The origin of the Faculty of Economics and Administration (FEA), University of Malaya can be traced back to the Raffles College which was set up in 1929 in Singapore. Economics was then offered as an optional subject. Raffles College was merged with the King Edward VII College of Medicine to form the University of Malaya in 1949. The Department of Economics and Statistics was set up as one of the five departments under the Faculty of Arts. With the relocation of the university to Kuala Lumpur in 1959, the Economics and Statistics Department remained under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

The FEA was set up in 1966, with Professor Ungku Aziz as the founding Dean, to provide more broad-based training in economics and administration. The FEA began with seven divisions: Accounting, Analytical Economics, Applied Economics, Business Administration, Public Administration, Rural Development, and Statistics. The divisions of Business Administration and Accounting became a new faculty in 1997.
Subsequently, the remaining divisions were upgraded to departments, namely the Department of Economics, Department of Development Studies, Department of Administrative Studies and Politics and Department of Applied Statistics.

Currently, FEA offers the Bachelor of Economics degree, and four programs at the postgraduate level: Master of Economics, Master of Public Administration, Master of Applied Statistics and Doctor of Philosophy. Of the 1,109 students in 2007/2008 session, 761 are enrolled in the undergraduate program while the rest are postgraduate students, including a number of international students. The post-graduate programs are relatively new, but the number of students, both local and foreign, has been increasing steadily.

The FEA has produced close to 12,000 graduates since its establishment in 1966. In addition, more than one hundred students from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences were majoring in Economics each year up until 1999, when the program was discontinued.
The FEA also manages the Population Studies Unit (PSU) that was set up in 1979 as part of the Population and Family Health Project funded by the World Bank and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities. The FEA is also actively involved in enhancing academic excellence in the field of monetary and financial economics through the Tun Dr. Ismail Chair which was set up in August 2000. Following the launching of the Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Chair in November 2006, in honor of the contributions of Royal Professor Ungku Aziz in the fields of education and economic development, the Centre for Poverty and Development Studies was set up at the Faculty to function as a focal point for academic work, research, consultancy and technical assistance in areas related to poverty and development.

Academic staff of the FEA is responsible for the operations of the Malaysian Economic Association (MEA). The MEA has been organizing the annual post-budget dialogues and series of seminars and talks to instill greater interest in the fields of economics and finance. Being a member of the Federation of ASEAN Economic Association, the MEA provides a means for networking with scholars in the region. The FEA also collaborates with the Malaysian Economic Association in the publication of an international journal, the Malaysian Journal of Economic Studies.