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The Institute of Formation and Religious Studies (IFRS) began in 1963 as Sister Formation Institute (SFI). It was founded by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines (AMRSWP) to provide a program of studies for young sisters in formation. Patterned after the Jesuit curriculum for seminarians, the original program had been enriched through the years to aptly prepare young religious for their ministry, inculcating in them a broader outlook, a spirit of service, a solid foundation for prayer and greater spiritual maturity.



In the tumultuous years of the 1970s, SFI opted for a more integrated approach that included a critical understanding of contemporary societal conditions as an   important aspect of theological education. In the 1980s, the Institute continued to evaluate and update its courses to make them more relevant not only for the   students but also for the people they serve. At this time, SFI opened its doors to religious brothers, lay church workers, and an increasing number of   Asian religious who found the Institute’s holistic approach to Theology and Scriptures more suitable for their commitment. This move led to the change in name   from SFI to IFRS in the 1990s. The Institute’s new name reflects its original purpose of religious formation while broadening its scope to include new areas   of religious studies as well as recent major advances in the study of Theology and Scriptures. In all its programs, IFRS initiated a distinctive approach that is contextual, transformational, integrated and inclusive. With these new developments, IFRS sought and received the approval of the Commission on Higher   Education (CHED) to grant degrees for the undergraduate and graduate levels in the fields of Scriptures, Theology, Christian Spirituality and Women and Religion. Two other significant moves were made in the 1990’s: the establishment of the IFRS Foundation, Inc. to manage the operations of the IFRS; and the transfer of IFRS from its original site at the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) compound along N. Domingo Avenue to its new home on Acacia St., Cubao, Quezon City.




Advocacy networks, funding agencies, and lay people have also helped IFRS to grow and mature into becoming the Institute that it is today. IFRS has become a place where the dream and daily struggle to integrate faith and life is reflected on and experienced in the actual context. 

In this new century, IFRS has continued to search for ways to update and expand its courses to meet the changing needs of the times, and to make its educational services more efficient and effective. The first step was accreditation. It received the Level 1 accredited status from the Philippine Accrediting Agency for Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) in 2008. The second step was to streamline its administrative structures through a merger of IFRS and the IFRS Foundation, Inc., retaining the latter’s name while eliminating the duplication of work and personnel.  IFRS has now become an educational corporation and foundation henceforth officially known as the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies Foundation, Inc.

As in the past, IFRS seeks excellence in providing religious and lay women and men the formation and education they need to meet the challenges of the Gospel in today’s social, political, cultural, and ecological realities. IFRS believes that continuous development is vital to an authentic Christian formation in the contemporary globalized world.

From the initial enrolment of sisters from 13 congregations in 1963, IFRS now journeys with religious sisters and brothers from almost 150 congregations. It has also welcomed lay persons as part of the student body, faculty and administration. From a majority Filipino clientele when it began, IFRS has since received academic students as well as participants of the Continuing Formation Programs from over 20 countries. IFRS, together with the College of the Holy Spirit, has facilitated the foundation of the Myanmar Institute of Religious Studies, Yangon, Myanmar in 2007, and monitors its operation.


In 2010, IFRS Foundation acquired a piece of land along N. Domingo Avenue, corner St John St, Cubao, Quezon City where a four-storey building was constructed in 2012 as the new IFRS campus.  This served as a Jubilee gift, to the church of Asia-Pacific region in 2013. Furthermore, the Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies Program of IFRS was granted its Level II PAASCU Re-Accredited Status on June 25, 2012.  Successively, the Institute in improving its standards, the Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies Program of IFRS was granted its Level II PAASCU Re-Accredited Status on November 23, 2018 for another five (5) years until 2023.

IFRS continues its partnership and networking not only with religious congregations and organizations it serves but also with church groups, advocacy networks, funding agencies, and local and international educational institutions.