The University traces its history back to the middle of World War II. It started off as the Moscow Mechanics Institute of Ammunition. The original charter was to train people for the nuclear industry, which had just begun to develop. The Head of the Soviet nuclear project, academician Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov (yes, the “father of the atomic bomb”) – was one of the legendary University founders.

By the 1960’s, MEPhI became the leading higher education institution in Russia, providing education and training for peaceful nuclear energy. Over the course of its history, six Nobel Prize winners have worked at MEPhI, including: N.G. Basov, a MEPhI graduate, A.D. Sakharov, N.N. Semenov, I.E. Tamm, I.M. Frank, and P.A. Cherenkov.

A new wave of University development began in 2009,  when MEPhI became one of the only two schools in Russia that were recognized by the Russian government as National Universities.  The same year MEPhI was renamed as the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute).

In July 2013, MEPhI was shortlisted in the governmental Competitiveness Enhancement Program, or so called “5 into 100” competition. The objective of the program is to boost 5 of 15 chosen universities, which are already leaders in Russia, to be ranked in the top 100 universities worldwide.

Today the University holds leading positions in training specialists of the highest level, combining principles of synthesis of education and research, laid down more than 75 years ago.