The college is run by the Society of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, a Catholic religious congregation founded by Blessed Mary of the Passion, in Ootacamund, in 1877.

In the year 1962, a group of prominent citizens of Vijayawada approached the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) to express the need for a college for women in this region. It was in response to this invitation that Maris Stella College was founded on 16th July, 1962 to become the first college set up with the express mission of educating young women to be intellectually, morally, socially and spiritually sound, to be equipped to contribute positively to family, community and nation and to become torch-bearers of an equitable society.

The college, which began with a couple of programmes each in B.A, & B.Sc. and just 18 students, has mushroomed into an autonomous institution with over 2000 students and more than 23 programmes at the Intermediate, UG and PG levels in the humanities, science and commerce streams.

True to its vision and mission, the College offers quality education and maintains consistently high academic standards in an effort to give all students an equal opportunity for learning and development through whole person education which is strongly grounded in values. It is the special mission of the College to reach out to students from socially and economically disadvantaged sections of society, and to prepare them to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. In many ways the College provides a truly unique educational environment for the students who are currently enrolled here.

Maris Stella was one of the first colleges to volunteer for assessment and accreditation by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in1999. Autonomous status was conferred in 2003 followed by re-accreditation by NAAC at ‘A’ level and recognition as a ‘College with Potential for Excellence’ (CPE status) by the UGC. The college has retained the CPE status, first conferred in 2006 and has completed the 3rd and 4th cycles of assessment and re-accreditation by NAAC.

Recognition and awards have dotted the path of progression through the decades: the college has won awards for its Eco-friendly Campus, for having the Best Library and Laboratories, for extension work on HIV/AIDS Awareness, for the Best Educational Institution offering Tourism, for Excellence in Promoting Child Rights.

The college is also the recipient of grants under the Central Govt’s Rashtriya Uchchata Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). It has been figuring in the India Today Rankings and is also ISO certified.