Students who engage with the Buddhist tradition through local centers, while appreciating the study and practice they receive, often feel their knowledge and understanding of Buddhism is limited, and that they may benefit from meditative practices of other traditions. As a student in Naropa University’s convenient, 36-credit, two-year, low-residency Master’s degree program in Buddhist Studies, you will receive a rare systematic education in the richness of the Buddhist tradition, combined with a contemplative and meditative approach that engages the teachings and practices of Buddhism from its Indian roots to four of its primary Asian forms that have been important in the West: Theravada, Zen, Pure Land, and Tibetan Buddhism.
The intent of the program is to foster your personal development and to prepare you to apply what you have learned and practiced to your work in the world, whether in your present vocation, or in finding a new livelihood, such as in change agency, social entrepreneurship, care-giving, writing, and so forth. The program is also uniquely suited to providing an excellent foundation of knowledge, insight, and practice for dharma teachers and leadership roles in spiritual communities, who often relate with students who have experience with several Buddhist traditions.
With its open, non-sectarian perspective, the program is suited to Buddhist practitioners orthose who feel an affinity with Buddhism as enriching their personal path.
The program is ideal for people who want the convenience of a low-residency, online program that enables them to stay where they presently live, provides a flexible schedule, but also includes several retreats to foster community with faculty & students while engaging in meditation practice and contemplative study.
Each of the four semesters of this program includes a meditation course and a related course (or courses) on the Buddhist teachings. Three of the four meditation courses begin during three nine-day residential retreats. The program begins with a nine-day retreat in the fall of the first year, just prior to the start of the regular semester, bringing the students together with their faculty to build community and provide a face-to-face experience of contemplative education. There is a second nine-day retreat in the spring of the first year and a third in the spring of the second year, which also begin the week before the regularly scheduled semester starts. These three retreats will occur in Colorado, running from a Saturday evening through early Sunday morning of the following weekend.
The courses that begin during the retreat continue in the regular semester that follows, and typically end two weeks before the end of the semester. The other courses that start at the beginning of the regular semester, run the full length of the semester. The online portion of the courses includes recorded lectures, podcasts, contemplative exercises, threaded discussions, reflection exercises, and more.
A stereotypical graduate program encourages arrogance, competition, aggression, but also self-doubt and self-deprecation, with the underlying presumption that you can only feel good about yourself if you can prove yourself, all for the supposed goal of achieving excellence. The contemplative pedagogy used at Naropa University takes the opposite approach, with the understanding that we do well when we trust our natural intelligence and take delight in exerting ourselves in study and practice.
Instead of struggling to prove ourselves and feeling self-doubt throughout the process, contemplative education invites you to experience, appreciate, and cultivate your ever present intelligence. While we do learn from teachers and texts, we all bring insight born from years of lived experience that deeply enriches the classroom. We thus encourage students to set aside self-deprecation, to trust themselves, and discover delight in their study and practice. This develops confidence and kindness toward yourself, as well as insights into, and compassion for, others. When we do this, we naturally do well.