MGIMO was founded on 14th of October 1944 by a special decree of the Soviet Government on the basis of the recently established School of International Relations of the Lomonosov Moscow State University. The new university, initially headed by Ivan Udaltsov, a famous Soviet economist and former Moscow State University Rector, represented an exceptional type of higher school from its very outset. Despite its proximity to political elites, MGIMO always maintained the spirit of intellectual freedom encouraging independent thinking in its students.


By early 1950s, MGIMO comprised three schools, since its ancestor, the School of History and International Relations was added by the School of International Law and the School of International Economic Relations. In 1955, the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies was integrated into MGIMO. The range of taught languages and country studies was significantly extended to include those of China, India, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, and states of the Middle East. In 1958, MGIMO incorporated one more university — of Foreign Trade — and became the national leader of education and expertise in International Relations. In 1967 the School of Journalism was added to the scope of education and research fields.


The profound social changes in the second half of 1980s affected MGIMO by making it a fully open institution. In 1989, admission on a commercial basis started and first students from Western countries began to arrive. In 1991, the MGIMO Alumni Association was founded under the leadership of Rostislav Sergeyev, the Ambassador and one of the first MGIMO graduates.


1992 saw the creation of the School of International Business and Business Administration, reflecting the substantial changes that the Russian economy was undergoing. In 1994, MGIMO started providing training services in the area of state and public administration based on international practices through a newly established International Institute of Administration. The same year a Department of Politics was introduced within the School of International Relations and evolved into the separate School of Political Science in 1998.


The next decade saw the further buildup of reforms and improvement of educational quality, including newly opened schools and Master programs with the number of partnering universities abroad. In 2000, two educational divisions were established - Institute of Energy Policy and Diplomacy and School of Applied Economics and Commerce. In 2005, the Russia–EU Summit passed resolution for creating the European Studies Institute on MGIMO basis to provide Master training of the European politics, economics and law. The new division was aimed at providing Russian and European officials with comprehensive knowledge and competencies to promote Russia-EU relations.

In 2006, the MGIMO Board of Trustees was established with Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, as its Chairman. The Trustees are Russian high-ranking officials and prominent public figures, as well as Russian and foreign leaders of business and philanthropic community (such as Ingvar Kamprad, the IKEA founder, and Frederik Paulsen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Ferring Pharmaceuticals”, Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in Lausanne). A year later, the MGIMO Board of Trustees established the Russia’s first university Endowment designed to secure the long-term financial standing of the University.

2010 – MGIMO today

In 2013 The School of Governance and Global Affairs was launched as the first Russian school to train international students in English at Bachelor’s level. In 2016 the Odintsovo Branch of MGIMO-University was established and officially opened  in accordance with the MGIMO 2014-2020 Strategic Development Plan.