The School of Education traces its beginnings back to July 1964, when a Department of Education was established as one of the University’s several teaching departments within the University’s second faculty, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The very first academic unit established with the-then University College Dar es Salaam (UCD) was the Faculty of Law. This was in October 1961, when the College was to operate in “a special relationship” with, and as an external college of the University of London. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, itself established in 1964, was following the very first faculty—the Faculty of Law—with which the then University College Dar Es Salaam (UCD) began, in 1961, as the country’s highest institution of learning and training. In the previous year, 1964, the University College Dar Es Salaam had just become a constituent college of the University of East Africa, in a federal setup together with the other two university colleges at Makerere (in Uganda) and Nairobi (in Kenya). Before then, the University College had existed since 1961 in “a special relationship” with and as an external college of the University of London in UK.

When the Department of Education was established, within the departmental nomenclature of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, it was a decision that had been made against the background of a critical shortage of graduate teachers the new nation was facing since the time of independence in 1961. A Department of Education was thus established in deliberate disregard for the principle of non-duplication of academic programmes that had already been instituted at any of the other colleges of the University. In Tanzania, there was a dire need of secondary school teachers and other professional education personnel for whose large number training facilities at Makerere were not adequate. When a third faculty, Science, was opened in the year (1965) following Arts and Social Sciences, the student enrolment into the Department of Education was bound to—and in fact did—expand to include an intake of science students following science subjects and at the same time training to become teachers of those science subjects in secondary schools.

Since then, the Department grew in course structure, from an initial status of "minor" departmental education courses to "major" courses by specialist streams as from the mid-1970s. The Department expanded in undergraduate student enrolment from a humble 30 students in 1964 to 658 in 1973. In the postgraduate student intake, it grew from 7 in 1974 to as many as 25 in 1978, 19 in 1980 and to an annual average of 10 thereafter.The Department expanded as well as in staffing for the correspondingly expanding programmes. In a similarly rising trend, the Department made its contribution in preparing and producing graduate teachers, from as few as 30 in the 1966/67 academic year to as many as 274 in 1969/70 and, thereafter, at an annual average rate of 200. Given an increasing diversification of course offerings and student intake and, in the light of the requirement for concurrent academic and professional certification, it is no wonder that the need to establish a Faculty of Education was felt as early as 1968.

An even stronger need manifested itself in the late 1970s when, as a result of large increments in student enrolments as well as of the wish of the Ministry of Education to strengthen and consolidate education at all levels, a move was made to argue either for a Faculty of Education based on the main campus and continuing to share its student body with the two faculties of students' affiliation, or for a full-fledged University College of Education on the same or on a separate campus. In 1979 a formal proposal for a Faculty of Education was presented and discussed within the various organs of the University at the meetings of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Board, at the University Senate and at the University Council, at which levels the proposal was accepted and endorsed for operationalisation with effect from July 1980. While the proposal was subsequently accepted by Government, the project, unfortunately, could not take off in 1980 because of the heavy capital expenditure implied at that time, when, in addition, the country was experiencing an acute economic crisis. In retrospect, the project had to wait for another nine years, even though not everything in the project package was put in cold storage.

For, meanwhile, the work of a four-year course programme, proposed within the Faculty project package, had to be recast and readapted in order for it to be "operationalised" and covered within the 'normal three years plus one intensive term' - something that approximated 3.5 years of academic work. The labour pains in delivering such a compromise programme and the personal and professional sacrifices suffered by both staff and students in such an academic arrangement were, to say the least, quite considerable. It was the concern about the deleterious effects of such a crash degree programme—coupled with the dim prospect in such a crash programme arrangement to promote quality education the country so needed "towards the 21st century—that the climate became much more favourable for establishing a long-awaited Faculty of Education in July 1989. Within the historical development of the University, this (Education) was the eighth faculty to be created in the University, although, in fact it remains seventh after the University's fifth faculty (Agriculture) had long matured and was hived off in 1984 into a second public university in the country.

A little more than half a year after the change of status from department to faculty - by Government Notice No. 196 - the fact was confirmed by an official inauguration by the Minister for Education on March 17, 1990. The Minister, on behalf of the Government, used the occasion to challenge the new Faculty to take on more responsibilities and tasks towards ensuring more and better education as the nation was moving towards the twenty-first century. In 2008, the University of Dar es Salaam decided to cluster existing academic units and establish new ones in order to improve operational efficiency and optimal utilisation of resources. It is through that decision that what was originally the Faculty of Education was transformed to a School of Education. The University of Dar es Salaam, School of Education was officially inaugurated on 15th May, 2009.