The National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) was established as the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) on June 15, 1952, as a result of a contract between the University of the Philippines and the University of Michigan to provide training, teaching and research in public administration, and as part of the recommendations of the Bell Mission. It started offering Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Arts (Public Administration) degrees in 1952, a Doctor of Public Administration in 1968 and a Diploma program in 1988. Upon its creation as an IPA, it also started the institutionalization of in-service training and capacity building programs for civil servants, as well as in researches on among others, government reorganization, public service reform and development initiatives. It started as the bearer of light, information, truth and service in the field of public administration and it continues to do so over the years.

The NCPAG’s mandate and mission epitomize a commitment to the triad functions of instruction, research, and extension service of the University. NCPAG has helped build the capacity of those in the public service, including those in the business sector and the civil society organizations, through formal and non-formal education in Public Administration and good governance. It continues to discover new ways and create new knowledge to improve public service through research, technical advice and consultancy. It shares knowledge through extension service, training programs and other short courses. For its more than six decades of existence, the College has always been at the forefront of improving public administration in the country through training public servants and local government executives, conducting case studies on national and local government administration, and extending advisory and consulting services to governmental agencies for their technical and other problem-solving needs.

The College has changed names four times  in recognition of the changing  scope and perspectives as well as expectations of its roles and contributions to development. It was known as the IPA from 1952-1963. It became the Graduate School of Public Administration (GSPA) on March 14, 1963. It briefly took on the name School of Public Administration (SPA) on June 29, 1966 before being called as the College of Public Administration (CPA) in October 1966.  The College was finally transformed into the National College of Public Administration and Governance or NCPAG on November 26, 1998 mainly because it broadened its focus from governmental management to governance for public interest. NCPAG thus delves into the roles, processes and systems of the bureaucracy and that of the State, business and civil society as well in enhancing public service.

The transformation involved innovations and changes in the College’s functions and structure. The Academic Program became the Center for Public Administration and Governance Education (CPAGE). The existing centers (Local Government, Policy and Administrative Development), and the Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy Program were strengthened to serve as premier research and extension units of the national government, local government and the voluntary sector.  They were also renamed Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG), Center for Policy and Executive Development (CPED) and Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy (CLCD).