The Department of International Relations was founded in 1987 under the initiative of Prof. Dr. Duygu Sezer, just one year after the foundation of Bilkent University. Prof. Dr. Ali Karaosmanoğlu chaired the department for over a decade before Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ersel Aydınlı became the new chair in 2007. In September 2010 Assoc. Prof. Dr. Pınar Bilgin became the Department’s new Chair and three years later Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dimitris Tsarouhas became the new Chair.

In 1989, the Department of International Relations established its graduate studies by starting the Master of Arts in International Relations (MIR) program. By 1990, the Ph.D. program was ready to go and Bilkent International Relations appeared as a fully equipped research and teaching department.

In May 1998, an area studies center, the Center for Russian Studies was founded by Norman Stone as an integral part of the department in order to undertake the ongoing Russian Studies program in a concentrated platform.

The academic contributions of the Department of International Relations to Bilkent University continued with the initiation of another master’s program in 2003. Master of International and Public Policy (MIAPP) was founded for the purpose of developing international and European affairs experts and executives through a focused graduate program under the Department of International Relations.

As of 2012, the Department has 20 distinguished full time faculty members who prepare their students as notable members of professional and academic life.