The Department of Ethnology was previously in the College of Law and is currently in the College of Social Science. It has a long history at the National Cheng-Chi University (NCCU) but it is also an innovational department from the perspective of its academic traditions and its scope of teaching and research.
The history of this department begins with the establishment of the “Department of Ethnology and Sociology” which was one of the five departments established in 1955, when the government restored NCCU in Taipei after World War II. In Chinese, this department was named as “邊政學系” （means “Department of China Border Area Studies”） to carry on the tradition of studies in areas bordering China before World War II. In 1969, the department rectified its Chinese name to “社會民族學系” according to its English one. In 1981, the Department of “Ethnology and Sociology” reorganized into the “Department of Sociology”. The tradition of ethnic studies in areas bordering China was then carried on by the “Graduate Institute of China Border Areas Studies”(邊政研究所), which was established in 1969 and renamed as the “Graduate Institute of Nationalities Studies”(民族研究所) in 1990.
The “Graduate Institute of Nationalities Studies” developed into the “Department of Ethnology”（民族學系）and began to offer both master and bachelor degrees in 1993. In 2001, the department began to offer PhD degrees. It makes this department the first academic institute that comprehensively includes under graduation, master and PhD programs in the field of ethnology in Taiwan.
Based on the experience of ethnic studies in areas bordering China, this department further expanded its scope of teaching and research after the institutional reorientation. In addition to the ethnic minorities in China, this department has been devoting to the studies of ethnic relations and ethnic politics in Taiwan as well as contemporary international society since 1990s.
This department is the first and only “department of ethnology” in Taiwan. It succeeds the tradition of studies on the ethnic minorities in China and possesses new characteristics after fifty years development in Taiwan. The discipline of ethnology in Taiwan nowadays aims to incorporate the linguistic, literal, historical, cultural, sociological and governmental approaches, adopt the theories in related disciplines within humanities and social sciences, reveal the natures of multiple ethnic phenomena, and seek for both the conciliation of ethnic conflicts and the achievement of ethnic justice through academic research and social praxis. Every year, this department recruits 48 students in the under graduate program, 12 students in the Master program and 6 students in the PhD program.