The School of Languages was founded as part of the PG extension centre of the University of Madras. In the beginning the Tamil Studies formed part of the School of Languages. The Department of Tamil studies started functioning as a separate Department from 31.03.1988 under the headship of Professor Dr. M. Ramalingam, a renowned scholar, and Sahitya Academy Awardee. He headed the Department till 30.06.2000 and Dr. Radha Chellappan took charge of Department from 01.07.2000. She was the Head of the Department till 30.06.2008. Dr. A. Alice took charge of the Department from 01.07.2008.
From the beginning the Department has been functioning as a high level academic centre imparting M.Phil. and Ph.D. courses. The M.A programme was started in the year 1996 in Autonomous mode.