The Universitat Internacional de Catalunya officially began its academic activities in October 1997. Organic Law 11/1983 on University Reform, (LRU) along with the 26/1984 Parliament of Catalonia Law, established the appropriate legal framework for the establishment of a university with the capacity to award official degree certificates. The Fundación Familiar Catalana (Catalan Family Foundation) took on full responsibility for carrying out this academic project.

This law meant that UIC Barcelona - which initially opened with five faculties and ten degree courses was now officially recognised. A total of about 400 students participated in the opening ceremony for the new buildings on the campuses in Barcelona and Sant Cugat del Vallès.

UIC Barcelona began the 1997-1998 academic year by offering diplomas in Nursing and degree courses in Law, Management and Public Administration, Architecture, Humanities and Journalism, Dentistry and Business Management and Administration. Within a year the diploma in Physiotherapy had been added, and in the year 2000 the diploma programmes in Primary School Teacher Education and Pre-School Teacher Education began.

The degree course in Employment Studies was included in 2002, as was the degree course in Criminology two years later. In that same year the diploma in IT Systems and Management Engineering was officially recognised, helping to broaden the technical side of the university. Finally, in 2004-5 classes in Audiovisual Communication began.

Alongside the expansion of the various faculties, over the years the UIC also experienced a significant increase in the number of centres and institutes. Among these, the Institute of Advanced Family Studies (IESF) was founded in 2004 with the encouragement and support of the Joaquim Molins Figueras Foundation. It would eventually become the most important Spanish institute -with university status- in the field of family policy.

In a similar vein, the Centre for Advanced Social Studies (CESA) was created in 2004 with the aim of coordinating three degree courses with a shared teaching programme. It primarily aims to target working professionals from the civil service or the armed forces. The degree courses offered are Public Administration and Management, Employment Studies and Criminology.

As of the 2008-2009 academic year, the University made all study programmes compliant with the regulations established by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), effectively imparting all bachelor and diploma courses as formal degree programmes, and gradually phasing out prior courses of study.

UIC Barcelona is also pleased to have introduced new programmes, such as the Degree in Medicine (2008), the Degree in Humanities and Cultural Studies (2009), the Degree in Publicity and Public Relations (2009), and the Degree in Political Science and Public Administration (2010), offered in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Social Studies (CESA).