Appalachian State University can trace its origins back to 1899 when brothers B.B. and D. D. Dougherty founded the Watauga Academy. B.B. Dougherty saw a need for trained teachers in Watauga County as well as throughout North Carolina. He was instrumental in getting a bill passed for a state-supported school in Watauga County, which became the Appalachian Training School for Teachers. The school first opened for classes in 1903. In 1925, the school became the Appalachian State Normal School for a period of four years, though in 1929 the name was changed to Appalachian State Teachers' College and it became a four-year school.
Appalachian State Teachers' College offered students the chance to pursue either a two-year course of study leading to a "B" North Carolina teaching certificate, or a four-year course leading to a Bachelor of Science Degree and an "A" teaching certificate. A wide variety of majors were added through the years in areas such as English, History, French, Home Economics, Library Science, Public School Music, and Business Education. In 1948, a program of study was established so that students could receive a master's degree at Appalachian. Eventually, the college underwent a reorganization process in anticipation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). In this process, eight departments were established, including applied arts, biology and chemistry, education, languages, health and physical education, history and government, mathematics and physics, and social studies. On July 1, 1967, the institution was reorganized as Appalachian State University.