PVCC was originally founded by the Maricopa County Community College District as the Northeast Valley Education Center in 1985 with classes temporarily held at Paradise Valley High School. The district gave the college its present name and began campus construction in 1986 and inaugurated the permanent site during 1987. The college had operated as an extension of Scottsdale Community College and gained independent accreditation in 1990.
A branch campus will open near Carefree Highway and 60th Street, in the town of Cave Creek, by 2009.
Despite its name, PVCC is located some distance from the actual town of Paradise Valley, Arizona, which is adjacent to Phoenix but independent from it. Other locations in this part of the city use Paradise Valley in their names as well.
A distance learning branch office of Northern Arizona University (NAU) is at the college. Students may take designated courses for NAU credit at the PVCC campus as part of completing an associate's degree. Those who meet NAU admission standards upon completion of the associate's degree can then use previous credit to complete selected bachelor's degree programs at this location as well.
PVCC now includes the George L. Campbell Branch Library, formerly part of the Maricopa County Library District. There is also a Learning Resources Complex with its own library, computer labs, and tutoring center.
Several art collections, such as the over 600 Western-themed pieces donated by faculty-emeritus member Dr. Warren Buxton, are on display near the college's library.
Athletic facilities, such as tennis and handball courts, are on the south side of campus. New sports fields were recently built on land reclaimed from a low-lying floodplain in that same area.
The eastern edge of the campus borders on Paradise Valley Golf Course, which is operated by the Maricopa County government and is a popular destination for winter visitors and local residents.
Valley Metro buses from regular routes 91 and 186 serve the campus. For many years, the campus was served by express route 500, but in 2003, this service was cancelled and replaced with the RAPID service that departs from Bell Road and State Route 51 Park-and-Ride. Route 32 (32nd Street) once only had rush hour service, but now goes to the campus all through the day, seven days per week, in an extended route from PVCC all the way to 44th Street and Washington in central Phoenix.