UNISMA was founded by public figures and Islamic Scholars of Nahdlatul Ulama in Malang who dreamed for a big, prestigious, and independent university.

In order to manifest their dreams, they established a SunanGiri Foundation on 27 March 1981, which was known as University of Islam Malang Foundation, at M.T. Haryono street, 193 Malang.

University of Islam Malang (UNISMA), was pioneered by Islamic scholars who followed Ahlussunnah wal Jama’ah. The Islamic scholars agreed to realize the responsibility to form the committee of nine which were to deal with the concept and the technical form of the founding plan of the university.

The predecessor to UNISMA was Tarbiyah Faculty (Faculty of Education). This faculty underwent a long history before it was formed into a faculty. The formation of Tarbiyah faculty was started by the formation of Islamic Education Academy which was then renamed Tarbiyah Watta’lim Faculty (Faculty of Education and Teaching) of Nahdlatul Ulama University (UNU).

It was based on the Decree of Ministry of Religion Affairs no. 16/1963 on 12 January 1963 that the Diploma certificate of FTT UNU Malang was equal to the Diploma certificate of State Islamic Institute (IAIN). In 1968, UNU was renamed UNSURI of East Java and located in Surabaya and yet had several faculties in Malang, such as Tarbiyah, Agriculture, Law, and Social Science Faculties. In 1971, Tarbiyah Wata’lim Faculty of UNU was renamed Tarbiyah Faculty of UNSURI.

When the foundation of University of Islam Sunan Giri Malang was established, the Tarbiyah and Agriculture Faculties of UNSURI weremerged and becoming a faculty at the University of Islam Malang.

On 7 October 1983, the Diploma education program of Faculty of Law (Department of civil law, criminal law, and public administration), Faculty of Agriculture (agriculture, social economic agriculture), Faculty of Husbandry (husbandry production), Faculty of Engineering (Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering), Faculty of Economics (management and accounting), Faculty of Teacher Training and Education (Indonesian Language Education and Mathematics Education) of UNISMA were registered by the Decree of Ministry of Education and Culture no. 0425/1983.

Faculty of Administration has been run since 27 March 1983 with its two study programs, public administration and business administration. Since 31 March 2005, University of Islam Malang has run medical faculty with bio diversity (herbal medicine) as one of its concentrations.

Since the foundation of University of Islam Malang was established, it only had one focus, which is education. Yet, today, there are a lot of units in University of Islam Malang, such as:

  1. University of Islam Malang Hospital
  2. Laboratory of Ahlussunnah wal jama’ah and AinulYaqin Islamic Boarding School
  3. Cooperation between Research and Community Service Unit of UNISMA and Forestry Department of Republic of Indonesia
  4. Cooperation between Engineering Faculty and BPPT (Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology)
  5. Establishment of Graduate School Programs
  6. Establishment of Ahlussunnahwaljama’ah Centre
  7. Cooperation with Department of Food Science and Technology of Agriculture, Kyushu University of Fukuoka, Japan, and Department of Microbiology of University of Delhi South Campus, New Delhi India.
  8. Cooperation with the Association Overseas Technological Scholarship (AOTS), sub division of Business Forum
  9. Cooperation with Learning Assistance Program for Islamic Schools (LAPIS) and Equality of Learning Outcomes in Islamic Schools (ELOIS) of Australia.