Founded by Pope Sixtus V on 27 May 1586 with the title Sacra Congregatio super consultibus regularium, and confirmed by the Apostolic Constitution Immensa Aeterni Dei (22 January 1588), the Congregation was joined in 1601 to the Congregatio pro consultationibus episcoporum et aliorum prelatorum.


St. Pius X, by the Apostolic Constitution Sapienti Consilio (29 June 1908) separated the two institutions again and made the Congregation for Religious autonomous. Following that, this Dicastery changed its name three times: with the Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, dated August 15, 1967, it was known as the Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes; with the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, dated June 28, 1988, it was renamed the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL); and with the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, dated 19 March 2022, the Congregation was renamed a Dicastery.

The Studium, an Interdisciplinary School for Formation in Ecclesiastical Magisterium and Canon Law on Consecrated Life, is the successor to the historic Practical School established in the Dicastery in 1951. Its mission is to provide qualified formation in theology and law for consecrated life, thereby enhancing the Dicastery's practice and experience.

The Periodical Informationes SCRIS, which has been published since 1975, is titled Sequela Christi as of 2005. The biannual Periodical offers insights into consecrated life in the Church through studies and contributions written in various languages.