The history of Istanbul Technical University dates back to the reign of Mustafa III of the Ottoman era.  Mühendishane-i Bahr-i Hümayun, which interprets into the Imperial School of Naval Engineering, was established in 1773 to provide western style education in engineering for the first time in the Ottoman Empire.  It trained expert personnel on shipbuilding and nautical charts.  The founder of the school located at Haliç dockyard was Baron de Tott, who was a Hungarian aristocrat.

Baron de Tott played a significant role in the innovation movement of the Ottoman, and also taught at the school.  The first head teacher however, was Seyyid Hasan Hodja, an Algerian who spoke many languages and was educated in Marine Engineering.  It is thought that the school’s library is enriched with work translated from foreign languages.

Mühendishane-i Berr-i Hümayun (the Imperial School of Land Engineering) was established in 1795 during the period of Selim III to train artillery officers.  It was an extension of the Mühendishane-i Bahr-i Hümayun and the duration of education was four years.  Selim III placed importance in the schools development and sent books from the Topkapı Palace.  The Sultan, who enabled the opportunity of establishing a printing house as part of the school also contributed to its equipment by donating observing and measuring instruments.

Subjects such as, military engineering, cannonball foundry, artillery and astronomy were among the lectures administered at the school.  The contribution of French academics and engineers is also considerable.  The building of the Mühendishane-i Berr-i Hümayun, which demolished over time, was located in Hasköy at the North foot area of the current Haliç Bridge.  In 1995, with a permission granted by the İstanbul No.1 Cultural and Preservation of Natural Heritage committee, the inscription that stood in the Hasköy military station was taken and placed in the entrance hall of the Taşkışla building of İTÜ.

In 1847, lessons in the field of architecture were also introducted into the curriculum at the Mühendishane-i Berr-i Hümayun and the commencement of western architectural knowledge had begun. The Mühendishane-i Berr-i Hümayun converted into Hendese-i Mülkiye (Technical School of Engineering) in 1883 and thereafter by adopting the name Mühendis Mekteb-i Alisi (Certified Engineering School) in 1909, it provided education to train civil architect and engineers.

In consequence of engineering and architecture education that was reformed with the establishment of the Republic, Mühendis Mekteb-i Alis (Certified Engineering School) was organized as a school that provided training including the branches of building road, railway, waterworks and civil work-architecture. In 1929, in addition to existing waterworks and road branches in the School, civil work department was also added and in the area of architecture, the education was commenced. Certified Engineering School, which produced first graduates in 1931, trained technical personnel for public works of the Turkish Republic. In 1940’s, Certified Engineering School strengthened itself with the participation of academic members, who departed from Germany and Switzerland, and it became an exclusive and a pioneering education institution in the field of technical education. The School, which was firstly located in the old military post in Gümüşsuyu, then grew with allocation of Taşkışla and Maçka Armouries, which led to increasing the number of its academic staff and the student. In 1944, Certified Engineering School turned into İstanbul Technical University. In the beginning, academic staff of the faculties were quite limited and later on, expansion of academic staff led to specialising in the branches of sciences and staffing. Istanbul Technical University, which consisted of the faculties of Civil Engineering, Architecture, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering in the first years, expanded with the foundation of the faculties such as, Mines, Chemical Engineering, Naval Architecture, Arts and Sciences, Management, Aeronautics and Astronautics and Maritime Faculty. All the faculties have been branched into the departments and at each faculty, diploma awarded programs has taken place.  For instance; within the Faculty of Civil Engineering, the department of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, within the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering the department of Textile, within the Faculty of Architecture the department of Urbanism and Industrial Design were branched out to provide master and doctorate courses. Istanbul Technical University has achieved synchronized growth with the contemporary developments in the world. In the area of architecture and in all branches of engineering, İTÜ trains professionals who not only fulfil the needs of Turkey but also will be qualified at international level. Studying for doctorate and publishing scientific articles at İTÜ has supplied a large national accumulation making contribution to being used Turkish as scientific language and being constituted technical terminology in many areas.

At İTÜ, in the 1974/75 academic year, two-stage education was provided and with two-year graduate education programs, which were articulated to four-year undergraduate education, high level education was commenced to be provided in many areas of specialization. At present, İTÜ provides training for a large body of student with the graduate and doctorate programs that are undertaken by five different institutes named as Graduate School of Science, Engineering and Technology, Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, Institute of Energy, Eurasia Institute of Earth Sciences and Institute of Informatics. With providing graduate education, İTÜ aims at training young academic member candidates of whom Turkey is in need and fulfilling  the requirement of highly trained expert.

Istanbul Technical University’s Faculty of Architecture, Mechanical Engineering, Management, and the Turkish Music State Conservatory along with the Social Sciences Institute are all allocated in the Taşkışla, Gümüşsuyu and Maçka buildings located in the city centre. The Rectorate and administrative buildings, in addition to the Faculty of Civil Engineering, Mining, Chemical and Metallurgy, Science & Letters, and Aeronautics & Astronautics are all located on the large main campus, which started to develop in the 1970’s.  Institutes that offer post graduate studies are; Nuclear Energy, Life Sciences, Informatics & Eurasia Earth Sciences.  The Maritime Faculty joined the structure of the Technical University in 1988 and is spread on 16.5 hectare of land.  İTÜ Maslak campus is still experiencing a great advancement.  Essential services, such as, library, cultural art association, sports association and nursery has been met.  In addition to the Gümüşsuyu Student Dormitory, where many renowned İTÜ alumni have stayed since the 1940’s, new dormitories and staff lodgment are offered to students and academic staff.