ISPA was founded by the congregation of Catholic religious orders and started its activity in 1962 with the designation of Institute of Psycho-Pedagogical Sciences.
It came to adopt the designation of the Higher Institute of Applied Psychology (ISPA) in 1964 and since then it has been asserting itself as an essential reference in the history of higher education in Portugal.
In 1977, the institutional responsibility of the ISPA educational establishment started to be ensured by a cooperative open to teachers and non-teachers who collaborate in it and to other personalities of recognized social, scientific, and cultural relevance.
ISPA was a pioneer in the teaching and research of psychological and behavioral sciences, where the first undergraduate course in psychology and, in the 1980s, in teaching and research in animal behavior, was established.
Still, in the 80s, it would occupy its current facilities, located at Jardim do Tabaco - Alfama street, in the heart of the historic city of Lisbon.