PNU was established in 1988 as a unique ODL institution in the country after having integrated the University of Abureihane Birouni and Iran Free University. The degrees it awards are all recognized and have the same status as those of other state universities. PNU took its first intake in five degree programs at 28 study centers. In addition to admit student through passing the National Entrance Examination held annually by the National Organization for Educational Testing, the university launched encompassing degree programs to admit students through an acceptable GPA. Presently, PNU has 502 local study centers and campuses which are scattered throughout the country and administered by 31 provincial centers. It has also an Office of the Coordinating and Planning of the International Study Centers located in the university headquarters in Tehran. PNU has about 3,148 faculty members and 940,515 students.