The DMMMSU Open University System or DOUS was established in 1996. It first began as a special project under the supervision of then University President, Dr. Manuel Corpus. The project was conceived by Dr. Corpus to give people in remote areas access to higher education. A task force was formed to prepare a comprehensive proposal on the offering of DOUS. This proposal was submitted to Speaker Jose De Venecia for approval and funding with the assistance of then Congressman Victor Ortega. After its approval, faculty members involved in the program prepared modules and instructional materials and later became the first DOUS tutors.
On October 21, 1996, the DOUS program was approved by the DMMMSU Board of Regents under BOR Resolution Number 96-064A. Then on November 28, 1996, DOUS was formally launched by Speaker De Venecia where a memorandum of agreement was signed between government agencies and DMMMSU for the support of DOUS. To begin its operations, Speaker De Venecia released P4.8M in 1996 and P2.8M in 1997 from his Countrywide Development Fund through the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports.
On the first semester of School Year 1996 to 1997, DOUS began offering a proficiency certificate in local government administration which was later called Local Administration Program through Distance Education or LAPDE. Aside from offering courses leading to Master in Development Administration, DOUS offered 27 continuing education skills trainings. On March 26, 1998, a MOA-signing was held wherein DOUS was regularized into an operating unit of DMMMSU with its own organizational structure under BOR Resolution Number 98-024. DMMMSU personnel involved in the DOUS participated in several study visits in the country and abroad to have a better understanding of the operation and management of an open university as DOUS continues to expand its territory and provide quality distance education to its students.