Institute of Buddhist Studies Seeks Accreditation

Scott Mitchell  |  January 25, 2016

In December 2015, the Institute of Buddhist Studies was granted eligibility to pursue accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission (or WSCUC). This is an important first step in the next chapter of the Institute’s development.

For the past thirty years, IBS has jointly offered an accredited Master of Arts (MA) degree with the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley. This program has been an invaluable part of our commitment to Shin ministerial and Buddhist education. Many ministers currently serving the BCA are graduates of this degree program, and our affiliation with the GTU attracts potential students and provides an opportunity to share the Dharma with the public at large.

Due to changes in higher education laws in the State of California, and following a retreat for members of IBS’s Board of Trustees in March 2015, the Board has committed itself to the Institute’s revised mission statement:

To provide graduate level education in the full breadth of the Buddhist tradition with specialized education supporting Pure Land and contemporary Shin Buddhist Studies and advancing Jodo Shinshu Buddhist ministry.

With a long-term vision to develop IBS into the leading center for Jodo Shinshu and Buddhist graduate education in North America, the Board has decided to pursue WSCUC accreditation for all our programs as a vital part of our mission and our vision. Accreditation will allow the Institute to engage the broader world of higher education and religious education in the United States; attract potential students and donors; and allow us to bring our unique perspective, grounded in the teachings of Shinran Shonin, to a wider audience.

The path to accreditation is necessarily long and complex. The Institute took the first step on this path in November 2015, applying for Eligibility with WSCUC. WSCUC has reviewed the application and determined that the Institute is eligible to proceed with an application for Candidacy and Initial Accreditation. A determination of Eligibility is not a formal status with the WASC Senior College and University Commission, nor does it ensure eventual accreditation. It is a preliminary finding that the Institute is potentially accreditable and can proceed to be reviewed for Candidacy or Initial Accreditation status with the Commission. It is an important first step. Being granted Eligibility validates the hard work IBS faculty and staff have done over the past several years to create a vibrant and robust educational program and community.

We are grateful for the strong leadership of the Board of Trustees and the hard work of our faculty. This is the beginning of a new chapter for the Institute, and we are excited about our future!

Questions about Eligibility may be directed to the Institute at; or to WSCUC at or (510) 748-9001.