The Osmania University was brought into existence in 1918 through a firman of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad. The need for a university in Hyderabad State was felt for a long time, and in 1917, Sir Akbar Hydari, in a memorandum to the Education Minister, emphasized the need to establish a university with Urdu as the medium of instruction "as it is the language of the widest currency in India".

web|url=https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/ou-architect-was-nizams-emissary-before-merger/articleshow/58323078.cms%7Ctitle=OU architect was Nizam's emissary before merger | Hyderabad News - Times of India|date=23 April 2017|first=Syed|last=Akbar|website=The Times of India|language=en|access-date=2019-10-06}}</ref>

After independence and the accession of Hyderabad State in 1948, the university fell under the purview of the state government. English replaced Urdu as the medium of instruction, and the Nizam's crown was also removed from the university seal.