Cuyamaca College opened its doors to students in the fall of 1978 in El Cajon. The campus is on a 165-acre site that was part of the Old Monte Vista Ranch. Cuyamaca College is one of two colleges serving the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
The name for the college was selected by the board of trustees, as a reflection of the history and heritage of this area of San Diego County. One historian notes "The very old Indian name 'Cuyamaca' has persisted through Spanish, Mexican and American times," and has, at various times, been "applied to mountains, lakes, valleys and ranches." Writers have interpreted the Indian meaning of the name in various ways, including "above rain" and "place where the rain comes from heavens."
The campus consists of eight classroom buildings and also is the site of the Heritage of the Americas Museum and the Water Conservation Garden.
In the fall of 1995, the college dedicated a new 20.3-acre physical education facility with a fitness center, gym, tennis and volleyball courts, soccer and ball fields and a track.
The college is designed to provide a comprehensive curriculum of programs and course of study, and when completed, will accommodate an enrollment of approximately 15,000 students in 2015.