The history of Welbeck College began at Welbeck Abbey, near Worksop in Nottinghamshire. It was opened in September 1953, as a sixth-form college for potential engineering officers for the British Army. In the early days students would leave Welbeck and go straight to Sandhurst, however this was later to change with students being sent to Shivenham to do their degree before proceeding on to Sandhurst. 1992 saw female students admitted for the first time, joining the boys in either York or Harland House, named after their original housemasters.
In 2002, the Defence Training Review resulted in the decision to expand the College to the Engineering Branches of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and in September 2004 the first students from these services joined the College.
The new site, in Leicestershire, was chosen because of its locality to the M1, access to a mainline station and East Midlands Airport, which makes it easily accessible to students from around the UK.
Building work was completed in the summer of 2005 and Welbeck - The Defence Sixth Form College was opened on the 7th September 2005. The College also uniquely became ‘quad service’ on this day with Defence Engineering and Science Group (MOD Civil Service) students joining for the first time.