The foreign languages institution later to become the University of Foreign Languages began its existence on the top floor of Chartered Bank Building on Pansodan Street on 16 January 1964. U Ba Myint served as a Principal from 8 January 1964 to 7 February 1965. The Institute started with 4 language departments: French, German, Japanese and Russian. The initial enrollment was 53 students in full-time diploma, part-time diploma, state scholars and language proficiency classes. In 1965, the Chinese Department was established and U Yu Khin became Principal on 8 February 1965.

The Institute was relocated to 119-131 University Avenue, Yangon, its current location and U Yu Khin was still working as the principal at that time and he continued working until 30 April 1971. In that academic year, the admission increased to 205 students. Italian language programme was offered from 1970 to 1980. U Win Maung became Principal on 1 May 1971.

The Institute was transferred direct control of Ministry of Education to Department of Higher Education on 15 March 1972. The foreign languages institution was renamed Institute of Foreign Languages and the-then principal U Win Maung administered the Institute till 17 September 1972. Enrollment increased to 383.

U Tin Aung Soe (from 28 September 1972 to 10 August 1979), U Win Maung (from 10 August 1979 to 7 August 1980), U Sai Aung Tun (from 7 May 1980 to 3 November 1985), U Myo Nyunt (from 16 December 1985 to 3 February 1991) and Dr. Soe Win (from 4 February 1991 to 15 January 1997) served as principals of Institute of Foreign Languages respectively.

Before the establishment of the language departments, English courses were first offered in 1969 and Myanmar language courses were started in 1974 with the faculty members from Yangon University. More and more language departments were added over the years: English Department was established in 1984; Myanmar Department, in 1985; Thai Department, in 1989; and Korean Department, in 1993. Admission increased every year and reached 1179 in 1995-96 academic year. At that time, classrooms were located in the Main Building (a two-storeyed building), the Myawady Buildings (4 two-storeyed buildings), and the OB Buildings (7 one-storeyed buildings).

The Institute was upgraded to the university level and became the Yangon University of Foreign Languages on 2 October 1996 and in addition to the currently offered courses, Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree Programmes were launched, with the enrollment of 1314 students.

Since its upgrade to a university, the-then principal Dr. Soe Win served as the pro-rector (from 15 January 1997 to 11 June 1997) and as the rector (From 12 June 1997 to 3 June 2005). After him, Dr. Aung Aung Min served as the pro-rector (from 1 July 2005 to 20 October 2005), Dr. Myo Myint as the rector (from 21 October 2005 to 30 March 2011), Dr. Tin Maung Tun as the pro-rector (from 30 March 2011 to 18 April 2011), Dr. Lwin Lwin Soe as the rector (from 29 April 2011 to 14 March 2016) and Dr Yee Yee Maw as the pro-rector (from 15 March 2016 to 12 October 2016). Dr. Kyi Shwin has been serving as the rector of the Yangon University of Foreign Languages since 13 October 2016.

The Italian Language Department was reestablished in 2014-2015 academic year. Students’ admission increases every year and in 2016-2017 academic year, it reached to (383000), taking PhD, MA, MA (Q), Diploma, BA courses as well as CHRD evening courses.

Department of Linguistics, Department of Oriental Studies, Department of Philosophy, Department of History and Department of International Studies were established in 1988. The Main Building was handed over from the Ministry of Culture in 1966. Apart from Myawady Buildings and the OB Buildings, 4-storeyed New Building, the Library and Resource Centre  (LRC) , Extension Building (EB), Centre of Excellence (COE) and Recreation Centre (RC), Centre of Excellence Building and Modernized Canteen and The Centre of Excellence in Language Hall (ISH) were constructed in the fiscal years 1995-96, 1997-98,  2008-09, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively.