The College of Mines and Earth Sciences celebrated its centennial anniversary during the 1991/1992 academic year. The College has its roots in mining and metallurgy instruction, dating back to 1891. The State School of Mines, formally established in 1901, was renamed the School of Mines and Engineering in 1913, and began offering degree programs in chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical and mining engineering. The metallurgical degree program was first offered in 1918. In 1948, the college divided to form two separate colleges: the College of Mines and Mineral Industries and the College of Engineering. First taught in 1871, the geological sciences and geophysics were moved from the College of Arts and Sciences during that same year. (University of Utah presidents Joseph T. Kingsbury and James E. Talmage both taught geology during their teaching careers.) Also in 1948, the departments of Fuels Engineering and Meteorology were added to the newly-created College of Mines and Mineral Industries.

According to Dr. Carl J. Christensen, the first dean of the College of Mines and Mineral Industries, "the purpose of collecting all courses of instruction, faculties, and laboratories dealing with mineral problems and technologies into one school (college) was to create an efficient agency ... [to] assist in the building and maintenance of a mineral industry by the state of Utah." The College of Mines and Earth Sciences boasts a tradition of excellence in both teaching and research, as well as in the area of public service, and is proud of the role it has played in the economic development of the mining industry in Utah.

In 1988, the college was renamed the College of Mines and Earth Sciences to reflect the important educational components of the College in the area of earth sciences. Today, approximately one-half of the faculty specialize in earth sciences (geology, geophysics, and meteorology), with the balance specializing in minerals and material-related engineering, most specifically geological, metallurgical, and mining engineering. The college's varied resources have also expanded to include such facilities as the State Seismograph Station and the Central Receiving Center for Remote Earthquake Sensing.