It was first founded as the Centenary Biblical Institute, that trained young men in the ministry. In 1890, the college was renamed 'Morgan College', after the man that donated the land for the college, by the name of Reverend Lyttleton Morgan. Shortly after, 'Morgan College' handed out it's first Bachelors Degree to George F. McMechen in 1895.
Morgan State University did not become the location it is today, until 1917; Which became because of Andrew Carnegie giving the school a grant that consisted of $50,000 and certain terms to abide by, one of the terms being a new site. A year after the new college was rebuilt, at the new location, problems arouse. in 1918, the white citizens of Lauraville insisted that the new college was built on their property, and was being taken by negros. They tried to take back the land through court, where it was dismissed. Although there was a lot of tension, 'Morgan College' expanded their buildings, and remained at the location.
It wasn't until 1939, that MSU ended being a private institution, and switched it's name over from 'Morgan College' to 'Morgan State University'.