Craven Community College was created as an extension of Lenoir Community College by the 1965 North Carolina General Assembly. Granted independent status as Craven Technical Institute in 1967, the College was served by Dr. Thurman Brock as President in the historic Harvey House in downtown New Bern. In 1971, the college moved its operations to its present 100-acre location, and in 1973 the Institute was granted community college status. That same year, the College opened an office on the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point. In January 2004, the 24-acre Havelock location, including the Institute of Aeronautical Technology, opened for classes.

The College has been served by five Presidents: Dr. Thurman Brock, Dr. Steve Redd, Dr. Scott Ralls, Dr. Catherine Chew, and, currently, Dr. Raymond Staats.

Community colleges have their own local Boards of Trustees. Four members each are elected by the local school board and the board of County Commissioners, while four members are appointed by the Governor.