CSRD was established in 1961 as an extension wing of Ahmednagar College. It was started as an initiative of Dr. T Barnabas, then Principal of Ahmednagar College, with the involvement of faculty and student volunteers in rural development. With their initial experiments, Rural Life Development Programme (RLDP) was introduced in 1961. Dr. S.K. Hulbe an Economics Professor and Ph.D from U.S. helped Ahmednagar College to structurise and implement this programme. The RLDP was an attempt to revitalize education by relating it to the needs of its rural surroundings. It was to create a cadre of well informed personnel to undertake responsibilities for rural community development. This project evolved into a Certificate course in Community Development. Subsequently, the RLDP was renamed as Centre for Studies in Rural Development (CSRD).
A new campus for CSRD was constructed in 1967 in the northern campus of Ahmednagar College with the support of Christian Neighbourhood. Independent residential facilities (gents’ hostel) were also in the campus for the students and staff. The Department of Social Work began functioning from CSRD building since 1967. The certificate course was upgraded to one year post graduate course in social work (DSW) in 1969 and eventually to two year Master of Social Work in 1974. Later in 1990 the Department of Social Work became the Institute of Social Work & Research as a full-fledged Institute with a full-time Director. Prof. Dr. SK Hulbe was the first director of CSRD. It has now been recognised as a research centre for Social Work by UGC. It is also eligible to receive central government assistance.