The English name of university had been Kinki University since its establishment in 1949 to refer to "the surrounding area of the capital city (Kyoto)". On May 20, 2014, the university announced that its English name would officially change to Kindai (近大), to avoid the implications of the word "kinky", as the university is planning to globalize with the establishment of a new Foreign Language school. The name change took effect on April 1, 2016.
The University dates its foundation to the establishment of Osaka Technical College (大阪専門学校 Ōsaka semmon gakkō) in 1925. Kindai University started in 1949 when the founder college merged with Osaka Science and Engineering University (大阪理工科大学 Ōsaka rikōka daigaku), established in 1943. The first president was Koichi Seko.
Initially there were two schools: the School of Engineering and the School of Commerce (now the School of Business and Economics).
After the war, when food was in short supply, the university opened its Marine Research Center in 1948 in Shirahama-cho, Wakayama Prefecture. Today it is the Fisheries Laboratory. This was the first time that marine fish farming research was carried out in Japan. Other pioneering projects include, along with the opening of the Atomic Energy Research Institute, establishing the first private nuclear reactor facilities in 1960.
When Masataka Seko became the head of Kindai University in 1965, he built and improved the curricula and environment. In 1974, the School of Medicine was opened, followed by a teaching hospital one year later. Existing university buildings were reconstructed and laboratories and other facilities were improved and expanded. Another aspect of his vision that "Education comes from the environment" was realized: There is more greenery on campus.