Institute of Religious Studies of Sichuan University was set up in 1980 with the approval of Chinese government, which is the oldest institute of its kind among higher learning in China. It has since maintained and consolidated its reputation as a leading national center for the study of religion. It just celebrated its twentieth anniversary when rapid growth of religious studies programs begins on college and university campus in China. This Institute now has 22 staff, and 13 of them are full professors and 4 associate professors. They are engaged in the history of the study of religions, Daoism, Buddhism, Christianity and religions of the ethnic groups in Southwest China.
The Institute of Religious Studies began to recruit master degree seekers in 1983 and PhD degree seekers in 1991. It welcomes post-doctor from 2004. Graduates of Sichuan University fill many top posts in higher education in Religious Studies in China. Since 1980 the Institute has undertaken more than thirty research projects sponsored by the National Social Science Foundation, National Education Commission and some International foundations. The staff members have published about 90 monographs and contributed 700 research papers to number of journals. Joint efforts of the staff have led to remarkable achievements in developing the best in traditional Chinese culture and have been awarded among the first group of key university specialties. In 1999, the Institute of Religious Studies at Sichuan University has been authorized as the Humanity and Social Science Studies Base in China, specifically for the study of religions. It is one of the only two such bases for the study of religions in China. It is promoted as the only keystone discipline in the study of religions in China in 2001, which means Religious Studies degree is recognized as one of the most prestigious qualifications of its kind.