NIS was officially opened by a small group of expatriate parents on October 14th 1992, with 5 students.
NIS was the product of parents who were concerned that being in China should not present an obstacle to the family being together, nor to the children receiving a good education. NIS began life as Nanjing American School with the name officially registered as Nanjing International School in 1996.
After several years in rented rooms at the Nanjing Foreign Language School, NIS moved with to the Dingshan Hotel (later called Shangri-La). With the help of local businesses, six rooms were renovated for use as a school. Between 1997 and 2004, NIS took over more and more rented facilities at the Shangri-La. The school grew from 35 to 300 students during this time. In 2000 NIS became the first three programme IB school in China. In 2001 NIS had its first graduating class of two students.
One of the foundational commitments of NIS was to build a world class campus. In 2004, NIS moved to the present campus in Xianlin University Town. Realising this dream was the culmination of a sustained team effort, lasting several years. In 2006 NIS received accreditation from Council of International Schools (CIS), New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and National Centre for School Curriculum and Textbook Development (NCCT).
In 2010 NIS adopted a new Mission which embraced the concept on inclusion. The 25th anniversary brought many members of the community, past and present together for a year of celebration. The closeness of the small NIS community in the early days has remained as the school has grown.