Master of Buddhist Studies


The Master of Buddhist Studies (M.B.S.) degree is a 48-unit graduate degree designed for those seeking a systematic education in Buddhist Studies for professional, academic, or personal purposes. Three different dimensions of the program are identified in order to deliver a comprehensive and systematic education in Buddhist Studies: methodology, scope, and topics of study.

(A) Methodology: Buddhist Studies incorporates a variety of different methodologies, including but not limited to: textual and philological studies, history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy.

(B) Scope: Buddhist Studies examines the entire range of societies and cultures in which Buddhism has played a role, such as: South and Southeast Asia, Central/Inner Asia, East Asia, and an increasingly global role.

(C) Topics: Buddhist Studies focuses on a diverse array of issues and topics of study, for example: environment/ecology, marginalized peoples (race, gender, differently abled), transmission/translation, specific historical or textual issues, death and dying, and so on.

Students in the M.B.S program will:

  • Develop substantive knowledge of Buddhist history, thought, texts, and practices
  • Demonstrate analytical skills through specialist and comparative work
  • Assess multiple theories and methods of Buddhist Studies
  • Develop critical thinking, writing, and research skills

Students in the program are required to take 48 semester units (16, three-unit courses). These include a breadth of courses in Buddhist Studies, which provide a basis for an understanding of the doctrinal, historical and cultural development of the Buddhist tradition as a whole. The course of study culminates in a thesis in which the student demonstrates his/her grasp of a specialized area of study within a broader context—for example, Buddhist studies, religious studies, or contemporary social issues. The program is designed so that students can complete their studies in two years.

Master of Buddhist Studies Program Requirements

M.B.S. School Performance Fact Sheet

Admissions Requirements

The admissions process is meant to determine that an applicant is prepared to successfully complete a graduate-level course of study and that the Institute can support the applicant’s academic goals. Successful applicants may demonstrate their preparedness to do graduate-level work in a variety of ways including a strong statement of purpose; letters of recommendation that speak directly to an applicant’s academic skills; prior academic study, prior language study, or other relevant experience; and, optionally, standardized test scores such as the GRE. Specific admissions requirements are:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree (B.A.) or its equivalent from an accredited college or university; coursework in Buddhist Studies, religious studies, or other relevant prior coursework is strongly recommended.
  2. Three letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s ability to do graduate-level work and familiarity with Buddhist thought and/or practice. Choose people who can speak knowledgeably and articulately about your academic and intellectual potential and will write specific letters. Academic references are not general character references.
  3. A statement of purpose of approximately 500 words that includes (a) your reasons for pursuing graduate studies at IBS; (b) your specific academic interests and how they fit with the faculty and courses at IBS; (c) your professional goals and how you see the M.B.S. supporting your professional goals or further academic study; (d) how your academic background prepares you for your proposed course of study at IBS.
  4. Non-refundable application fee:$40

Optionally, applicants may submit GRE scores from the past five years. GRE verbal score should be at least 150 and writing score of 4 or above.

Applicants are also strongly encouraged to have some prior formal language study in any of the Buddhist canonical or vernacular languages.

Start your M.B.S. Degree Program application today!