MASTER OF DIVINITY (MDIV): Program Description & Learning Outcomes



February 3: Spring 2014 semester begins; registration opens for Summer 2014 semester

March 1: Early Admissions Deadline for Fall 2014 semester

February 17: Last day to add/drop classes for Spring 2014 semester

March 31-April 11: Spring break

May 1: Priority Deadline for application for Fall 2014 semester

June 2: Registration opens for Fall 2014 semester

June 6: Spring semester ends

June 8: Graduation, 11 AM


June 16 – August 14: Summer Session


September 1: Fall 2014 semester begins

September 15: Last day to add/drop classes for Fall 2014 semester

November 24-30: Thanksgiving week

December 8: Registration opens for Spring 2015 semester; registration opens for Summer 2015 semester

December 19: Fall 2014 semester ends


February 2: Spring 2015 semester begins

February 15: Last day to add/drop classes for Spring 2015 semester

March 2: Early Admissions Deadline for Fall 2015 semester

March 30-April 10: Spring break

May 1: Priority Deadline for application for Fall 2015 semester

May 15: Registration opens for Fall 2015 semester

June 5: Spring semester ends

June 7: Graduation


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June 15 – August 14: Summer Session

Maitripa College is a nonprofit corporation authorized by the State of Oregon to offer and confer the degrees described in this website, following a determination that state academic standards will be satisfied under OAR 583-030. Inquiries concerning the standards or school compliance may be directed to the Higher Education Coordinating Commission / Office of Degree Authorization, 775 Court Street NE, Salem, OR 97310-0103.

The Maitripa College Master of Divinity (MDiv) is a 72-credit graduate degree program under the direction of Yangsi Rinpoche.

Maitripa College offers a robust, 72 credit minimum, three-to-four year Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree. The MDiv is a professional degree focused on a Buddhist approach to cultivating intellectual, spiritual, and professional skills in order to work as an agent of positive change in the world. Scholastic and contemplative training forms a stable foundation for skillfully enacting culturally- relevant wisdom and compassion. Candidates are prepared for a life of service and leadership in the non-profit sector and traditional chaplaincy roles within Buddhist, interfaith, or secular institutions and communities. 

At the core of the degree curriculum are the three pillars of higher education at Maitripa – Scholarship, Meditation, and Community Service. The Master of Divinity degree is designed for students seeking a practical, in-depth, and critical understanding of Buddhist thought, with a strong emphasis on real-life application, both internally and in service to the community. The program couples meditative training and active service in community partnerships with a core philosophical curriculum designed to ground the student in Buddhist principles, logic, philosophical arguments, meditative techniques, and methodologies of the academic study of religion. The synthesis of this training and study informs personal and professional applications of Buddhist orientations to concepts of self and other, the wish to alleviate suffering, and interdependence at local and global levels.

In addition, the MDiv degree attends to the personal, scholarly, and pastoral competencies required for chaplaincy by offering a breadth of learning opportunities in canonical language and literature, religious history, pastoral care and counseling, and comparative religion. Particular depth will be cultivated in areas of philosophy, meditation practices and methods, Buddhist psychology, ritual and liturgy, spiritual formation, leadership and administration, and Engaged Buddhism.

Students may elect to complete a concentration in either Canonical Languages and Literature, or Spiritual Formation. The concentration in Canonical Languages and Literature trains students in Classical Tibetan from beginning to advanced levels, with both Tibetan and Western scholars, and includes courses with close readings of texts in translation. The Spiritual Formation concentration enables students to devote considerable focus to mentored meditation and retreat.

The MDiv degree has traditionally been an important credential for ministry as well as for employment as a chaplain in hospitals, hospice, prisons, the armed forces, and some schools or institutions. Students may qualify to apply to pursue national Board Certification as chaplains after graduation.

The program may be completed as a full- or part-time student. Full-time students must take a minimum of 7 credits per semester, and are eligible for scholarship funds.

Degree Concentrations

Students in the MDiv and MA degree programs may elect concentrations in either Canonical Languages and Literature or Spiritual Formation as a way of identifying areas of particular depth and training.

The concentration in Canonical Languages and Literature requires a minimum of four semesters of classical Tibetan coursework and four credit hours of coursework in close reading of a Buddhist text in translation. Courses which satisfy the literature requirement will be indicated in the course catalogue. Other canonical languages, such as Sanskrit or Chinese, also satisfy the language requirement when available.

Maitripa College is committed to training students in Classical Tibetan from beginning to advanced levels – from learning the alphabet to producing translations. Our mission and vision to develop an accredited Buddhist University offering higher education guided by the principles of the Buddhadharma requires that we also contribute to the preservation of Tibet’s rich textual traditions and increase their accessibility in the West. By learning to read and translate Tibetan, Maitripa students have the opportunity to receive the wisdom of these teachings directly in their original language, study with western and Tibetan linguists, learn to recite prayers and practices in Tibetan, and take advantage of the rare opportunity to read classic texts with a Geshe Lharampa and lineage holder, Yangsi Rinpoche. This is also exceptional preparation for pursuing doctoral studies and research in any area of Tibetan studies.

Please see Classical Tibetan Language Studies at Maitripa College for more information.

The concentration in Spiritual Formation enables students to devote considerable focus to mentored meditation, both in the classroom and during structured retreat opportunities. Meditation and ritual practices that fulfill the minimum credits must demonstrate educational efficacy through mentorship, educational goals, and evaluation. Three meditation (MDT) elective courses (in addition to the minimum degree requirements for the MA or MDiv) must be taken, in which the course is designed to instruct students in practices for specific educational goals, including the cultivation of spiritual qualities or skills, gaining insight into philosophic concepts, or learning content. A minimum of one additional credit hour (100 hours of mentored meditation) must be earned through participation in retreat. Retreats may include on-site or residential Maitripa-sponsored retreats and, where approved and in consultation with Yangsi Rinpoche, may also include structured and supervised retreats to be completed by the student privately. In some cases, and with sufficient documentation, students may petition for limited recognition of retreats and practices completed in other lineages or at other centers.

The Educational Mission of Maitripa College : Developing the Wisdom to Sustain Compassion

Maitripa College's educational program is based in the conviction that Buddhist thought and practice has significant contributions to make to American society and culture. On the basis of a worldview that emphasizes the interdependence of individual, society, and the environment, Buddhism encourages the cultivation of wisdom to create compassionate individuals with a sense of responsibility for the community and world they live in. Maitripa College seeks to do this through the powerful medium of higher education, through the offering and development of degree programs for adults. The core program at Maitripa integrates rigorous training in Buddhist thought and philosophy with the application of those ideas through contemplative practice and active community service. In the process, Maitripa combines aspects of a modern liberal arts education with traditional tools from Tibetan Buddhist scholarship.

Click here for a full description of the vision and mission of Maitripa College.


Philosophy & Theology: Students will have a sophisticated understanding of the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy, the issues at stake for Buddhist philosophers, and the approaches Tibetan and Western scholars take toward understanding this body of work. Students will be familiar with the history, authors, and texts significant in the development of Buddhist thought in India and Tibet.

Students will have an understanding of the doctrines of Buddhist thought as they are practiced in historical and contemporary Buddhist contexts, and in the evolving western traditions. They will demonstrate knowledge of the interaction of religious/spiritual experience and culture as it has played out historically in Buddhism, and gain facility with applying and integrating Buddhist resources within our multicultural society. They will be able to articulate a personal theology and have the ability to draw on Buddhist perspectives to nurture and support the development of a spiritual worldview (whatever it may be) in others with equanimity and respect.

Meditation: Students will have solid awareness and fluency in the terminology of the vast corpus of techniques and practices of Buddhist meditation. Students will be able to identify appropriate meditation practices to combat specific psychological problems and apply them to their own minds. They will be able to communicate these techniques to others appropriately in both secular and religious contexts. They will be able to live from an understanding of self informed by introspection, and an understanding of others as informed by wisdom and compassion.

Community Service: Students will be able to assess community needs, develop strategies for meeting those needs, and actively work to bring concrete benefit to their communities through the practice of service in their communities. They will be able to integrate Buddhist concepts of compassion, patience, joyous effort, and so forth into their work, and communicate these concepts to others as strategies for service. Students will have the ability to draw on Buddhist perspectives to engage with their communities, identify and enhance its strengths, and become leaders and agents of positive change in our world.

Theology: Students will gain depth in Buddhist studies and practice and be able to use the tradition as a source of inspiration, wisdom, and spiritual rejuvenation for their work in the world. Students will demonstrate competencies in a breadth of complementary areas according to their educational and professional goals. Those students planning to pursue certification as chaplains, and exemplifying the requisite personal qualities and professional skills, will be prepared for Ordination and Endorsement while a student, and for Clinical Pastoral Education and completion of the certification process after graduation.

MDiv students need not identify as Buddhist, but must have a willingness to commit to study and practice Buddhism from an appreciation for the tradition as a source of wisdom and spiritual development and out of which they will be able to serve in the world.


Maitripa College | 1119 SE Market Street | Portland, Oregon USA 97214 | phone: 503-235-2477 | email: | fax: 503-231-6408