Periyar Arts College is situated on the shore of Bay Bengal at Devanampattinam village, 200 km south of Chennai on the East Coast Road. The College has been named after "Thanthai Periyar" E.V. Ramasamy, the Great rationalist and social reformer. The college is fully funded and managed by Government of Tamil Nadu.
Periyar Government Arts College was started in 1964 at Cuddalore. Initially 360 students were admitted in four different branches in the Pre-University course. In its inception, the college functioned in the District Board Buildings and then the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Madras Thiru M. Bakthavasalam inaugurated the college on 06.09.1964. In 1965, the college was upgraded to First Grade College. B.Com. course was started in 1973. B.Sc. Chemistry and Physics were started in 1979. B.Sc. Botany and B.A History were introduced in 1980. B.Sc. Zoology was started in 1983. The college introduced M.Com degree course in 1986. B.Sc. Industrial Chemistry was introduced during the academic year 1996-97 with the financial assistance of U.G.C. B.Sc. Computer Science and M.Sc. Mathematics courses were also started in the same year.
In 2005, Periyar Arts College was accredited by NAAC accreditation with C++ in the first cycle On 3 March, 2015, in the process of NAAC Re-accreditation, Periyar Government Arts College has secured ‘B’ Grade status with 2.43 CGPA. As per the NAAC peer team suggestion, new PG courses in Tamil, English, History, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology and Computer Science and UG courses in Microbiology and Political Science have been introduced.
All the departments are equipped with LCD Projector. Besides, seven Departments have been provided with smart boards - the facility enhanced the quality of teaching and learning. Based on the growing demands and needs of the students research programmes M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Tamil and Commerce have been introduced.
In September 2015, aiming of achieving academic accolades, the Periyar Government Arts College has started 23 new courses: B.Sc. Visual Communication, M.A. Public Administration, Master of Social Work (MSW), Part-Time and Full-Time M.Phil. programmes in Commerce, Economics, Computer Science, Zoology, Physics and Microbiology, Part-Time and Full-Time Ph.D. courses in History, Physics, Zoology and Microbiology.
In 2022, the college boasts to have grown as the largest college in Cuddalore District with a student strength of 5000+ students and 20 departments.
Periyar Arts College was initially affiliated with University of Madras and then affiliated to Thiruvalluvar University. From 2021 the college is affiliated to Annamalai University, Chidambaram.