To preserve its unique age-old culture and traditions, the institute was established under the patronage of the late His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck on 16th July 1961 at Wangdi Tse above Dechen Phodrang in the Thimphu valley and the first director was the great religioud master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991). Later it was shifted to Semtokha in the Thimphu valley and remained there until 2011. In the summer 2011, ILCS shifted to Taktse, its new campus, south of Trongsa in Central Bhutan.
Over the last four decades, the institute has undergone a series of changes from a monastic school to being one of the founding institutes of the Royal University of Bhutan. In 1997 the institute was upgraded as the Institute of Language and Culture Studies and started recruiting ICSE passed students. In 1999, Bachelors Degree in Language and Culture was offered. A first batch of 19 graduates passed out in April 2002. Since then, the institute has been producing batches of university graduates annually. The institute also offers a two-year certificate course and they graduate with bilingual competency – Dzongkha and English.ILCS was the first institute to be formally handed over to the Royal University of Bhutan by the Ministry of Education on 28th April 2004.
In February 2006, for the first time in the history of ILCS, the institute recruited 30 students as day-scholars and will continue to do so every year.
In its sprawling new location at Taktse (Trongsa district), ILCS offers innovative Degree programmes in Bhutanese Language and Literature (BLL) and Bhutanese & Himalayan Studies (BHS). MA and PhD programmes will be offered at a later stage.
An audio-visual unit and two centres, the Centre for History and Culture and the Centre for Buddhist Studies, form the core of the research and documentation activity.
- Produce modern Bhutanese citizens with traditional knowledge.
- To be the centre of excellence for higher learning in Language, Culture and Buddhist Studies.
- To preserve and promote the tradition and culture through the study of Languages, Logic, Indigenous Medicine, Arts and Crafts, Astrology, Bhutanese History, Buddhist philosophy etc.
- To promote the National Language Dzongkha.
- To produce graduates with proficiency in both Dzongkha and English.
- To facilitate regional and international scholars to study Bhutanese Languages, Art, and Culture.
- Demonstrate competency to orchestrate any cultural activity, be it at the institute or at the national level.
- To be the centre for documentation and preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
- To be a centre for research, documentation and preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage.