What is Naropa University?
- Naropa University is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian liberal arts institution with
a mission of contemplative education. This approach to learning integrates the best
of Eastern and Western educational traditions, helping students know themselves more
deeply and engage constructively with others. The university comprises a four-year
undergraduate college and graduate programs in the arts, education, environmental
leadership, psychology, and religious studies.
Is Naropa University accredited?
Naropa University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Higher Learning Commission
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, Illinois 60602-2504
312-263-0456; Fax 312-263-7462
How was Naropa started?
- Naropa University represents the vision of the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Trungpa Rinpoche (1940–1987), a Buddhist meditation master, scholar, and teacher,
founded Naropa in 1974 as a summer institute. It was his view that Western education
would be greatly enhanced if combined with the mindfulness training offered by Eastern
Do you have to be Buddhist to attend Naropa University?
- While Naropa University is Buddhist-inspired, it is also nonsectarian and open to
all. The mission of the school is to create a safe container where students of all
faiths can explore their spirituality. A Naropa education is marked by a spirited
interchange among persons of diverse views and traditions, provoking a greater understanding
of the breadth of human experience. The majority of our students are not Buddhist,
nor are the majority of faculty and staff.
What role does Buddhism play in a student’s education at Naropa University?
- Naropa University's learning philosophy of contemplative education is rooted in the
Tibetan Buddhist tradition. The integration of contemplative disciplines into the curriculum helps
students to devote their full attention to their studies, classmates, and the community
at large. Each class or degree program integrates varying degrees of Buddhist philosophies
and traditions. Classes may open with a short period of silence or require meditation
practice, while others will be conducted as a traditional college course.
What is contemplative education?
- Contemplative education balances the study of specific academic and artistic fields
with the traditional practices for training in mindfulness and awareness. Through
the practice of contemplative disciplines such as sitting meditation, yoga, and t
’ai-chi ch’uan, students develop a strong sense of awareness which assists the absorption
and assimilation of new information, as well as synchronizing body, speech, and mind.
The contemplative approach inspires openness, inquisitiveness, and kindness to oneself
Do you require the GRE or other tests for entry into Naropa University?
- No, for applicants from the United States, test scores from the GRE, SAT, ACT, or
other standardized tests are not required for admission to Naropa University. However,
international applicants from countries where English is not a primary language must
submit TOEFL or IELTS scores as part of their admissions materials. For more information
about applying as an international applicant, please refer the international applicant admissions requirements.
Do you have in-state and out-of-state tuition?
- Because we are a private college, tuition rates are the same for both in-state and
Do you accept transfer credits?
- Naropa University's graduate programs may accept up to 6 semester units of graduate
transfer credit from other universities. This is not an automatic policy; it is at
the discretion of each department. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Credits
must have been earned within five years of application to Naropa and must carry the
grade of "B" or better. No Pass (P), Credit (CR), Audited (A), or Satisfactory (S)
work will be accepted. Credits must come from a regionally accredited institutions
(international on a case-by-case basis), and no credit will be awarded for contemplative
practice courses or life experience.
What does it cost to attend a graduate program at Naropa University?
- Naropa University charges tuition per credit taken, not via a block system. Since
our graduate programs range in number of credits and also vary in their length of
time, semesters attended, and unique fees required, it is difficult to give an exact
answer. Please visit the graduate estimated cost per program page for more information about your specific program of interest.
What are the demographics of Naropa University?
- Please refer to Naropa's Facts at a Glance page.
Does Naropa University offer PhD Studies?
- Naropa University does not offer PhD programs at this time. Naropa's graduate programs
offer Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), and Master of Divinity (MDiv)
Does Naropa University offer any online classes or degree programs?
- Yes, Naropa offers online classes which change from semester to semester. In addition, there are low-residency graduate
degree programs in MA in Ecopsychology and MFA in Creative Writing.
What jobs are the graduates pursuing, how long after graduation did they get the jobs,
and what is their average salary?
- Of 173 alumni who responded to a recent survey, 136 are working in the field of their
graduate degree. Of those 136 people, 98 took an average of 4.5 months after graduation
to get a job in their field. Of those 136, 34 earned under $25,000; 47 earned $25,000–$39,000;
22 earned $40,000–$54,000; 4 earned $55,000–$70,000, and 6 earned more than $70,000.
Several respondents chose not to divulge their salary.
What if I don't want to get a degree but wish to be involved with Naropa University?
- Naropa University's Extended Studies program offers an excellent and diverse selections of seminars and classes for those who
are not pursuing a degree. In addition, Naropa has offered online courses through its Distance Learning program since 1999. Please note that registration for Extended Studies and Distance Learning
courses is handled by the Naropa University Registrar's Office, not the Office of Admissions.
- How do I find housing in Boulder?
- Naropa offers resources for graduate students seeking off-campus housing. Please refer
to the Housing Resources page for more information.
- What is the deferral policy for graduate applicants?
The following deferral policy applies to all of the graduate programs at Naropa University.
At any point in the application process, you may defer your application for up to
one academic year. To do so, email or write the admissions counselor who handles the
program so that we have a written record of your decision to defer. If you defer before
completing your application, you will defer at the same status. If you were accepted
into the program, you lose your acceptance status. If you paid the $250 confirmation
deposit, you forfeit the deposit. An admissions counselor will then contact you before
the deadline for the following year (January 15) to see if you are still interested
in applying to the program. If so, your current application will be sent to the department
for review. If the program requires an in-person interview, you may be asked to schedule
one, even if you had an in-person interview the previous year. Acceptance into the
program after you have deferred is not guaranteed.
Can I get licensed as a counselor with a masters degree from Naropa University?
- Five of Naropa's counseling psychology programs (the MA Somatic Counseling program, the MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling program, MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy program, MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Art Therapy program, and the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program) prepare students to take their counselor licensure tests immediately after graduation.
For more information, please visit the Graduate School of Counseling & Psychology Licensure page.
What are the similarities and differences between the Five graduate programs that
lead to licensure: the MA Somatic Counseling program, the MA Mindfulness-based Transpersonal
Counseling program, the MA Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Wilderness Therapy program, the MA Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Art Therapy program, and the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program?
- Program Length: All five programs are three years in duration (MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal
Counseling has a fourth year option if necessary; MA Somatic Counseling can be completed
in four or five years if necessary).
- Professional Training: Students get hands-on experience in the mental health field through placement in
agencies during their practicums and in their final year during their 700-hour internships.
- Professional Outcome: The professional outcome of the five programs is also similar. Graduates from these
programs are able to work in a variety of settings, including mental health agencies,
social services, human resources departments, nonprofit agencies, and private practices.
- Contemplative Practice: All five programs have meditation requirements as a part of the core curriculum.
The MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology meditation requirement extends
throughout the duration of program to include five hours per week of sitting practice,
regularly scheduled meetings with the student's meditation instructor, specific classes
(e.g. "Psychology and Meditation") and the Maitri program. This ongoing meditation
requirement creates a common ground for the members of each class as they study and
discuss the main principles of both Buddhist and Western psychology. The MA Mindfulness-Based
Transpersonal Counseling, MA Wilderness Therapy, and MA Art Therapy meditation requirements
include four classes (two years) of the Psychology of Meditation. During those classes
the student fulfills a sitting practice requirement and meets regularly with their
meditation instructor. However, continuation of meditation practice after the completion
of the courses is up to the student. The MA Somatic Counseling meditation requirement
includes two credits of coursework in the first year. In the MA Somatic Counseling
program, contemplative practice also takes place through conscious engagement with
movement and sensate awareness.
- Developing The Therapist: All five programs are similar in that they emphasize attendance to the personal
and spiritual development of the therapist, with the aim of working more effectively
with others. While students develop skillful means to work in a variety of clinical
settings, they learn to acknowledge their clients as whole human beings, by first
uncovering and acknowledging their own innate qualities of wisdom and compassion.
Main features of each graduate counseling psychology program:
MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology
- Community: The feature of intentional community is a strong learning component of the MA Contemplative
Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program. Students begin the program and take every
class together, including the off-campus Maitri retreat. Community serves as a mirror
to one's mind as well as a continual laboratory for working with others. Classmates
become a close intimate group during the three years of the program.
- Contemplative Practice: Because the ground of working with others is familiarity with one's own experience,
the program places great emphasis on student meditation practice and body/mind awareness.
- Buddhist and Western Psychology: The MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program is the only program
in the United States that joins psychotherapy training with Buddhist meditation and
a deep understanding of the mind. Grounded in the belief that one's ability to be
present with whatever arises in the moment is the foundation of meaningful psychotherapy,
the program aims to assist future therapists in developing the abilities that allow
them to form genuine healing relationships with their clients.
MA Transpersonal Counseling
- Spirituality: All three concentrations of the MA Transpersonal Counseling program (Art Therapy,
Mindfulness-Based, and Wilderness Therapy) consider spirituality to be fundamental
to wholeness. The process of receiving the MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling
degree includes techniques derived from modern psychology, consciousness research,
and ancient spiritual practices. Students engage in a process that emphasizes intellectual,
emotional, social, and spiritual awareness.
- Transpersonal Vision: All three concentrations of the MA Transpersonal Counseling program share a commitment
to the transpersonal vision and excellence in counselor training.
- Flexibility: Flexibility in course scheduling, depending on the concentration, is a unique feature
of the MA Transpersonal Counseling program, where each class is offered at a variety
of times, including some evening classes.
- Art Therapy: Approved by the American Art Therapy Association, the innovative Art Therapy concentration
integrates intensive studies in the visual arts and the social sciences with psychotherapeutic
skills. The program prepares the student for additional credentialing as a Registered
- Mindfulness-Based Counseling: The Mindfulness-Based Counseling concentration offers both experiential and theoretical
study. Its primary methods include meditation, Gestalt awareness practice, psychodynamic
approaches, and client-centered therapy. Students have the opportunity to explore
areas of personal interest through a variety of elective offerings.
- Wilderness Therapy: Grounded in nature's ability to nurture spirituality and human wholeness, Wilderness
Therapy refers to a broad field of psychology that utilizes wilderness as a context
for therapeutic intervention. The concentration offers students theoretical and practical
experience in the fields of ecopsychology, ecology, adventure therapy, outdoor skills,
and group dynamics and leadership. Most of the second year takes place in outdoor
MA Somatic Counseling
- The Body: By attending to the bodily foundation of experience, the MA Somatic Counseling program
brings an appreciation of the unique role of the body and its movement to understanding
and transforming human behavior. In this approach, the body is the vessel of feeling,
the tool of perception, the vehicle of action and the storehouse of memories and belief
- Therapist Training: Based in awareness practices that draw from traditional cultures as well as modern
neuroscience, the program provides students with the theoretical, clinical, and professional
skills to be effective psychotherapists, grounded in the integration of body, mind,
- Dance/Movement Therapy: The Dance/Movement Therapy concentration focuses on the psychotherapeutic use of
movement as a process that furthers the emotional, cognitive, social, and physical
integration of the individual. Beyond the foundational Somatic Counseling curriculum,
students in the Dance/Movement Therapy concentration are trained in classical as well
as innovative forms of dance/movement therapy. This program is approved by the American
Dance Therapy Association, and graduates are qualifies to apply for the Dance Therapist
Registered (DTR) credential upon graduation.
- Body Psychotherapy: The Body Psychotherapy concentration focuses on integrating body work, movement,
and somatic education principles with counseling and psychotherapy skills. Beyond
the foundational MA Somatic Counseling curriculum, the students in the Body Psychotherapy
concentration are trained in traditional and innovative therapeutic practices with
attention to sensation and body states, which allow unconscious material to manifest
and be worked with using breath, touch, movement, sensation, and imagery.
What is the difference between the MA Mindfulness-based Transpersonal Counseling program
and the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program?
To discuss their differences, it is first helpful to know the similarities between
these two programs:
- Program Length: Both programs are three years in duration (MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling
has a fourth year option if necessary).
- Professional Outcome: Graduates from both programs are able to work in a variety of settings, including
mental health agencies, social services, human resources departments, nonprofit agencies,
and private practice.
- Meditation: Both programs have meditation requirements as a part of the core curriculum. The
MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology meditation requirement extends
throughout the duration of program to include five hours per week of sitting practice,
regularly scheduled meetings with the student's meditation instructor, specific classes
(e.g. "Psychology and Meditation"), and the Maitri program (see below). This ongoing
meditation requirement creates a common ground for the members of each class as they
study and discuss the main principles of both Buddhist and Western psychology. The
MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling meditation requirement includes four
classes (two years) of the Psychology of Meditation. During those classes the student
fulfills a sitting practice requirement and meets regularly with their meditation
instructor. However, continuation of meditation practice after the completion of the
courses is up to the student.
- Community: The feature of community is a strong learning component of the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy
& Buddhist Psychology program. Students take every class together, including the off-campus
Maitri retreat. Community serves as a mirror to one's mind as well as a continual
laboratory for working with others. Classmates become a close group during the three
years of the program. The MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling program—due
to flexibility in the scheduling of classes—does not rely on community to such a degree,
although it is still present. This flexibility in course scheduling is a unique feature
of the MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling program, where each class is
offered at a variety of times, including evening classes. So, for a student who needs
a lot of flexibility, and for whom the aspect of community is not as high a priority
in their educational experience, the MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling
program may be the best option for them.
- Counselor Training Approaches: The counselor training approach of the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist
Psychology program includes training in current counseling theories and their applications,
theory and practice of group therapy, participation in Group Process, a meditation
practice requirement, and the Maitri program. Throughout the three-year program, students
spend a total of about ten weeks living together as a learning community. Held in
a retreat center in Northern Colorado, the Maitri programs include intensive sitting
meditation, the study of Buddhist teachings, and the Maitri space-awareness practice.
For more information on the Maitri practice please visit the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy & Buddhist Psychology program page. The counselor training in the MA Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling program
includes one year of training in a client-centered approach and one year of Gestalt.
The students work with these therapeutic modalities under the guidance of professional
therapists. It is here that the sense of community comes into play in the MA Mindfulness-Based
Transpersonal Counseling program.