The college was named after Scottish missionary Stephen Hislop (8 Sept. 1817 to 4th Sept 1863), who was a noted evangelist, educationist and geologist. He worked for 18 years in the Vidarbha Region alongside Robert Hunter, editor of the Encyclopædic Dictionary.
Hislop College was established in 1883 in the Mahal area of Nagpur. Though Nagpur was Capital of Central Provinces, until 1882 it had no college.
The college is popular in Nagpur and its surrounding areas, and is one of the best places to study in Maharashtra. Recently UGC conformed Heritage Status to the Hislop College. Only three colleges from Maharashtra got this status and Hislop is one of them.
Many people from the neighbouring area have completed their education at Hislop College.
- M. S. Golwalkar, second Sarsanghchalak (Supreme Leader) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
- Rajkumar Hirani, film maker
- Shahbaz Khan, actor
- Anees Ahmed
- Purushottam Bhaskar Bhave, Marathi writer
- Hari Singh Gour, Founder Vice-Chancellor of University of Delhi
- Ashis Nandy, political psychologist
- Nitin Raut, cabinet minister
- Mukul Wasnik, Union Cabinet Minister
- P. V. Narasimha Rao,9th Prime Minister of India
- Vilas Muttemwar, Member of Parliament
- Pooja Banerjee, Television actress