Studying Tibetan language is a gateway to cultural, religious, and historical subjects related to Tibet and Buddhism. In reflection on this course, a previous student wrote, “I sincerely recommend the course to anyone who wishes to learn to read Tibetan Buddhist texts. Having previously studied Tibetan through the categories of Sanskrit grammar, I found the approach an informative and useful way to look at Tibetan grammar. For those from out of town, I can moreover recommend Portland as a great city to spend the summer.” – Jens, PhD student from Norway

The Classical Tibetan Language Summer Intensive

This unique academic program at Maitripa College offers a rare and thorough foundation for students who wish to train in the Classical Tibetan language. For more information about the courses and instructor, please contact our Academic Program Director, Leigh Miller at

Whether you are new to the Tibetan language or have been studying for several years, this complete presentation from the alphabet to the translation of texts is an excellent foundation for growth and mastery. Students who enroll in the Intensive are:

  • Preparing for or enrolled in graduate studies, where Classical Tibetan language is part of the curriculum
  • Seeking knowledge of Classical Tibetan for personal study and/or religious practice
  • Aspiring or professional translators and linguists
  • Researching topics related to Tibetan Buddhism and the Tibetan language

About the Instructor

Bill Magee taught Introduction to Literary Tibetan at the University of Virginia for thirteen years. From 2003 until 2011 he taught Tibetan religious traditions at Dharma Drum Buddhist College in Taiwan and retired to become Vice President of Jeffrey Hopkins’ UMA Institute for Tibetan Studies.

Bill is co-author with Elizabeth Napper of Fluent Tibetan: A Proficiency-Oriented Learning System for Novice and Intermediate Tibetan. He has published several books about Indian and Tibetan philosophical thought as well as a novel about a fictitious Tibet of the future. Recently, Bill has published three books in a series on Jam-yang-shay-pa’s Great Exposition of the Interpretable and the Definitive. These translations are available at the website archive maintained by the UMA Institute.

Check out this short video to get a sense of what it is like to study the Tibetan language at Maitripa College. Please note that the audio in this video refers to 2016 course dates; see current dates on this page.  (Thanks to for the music track.)

Campus Life

Portland, Oregon is a great place to spend a summer, with easy access to the mountains and coast, and frequent music festivals and farmers markets in the city. Maitripa College has a warm and supportive community. Students who come for the summer receive the support of the administrative staff in getting acquainted with Portland, as well as social gatherings with the class and the larger community. On campus, participants are welcome to utilize the Maitripa College Library and join regular Maitripa College and community activities, such as celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday and free evening Discovering Buddhism courses on Buddhist thought and practice with Buddhist community members.


Full payment for the registered courses must be received by June 1st.

Tib 110: (6 credits) ~ Tuition: $2250
Fees: $34 (One-time registration and technology fee per semester.)

Tib 118: (1 credit) ~ Tuition: $375
Fees: $34 (One-time registration and technology fee per semester.)


Scholarships are available for those in need. Tuition assistance will be awarded based upon the number of applicants and level of need. Contact Tiffany Patrella Blumenthal at for the scholarship application.

Refund and Cancellation

To cancel your registration and request a refund, please email the Registrar at We will provide a full refund for cancelations received by June 1. If you must cancel between June 1 and June 16, we will refund your tuition minus 10%. After June 16, if you withdraw from class, a refund will be pro-rated based on the percentage of the course completed.

Questions about your application?

Contact Tiffany at 503.235.2477 x7005

Summer 2017 Classical Tibetan Language Courses

TIB110: Classical Tibetan Language: Grammar and Translation Methodology (6 credits)

Schedule:  June 12 – August 11, 2017
Meets: Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Classes meet Monday through Friday for four weeks, one week off, and then for another four weeks.  No classes Tuesday, July4th.  No classes July 10-14.

This course covers the grammar and methodology components of Classical Tibetan language training including:

  • Alphabet, pronunciation and particles
  • Patterns within syllables, words and phrases
  • Grammar as found in Indian treatises and in indigenous Tibetan philosophical works
  • Methodologies for preparing translations of philosophical works

The course will draw from Joe Wilson’s Translating Buddhism from Tibetan, Tibetan philosophic text(s) and commentaries in the original language, and supplemental materials. By the end of the summer, students will begin translation work with excerpts from the Second Dalai lama’s Presentation of Tenets, Mi-pham’s Fundamental Mind and other texts chosen by the instructor.

Text for Tibetan 110 (additional materials to be added soon to this list):

Translating Buddhism from Tibetan by Joe B. Wilson (available here)

TIB118: Introduction to Translating Classical Tibetan Text (1 credit)

Schedule: July 17 – August 11, 2017
Meets: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 1:30pm-2:30pm

This course is for the student who wishes to gain entry to reading Tibetan Buddhist philosophic works in the original language. Students will begin to learn translation skills by working through an annotated commentary of Tsong-kha-pa’s Great Exposition of the Path and other texts chosen by the instructor. At minimum, students should have familiarity with the alphabet, but little or no prior formal study of classical Tibetan grammar is required.


The application and registration form is accessible below. Please note, at this time, no application fee is required. However, a $250 deposit, which goes toward tuition, is required at the time of actual registration. If for some reason your application is denied, we will refund the $250 deposit immediately. We will be in touch upon receipt of your application with an approval and confirmation of your registration.

Applicants are admitted on a rolling basis. Class size is typically capped at 15 students. Apply early to guarantee a spot. Late applicants will be considered as space allows or placed on a wait-list. The final application deadline is June 1. The course must have a minimum of 6 enrolled students by May 15 to proceed.


Ready to Apply?  

Please fill out and submit the following form. Processing your application will take 5-7 business days. Once we have accepted your application, you will receive access to Populi, the online student database. Through Populi you can register for courses, review grades, upload assignments, and speak with classmates and the professor. If you have any questions about the application process, contact Tiffany at 503.235.2477 x 7005.