IIT Bombay started operating in 1958 from VJTI before finding temporary accommodation at SASMIRA. It moved into its present location at Powai in 1959 with five engineering departments, two science departments and a department of languages. The Department of Languages was renamed the Department of Humanities in the 1964-65 period, during which time it had 5 faculty members offering Languages (Russian and English), Economics and Costing, Philosophy (Logic, Ethics), Sociology, Industrial / Organizational Psychology and Management. From a mere service department offering a few courses for the B.Tech students, the department transformed itself into a self-reliant academic division with strong post graduate and research programmes.
From 1970 to the early 1990s, the faculty strength went up from 5 to 22 and the department was re-christened the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. A two-tier course structure with 11% credits was to be earned by the science students from courses offered in the humanities and social sciences. In the five-year integrated programme, 5 core & 4 elective courses was included. In 1973, the first Ph.D. degree from the department was awarded. In 1975, a four-member committee was constituted by BOG called ‘The Committee on the Role and Output of Humanities and Social Sciences’ in IIT Bombay. It laid down the objectives of the department and the role of the department in the undergraduate B.Tech programme, and placed emphasis on advanced research and postgraduate programmes in the humanities and social sciences.
Since the introduction of the M.Phil. Programme in July 1993, certain specific research areas have been identified with the view to enable the different disciplines to interact with each other. Based on the IIT Bombay Future Vision 2010, Growth Plan of HSS documents (1996-1998), a review and restructuring of the undergraduate programme was implemented. Shortly, foreign student affiliations began with the study abroad programme. Apart from the augmentation of individual research as well as sponsored activities, the department has also placed emphasis on establishing collaborations with the outside world through industries, business houses & NGOs.