Founded by the citizens of DeKalb County and the DeKalb Board of Education under the Junior College Act of 1958, Georgia Perimeter College opened as DeKalb College with its Clarkston Campus in 1964. It was the only public two-year college in the state supported and controlled by a local board of education. It was established in order that any resident of the DeKalb School District who held a high school diploma or its equivalent and who desired to seek two years of postsecondary education might have the opportunity to do so.
The college's Decatur (formerly known as South) Campus opened in 1972. Also beginning in 1972, students enrolled in DeKalb Area Technical School were able to enroll dually in vocational and collegiate programs, and the college was designated DeKalb Community College. As growth continued both for DeKalb County and the college, the Dunwoody (formerly North) Campus was added and began operation in 1979. DeKalb College pioneered in Georgia in open-door admissions, personalized approaches to instruction and community-related curricula and activities.
In 1985, DeKalb Vocational-Technical School was placed under the governance of a new statewide board for vocational-technical schools with daily operations remaining under the control of the DeKalb County School System. Students enrolled in specific Associate of Applied Science degree programs continued to enroll dually in the college and technical school, which is now known as Georgia Piedmont Technical College.
In 1986, when DeKalb County relinquished its support, the college was accepted by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia as the thirty-fourth member institution.
During spring 1993, Georgia Perimeter College in cooperation with Clayton State College, DeKalb Technical College and Rockdale County Public Schools formed the Rockdale Center for Higher Education, which offered credit and non-credit courses.
In November 1997, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved changing the name of the college from DeKalb College to Georgia Perimeter College to reflect its expanding mission and its service throughout the metro Atlanta area. As part of changing the college's name, the names of the campuses were changed to identify the cities in which they are located.
In December 2001, Georgia Perimeter College's Lawrenceville Campus, along with its partners at the Gwinnett University Center, relocated from the MacCleod Industrial Park on Sugarloaf Parkway to a 177-acre campus at 1000 University Center Lane. In 2007, Georgia Perimeter College discontinued offering courses at the Lawrenceville Campus in order for the site to become Georgia Gwinnett College, a new four-year USG institution. In summer 2007, the Rockdale Campus was relocated to a larger new campus in Newton County and renamed the Newton Campus.
GPC began offering classes in Alpharetta in a building owned by Georgia State University. Through the years, the college has expanded its class and service offerings to citizens in north Fulton County. Georgia Perimeter College gained full ownership of the original building in fall 2010. The change not only increases classroom space for GPC students, it also increases services and possibilities for extended educational partnerships with other institutions and organizations in the area.
The college's academic offerings correspond with curricular content and requirements of the University System of Georgia. Georgia Perimeter College also serves as a community cultural center for the performing arts in music and drama. Curricula feature transfer, learning support, career, continuing and distance education programs, as well as joint educational offerings with other system institutions and state-supported technical institutes. Associate degrees are awarded to graduates who complete the two-year transfer and career programs.