M.Div. Program Requirements

All students are required to complete a range of courses across six subject areas to provide a foundational basis for Buddhist ministry, chaplaincy, and religious leadership in an increasingly interfaith and intercultural world.

Unit Requirement

A total of 72 units is required to complete the M.Div. 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 five 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
  5. HRIR-2000: Buddhism and World Religions (or another IR course with Dean’s approval)

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

  1. Buddhist history (course codes HR, HS)
  2. Buddhist ethics (CE, FT, RS)
  3. Buddhist literature/texts(any course whose primary focus is the study of a Buddhist text)
  4. Buddhist practice/ritual (FE, LS, HM)
  5. Buddhist ministry (HRCE-3014)
  6. Buddhist pastoral care (HRPS-3076)

Students are also required to complete at least 6 but no more than 9 units of Field Education (course codes FE). Please refer to the Field Education Handbook for additional information.

Jōdo Shinshū Ministerial Students

Students pursuing ordination as Shin Buddhist ministers are also required to complete the “Works of Shinran” sequence of courses. Consult with your academic advisor and/or the Shin Buddhist Ministerial Program Coordinator for more information.

Buddhist Chaplaincy Students

Students in the Buddhist Chaplaincy program are also required to complete PSHR-5160: Topics in Buddhist Pastoral Care; and one additional course in pastoral care from one of the GTU member schools. Consult with your academic advisor and/or the Buddhist Chaplaincy Program Coordinator for more information.

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.