In 1965 the Kansas State Board of Education established this institution under authority granted by Kansas Statutes Annotated 72-4412, and named it the Manhattan Area Vocational-Technical School. Educational programs were initially offered on the campus of Manhattan High School. MATC's current campus, located at 3136 Dickens Avenue in Manhattan, Kansas, was occupied in 1967.
Through the years, the increasing influence of advancing technology in business and industry, health and emergency services, and government has made strong technical skills a requirement in most professions. This evolution has made it popular to refer to vocational-technical training as, simply, technical education. In that spirit, the school was renamed as Manhattan Area Technical Center in 1992.
Legislation passed in 1994, Kansas Senate Bill 586, amended K.S.A. 72-4412 and provided the opportunity for technical schools to apply for conversion to technical colleges. In 1996, Governor Bill Graves signed into law Kansas House Bill 2606, which amended K.S.A. 72-4412, and designated the school as Manhattan Area Technical College. During its 2003 session, the Kansas Legislature passed Senate Bill 7, enabling technical colleges to move to autonomous governance, independent of the public school system. On March 17, 2004, the Kansas Board of Regents approved MATC's governance plan. On July 1, the long process of gaining autonomous governance came to fruition.