The European interest in Coptology may have started as early as the 15th century AD. The term was used in 1976 when the First International Congress of Coptology was held in Cairo under the title "Colloquium on the Future of Coptic Studies" (11-17 December). This was followed by the establishment of the "International Association for Coptic Studies". One of the founders of the Colloquium and the Association was Pahor Labib, director of the Coptic Museum in Cairo during 1951-65. The words 'Coptology' and 'Coptologist' were introduced into the English language by Aziz Suryal Atiya.
There are now institutions that give more or less regular courses of Coptology in 47 countries around the world, including Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. A rotating chair of Coptic studies was opened at the American University in Cairo in 2002.