Maritime training began in Morocco in 1934. In 1957 the National School of Merchant Marine Officers (ENOMM) was created by decree n° 2-57-1376 of the 1st joumada II 1377 (24 December 1957).

In 1978, The Higher Institute of Maritime Studies (ISEM) took over from the National School of Merchant Marine Officers (ENOMM).

It is the Decree n° 2-81-684 of 25 joumada II 1402 (20 April 1982) on the creation and organization of the Higher Institute for Maritime Studies which regulated the conditions of management and organization of the Institute.

Since its creation, ISEM has been working to ensure the education and training, and improvement of the seagoing personnel necessary for the development of the national fleet. This is following an initiative of His late Majesty Hassan II aiming at the Moroccanization of the staffs sailing under the Moroccan flag.

the year 2013 constitutes a new turning point in the life of ISEM, since it saw the adoption of the new decree on the reorganization of ISEM. It is the Decree No. 2-12-623 of 8 Shaaban 1434 (17 June 2013) which broadened the missions of ISEM and established the institute as an independent higher education and training institution outside the auspices of the University.

The decree also stipulates that ISEM is reorganized in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 01-00 on the organization of the higher education while expanding its scope of training to include maritime, port, logistics and related activities. It also introduced the LMD system (Bachelor, Master, Doctorate).

In 2020, the new Decree No. 2.20.383 of August 06, 2020 relating to the reorganization of ISEM was approved. As part of the support for the national ports strategy, this decree aimed to modify and complete the decree No. 2.12.623 on the reorganization of ISEM through the diversification of training courses.