Buddhist Studies Certificate Program

Buddhism began in India some two and a half millennia ago. Since that time it has evolved through a number of transformations and has been transmitted to numerous cultures.

Buddhism has had a great impact upon the lives of individuals and the development of societies, and it has made many contributions to various spheres of culture, for example to art, literature, philosophy and religion.

With one of the largest concentrations of scholars of Buddhist Studies in the United States, the Five Colleges provide an excellent environment in which to study Buddhism: collectively, we enable students to study most of the major Buddhist traditions. In addition to our many Junior Year Abroad and other extended study programs in Asia, our academic exchange program with the Central University of Tibetan Studies in India offers a unique opportunity for our students to study with eminent Tibetan scholars.

The Five College Buddhist Certificate might be pursued in conjunction with a major in philosophy, religious studies, anthropology, Asian studies or another field to which Buddhist Studies is directly relevant. However, it might also be used to support studies in a very different field, such as law, one of the social sciences or studies in the arts or humanities. Students who enter this program will benefit from the structure it provides and from advising by program faculty members, enabling them to take full advantage of the resources offered in the Pioneer Valley beyond their individual colleges.

On This Page

Tibetan Studies in India

Professor Jay Garfield (Smith College) runs a fabulous Interterm program at Sarnath, India, where students spend January studying at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. Students from all five campuses are encouraged to apply. Applications are available every year in early fall semester.

Faculty

Maria HeimReligion, 542-8475
Sam MorseFine Arts, Asian Languages and Civilizations, 542-2282

Susan DarlingtonSocial Science (Anthropology), 559-5498
Alan HodderHACU (Comparative Religion), 559-5747

Susanne MrozikReligion, 538-2721
Indira PetersonAsian Studies, 538-2376
Ajay SinhaArt and Art History, 538-2473

Jay GarfieldPhilosophy, 585-3649
Jamie Hubbard, Religion, 585-3449
Andy RotmanReligion, 585-3348

Stephen MillerAsian Languages and Literatures, 545-0208
David K. Schneider, Asian Languages and Literatures, 545-4954
Reiko SonoAsian Languages and Literatures, 545-4947

Certificate

Because Buddhist Studies is an interdisciplinary field straddling anthropology, art history, Asian studies, history, language study, literary and textual studies, philosophy and religious studies, students are often unaware of the integrity of the field or of the range of resources available for its study in the Valley.

Each student pursuing the Buddhist Studies certificate will choose, in consultation with the Buddhist Studies advisor at his/her college, a course of study comprising no fewer than seven courses. At least five of these courses should be drawn from the Buddhist Studies courses listed here on this page (list subject to modification from year to year). Two others may be drawn from this list or may be chosen from elsewhere in the Five Colleges to support the student's Buddhist Studies program from other disciplinary perspectives. Each proposed course of study must be approved by the coordinating committee for the Buddhist Studies certificate.

For students who may wish to pursue a certificate in Buddhist Studies as preparation for graduate study in this field, we strongly recommend the study of at least one canonical language (Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese or Tibetan) and/or the modern language of at least one Buddhist culture (especially for those who have an ethnographic interest in Buddhism). Up to two courses in a relevant language can count towards the certificate, although we strongly encourage these students to continue language study beyond the first-year level. Language study is not required, however.

Students at all four colleges and the University are eligible for the program.

Certificate Requirements:

  1. The certificate comprises at least seven courses, at least one of which must be at an advanced level (200 or 300 at Hampshire, 300 or above at Mt Holyoke, Smith, or UMass; comparable upper-level courses at Amherst). 
     
  2. Students must take at least one course in three different disciplines of Buddhist Studies (anthropology, art history, Asian studies, philosophy, religious studies, etc.).
     
  3. Students must take at least one course addressing classical Buddhism and one course addressing contemporary Buddhist movements (19th to 21st century), and they must study Buddhism in at least two of the following four geographical areas: South and Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Tibeto-Himalayan region and the West.
     
  4. Up to two canonical or appropriate colloquial Asian language courses may count towards the certificate.
     
  5. Students must receive a grade of at least "B" in each course counting towards the certificate.
     
  6. Courses must be of three credit-hours or more to count towards the certificate.
     
  7. Courses taken abroad or outside the Five Colleges may count towards the certificate only if they would be approved for credit toward the major in the appropriate department of the student's home institution.
     
  8. Exceptions to these requirements by petition to the student's campus advisor and the Five College Buddhist Studies Steering Committee.

Interested students should contact a faculty advisor at their campus to enroll in the program.

Please be in contact with a faculty advisor on your campus early in your studies to plan your curriculum.

Courses

Spring 2022 Buddhist Studies Courses

01
4.00

Samuel C. Morse

MWF 10:00 AM-10:50 AM

Amherst College
ARHA-147-01-2122S
scmorse@amherst.edu
ARHA-147-01, ASLC-143-01

(Offered as ARHA 147 and ASLC 143) An introduction to the history of Chinese art from its beginnings in neolithic times until the end of the twentieth century. Topics will include the ritual bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese transformation of the Buddha image, imperial patronage of painting during the Song dynasty and the development of the literati tradition of painting and calligraphy. Particular weight will be given to understanding the cultural context of Chinese art.

Spring semester. Professor Morse.

Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Samuel C. Morse

MWF 10:00 AM-10:50 AM

Amherst College
ASLC-143-01-2122S
scmorse@amherst.edu
ARHA-147-01, ASLC-143-01

(Offered as ARHA 147 and ASLC 143) An introduction to the history of Chinese art from its beginnings in neolithic times until the end of the twentieth century. Topics will include the ritual bronze vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Chinese transformation of the Buddha image, imperial patronage of painting during the Song dynasty and the development of the literati tradition of painting and calligraphy. Particular weight will be given to understanding the cultural context of Chinese art.

Spring semester. Professor Morse.

Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Maria R. Heim

TTH 08:30 AM-09:50 AM

Amherst College
ASLC-152-01-2122S
mrheim@amherst.edu
RELI-152-01, ASLC-152-01

(Offered as RELI 152 and ASLC 152) This course is an introduction to the diverse ideals, practices, and traditions of Buddhism from its origins in South Asia to its geographical and historical diffusion throughout Asia and, more recently, into the west. We will explore the Three Jewels—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha—and how they each provide refuge for those suffering in samsara (the endless cycle of rebirth). We will engage in close readings of the literary and philosophical texts central to Buddhism, as well as recent historical and anthropological studies of Buddhist traditions.

Spring Semester. Professor M. Heim.

Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Maria R. Heim

TTH 08:30 AM-09:50 AM

Amherst College
RELI-152-01-2122S
mrheim@amherst.edu
RELI-152-01, ASLC-152-01

(Offered as RELI 152 and ASLC 152) This course is an introduction to the diverse ideals, practices, and traditions of Buddhism from its origins in South Asia to its geographical and historical diffusion throughout Asia and, more recently, into the west. We will explore the Three Jewels—the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha—and how they each provide refuge for those suffering in samsara (the endless cycle of rebirth). We will engage in close readings of the literary and philosophical texts central to Buddhism, as well as recent historical and anthropological studies of Buddhist traditions.

Spring Semester. Professor M. Heim.

Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Susanne Mrozik

MW 03:15PM-04:30PM

Mount Holyoke College
116727
smrozik@mtholyoke.edu
116605,116727
Can women become Buddhas? Why is the Buddha called a "mother"? Who gets to ordain? Why would anyone choose celibacy? Who engages in religious sexual practices and why? This course examines the centrality of gender to Buddhist texts, practices, and institutions. We pay particular attention to the challenges and opportunities Buddhist traditions have offered women in different historical and cultural contexts. Throughout the course we consider various strategies of empowerment, including feminist, postcolonial, queer, trans*, and womanist.
Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Susanne Mrozik

MW 03:15PM-04:30PM

Mount Holyoke College
116605
smrozik@mtholyoke.edu
116605,116727
Can women become Buddhas? Why is the Buddha called a "mother"? Who gets to ordain? Why would anyone choose celibacy? Who engages in religious sexual practices and why? This course examines the centrality of gender to Buddhist texts, practices, and institutions. We pay particular attention to the challenges and opportunities Buddhist traditions have offered women in different historical and cultural contexts. Throughout the course we consider various strategies of empowerment, including feminist, postcolonial, queer, trans*, and womanist.
Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Yanlong Guo

M W 2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Smith College
ARH-280mc-01-202203

Hillyer 103

yguo@smith.edu
The course is an introduction to Buddhist grottoes of East Asia. We will learn the historical trajectories of Buddhist grottoes, including the development of cave architecture, mural painting, and sculpture. It pays special attention to the site specificity of the visual imageries, and their transmissions, commissions, and functions. The case studies in this course range from the Kizil Caves and Mogao Caves in Northwestern China, to the Yungang Caves and Longmen Caves in the central plains, and the Seokguram Caves in the Korean Peninsula. We will also consider the collecting, preserving and displaying of Buddhist grottoes in the contemporary world. Enrollment limited to 20.
Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Jay Lazar Garfield

TU TH 10:50 AM - 12:05 PM

Smith College
PHI-252-01-202203
jgarfiel@smith.edu
This course examines the two principal schools of Indian Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. The Madhyamaka school is highly skeptical and critical in its dialectic. The ​Yogācāra or Cittamatra school is highly idealist. The two present contrasting interpretations of the thesis that phenomena are empty and contrasting interpretations of the relationship between conventional and ultimate reality. The debate between their respective proponents is among the most fertile in the history of Buddhist philosophy. We will read each school's principal sutras and early philosophical texts, medieval Tibetan and Chinese commentarial literature and recent scholarly discussions of the texts and doctrines of these schools. Prerequisites: one course in Philosophy or Buddhist Studies. Enrollment limited to 40.
Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Phil Peake,Jamie Hubbard

W 1:20 PM - 4:00 PM

Smith College
PSY-304-01-202203
ppeake@smith.edu,jhubbard@smith.edu
PSY 304-01, REL 304-01
Offered as REL 304 and PSY 304. What is happiness? What is personal well-being? How are they achieved? This course examines the core ideas of the Buddhist science of mind and how they are being studied and employed by psychologists, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and psychotherapists. The focus of the course is the notion of "happiness," its cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary definition as well as the techniques advocated for its achievement by both the Buddhist and the psychologist. Prerequisite: PSY 100, REL 105, one course in Buddhist traditions or permission of instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required.
Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Jamie Hubbard

TU TH 2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Smith College
REL-164-01-202203
jhubbard@smith.edu
This course will explore classical and contemporary forms of Buddhist meditation theory and practice. It will examine both classical formulations and contemporary expositions with an eye to seeing how the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation are being adapted to fit the needs of people today. Enrollment limited to 25.
Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

01
4.00

Phil Peake,Jamie Hubbard

W 1:20 PM - 4:00 PM

Smith College
REL-304-01-202203
ppeake@smith.edu,jhubbard@smith.edu
PSY 304-01, REL 304-01
Offered as REL 304 and PSY 304. What is happiness? What is personal well-being? How are they achieved? This course examines the core ideas of the Buddhist science of mind and how they are being studied and employed by psychologists, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and psychotherapists. The focus of the course is the notion of "happiness," its cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary definition as well as the techniques advocated for its achievement by both the Buddhist and the psychologist. Prerequisite: PSY 100, REL 105, one course in Buddhist traditions or permission of instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required.
Instructor Permission: Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.

Study Abroad

The Certificate Program strongly encourages students to seek out opportunities for studying abroad. There are many wonderful opportunities for interterm, summer or semester programs in Asia.

How do you find a good study abroad program? Start with your campus's Study Abroad website (linked below) for their lists of approved programs for each country you might be interested in. In most cases you are not limited to this list, but if you become interested in a program that is not on your campus's approved list you will need to discuss the program with your campus advisor and the director of the Study Abroad office on your campus to make sure it will be approved. In addition, see below for a list of several study and travel abroad opportunities.

The ISLE Program in Sri Lanka is an excellent program to study Buddhism, and Amherst College is a member of its consortium so Five College students get special consideration for it. This is an atypical study abroad program that offers a demanding academic and intense cultural experience designed for highly motivated students with interests in various aspects of South Asian cultures and societies. (Offered in fall and spring semesters.) Contact Professor Maria Heim at Amherst if you are interested, or check out the website.

Additional Study and Travel Aboard Opportunities

South Asia Summer Language Institute

SASLI is dedicated to training students, faculty members and professionals in the languages of South Asia. 

University of Virginia Summer Language Institute

The Summer Language Institute of the University of Virginia offers Chinese.

Rangjung Yeshe Institute

Rangjung Yeshe Institute's mission is to be a center of higher learning, working to the highest standards, to provide both traditional and modern Buddhist education through teaching, translation, publication, research and practice.

The language programs offer a full immersion into Tibetan, Sanskrit and Nepali languages. The Buddhist Studies program provides a living exposure to Buddhist philosophy and a practical introduction to the richness of personal meditation training. All summer programs are fully accredited by Kathmandu University.

Woodenfish Project

Woodenfish Project offers students a chance to experience life at Fuyan Temple at Heng Shan (Heng Mountain), Hunan Province, in southern China. All participants will be provided lodging on the monastic grounds. All courses and activities will be conducted in English—or in Chinese with English translation provided.

Himalayan Health Exchange

Himalayan Health Exchange's expeditions combine service, education and adventure to provide care to the underserved populations in select, remote areas of Indo-Tibetan Borderlands. Each trip combines service and adventure, with team members providing care while also experiencing the land, its natural environment, people and culture.

Interexchange Abroad

Experience the juxtaposition of old and new on one of these programs in Asia. Whether you want to see the opulent cities of Turkey, a country that spans both the European and Asian continents, or the incredible modern cities filled with ancient temples in China, their Teach English and Au Pair programs will help you be more than a tourist while abroad.

The Jamyang Foundation

Equal educational opportunities are a global ideal, but in many parts of the world women still lack basic literacy. To address these disparities, Jamyang Foundation supports innovative education projects for indigenous girls and women in two of the neediest and most remote parts of the world: the Indian Himalayas and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.

Emory Tibetan Studies Program

Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas and home to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala is the cultural and intellectual capital of the Tibetan exile community. The program integrates academic study, traditional Buddhist pedagogy and field research. Emory University and its partner the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD) offer two study abroad programs (spring semester and summer term) for students interested in both India and Tibet. Both programs are open to undergraduate students from any accredited university.

Summer Language Study in India

The American Institute of Indian Studies offers instruction in Bangla, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Urdu, Telugu and Kannada as well as other languages if there is interest. The programs, located in India, have as their goal to provide a teaching and learning environment of professionalism, excellence and integrity and that operates in a joyful and hospitable manner.

Resources

Buddhist Resources in the Five College region

The Western Massachusetts sangha of Rime Shedrub Ling (Academy of Non-Sectarian Study and Practice) is pleased to announce the arrival of Younge Khachab Rinpoche, a nonsectarian teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. Email the sangha.

The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
Barre, Massachusetts

"The Barre Center for Buddhist Studies is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to exploring Buddhist thought and practice as a living tradition, faithful to its origins, yet adaptable to the current world. [...] The study center offers a variety of courses, workshops, retreats and self-study programs to further research, study and practice. Our programming is rooted in the classical Buddhist tradition of the earliest teachings and practices, but calls for dialogue with other schools of Buddhism and with other academic fields. All courses support both silent meditation practice and conscious investigation of the teachings."

Insight Meditation Society
Barre, Massachusetts

"Primarily, we offer instruction and guidance in insight and loving kindness meditations—practices that help bring genuine happiness to our lives."

The Vipassana Meditation Center (VMC) of Shelburne, MA, offers 10-day residential, silent meditation courses twice monthly to the public without charge on an unsolicited, voluntary, pay-it-forward, donation basis. VMC, in partnership with UMass Amherst, is reserving ten spaces for Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts Five College students, faculty and staff for its August 8th and December 26th 2018 courses. Typically, VMC course retreats are full with a waitlist for three months in advance. Vipassana means “to see things as they really are” and is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that gradually dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2,600 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills, i.e., an art of living. The technique, taught in a non-sectarian manner, aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation. To apply for either of the courses, please visit http://www.dhamma.org/en-US/schedules/schdhara, select either the August 8th or December 26th course applications and identify yourself as a Five College student, faculty or staff member in the application. 

"I have been studying Tibetan Buddhism for the past 15 years with private tutors and teachers including Ka-nying Shedrup Ling in Kathmandu, and I recently completed translator training at Rangung Yeshe Institute in California. Lama Changchup Dorje, my husband, is originally from Mugu, Nepal, and spent 10 years studying at Samye Memorial Gonpa in Kathmandu where he studied Buddhist philosophy and history before undertaking the traditional three-year retreat twice under the guidance of Khenpo Zangpo Rinpoche.
 
"I am offering classes in written and spoken Tibetan. The classical component will begin with learning to recognize and write the alphabet, spelling, phonetic decoding and reading simple texts. The spoken component will include writing and reciting simple sentences as well as conversing in Tibetan. 
 
Working from the Manual of Standard Tibetan textbook, we also will supplement with recordings and transcripts made by my Changchup in order to develop proper pronunciation. In addition, I can also act as an oral interpreter for my husband if further clarification of traditional Buddhist texts is desired."
 
Phone: 413 362-2158

Contact Us

Program Director:

Maria Heim, Professor of Religion, Amherst College

Five College Staff Liaison:

Rebecca Thomas, Academic Programs Coordinator

Connect:

Join the Five College Buddhist Studies email list!