Shortly after independence, a band of visionaries led by Professor V.K.R.V. Rao and supported by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru were fired by the ambition to create a centre for advanced learning and research in the social sciences comparable to the best in the world and worthy of an independent sub–continent. Thus conceived in 1948 and founded as the nucleus of the Delhi School of Economics trust with Jawaharlal Nehru as its first Chairman, the Delhi School of Economics became a functioning reality in 1949. It remains even today the leading centre in South Asia for advanced training and research in Economics, Geography and Sociology.
While the initial impulse for its creation came from the challenges of planning and policy–making in India and other newly–independent developing countries, the academic activities of the School soon came to encompass a wider canvas. From the 1950s courses in Commerce, business management, economics statistics, and economic administration were organized as part of the programme of the Department of Economics. The Department of Geography and Sociology came into existence in 1959. Reorganization has since been a continuous process. Management Studies acquired the status of an independent faculty under the leadership of Prof A. Dasgupta in 1967. Commerce grew to become a full–fledged department the same year and has been a separate Faculty since 1993. Currently, the school comprises of the Department of Economics, Geography and Sociology which are part of Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Delhi. The Department of Economics and Sociology also host Centres for Advanced Study, being among the earliest departments in their respective disciplines to have been so recognized by the University Grants Commission. The teaching and research focus of all three departments have evolved over the years to reflect changing social and disciplinary concerns.