Amberton University is at the intersection of Interstate Highway 635 and Northwest Highway, in Garland, Texas. It began in 1971 as a branch of Abilene Christian College called ACC Metrocenter. Before it opened its own campus in 1974, most of its classes were held on the campus of the defunct Christian College of the Southwest in Mesquite or at the former campus of Fort Worth Christian College. In its early years the school primarily offered criminal-justice degrees to police officers. This program was phased out by 1978.
When ACC Metrocenter received its own campus in 1974 its name was changed to Abilene Christian College at Dallas. The campus was a two-story, 60,000-square-foot office building with two-thirds of its space leased to other businesses, including a trucking school. In 1976, in order to stay in line with its main campus, which changed its name from Abilene Christian College to Abilene Christian University, ACC Metrocenter was renamed Abilene Christian University at Dallas. On June 1, 1981, ACU Dallas became a separate institution, after its four-year search for its own accreditation. The name Amber University was chosen by a group of students and staff members because they liked the sound of the name. In March 2001 the university changed its name to Amberton, with the addition of "ton," signifying town or village, meant to represent more accurately the university's community of learners.
The university was devoted to the mature student. It described itself as an "independent, non-denominational institution committed to Christian values." As a nonprofit, private institution, it directed all funds from tuition to education rather than athletics or research. No social clubs or athletics were available. No one under the age of twenty-one was allowed to enroll, and the average student age was thirty-seven. Bachelor's and master's degrees were offered in business, management, human behavior, and professional development. Classes primarily met in the evenings and on weekends, and the year was divided into four sessions of ten weeks each. Amberton University restricted its enrollment to 1,000 students in order to give them individual attention, and the enrollment stayed near that figure. Enrollment in 1998 was 1,550.