M.Div. Program Requirements

Unit Requirement

A total of 72 units is required to complete the MDiv degree program, usually divided between 22 three-unit courses plus 6 required “in thesis” units, usually taken the last two semesters of study.

Required and Elective Courses

All students are required to complete the following four courses with a B or better:

  1. HRHS-1515 Buddhist Traditions of South Asia
  2. HRHS-1518 Buddhist Traditions of East Asia
  3. HRPH-1614 Introduction to Shin Buddhist Thought
  4. HR-1630 Methods in the Study of Buddhism (or MA 1000 offered by the GTU)

Additionally, students must complete one course from the following six (6) subject areas:

  1. Buddhist history
  2. Buddhist ethics
  3. Buddhist literature/texts
  4. Buddhist practice/ritual
  5. Buddhist ministry
  6. Buddhist pastoral care

Students should consult with their academic advisor prior to registering for their first semester of study to determine appropriate coursework and a plan toward graduation. Jōdo Shinshū ministerial aspirants and those seeking APC certification have additional requirements. Click here for more information on specialized tracks of study within the MDiv program.

Research-based thesis or project

The MDiv program culminates in a research-based thesis or final project, defended not later than the middle of the student’s last semester in residence. For more information, please consult the IBS catalog.

Satisfactory GPA

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


Midway through a student’s program (usually after 3 semesters of study or an equivalent 36 units), students will prepare a self-evaluation for review by their advisor reflecting on their progress through the program and plans toward completion of the final project and graduation. Please obtain the Student Self-Evaluation form and writing prompts from the Office of the Registrar.

MDiv Foreign Language Policy

Whereas no language competency is explicitly required for MDiv students, an understanding and appreciation of the textual history of the Buddhist tradition is a central aim across all our degree programs. Students are thus strongly encouraged to take the “Texts, Terms, and Translations” course, offered biennially.

Additionally, IBS recognizes the practical necessity of language study for our ministerial and chaplaincy students. Ministerial students are therefore strongly encouraged to engage in Japanese language study while in residence. Chaplaincy students are strongly encouraged to develop language skills relevant to their career goals. Students should consult with their Academic Advisor within the first semester of study to determine which language(s) may be appropriate.

In some cases, up to 12 units of graduate level language courses may be used toward the unit requirement for the MDiv program, with prior approval of the Dean.