The Reformed Theological College was founded in 1954 at the instigation of the Synod of the Reformed Churches of Australia. The Synod felt that Australia and New Zealand needed a College that would adhere unequivocally to the authority of the Bible as the Word of God and present a systematic reformed understanding of Scripture.
The inaugural Principal was Professor Alexander Barkley, a godly Irishman who was pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Geelong. The College began in the schoolroom at his church, and moved through a series of small buildings before the RTC Board purchased the only remaining wing of the original Geelong Grammar School in 1961. This historic bluestone building, built in 1857, served the College well for almost 40 years.
Professor Barkley was succeeded as Principal by Professor Ray Zorn in 1978, Professor Keith Warren in 1990, Professor Henk De Waard in 1997, Dr Murray Capill in 2008, and Dr Phillip Scheepers in 2020. In 1992 the College began its affiliation with the Australian College of Theology, offering accredited diplomas and degrees.
In 1999 the College purchased part of the Geelong Grammar Junior Campus in Highton. This facility, near Deakin University, provided greater space and flexibility for the College. It also allowed for the development of Barkley Hall, a student residence enterprise capable of accommodating up to 70 single students. Many of the residents are students studying at Deakin University.
Throughout the 1990s RTC developed distance education programs. In 2015 a further step was taken to respond to the changing trend in theological education with the introduction of multi-modal delivery options, including online delivery and intensives. These options now allow students to complete academic programs without having to live nearby.
Another major change in delivery took place in 2017 when RTC moved on-campus study to the Melbourne CBD.