Haywood Community College opened in August 1965 as Haywood Industrial Education Center with one curriculum program and 39 students. Today, HCC offers over 50 curricular programs to over 3,300 students. Approximately 4,100 more students attend classes through its continuing education division, including adult basic education, GED preparation, occupational courses, and community service programs.

In 1973, the College was first accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC).

In 1975, the Haywood Community College Foundation was founded to aid, strengthen, and further the work and service of Haywood Community College.

The HCC Board of Trustees approved the start of the campus arboretum in October 1977 and John Palmer was appointed as the founding director in November.

In 1986, the College opened its Regional High Technology Center. This was the first advanced technology center of its kind in the state of North Carolina. It has provided services to over 50,000 people and over 100 companies. Today, RHTC serves Western North Carolina by providing high technology training and by promoting the growth of regional industry.

The 1991 donation of a 320-acre tract of forest land to the HCC Foundation by Raymond and Bernice Fowler, known as the Raymond J. Fowler Conservancy and Teaching Forest, enabled the College to have a teaching forest for its natural resources program.

The John T. and Catherine R. Beaty Natural Resources Classroom, a 54-acre tract of forestland donated to the HCC Foundation by Catherine Beaty in memory of her late husband John, opened in 2002.

In 2009, HCC acquired a 328 acre tract of land located at Balsam Gap through a generous gift from the Conservation Fund. As a natural extension of protected forest land, the Balsam Gap property serves as a teaching environmental laboratory for HCC’s Natural Resources programs.

Documents pertaining to the history of the college are maintained in the college library.