The study of human psyche and search for the ‘why’ of human behavior has always been an integral part of our thinking and heritage in the Indian tradition. It was more so at Allahabad, the holy city of Prayag, where Saraswati joins the piety of Ganga and the depths of Yamuna rivers. Allahabad has been a city championing human rights, and promoting talent, creativity and cultural values. Its citizens played an active role in the freedom movement. It has produced eminent politicians, scholars, lawyers, jurists, scientists who impacted national development. University of Allahabad is the fourth oldest university in India, known as the 'Oxford of the East'.
Modern "scientific" psychology made a late entry as an independent discipline. As in other places psychology was taught as a special paper in both the Department of Education and Philosophy. However, in its yearning for more comprehensive knowledge, the Philosophy Department around 1960 requested the university and the University Grants Commission (U.G.C.) for a psychology laboratory and an additional post of Professor of Psychology. The UGC was willing to oblige but recommended the establishment of a separate Department of Psychology in the university. The then Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ranjan decided to look for a suitable person to fill the position. His search produced only one name in the field- that of Prof. Durganand Sinha. Prof. Sinha was educated at Cambridge University and at Patna University. He had practiced and taught psychology at Patna University and Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Formally, Prof. Durganand Sinha was appointed Head and Professor, Department of Psychology, in 1961. For almost six months the department consisted of just one faculty and Prof. Sinha shared office accommodation with the Dean, Students Welfare. None could have predicted that such 'accidental' beginnings of a department could produce such far reaching consequences for the growth, quality and development of the discipline in India in later years. Dr. C. H. K. Mishra, a scholar, playwright, and writer and Dr. Prem Shankar, were the first two faculties to join, followed by Dr. R. K. Mishra of Lucknow University. Later, Prof. R. C. Tripathi joined as a research scholar from IIT Kharagpur and was appointed as a lecturer. Later, he went on a Fulbright Fellowship and obtained his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. From its very beginning the department started acquiring a distinct identity of its own on the campus.
After the establishment as separate department in 1961, the department progressed in various phases. Staff expansion took place and Prof. E. S. K. Ghosh, Prof. U. N. Agarwala, Prof. M. Verma, Prof. N. Dhawan, Prof. R. K. Naidu joined the teaching faculty.
In 1977, in recognition of its activities, as well as potential for growth as a higher center for studies in psychology, the UGC approved it as a Department of Special Assistance (DSA). Under the scheme the department was provided by the UGC with a generous grant to strengthen its various research and teaching activities for the duration of the Fifth Plan Period. The UGC later extended the scheme till March 1985. The department chose the area of 'Social Change and National Development' as its focal theme. The infrastructure of the department was upgraded to fulfill its commitments as a Center of Higher Studies. A well-equipped laboratory and perhaps one of the best libraries for psychology in this region of the country was possible due to the generous resources of the UGC. Additional building grants were also provided and an annexe was constructed. There was staff expansion. Some very renowned and competent faculty was recruited under the Special Assistance Scheme. Prof. Janak Pandey, a PhD from Kansas University and working at IIT Kanpur was offered a post of professor in the department. Prof. Girishwar Mishra from Gorakhpur University, Prof. A. K. Dalal from IIT Kanpur and Prof. U. C. Jain from Rajasthan University were notable additions to the staff. The faculty has the unique distinction of receiving some very prestigious fellowships in select areas. Prof. E. S. K. Ghosh was awarded Nuffield Fellowship at the University of Bristol. Senior Fulbright Fellowships were awarded to the following faculty: Prof. D. Sinha, Prof. R. K. Naidu, Prof. R. C. Tripathi, Prof. A. K. Dalal, Prof. J. Pandey and Prof. N. Dhawan. Commonwealth Fellowships were awarded to Prof. K. Thapa, Prof. D. Punetha and Dr. N. Kohli. Commonwealth and Senior Visiting Fellowship were awarded to Prof. J. Pandey. U.G.C. Career Award and ICSSR Senior Fellowships were awarded to Prof A. K. Dalal. The young scientist award was conferred on Prof. P. Singh by the Indian Science Congress Association. In recognition of its outstanding contribution to the field of psychology in India, the department was upgraded as the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) in 1984 by the UGC.
In the year 2001 Prof. R. C. Tripathi retired, who had provided leadership to the Department for almost two decades, before his retirement, he introduced the credit based evaluation system for the Masters’ programme which was implemented in the year 2002. Prof. Janak Pandey took over the gauntlet to navigate the department to newer heights. The Department was evaluated by the UGC and the third term of the Centre of the Advanced Study was awarded for the period 2001- 06. Currently the Department is implementing the 4th phase of UGC’s Centre of Advanced Study which will end in the year 2015.