Maitripa College offers a robust, 72 credit minimum, three-to-four year Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree under the direction of Yangsi Rinpoche. 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.
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.
Master of Divinity Learning Outcomes
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.
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.
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.
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.
Progress to Graduation: Maitripa College Masters of Divinity (72): Required & Recommended Courses
Note: Maitripa College faculty and staff are committed to periodic review and revision of this curriculum in light of new findings and methods in the fields of study, feedback from alumni and professionals, and faculty expertise. Maitripa College does not guarantee all courses will be offered as listed in the coming years. An individual student’s course of study will vary according to concentrations, language studies, pace of study, and elective options. For more information on courses and curriculum, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHILOSOPHY PILLAR: minimum 12 credits, includes:
|REQUIRED:||PHL301||Introduction to Buddhist Thought||(2)||Fall|
|PHL302||Foundations of Buddhist Thought: The Medium and Great Scope||(2)||Spring|
|PHL303||Madhyamaka Philosophy: Where is the Middle Way?||(2)||Fall|
|PHL304||Madhayamaka Philosophy: A Dose of Emptiness||(2)||Spring|
|PHL331/332||Mindfulness & Compassion||(2)||Var.|
|PHLvar||The Good Heart||(2)||Var.|
|PHL410||Tantric Ritual and Ethics (permission required)||(2)||Spring|
MEDITATION PILLAR: minimum 10 credits, includes:
|REQUIRED:||MDT301||Introduction to Buddhist Meditation||(2)||Fall|
|MDT302||Techniques of Buddhist Meditation: The Medium and Great Scope||(2)||Spring|
|MDT303||Techniques of Meditation: Madhyamaka||(2)||Fall|
|MDT304||Madhyamaka Meditation: Preparation for Vajrayana||(2)||Spring|
|RECOMMENDED:||MDT402||Vajrayana Meditation II (permission required)||(2)||Spring|
|MDT501||Lam Rim Retreat: The Small Scope||(1)||Fall|
|MDT502||Lam Rim Retreat: The Medium Scope||(1)||TBD|
|MDT503||Lam Rim Retreat: The Great Scope||(1)||TBD|
|MDT504||Lam Rim Retreat: The Great Scope II||(1)||TBD|
SERVICE PILLAR: minimum 16 credits, may include:
|REQUIRED:||CST001||Who We Are & Who We Serve: Personal Theology & Foundations of Engagement||(1)||Fall|
|CST002||Compassionate Service: Building Bridges||(3)||Spring|
|ST005||Buddhist Chaplaincy I||(3)||Fall|
|RECOMMENDED:||CST003||Compassionate Service: Wisdom and Method||(3)||Fall|
|CST004||Buddhist Ministry & Leadership: Building Spiritual Communities||(3)||Spring|
|CST006||Buddhist Chaplaincy II||(3)||Spring|
|CST121||Mindful Institutional Organization, Administration & Development||(1)||Fall|
|CST122||Mindful Institutional Organization, Administration & Development||(1)||Spring|
|CST131||Chaplaincy, Pastoral Counseling, and Contemplative Care as Service||(2)||Fall|
|CST132||Chaplaincy, Pastoral Counseling, and Contemplative Care as Service||(1)||Spring|
THEOLOGY: minimum 12 credits, may include:
|REQUIRED||THL320||Buddhist Theology||(2)||Alt. Fall|
|THL 305||Engaged Buddhism||(2)||Alt. Spring|
|PHL450||Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion||(2)||Alt.Spring|
|HIS301||History of Buddhist Philosophy: India and Tibet||(2)||Alt. Fall|
|THL410||Buddhist Rituals, Ethics, Services, and Ceremonies||(2)||Fall|
|RECOMMENDED:||THL xxx||Comparative Religions||(2)||TBD|
|THL 421r||Buddhist & Western Approaches to Pastoral Care & Counseling||(1)||Var.|
|THL600||Colloquia in Applied Buddhist Theology||(1)||Var.|
|FINAL PROJECT||THL500||Final Comprehensive Paper||(4)||Spring|
|OPTIONAL:||PHL501R||Students must register for PHL501 to maintain residency in their program for each term that their comprehensive paper is in process.|
GENERAL ELECTIVES: minimum, variable
Students may select non-required courses from the course catalogue and new courses as they are offered to build specific competencies or concentrations of study according to their educational interests and goals. Students planning to pursue national certification as Chaplains are advised to consider both breadth and depth of training, whereas those preparing for future graduate work are advised to maximize language study, for example. The number of total electives is variable and students are advised to generate an individual plan with their advisors.
Optional Concentration Areas
CANONICAL LANGUAGE & LITERATURE CONCENTRATION:
equivalent of 4 semesters of language classes plus 4 literature credit hours, OR equivalent of 6 semesters of language classes plus 2 literature credit hours, minimum, from the following possible courses:
|TIB101||Introduction to Classical Tibetan Language||(3)||Fall|
|TIB102||Classical Tibetan Language II||(3)||Spring|
|TIB103||Introduction to Classical Tibetan Language||(3)||Summer|
|TIB110||Classical Tibetan Language Summer Intensive (103 + 203r)||(6)||Summer|
|TIB201||Intermediate Tibetan I: Bridge to Translation||(2)||Fall|
|TIB202||Intermediate Tibetan II: Bridge to Translation||(2)||Spring|
|TIB203R||Classical Tibetan Grammar & Translation Methodology||(4)||Summer|
|TIB301R||Seminar in Tibetan Translation||(2)||var.|
|TIB310R||Topics in Translation: Genre and Method||(3)||Summer|
All Tibetan language courses count towards concentration in Tibetan language and literature. Not all Tibetan language classes are guaranteed annually; please see Director of Programs for details. Tibetan 203R, 301R, and 310R require permission of instructor for enrollment, and may be repeated for credit. In addition to Tibetan language, students take two courses (four credits) that focus on the close reading of Tibetan text(s) in translation. Courses that count towards this requirement are indicated in the course catalog, and include but are not limited to:
|PH 600||The Uttaratantra: The Nature of Mind||(2)|
|PHL316||Stages of Meditation: Kamalashila’s Gom Rim in Theory & Practice||(2)|
|PHL317||The Foundations of Mahayana Buddhism||(2)|
|PHL321/323||The Good Heart (when course content focuses on text(s) in translation)||(2)|
Fourteen minimum credits in MDT, including those required for the degree, which must include a minimum of 2 credit hours of recognized retreat.
The Spiritual Formation concentration enables credit for practice-oriented coursework and retreat experiences. Students work with their academic advisor and the President to formulate retreat plans that ensure educational efficacy, mentorship, and evaluation. Retreats may be structured and offered by Maitripa College for group and/or individual practice, and, in rare circumstances, students may be able to petition for limited recognition of retreats in other lineages or under the supervision of other teachers with sufficient documentation. Please speak with your academic advisor and/or the Director of Programs for additional information.