The Graduate Institute of Religious Studies (GIRS) at National Chengchi University opened in 2000, and was the first department of its kind at a National University in Taiwan.
The origins of GIRS date back to the mid 1990's. At that time, new religions and new denominations of existing religions were flourishing in Taiwan. These developments served a catalyst that stimulated widespread increasing interest in the academic study of religion. Scholars from associated departments in the humanities and social sciences, including the departments of foreign languages, literature, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology, became interested in the newly developing social phenomena. They approached these cultural phenomena from the perspective of their own specialized fields. In March 1996, these professors founded a Center for the Study of Religion (CSR) for their own research.
CSR attracted both national and international attention from scholars and students alike. Based upon their collaborative experience, the CRS members formally proposed Chengchi University and the R.O.C. Ministry of Education for establishing a department devoted to the academic study of Religion in 1998 . Official recognition was granted in 1999, and GIRS began to admit students for its M. A. degree programs in 2000. The Ph D. degree programs was founded in 2007.