This institute was founded by Aziz Suryal Atiya, assisted by Murad Kamil and Sami Gabra, on 21 January 1954 in a building at Anba Ruwais belonging to the Coptic patriarchate. The aim was to launch a study program in Coptology, a field long neglected in Egypt. The institute’s sections are Theology, Coptic Language and Literature, Coptic History, Coptic Archaeology and Architecture, Sociology, African Studies, Coptic Law, Coptic Music, and Coptic Art.
The institute holds a specialized library that offers research opportunities in Coptic studies. The most flourishing sections are that of the Coptic Music, which documented the music of the Coptic Church under Ragheb Moftah, and of Coptic art under Isaac Fanous, whose icons have spread to most of the Coptic churches in Egypt, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe.
The institute has awarded doctoral degrees to many researchers under the auspices of Pope Shenouda III.