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The Certificate in Sōtō Zen Buddhist Studies is intended for two types of students: (1) IBS degree (MA, MBS, or MDIV) program students who wish to demonstrate substantive knowledge of Soto Zen history, teachings and practice. basic knowledge of Sōtō Zen Buddhist studies, history, and practice; and (2) students from outside the IBS, particularly Sōtō Zen priests, lay and monastic teachers and students, who wish to enhance their engagement with the tradition and their communities through systemic graduate level study. Students will develop the ability to place critical scholarship in relationship to received teachings, mutually benefiting both the study and practice of Sōtō Zen Buddhism.

Students who complete this program will:

  • Locate Sōtō Zen Buddhism within the larger history of Buddhism as a whole
  • Be able to articulate Sōtō Zen teachings, texts and practices, and texts in relationship to other Ch’an and Zen traditions both historically and in the contemporary world.
  • Be able to articulate the relevance of Soto Zen teachings and practices for and in contemporary settings.
  • Develop and apply critical reasoning and academic writing skills within a practice-based community

The certificate is overseen by the Program Director, Rev. Dr. Daijaku Kinst.

Students enrolled in a degree program must file an intent to enroll form with the IBS Registrar to be formally admitted to the program.

Formal application is required for non-degree program students. Students should review application materials and requirements on the IBS website. There is a $40 non-refundable application fee.


Program Requirements

Students must complete a total of six, 3-unit courses within three years to complete the certificate. (In-degree program students may complete the course requirements within the timeframe of their degree program; in-degree program students may substitute other courses for the Buddhist traditions sequence.)

Required courses include:

  • Buddhist traditions of South Asia (HRHS 1515)
  • Buddhist traditions of East Asia (HRHS 1518)
  • Zen Buddhism (HR 3040)
  • Readings in Mahayana Texts (HR 3017 or HR 8317) when subject is a Zen text

Recommended courses include:

Final paper should be topic relevant to Sōtō Zen Buddhist Studies

  • Topics in Buddhist Practice (HRHS 8454)
  • Topics in Zen Buddhist Thought (HRPH 8488)
  • Ritual, Practice and Ceremony in Buddhism (HR 1570)
  • Buddhism in the West (HR 2850)
  • Topics in Japanese Religion (HRHS 8450)
  • Buddhist Ethics (HRCE 3002)
  • Chinese Buddhist Philosophy (HRPH 3006)
  • Topics in the Buddhist Traditions of East Asia (HRPH 3242)
  • Topics in the Buddhist Traditions of Japan (HRHS 4540)
  • Topics in Japanese Religion (HRHS 8450)
  • Other courses with Director’s approval