Note: please consult the current course catalogue for complete admissions and graduation requirements. The catalogue is always the final authority on program policies.

Admission Requirements

The Master of Buddhist Studies degree program is designed for students wishing to deepen their understanding of the Buddhist tradition for personal or professional reasons. Applicants to this program should have a demonstrated ability to complete graduate level work, an interested in the academic, historical or philosophical study of Buddhism, and a clear sense of how their degree will support their personal or professional goals. All IBS degree program applicants must have:

  1. a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  2. relevant undergraduate coursework (e.g., courses in Buddhist studies, religious studies, or Asian cultures and histories)
  3. taken the GRE (or TOEFL for foreign students)

The application will include:

  1. Application form with personal and contact information
  2. Official transcripts of previous, relevant education
  3. GRE or TOEFL scores
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. Statement of purpose
  6. $40 application fee (payable to the IBS)

The applicant’s statement of purpose should not be a personal biography, but a statement of goals that explains your study interests, and outlines the reasons the IBS is an appropriate place for the proposed program of study (i.e., list specific programs you are interested in, specific faculty you wish to work with, and so forth). This statement should be approximately one page in length.

Letters of recommendation should attest to the applicant’s ability to perform graduate level work, level of commitment to Buddhism, and/or familiarity with Buddhist thought.

Please see the admissions page for complete requirements and application.


Graduation Requirements

Note for Ministerial Aspirants: The requirements for ministerial aspirants are more extensive and detailed than is outlined here. Please consult with your advisor for specific courses and programs of study. 

  1. Required courses: Buddhist Traditions of South Asia (HRHS 1515), Buddhist Traditions of East Asia (HRHS 1518), Introduction to Shin Buddhist Thought (HRPH 1614), and Methods in the Study of Buddhism (HR 1630).
  2. Total units: a minimum of 48 units of course work, usually divided between 14 three unit courses, plus the in thesis units.
  3. Thesis (6 units): a thesis proposal is to be submitted to the Academic Advisor by the end of the second semester of residence. (See Thesis Proposal Preparation and Procedures.) The candidate must form a thesis committee prior to the semester during which the first three units of thesis class is taken. Students are required to have three members on the thesis committee. The Coordinator must be from IBS with competence in the student’s area of concentration, and the second reader either from IBS or another GTU school. These must be regularly-appointed consortial faculty members (not adjunct or visiting). The third reader may be inside the IBS, or outside the IBS with approval—the outside reader’s curriculum vitae must be submitted for the deans’ consideration. An IBS adjunct professor may be considered as a third reader, but must submit a CV just like an outside reader.
  4. Foreign language: 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. Proficiency is to be demonstrated no later than the end of the third semester in residence. Reading proficiency is usually to be demonstrated by examination. See the GTU M.A. Handbook for guidelines concerning language examinations, and alternative means of demonstrating proficiency. Students whose native language is not English may fulfill the requirement by a minimum score of 550 in the TOEFL examination.

Note: BCA ministerial aspirants are required to take Japanese as their foreign language, and chaplaincy aspirants are encouraged to take Spanish.

Satisfactory completion of the Master of Buddhist Studies degree requires completion of the necessary courses with an overall “B” (3.0) grade average, grades of “B” or better in the three required courses, submission of a thesis, and an oral thesis defense. Letter grades are required. The M.B.S. is expected to take 2 years and not longer than 4 years to complete. Additional requirements for ministerial and chaplaincy aspirants means that they can usually expect to spend 3 years in the program.

Important Note: Extending the Term of a Program of Study

After the fourth year of enrollment in the program (or fifth year for ministerial and chaplaincy aspirants), the student will have to petition each semester in order to continue their course of study. The letter of petition is to describe progress they have made since their last period of enrollment and specific plans for completing their pro- gram. Letter is to be directed to the attention of both the Dean, and the student’s advisor. This petition is to be filed prior to the time of registration, and the student will only be allowed to register if both Dean and advisor agree. A memorandum to that effect will then be added to the student’s file and s/he will be allowed to register.