The College opened for classes in the fall of 1965 in a single building in Bailey's Crossroads. The initial enrollment was 761, served by a faculty and staff of 46. Enrollment for the 1966 fall quarter increased to 2,226 students.
The College was renamed Northern Virginia Community College in 1966 when the General Assembly changed the new system to the Virginia Community College System. College transfer curricula were added to the existing occupational/technical curricula for a more comprehensive program.
In 1966, the College Board purchased 78 acres in Annandale as the first of five permanent campus sites. The first permanent building for the College was constructed at the Annandale Campus and opened in 1967. Sites of approximately 100 acres each were purchased in 1967 for future campuses in Loudoun, Manassas and Woodbridge. In 1969, a 22.5-acre site was purchased in Alexandria for that campus.
Dr. Richard J. Ernst became the second president of the College in September, 1968.
The College has experienced rapid growth in student enrollment and the expansion of educational programs. College enrollment steadily increased to almost 10,000 students in the 1970 fall quarter. In the 1973 fall quarter, NVCC became the largest institution of higher education in Virginia with 17,260 students.
The Annandale Campus added buildings in 1969, 1970 and 1972.
The Loudoun, Manassas and Woodbridge Campuses began operation in the fall of 1972 by setting up temporary offices and offering evening courses at community locations. The Alexandria Campus continued the use of the Bailey's Crossroads facilities and opened the first phase of construction on the new site in the spring of 1973.
The Loudoun and Manassas Campuses added day and evening classes on campus when the first permanent buildings were completed in the fall of 1974. The Woodbridge Campus did the same in the fall of 1975. The Extended Learning Institute (ELI) of the College began offering home study courses in January 1975. ELI has served more than 100,000 students.
During the 1993-94 fiscal year (July 1, 1993-June 30, 1994), the College served 62,625 students in credit courses. In addition, 21,209 students registered for non-credit courses. Public service activities attracted 199,073 participants during the year.
The 1994 fall semester enrollment was 38,531 full-time and part-time students.