Currently, there are about 22,000 students at National Cheng Kung University in 9 colleges, 40 departments, 82 graduate institutes, and 55 research centers. Starting from 2006, the Ministry of Education has offered NCKU NT$1.7 billion annually for five consecutive years for its excellent academic performance and potential.
National Cheng Kung University was originally established under Japanese occupation in January 1931 as Tainan Technical College (Chinese: 臺南高等工業學校). In 1942, the school was renamed to Japanese as 臺南工業專門學校 while the English name remained. After the end of Japanese occupation, the school name was renamed to Taiwan Provincial Tainan Junior College of Technology (Chinese: 台灣省立台南工業專科學校) in March 1946, and then to Taiwan Provincial College of Engineering (Chinese: 台灣省立工學院) in October the same year.
When the central government of the Republic of China moved to Taiwan in 1949, it was one of the three existing colleges in Taiwan. As the number of colleges expanded, it was upgraded to a provincial university in 1956 as Taiwan Provincial Cheng Kung University (Chinese: 臺灣省立成功大學), and then a national university in 1971 as National Cheng Kung University (Chinese: 國立成功大學). Former Minister for Education Wu Jin served as the first president of the new National Cheng Kung University.
NCKU has 11 campuses: Cheng-Kung, Sheng-Li, Kuang-Fu, Cheng-Xin, Tzu-Chiang, Ching-Yeh, Li-Hsing, Dong Ning, Kuei-Jen, An-Nan and Dou-Liou Campuses.
On January 12, 2011, the Y. S. Sun Green Building Research Center was inaugurated. It is the world's first green educational center as well as Taiwan's first zero carbon building. The 4,800 m2 (52,000 sq ft)-facility cost NT$30 million (US$4.41 million) to construct, far below the original NT$180 million budget. Natural ventilation, limited power usage, reduced window size, and energy efficient lighting all contribute to the building's carbon neutrality.