SAIACS began with the conviction that the churches in India needed something more than just another bible college or seminary. India needed a reputable evangelical mission-focused centre, that held on to the centrality of the Christian gospel, as well as pursued reputable higher theological learning to equip people to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. In the summer of 1981 in Kodaikanal, Dr Bruce Nicholls and Dr Graham Houghton shared their dreams. Like-minded people in Chennai agreed on the need for an MTh in Missiology. Dr Graham Houghton, the Dean, set up the two-year course, and classes began in 1982 amid enthusiastic support from church leaders and prospective students.
In 1984, the programme moved to Bangalore with Dr Graham Houghton as the Principal, based in several houses until a suitable land was located near Kothanur, on the northern side of Bangalore.
SAIACS spreads over 10.5 acres of beautifully landscaped campus. Its architecture won acclaim in the journal Architecture and Design (Sept/Oct 1996).
Following founding Principal Dr Graham Houghton’s 20 years, Dr Ashish Chrispal and Dr Fanai Hrangkhuma served consecutively as Principal. Dr Ian Payne took up this position in March 2008.