Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies Program Requirements

General requirements for all students

All students are required to complete 48 units for completion of the degree, including 6 units of “in thesis.” Up to 24 units from a certificate program may be used in support of this requirement as per IBS’s stackable curriculum.

All students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and receive a B or better in all required courses.

All students must complete a research-based thesis project. Six units of “in thesis” must be completed as part of this requirement as time to write the thesis and work the student’s advisor.

All students must complete the following 4 courses (some of these courses may be completed as part of a certificate program):

  1. Buddhist Traditions of South Asia [HRHS 1515/8151]
  2. Buddhist Traditions of East Asia [HRHS 1518/8152]
  3. Introduction to Shin Buddhist Thought [HRPH 1614/8140]
  4. Methods in Buddhist Studies [HR1630]

Program tracks

Upon entrance into the program, students should be prepared to meet with their academic advisor, declare a track of study, and complete courses required for their respective tracks. Additional requirements for the tracks of study are as follows, and some of these requirements may be completed as part of a certificate program as per IBS’s stackable curriculum.

Shin Buddhist Ministry

For students wishing to pursue ordination and service in BCA churches or temples or to develop substantive knowledge of Jōdo Shinshū history, thought, and practice for further doctoral study, the following courses are required.

  1. Seven Pure Land Masters [HRHS 3250]
  2. Three Pure Land Sutras [HR 3017/8317]
  3. Works of Shinran I [HRPH 4566/8453]
  4. History of Shin Buddhism: pre-modern [HRHS 3075/8307]
  5. Buddhism and World Religions [HRIR 2000]
  6. Six electives chosen in consultation with advisor (usually remaining Works of Shinran courses and/or Japanese language study)

* Note that students preparing for Buddhist ministry, priestly, monastic, or other ordination from other Buddhist traditions may substitute these requirements with courses supporting their own Buddhist education and ministerial development. Sōtō Zen ministerial aspirants, for example, may complete the Certificate in Sōtō Zen Buddhist studies, take courses focused on the Zen tradition, the writings of Dōgen, and history of Japanese religions. Please consult with your advisor and have a plan of study approved by the Dean.

Buddhist chaplaincy

For students pursuing careers or service as Buddhist chaplains,  or for those with some prior study or experience as chaplains, the following courses are required.

  1. Buddhist Pastoral Care [PSHR 3076]
  2. Topics in Buddhist Pastoral Care [PSHR 5160]
  3. A textual study course
  4. Buddhist ethics [HRCE 3002/8340]
  5. Seven electives chosen in consultation with advisor

* Note that students who are interested in pursuing APC certification as professional chaplains may need to complete an additional year of study and/or the M.Div. program. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with your academic advisor to ensure that this course of study meets their professional goals.

Pre-doctoral study

For students pursuing advanced academic degrees, usually at the doctoral level, this track provides for additional language study and/or translation work.

  1. Terms, Texts, and Translations [HR 3300]
  2. Language study and/or coursework (either at IBS or via institutional partnerships)
  3. Electives chosen in consultation with advisor

Personal enrichment

Students without specific professional goals, those who want to design their own course or study, or those interested in personal or intellectual growth have the option of not declaring a specific track listed above. In this path, the student must meet with their advisor early in their program and design a course of study that best supports their interests or personal goals. This course of study must be approved by the Dean.