<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-NP2ZK8" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> About the Program

 


About the Program

Two Concentrations

The MA in Religious Studies allows students to focus on one of two concentrations. Learn more about each of the choices below.

  • Contemplative Religions Concentration
  • Indo-Tibetan Buddhism Concentration

Language Options

In each of the Contemplative Religions Concentration and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism Concentration


Contemplative Judaism Classroom

CONTEMPLATIVE RELIGIONS CONCENTRATION

This 45-credit concentration is designed for students who wish to join the academic study of comparative religions with interreligious dialogue, contemplative practice, and personal investigation. Students develop literacy in the living practice traditions of a variety of world religions, with special emphasis on integrating the mystical contemplative dimension with the texts, teachings, and other aspects of the traditions. Students also learn interreligious dialogue skills for communicating across religious differences in an environment of global pluralism. Students work with faculty members who are both academically and spiritually trained in the teachings and practices of their respective traditions.

Culminating Requirements

The degree program concludes with an oral comprehensive exam as well as a master’s project paper.

Language Option

This MA degree includes all the course work of the MA Religious Studies degree with the Contemplative Religions concentration, and is enriched by training in either Sanskrit or Tibetan through two years (16 credits) of course work or more. This 61-credit concentration is designed for students who wish to join the academic study of comparative religions with interreligious dialogue, contemplative practice, and personal investigation. Students develop literacy in the living practice traditions of a variety of world religions, with special emphasis on integrating the mystical contemplative dimension with the teachings and other aspects of the traditions, as well as on learning interreligious dialogue skills for communicating across religious differences in an environment of global pluralism. Students work with faculty members who are both academically and spiritually trained in the teachings and practices of their respective traditions.

INDO-TIBETAN BUDDHISM CONCENTRATION

The 45-credit MA Religious Studies with Indo-Tibetan Buddhism concentration offers two emphases: History of Religions and Tibetan Traditions.

Tibet has played a central role in the development of Buddhism in Asia, including preserving the scholastic traditions and texts of India, while deepening the meditative practices and insights of the Indian oral traditions. This MA degree surveys Indian and Tibetan Buddhism with emphasis on textual and meditative lineages, integrating study and practice each semester. The faculty includes Western-trained academics and acharyas (master teachers) steeped in Tibetan Buddhist practice, as well as English-speaking Tibetan lamas extensively trained in their own traditions.

Two Emphases: History of Religions or Tibetan Tradition

For their second academic year, students choose either the History of Religions emphasis or the Tibetan Tradition emphasis.

History of Religions Emphasis

The History of Religions emphasis has been developed by Naropa’s core faculty over the past thirty years, and investigates the Buddhist tradition as it developed in India with Three Turnings, and how it adapted to the Tibetan landscape. “History of Religions” refers to academic study that values religion, in this case Buddhism, as an expression of cultures over time, manifesting in textual tradition, the arts, social institutions, traditions of saints, ethics and philosophy, and myth and symbol. While History of Religions introduces critical methods of contemporary scholarship, such as textual analysis and phenomenology, at the forefront is the exploration of the richness of religious imagination and practice.

Tibetan Tradition Emphasis

In the Tibetan Tradition emphasis, students acquire the systematic foundation in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism that students receive in a traditional Tibetan monastic college (shedra), utilizing a blend of traditional and Western styles of pedagogy, based on the materials, teaching methods, and forms of analytical meditation developed at Nitartha Institute since its founding in 1996 by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. Presenting all Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma, these courses emphasize the union of view, meditation, and conduct, and utilize selected elements of the History of Religions methods described above. (For background information, see www.nitarthainstitute.org.)

The course of study of the Tibetan Tradition emphasis includes attending a monthlong summer program of Nitartha Institute between the first and second years of the degree program.

Culminating Requirements

The degree program concludes with an oral comprehensive exam as well as a master’s paper or project. 

Language Option

The 61-credit MA Religious Studies with Language program with the Indo-Tibetan Buddhism concentration offers two emphases: History of Religions and Tibetan Tradition. This MA degree includes all the course work of the MA Religious Studies degree with the Indo-Tibetan Buddhism concentration, and is enriched by training in either Sanskrit or Tibetan through two years (16 credits) of course work or more. This degree surveys Indian and Tibetan Buddhism with emphasis on textual and meditative lineages, integrating study and practice each semester, with the added dimension of exploring Buddhist texts beyond the filter of a particular English translation through language study. The faculty includes Western-trained academics and acharyas (master teachers) steeped in Tibetan Buddhist practice, as well as English-speaking Tibetan lamas extensively trained in their own traditions.