The College is named after the former Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn Ernest Henry Burgmann. The vision the founders had for the College was of a community where young people of all faiths could live and study together, in a spirit of diversity, individual growth and mutual respect. The College's two original residential wings were named by residents early in 1970s, 'Homer' after the legendary Greek poet responsible for both the Iliad and the Odyssey. Most undergraduates will be located within these two wings.
The original Master Plan for Burgmann College, set out in 1967, envisaged facilities for 500 residents, including a multi-denominational chapel and common support areas. The first residents arrived in early 1971. Since then, it has been home for over 7,800 students pursuing many and varied academic disciplines.