The remote origin of this Congregation of the Apostolic See, in fact, goes back to the special commissions set up by the Roman Pontiffs for the supervision of the Universities of Rome and studies in the territory of the Papal States. The first commission appears to have been founded by Eugene IV in 1431, the next one by Leo X, with the Apostolic Constitution Dum Suavissimos (5th November 1613), finally, the most successful one, was established by Julius III and with a short document Dum Attentae Sollecitudinis of 23rd January 1552.
Pope Sixtus V made the first comprehensive reform of the Roman Curia by the Apostolic Constitution Immense Aeterni of 22nd January 1588. He established the Congregatio pro Universitate Studii Romani to supervise the Universities and Colleges of Rome and other distinguished universities, such as Bologna, Paris, Salamanca, Oxford, etc. This Congregation, however, soon lost importance, until it disappeared completely under the pontificate of Clement V (1670-76).
It was Leo XII, with the Apostolic Constitution Quod Divina Sapientia of 28th August 1824, who established the new Congregatio Studiorum for the Universities and all public and private schools of the Papal States.
Beginning from 1870, following the dissolution of the Papal States, this Congregation began to exert its authority over the Universities and Institutes of French Catholics and then also on Papal institutions based in Rome. With the Apostolic Constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29th June 1908, St. Pius X confirmed the competence of the Congregation Studiorum for Universities.
An important reform was accomplished later by Pope Benedict XV, who, by the Motu Proprio Seminaria Clericorum of 4th November 1915, united the Office for Seminaries, existing at the constitutional Congregation, and the Congregatio Studiorum, so establishing the Congregatio de Seminariis et de Studiorum Universitatibus. In this way, the Congregation was enriched by a new competence concerning seminaries, and this was confirmed by can. 256 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Indeed, this competence was always mentioned as the first and main competence.
It is worthwhile, remembering - with regard to universities - that Pius XI, in 1931, rearranged higher ecclesiastical studies, with the Apostolic Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus, expressly reserving to the exclusive competence of the Congregation among the Departments of the Roman Curia for universities and ecclesiastical faculties, stating: "The canonical erection and the supreme direction of any ecclesiastical university and faculties of these studies, even in the places and institutions subject to the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Church and Propaganda, as well as any Faculty belonging to any religious family, are reserved to the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities of Studies. "
With the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae of 1968 - with which Paul VI, after the Second Vatican Council, reformed the Roman Curia - the Congregation assumed the name of Sacra Congregatio pro Institutione Catholica and, alongside the authority it already possessed before, for seminaries (first Office) and ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (second office), a third office was set up for Catholic schools.
The new reform of the Roman Curia, realized by John Paul II with the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, 28th June 1988, basically confirmed the competences of the Congregation previously existing. However, the name therein, was changed a few months later by the Pope himself, who restored the old name Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (de Seminariis atque Studiorum Institutis).
On 16th January of 2013, with the Motu proprio Ministorum Institutio, Pope Benedict XVI modified the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, and the jurisdiction over Seminaries which had been held by the Congregation was transferred to the Congregation for the Clergy. In addition, according to the above-mentioned document, the name of the Dicastery was also changed from Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (de Seminariis atque Studiorum Institutis)"to Congregatio de Institutione Catholica (de Studiorum Institutis).