The Religious Studies Department specializes in the study of Buddhism and comparative religion. It offers two graduate-level degrees, an MA and PhD in Religious Studies. A ThD in Applied Buddhist Studies is soon to be released, pending WASC approval. In addition to their teaching mission, faculty are involved in various research projects, including detailed study of Chinese-, Sanskrit-, and Pali-language Buddhist texts and the study of Asian religions in the contemporary world. The Religious Studies Department works closely with other departments, particularly Buddhist Chaplaincy and Psychology, providing a bridge between the study of religion, past, present, and future, and the problems of modern life.
Philosophy & Objectives
Through the study of religion students acquire a deep understanding of religious practices, ideas, outlooks, and concerns that have influenced and continue to influence human culture and existence. Asian religious traditions, particularly Buddhism, provide the core focus and foundation of the program. The department is dedicated to open academic inquiry and religious diversity and committed to fostering an environment that furthers religious understanding between East and West. Students from all religious backgrounds are encouraged to bring their own unique and enriching perspective to the study of religion.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Religious Studies
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Religious Studies is an advanced research degree for students specializing in the comparative study of Buddhism in relation to another religion or the intensive study of an aspect of Buddhism, leading to a dissertation. The PhD in Religious Studies is a selective research program that prepares students to work at the university level. Research and writing skills are developed to the level necessary to participate in professional academic discourse. A doctoral degree is awarded on the basis of evidence that the recipient possesses knowledge of a broad field of learning and expert mastery of a particular area of concentration within that field.
UWest offers two concentrations in its doctoral program. First, doctoral students may specialize in Buddhist Studies. This is for advanced research in the comparative study of Buddhism in relation to another religion, or the intensive study of an aspect of Buddhism, leading to a dissertation. Second, a doctoral student may choose Comparative Religions. This is for advanced research in the comparative study of religions.
Progress through the doctoral program is determined by coursework, language requirements, and the successful completion of qualifying examinations and a dissertation. As a means of tailoring the program to the needs and interests of individual students, the number and content of these examinations will be individualized by the doctoral committee. Failing any qualifying examination twice in a row may result in termination of the student’s enrollment in the program.
Important note: In addition to graduates with traditional bachelor’s degrees, graduates of recognized Buddhist colleges are eligible to apply to the Master of Arts in Religious Studies.
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission