Islamic boarding schools. Thus, this higher education institution had two major positions either acted as pesantren tradition successor or acted as institution studying and disseminating knowledge like a university.
Based on the spirit of establishment above, it was obvious that UIN Walisongo’s was born based on the real needs of Muslims in Central Java to own an Islamic college that was suitable with society’s conditions and situations. Its establishment emerged from the bottom and it was the initiative of religious leaders in Central Java which was then responded positively by other society’s elements.
The founders consciously named Walisongo as a symbol and spirit for the history dynamics of the largest Islamic university in Central Java as well as for struggle in continuing tradition and Walisongo’s inclusive Islamic ideals. The name had continuously become an open reference for re-interpreting Islamic thought intelligently and critically in the frame of continuity and change.