Graduate students in Buddhist Studies will learn to do independent, original research on a specialized topic of their own choice while becoming familiar with classical and canonical materials and emerging trends in current research. This track also equips you to teach effectively and creatively about Buddhism, cognate religions, and relevant methodological and theoretical concerns. At present, our department is best equipped to train graduate students in Buddhist philosophy, cultural history, ritual studies, material culture, and textual studies; however, you may pursue work in other areas, such as anthropology, provided that you have sufficient prior training and/or support from other faculty members at IU. In your coursework, you are expected to develop a broad understanding of various Buddhist traditions, in addition to significant expertise in your chosen field of research.
Special admissions requirements
To apply, you should have, or be finishing, a master’s degree in Buddhist studies or another relevant field. In addition, you must have achieved intermediate competence in at least one of the following languages: classical Chinese, classical Japanese, Sanskrit, or Tibetan. Those wishing to focus on East Asian Buddhism should also have achieved intermediate competence in modern Japanese or Chinese.
Sample exam structure
The qualifying examinations prepare you to (1) embark on your dissertation research and (2) teach courses on Buddhist traditions and methodological approaches in Religious Studies. Typically these exams are structured around the following four areas, with reading lists to be determined jointly by the student and members of his or her advisory committee:
- Theory and method in the study of religion:
This exam requires you to show that you are conversant with the history and current dynamics of the field of Religious Studies.
- Buddhist Studies:
This exam assesses your mastery of important concepts in Buddhist studies, as well as your ability to engage with major trends in research.
- Complementary field:
This exam supports the development of expertise in a methodological, theoretical, cultural, or historical area relevant to your research and teaching interests. The university requires all Ph.D. students to complete a minor in another department; for students in the Buddhist Studies track, the complementary field exam will most likely (but not necessarily) relate to this outside minor.
- Research topic:
This exam targets the specific area of your proposed dissertation work, and is meant to further your ability to conduct original, independent research.