Admission Requirements

The GTU common-MA program in Buddhist studies is academic in nature. Applicants to this program should have a demonstrated ability to complete work at the graduate level, an interest in the academic, historical or philosophical study of Buddhism, and a clear sense of how their degree will support their personal or professional goals. Admission requirements include:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (completed prior to matriculation).
  2. A completed application form and an academic statement of purpose. This is not a personal biography, but a statement of goals, study interests, and reasons the GTU and IBS are an appropriate place for the proposed program of study. This statement should be approximately one page in length.
  3. Three academic letters of recommendation. Choose people who can speak knowledgeably and articulately about your academic and intellectual potential and will write specific letters. Academic references are difference from general character references.
  4. Two official transcripts from each undergraduate and graduate school. Applicants are expected to have a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0) for the bachelor’s degree.
  5. Satisfactory completion of two undergraduate courses in Buddhism, eastern religions, or eastern philosophy; and one undergraduate course in comparative or world religions.
  6. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores or Test of English as a Foreign Language scores sent directly to the GTU. (The GTU’s institution code is 4336).
  7. A non-refundable application fee of $40. The fee should be sent in a check payable on a U.S. bank, or by means of an international postal money order, or using a credit card through the online application.

Application materials should be sent directly to the GTU. For more information, please consult the GTU website and catalog, or contact the GTU Director of Admissions.


Graduation Requirements

The GTU M.A. is a two-year degree program requiring: a total of fourteen 3-unit academic courses, two of which are taken outside the school of affiliation, plus six units of thesis work; a Master’s Thesis of approximately 75-90 pages; and reading proficiency in at least one modern foreign language relevant to Buddhist Studies, approved by the IBS Dean.

Required courses include:

  • HRHS-1515 Buddhist Traditions of South Asia
  • HRHS-1518 Buddhist Traditions of East Asia
  • HRPH-1614 Introduction to Shin Buddhist Thought
  • 1 course on Research Methods
  • 1 course in Interreligious Studies
  • 1 course in Sacred Texts & Their Interpretation
  • 1 course in Historical & Cultural Studies of Religion
  • 1 course in Theology & Ethics
  • 1 course in Religion & Practice
  • 4 courses (at least 2 at the 4000 level or above) in the Buddhist Studies concentration
  • electives needed to make up a total of 14 courses

Please refer to the GTU website and MA Handbook for the most up-to-date information on M.A. graduation requirements.

Master’s Thesis

The M.A. program culminates in a Master’s Thesis, defended not later than the middle of the student’s last semester in residence. For more information, please visit the GTU website and download the MA Program Handbook.

Satisfactory GPA

Students must maintain an overall grade point average of B or better and receive Bs or better in required courses to complete the program.

Reading competency in a modern foreign language

The GTU M.A. degree program requires reading proficiency in a canonic language (e.g., Pāli, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese) or a modern foreign language relevant to Buddhist studies (i.e., French, German, and in some cases Russian). As not all foreign languages are considered relevant to the study of Buddhism, students are to consult with their advisor at the beginning of their program of study concerning their plans for fulfilling this requirement. Reading proficiency is usually to be demonstrated by examination and no later than the end of the third semester in residence. Students whose native language is not English may fulfill the requirement by a minimum score of 550 in the TOEFL examination.

Please refer to the GTU MA Handbook for guidelines concerning language examinations and alternative means of demonstrating proficiency. If you have any questions about where to find this information, please consult with your academic advisor, the IBS Dean, or the GTU Dean’s Office.

Note for Ministerial and Chaplaincy Aspirants: The requirements for ministerial and chaplaincy aspirants are more extensive and detailed than is outlined here. Please consult with your advisor for specific courses and programs of study. Chaplaincy students enrolled in the common-MA will generally also complete the Certificate in Buddhist Chaplaincy. Ministerial aspirants enrolled in the GTU M.A. program are required to take Japanese as their modern foreign language. Chaplaincy aspirants enrolled in the GTU M.A. program are encouraged to take Spanish.


A note about the GTU Common MA

Whereas IBS participates in the GTU common M.A. program, and whereas M.A. students must be admitted by IBS in addition to the GTU, the GTU is the degree-granting institution for the common M.A. Student transcripts are held by the GTU, and students must follow all policies and protocols of the GTU.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult the GTU catalog and GTU MA Handbook available on the GTU website for up-to-date and accurate information regarding the MA program, policies, and admissions and graduation requirements.

It is the student’s responsibility to be familiar with GTU Common M.A. program protocols, policies, and deadlines. Students are advised to refer to the GTU MA Student Handbook for additional information regarding the M.A. program. Wherever there is any disagreement between IBS and GTU materials, GTU policies take precedence.