The Triangle Institute for Security Studies started out as the Duke-UNC International Security Seminar. Founded in 1958, the seminar brought together historians and political scientists with a common interest in military issues and international security across the two campuses. The seminar expanded in the late 1970s, with financial support from the Ford Foundation, and, in 1984, became the Triangle Universities Security Seminar (TUSS) when North Carolina State University joined the consortium. In 1995, the consortium changed names again to become the Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS).
Since 2000, TISS has hosted New Faces, a conference designed for early-career scholars in the field of security studies. TISS has undertaken a number of high-profile research projects over the years, including the Study of War Project, the Civil-Military Gap Project, and the Wielding American Power Project.