Mar Athanasius College (Autonomous), affiliated to M.G. University, Kottayam was established in 1955. The college is owned and managed by Mar Athanasius College Association which was constituted in 1953 under the Cochin Registration of Scientific and Charitable Societies Act. Mar Athanasius College started functioning on 14 July 1955. The formal inauguration of the college was done by His Majesty Haile Selassie I, the Emperor of Ethiopia, on 30 October, 1956. The initial financial assistance for the college was provided by the Mar Thoman Cheriya Pally, Kothamangalam and the shareholders of the Association. A generous contribution from the Emperor of Ethiopia also immensely helped the Association in establishing the college. It is constructed in 30 acres of land on a green hillock by the side of the Kothamangalam-Muvattupuzha road, about one kilometer away from Kothamangalam town and 55 kms to the east of Kochi. It extends between latitudes 10.0558° N and longitudes 76.6183° E. The built up area of the campus, is about 1,67,022.19 sqft. The library area comes to 31,306.34 sqft. The college also has a multi-purpose stadium cum auditorium (Baselios Paulose Indoor Stadium) with an area of 10,000 sqft.
From its humble beginning, Mar Athanasius College has become one of the prestigious centers of higher learning in Kerala. The College offers 13 undergraduate programmes (12 aided and one self-financing), 2 vocational undergraduate programmes, 17 postgraduate programmes (8 aided and 9 self-financing), one aided integrated postgraduate programme in Basic Sciences (Biology) and 5 doctoral programmes leading to Ph.D (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Economics and Commerce). Certificate courses and value added coures in life sciences, humanities and commerce are offered to acquire competency in the essential job-readiness skills. Presently, the college encompasses around 2000 students, 132 teaching faculty and 67 non- teaching staff. The college provides state-of the- art infrastructure to facilitate teaching- learning process. 22 laboratories in tune with modern specifications function in the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, Botany, Zoology, Data Analytics and Bio-Sciences. Of these, five are research laboratories to carry out research in science.The college has two instrumentation centres to house sophisticated instruments. Two air- conditioned seminar halls, a Network Resource Centre, Academic Technology Centre, a Language lab and a Mathematics lab function in the college. A multi storied, full-fledged library with 72093 books, 54 periodicals, 35 journals, 13 newspapers, 6000+ e-journals and 199500+ e-books are provided to meet the academic and research requirements of the faculty, students and research scholars. Since its establishment, the faculty of the college has undertaken 11 Major Research projects and about 40 Minor Research projects funded by various agencies such as UGC, DST, KSCSTE, ICSSR, MHRD etc.
In commensurate with the academic facilities, futuristic infrastructure amenities are provided to develop and improve the co- curricular talents of the students. Indoor Stadium, Indoor Shooting Range, a 400 m and 200 m ground, an Olympic Size Swimming Pool (50* 25 *2m) and a multi gymnasium are provided to inculcate sports culture among its students and thus aid in their wholesome development. The college has two ladies' hostel, a sports men's hostel, an international men's hostel with facilities for accommodating 200, 50 and 50 students respectively. The college offers value added and skill development courses in various disciplines. College has various clubs and forums like drama club, film club, quiz club, music club, dance club, debate club, nature club etc for the upliftment of students' talents. The college also offers international/national faculty and student exchange programmes.
The college has the rare distinction of being the first college in Kerala to be accredited with ‘A' grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in 2002. ‘A' grade was retained in 2012, second cycle of accreditation. Acknowledging the achievements of the college, in its third cycle of accreditation in 2017, NAAC accorded ‘A+'grade to the institution with CGPA 3.52. The University Grants Commission conferred Autonomy to the college in 2016 and then extended to 2032. ‘College with Potential for Excellence' status was conferred in 2009 and was later extended up to 31 March 2019 by the UGC. The college was ranked in 87th, 56th position and 86th positions in NIRF 2023, 2022 and 2021 college ranking respectively. The college, in 2019, was one among the seventeen colleges in India to receive five crores rupees under the RUSA scheme to usher transformative reforms in the higher education system. Four departments -Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology- received financial assistance from the Govt. of India under DBT Star Scheme in 2019 later extended to 2024. The college was selected for Unnath Bharath Abhiyan as part of the MHRD scheme to enhance the living standards of the people in nearby villages and municipalities. The college selected five villages- Kothamangalam, Keerampara, Pindimana, Varappetty and Thrikkariyoor - as part of the scheme. The UGC, under the Paramarsh scheme, has also identified the college as a potential mentor to nearby educational institutions to acquire accreditation. The college renders its services to five Mentee institutions- Mar Athanasius College of Engineering (Kothamangalam), Mar Baselios Institute of Technology and Science (Nellimattom), Mar Baselios College (Adimaly), Mount Carmel College of Arts and Science (Karukadom) and Mar Elias College, (Kottappady).The college celebrated its decennial, silver, golden and diamond jubilee with all splendor in 1965, 1981, 2004 and 2015 respectively.
Over the last two decades, Mar Athanasius College has won many prestigious titles comprising two national awards and six state awards. For its eco- friendly activities including rain water harvesting projects, the college has won many prestigious awards instituted by various accredited bodies like Government departments, popular newspapers, bio- diversity boards and other environmental agencies. The college is the recipient of Palathully Award (2007), National Environmental Awareness Award (2008), Bhoomimithra Award (2009), Green Award (2010), One district, One Green Champion Award (2020- 21) Higher Education Minister's Excellence Award (2022), and Manorama Trophy (2019 & 2021). Dr. Winny Varghese, former Principal of the college, was honoured with Dr. Sam Higginbottom Award for the best Principal of India (2009) instituted by All India Association for Christian Higher Education (AIACHE), New Delhi. Dr. Manju Kurian, Principal was honoured in 2023 with Berchmans Award and Fr. Dr. Jose Thekkan Award for the best teacher in the State instituted by Kuwait Alumini Chapter of SB College Changanassery and Christ College Irinjalakuda respectively. The college is often recognized as one of the best NSS unit by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for its outstanding work done under NSS. Awards have also been conferred to the programme officers who coordinate the activities of the unit.
Mar Athanasius College has made sterling achievements in the field of sports and games. The Sports Council of Kerala selected the college as the ‘Best College in Sports' in 2014. The college was accredited by KHELO India as its center in Athletics. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) chose the college as a sub- center in Athletics (2007). The college athletic team has won the university championship for fifteen times and has been the runners up for three years. The Women athletics team was the champions in 2021 and runners up in 2020. For eight times, the College won the University Championship in Football and was the University champions in Volleyball for four times. The college won the University Championship in cross country race for nine times; won the University Championship in Swimming (Men) for five times; won the University Championship in Swimming (Women) for four times. For consecutive years from 2017 to 2021, the college won the University Championship in Water Polo (Men). Since 2019, Mar Athanasius Football Academy has been participating in the Professional Football League organised by Kerala Football Association. Mar Athanasius College is the only college in Kerala participating in a professional league. The college has also produced 26 international athletes including two Olympians - Anilda Thomas and T. Gopi. Eldhose Paul and Abdulla Aboobacker won Gold and Silver in Commonwealth Games for India in 2022. Eldhose Paul was honoured with Arujuna Award in 2023.