Master of Divinity

The Master of Divinity degree prepares students for professional work in the fields of pastoral care, chaplaincy, community development, and dharma teaching. This 72-credit, three-year program is firmly grounded in Buddhist philosophy and meditation practice, while emphasizing an interreligious approach to individual and community care. This training is then applied in hands-on field education work, to develop individuals who can actively manifest wisdom and compassion in the world. The program breaks new ground in preparing Buddhist-inspired students to serve their communities in leadership capacities.

The MDiv degree prepares students through four streams of learning: 1) theological study—an in-depth understanding of the basic Buddhist texts and doctrines in historical and present-day contexts; 2) community—devoted to the insights and tools for fostering “engaged” communities; 3) interfaith pastoral care—the ability to serve the spiritual and human needs of a diverse community in ministerial/chaplaincy roles while embodying the principles and practices of one’s primary tradition; and 4) practice and meditation—the spiritual practice of sitting meditation from the Buddhist tradition.

Field education opportunities (either Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) or internship placements) based on individual student interests provide a context for integrating all four streams of learning and applying them to real-world needs, while initiating the process of lifetime learning through the student's work.

Optional Specialties:

Tibetan Tradition Emphasis   Students with particular interest in the scholastic tradition of Tibet have the option of rounding out the monastic college (shedra) aspect of their studies by selecting the optional Tibetan Tradition emphasis, which involves attending a month-long summer program of Nitartha Institute between the first and second years of the degree program. The courses they take during this program, in conjunction with their studies at Naropa, lead to the completion and receipt of the Foundation and Intermediate Curriculum Certificates of Nitartha Institute, which qualify students to enter the study of the Advanced Curriculum and to apply for the Teaching-in-Training program at Nitartha after their graduation from Naropa. (For background information, see

Mindfulness Instructor Training A three-course series training students to offer instruction in shamatha practice and being a mindfulness instructor. Participants develop skills in first-time meditation instruction and mentoring new practitioners.

Shambhala Training  Shambhala Training is the path of study and practice of Shambhala Warriorship: the tradition of human bravery, not being afraid of who you are. This training, in partnership with Shambhala International, shows how to take the challenges of daily life in our modern society as opportunities for contemplative practice.

Note on fees: There are several expenses associated with noncredit requirements in the Religious Studies programs. These do not involve any Naropa tuition cost, but do involve costs paid to the organizations offering these programs. The month-long contemplative practice retreat costs approximately $1,300. Master of Divinity students may enroll in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) for academic credit, which may reduce the cost of clinical training, though additional fees charge by the CPE training center may also apply. Tibetan Tradition students register for a 3-credit Nitartha Institute program through Naropa, which will cover the tuition cost, but not the room and board, text, and other items of the Nitartha program, which add up to approximately $1,000. The prices listed above are estimates based on current costs. These costs are determined by outside organizations and are subject to change. There are also occasionally smaller course fees associated with individual classes, which are subject to change.

Degree Requirements

Please note that many students complete the program in four rather than three years. For a complete four-year plan, please see your academic advisor.  Some courses are only offered alternate years; please consult your academic advisor.

First year, fall

  • REL600 Meditation Practicum I: Seeds of Peace (3)
  • REL602 Contemplative Communication in Spiritual Caregiving (3)
  • REL611 The First Turning of the Wheel: Nature of Mind and Emotions (3)
  • REL614 Mind and Its World I (3)
  • REL616 Process Lab I (1)


First year, spring

  • REL615 Power, Privilege, and Diversity (3) or REL763 Dharma Talks and Religious Education (3)
  • REL620 Meditation Practicum II: Self and No-Self (3)
  • REL624 Mind and Its World II (3)
  • REL650 Buddhist Meditation Intensive (noncredit)*
  • REL654 Process Lab II (1)
  • REL661 The Second Turning of the Wheel: The Bodhisattva Path (3)


First year, summer

Tibetan Tradition students will attend Nitartha Institute** and register for:

  • REL705 The Mind Only School (1.5) Tibetan Tradition emphasis only
  • REL720 Buddha Nature and Shentong (1.5) Tibetan Tradition emphasis only

SUBTOTAL 3 (Tibetan Tradition emphasis only)

Second year, fall

  • REL635 Meditation Practicum III: Mind-Training (3)
  • REL658 Ritual Arts (3) or REL714 Introduction to Pastoral Care (3)
  • REL728 Process Lab III (1)
  • REL744 Master of Divinity Field Education I (1.5) (For students choosing field education)
  • REL779 Interreligious Dialogue: Theory and Practice (3)
  • Buddhism elective (3)

SUBTOTAL 13 (14.5) (Field education)

Second year, spring

  • REL615 Power, Privilege, and Diversity (3) or REL763 Dharma Talks and Religious Education (3)
  • REL710 The Third Turning of the Wheel (3)
  • REL745 Master of Divinity Field Education II (1.5) (For students choosing field education)
  • REL749 Contemporary American Religion (3) or REL804 Apllied Ethics and Service Learning (2)
  • REL768 Process Lab IV (1)
  • Contemplative practice elective (3)

SUBTOTAL 12–13 (13.5–14.5) (Field Education)

Second year, summer

  • REL747 Master of Divinity Clinical Pastoral Education (3) (For students choosing CPE)


Third year, fall

  • REL658 Ritual Arts (3) or REL714 Introduction to Pastoral Care (3)
  • Religious Studies Elective (3)


Third year, spring

  • REL804 Applied Ethics and Service Learning (2) or REL749 Contemporary American Religion (3)
  • REL853 MDiv Capstone Seminar (3)
  • REL880 Comprehensive Exam (0)
  • Religious Studies Elective (3) Except for Tibetan Traditional emphasis

SUBTOTAL 11–12 (8–9) (Tibetan Traditional emphasis)


*It is highly recommended that students complete the noncredit month-long dathün requirement (REL650) by the winter break between the fall and spring semesters of their first year or, at the latest, during the summer following their first year.

**It is required that students in the Tibetan Tradition emphasis complete the requirement to attend a monthlong Nitartha Institute program in the summer following their first year. This is integral to the sequence of the curriculum. This replaces three credits of electives in the final semester.

Religious Studies Electives

General Electives

  • REL525 Contemplative Christianity (3)
  • REL529 Contemplative Judaism (3)
  • REL530 Contemplative Hinduism (3)
  • REL535 Kabbalah and Consciousness (3)
  • REL545 Contemplative Islam (3)
  • REL585 Spiritual Models of Social Action (3)
  • REL623 Religious Experience in Africa: Sacred Cosmos, Ritual, and Community (3)
  • REL625 Christian Scripture and Sprituality (3)
  • REL634 Hindu Yoga-Tantra (3)
  • REL655 Trends in Religious Studies (3)
  • REL672 Non-Dualism in Theory and Practice (3)
  • REL676 Inner Oral Tradition of the Torah (3)

Buddhism Electives

  • REL540 Zen Buddhism (3)
  • REL546 Flight of the Swan: Dharma Comes West (3)
  • REL701 The Middle Way School (3)
  • REL751 Buddhism in Tibet (3)
  • REL760 Vajrayana: Symbol, Iconography, and Ritual (3)

Contemplative Practice Electives

  • REL504W The Breeze of Simplicity: Meditation Weekend (1)
  • REL540 Zen Buddhism (3)
  • REL554W Opening the Heart: Meditation Weekend (1)
  • REL571 Christian Prayer and Mystical Practices (3)
  • REL609W Mindfulness Instructor Training I (1)*
  • REL634 Hindu Yoga-Tantra (3)
  • REL690W–791W Shambhala Training Levels I–XII (1)
    • REL690W Shambhala Training Level I: The Art of Being Human (1)
    • REL691W Shambhala Training Level II: Birth of the Warrior (1)
    • REL692W Shambhala Training Level III: Warrior in the World (1)
    • REL693W Shambhala Training Level IV: Awakened Heart (1)
    • REL694W Shambhala Training Level V: Open Sky (1)
    • REL695W Shambhala Training Level VI: Great Eastern Sun (1)
    • REL790W Shambhala Training Level VII: Windhorse (1)
    • REL791W Shambhala Training Level VIII: Drala (1)
    • REL792W Shambhala Training Level IX: Meek/Perky (1)
    • REL793W Shambhala Training Level X: Perky (1)
    • REL794W Shambhala Training Level XI: Outrageous & Inscrutable (1)
    • REL795W Shambhala Training Level XII: Golden Key (1)
  • REL709W Mindfulness Instructor Training II (1)*
  • REL780 Meditation Practicum IV: Maitri and Mandala (3)
  • REL809W Mindfulness Instructor Training III (1)*
  • TRA505 Taijiquan I (3)
  • TRA515 Yoga I (3)
  • TRA520 Ikebana/Kado I (3)

* These courses must be taken in sequence. The prerequisites for REL609W are Meditation Practicum I and II, as well as a Buddhist monthlong meditation intensive, two weeks of which must be completed before the class begins.