The college had its origin in 1906 with the formation of the Society of Arts and Crafts. In 1926, the society became one of the first Arts and Crafts organizations in America to offer an educational program in the arts. In 1962, when the Michigan Department of Education authorized the granting of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Industrial Design, the school officially became a college. In 1975 the School of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts changed its name to the Center for Creative Studies-College of Art and Design and in 2001 it assumed its present name.
On January 8, 2006, Richard Rogers, President of the school, announced at the 2006 North American International Auto Show that Josephine Ford, the only granddaughter of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, bequeathed $50 million to CCS upon her death the previous June. This gift stands as the largest single gift ever made to a private arts college in the United States, and the largest gift to any private school in Michigan.