Degree In Buddhist Studies: Everything You Need To Know


Last Updated: March 31, 2023
no preview

Welcome to the wondrous world of Buddhist Studies! It’s a field that’s been around for centuries, but you might be surprised to know that it’s still as relevant today as it was in ancient times. Don’t worry, we’re not here to lecture you on the importance of mindfulness or how to meditate (although we highly recommend it!). Instead, we’re here to give you the lowdown on what Buddhist Studies is, and why it’s not just for monks and hippies. So, let’s get started and learn everything about Buddhist Studies. 

buddhist studies

Get Your Inner Zen and Weird Fact Fix Here!

First things first, let’s clarify what we mean by Buddhist Studies. It’s not just sitting around chanting “Om” and eating vegan food. Buddhist Studies is an academic discipline that explores the history, philosophy, and cultural practices of Buddhism. This includes everything from the life of the Buddha to contemporary Buddhist communities worldwide.

But enough with the serious stuff! Let’s get to the fun part – the quirky and unexpected things you’ll learn in Buddhist Studies. Did you know that Buddhist monks have been known to use urine to cure various ailments? Or that there’s a branch of Buddhism that believes in using psychedelic drugs to achieve enlightenment? Or that there’s a temple in Japan that’s home to a thousand cats? Yup, Buddhist Studies has got it all – from the bizarre to the profound.

The scope of opportunities is wide, from academia to social justice to spirituality. But, and this is a big but, the pay might not be what you expect. As with any field in the humanities, salaries in Buddhist Studies can be on the lower side. But hey, if you’re in it for the love of the game (or in this case, the love of Buddhism), then the pay might not matter as much. You could become a professor, work for a non-profit, or even start your own meditation centre. And who knows, you might just find a way to make a living doing what you love.

So, if you’re looking for a fascinating and practical field, look no further than Buddhist Studies. Just be prepared for a few weird looks when you tell people what you’re majoring in. But hey, if anyone asks, just tell them you’re studying the art of inner peace – that always sounds impressive. So, let’s dive right in and look at the various career options!

buddhist studies

Types of Degrees in Buddhist Studies: Which One Will Be Your Ticket to Nirvana?

So, you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of Buddhist Studies, but you’re not sure which degree is right for you. Fear not, because we’ve got the lowdown on all the different options out there.

If you’re just starting out on your Buddhist Studies journey, an undergraduate degree is a great place to begin. You’ll learn the basics of Buddhist philosophy and history, and get a well-rounded education that includes courses in subjects like anthropology, art history, and comparative religion. Plus, you’ll have the chance to explore your interests and figure out what you’re really passionate about. Undergraduate degrees in Buddhist Studies can go by different names depending on the institution. Some common examples include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Buddhist Studies
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Buddhist Studies
  • Bachelor of Humanities (BH) in Buddhist Studies
  • Bachelor of Religious Studies (BRS) with a concentration in Buddhist Studies


If you’re looking to take your Buddhist Studies game to the next level, a graduate degree might be for you. With a master’s or PhD in Buddhist Studies, you’ll dive deep into specific topics and develop advanced research skills. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with other scholars in the field and make some seriously cool contributions to the study of Buddhism. Here are some examples:

  • Master of Arts (MA) in Buddhist Studies
  • Master of Science (MS) in Buddhist Studies
  • Master of Humanities (MH) in Buddhist Studies
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Buddhist Studies


  • Online programs and distance learning options: 

Don’t have the time or resources to attend classes in person? No problem! There are tons of online programs and distance learning options out there that allow you to study Buddhist Studies from anywhere in the world. Just make sure to do your research and find a program that’s accredited and reputable.

Here are some examples of online programs and distance learning options in Buddhist Studies:

  • University of the West: Offers a fully online MA in Buddhist Studies program, as well as individual courses and certificates in various areas of Buddhist Studies.
  • Naropa University: Offers an online MA in Religious Studies with a concentration in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, which can be completed entirely online or through a hybrid format.
  • Harvard University Extension School: Offers online courses in Buddhist Studies as part of its Religion program, which can be taken for academic credit or personal enrichment.
  • University of California, Berkeley: Offers online courses in Buddhist Studies through its Extension program, which can be taken for academic credit or professional development.


If you’re not ready to commit to a full degree program, a certificate program might be the perfect option for you. These programs are shorter and more focused than full degrees, and can help you develop specific skills in areas like meditation, yoga, or Buddhist art. Plus, they’re a great way to beef up your resume and show off your dedication to the study of Buddhism. Here are some examples of certificate programs in Buddhist Studies:

  • Insight Meditation Society: Offers several retreat-based programs and courses in Buddhist meditation, including a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher Training Program and a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Teacher Training Program.
  • Barre Center for Buddhist Studies: Offers certificate programs in various areas of Buddhist Studies, including Buddhism and Modern Psychology, Buddhist Contemplative Care, and Buddhism and Ecology.
  • Naropa University: Offers certificate programs in areas like Contemplative Psychotherapy, Yoga Studies, and Mindfulness-Based Transpersonal Counseling.
  • University of California, Berkeley: Offers certificate programs in areas like Buddhist Psychology and Contemplative Neuroscience, which can be completed entirely online.

Now that you know all the different ways through which you study Buddhist Studies. It’s time to understand how this subject’s curriculum can be pretty diverse, covering everything from ancient texts to modern-day practices. Here are some of the core courses and electives you can expect to take:

  • Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy: Get ready to explore the fundamental concepts of Buddhist thought, including karma, rebirth, and the Four Noble Truths.
  • Buddhist Art and Architecture: From mandalas to stupas, this course covers the many forms of Buddhist art and their cultural significance.
  • Buddhist Meditation: Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a newbie, this course will teach you various meditation techniques and their benefits.
  • Buddhism in the West: Want to know how Buddhism has influenced Western culture? This course will cover the history and current state of Buddhism in Europe and North America.

buddhist studies

To fully understand Buddhism, students need to learn languages like Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, or Tibetan. Research methods and techniques are also essential in analyzing texts and applying critical thinking. Moreover, students can specialize in various areas like environmental ethics, feminist perspectives, or Buddhist psychology. Now let’s see where you can do these courses.

Wondering Which Colleges Offer The Best Degrees in Buddhist Studies? Here!

Worried about where to study these degrees? Fear not, my young grasshopper! Here are some of the top universities for Buddhist Studies, based on rankings, reputation, and overall awesomeness:

1. Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts: Not only is Harvard one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but it also boasts an impressive Buddhist Studies program with a diverse faculty and a focus on interdisciplinary research.

2. The University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley, California: UC Berkeley’s Buddhist Studies program is known for its rigorous scholarship and emphasis on critical thinking, as well as its location in one of the most vibrant and progressive cities in the U.S.

buddhist studies

3. University of Oxford – Oxford, United Kingdom: If you’re looking to study Buddhist Studies in Europe, look no further than the University of Oxford. Its Oriental Institute is home to one of the world’s top Buddhist Studies programs, with a strong emphasis on language study and textual analysis.

4. University of Toronto – Toronto, Canada: Canada’s largest university is also home to a thriving Buddhist Studies program, with a focus on the cultural and historical contexts of Buddhism in Asia and beyond.

5. University of Delhi: If you’re looking for a top-notch Buddhist Studies program in India, the University of Delhi should definitely be on your radar. With a focus on Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan studies, this program is perfect for anyone interested in the history and philosophy of Buddhism in South Asia.

6. Naropa University – Boulder, Colorado: Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Naropa University offers a unique approach to Buddhist Studies that emphasize contemplative practice and the integration of body, mind, and spirit.

buddhist studies

Ready to Enlighten Your Mind? 

So, if you’re looking to expand your mind and learn something totally new, a degree in Buddhist Studies might be just what you need. Whether you’re interested in meditation, or ancient texts, or just want to learn a new language, Buddhist Studies has something to offer everyone. Plus, you never know – you might just find enlightenment along the way. 

If you are still unsure of how to move ahead with this, we at Mentoria are always happy to help! Talk to our expert counsellors, to find the right career fit in Buddhist studies for you & get personalised step-by-step guidance for your future path.