The roots of the department go back to 1919, when a seminar of comparative linguistics was founded at the University of Ljubljana. The seminar originally consisted of lectures on comparative grammar and etymology of Indo-european languages conducted by Fran Ramovš (1890–1952), a professor of Slavic languages. After the Second World War the seminar evolved into an independent department, then called the Department of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics and Ancient Oriental Studies.
As the study of linguistics developed into an independent study programme, so did the department grow in terms of academic stuff and student numbers.
The department has a long tradition of collaborating with neighbouring universities. Today students wishing to experience study abroad can go to Austria (University of Vienna), Greece (University of Patras), Italy (University of Siena), Norway (University of Tromso), and Spain (University of Cadiz, University of Leon) via the ERASMUS Programme.