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What the Institute of Buddhist Studies has to offer

An overview of the Institute and answers to frequently asked questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Note: The GTU common-MA Program FAQ can be found here.

Q: How do I obtain an admissions application?

A: Click here for application materials or visit the GTU for more details on the common-MA program.

Q: What are the admissions deadlines?

A: If you are applying for the Master of Arts program you must request this application from the Graduate Theological Union. Deadlines for the M.A. application are February 15 and September 30. See our application procedures for more details.

Q: Do you offer an online degree program?

A: No. Unfortunately, at this time, the IBS/GTU cannot offer an online degree program. Students are able to take a number of courses online, but regular degree program students should expect to be in residence in Berkeley or the San Francisco Bay Area to complete their degree.

Q: Is housing available?

A: Limited housing in our dorm is available. Please contact our offices for more information.

Q: I don't have a bachelor's degree. Can I still apply for admission or take a course?

A: A bachelor's degree is required for admission into all of our degree programs. Please review this page for more information on our admissions requirements.

Non-degree students and auditors do not need a bachelor's degree. However, please keep in mind that our courses are designed as part of a graduate level-educational program, and we do expect all students to be able to participate in our classes at that level.

Q: Can I take a course without enrolling as an IBS student?

A: Yes. You may apply for Special Student status which allows you to audit a course or take it for credit. Auditors are also welcome; in most cases, however, no record of enrollment will be kept for auditors.

Q: Is the GRE required?

A: Yes, GRE scores from within the last five years are required for admission to our degree programs.

Q: Is financial aid available?

A: Yes. Federal student loans, work-study and are available only for GTU Common MA students and on the basis of financial need. You must apply by the February 1 deadline to receive priority consideration for most financial aid, and you should complete both a FAFSA and the IBS Financial Aid Application.

A number of non-need based scholarships are given each year to students. Visit our Financial Aid page for more information.

Q: English is not my first language. Can I still attend the IBS?

A: For GTU MA students, international students applying from a country in which English is not the official language must submit a TOEFL score from within the last two years. Applicants to the M.A. program are expected to have a TOEFL score of at least 80 (internet) 213 (computer) or 550 (paper).

Please visit the the GTU website for more information on international student enrollment.

Q: Do I need to be fluent in a second language before entering your program?

A: No. Language requirements can be fulfilled during your time at the IBS.

Q: What is the difference between the GTU Common M.A. and the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or Masters of Buddhist Studies?

A: The GTU Common M.A. is primarily a research-focused, academically oriented degree designed to provide a breadth of knowledge for the advanced study of religion and theology that incorporates an ecumenical design. It is a two-year program that requires certification in a modern foreign language and the writing of a thesis. Most people who pursue this degree would like to teach, research and write. The GTU common-MA is also excellent preparation for doctoral-level work, and the GTU has a Buddhist Studies Ph.D. program.

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree is a three to four year professional program preparing persons for lay and ordained ministries and pastoral work. Each member seminary offers the M.Div. degree designed in accordance with the denominational affiliation of that school.

Q: How much does the IBS cost?

A: IBS tuition is set by the GTU. Click here for our most current tuition and fees schedule.