The Buddhist Studies in India curriculum consists of three components: Required Courses, Core Courses, and Language Courses.

Students typically enroll in 4 courses (4 semester credits each) for a total of 16 semester credits, comprised of two required courses, one core course, and a language course or an additional core course.

Required Courses

  • RELG 359: Buddhist Meditation Traditions (required)
    Students will complement their understanding of Buddhist thought and culture through the study and practice of traditional meditation disciplines. This course emphasizes the history, characteristics, and approach of three distinct meditation traditions within Buddhism: Vipassana, Zazen, and Dzogchen. Meditation practice and instruction is led in the morning and evening six days a week by representatives of these traditions who possess a theoretical as well as practical understanding of their discipline. Lectures and discussions led by the program director complement and contextualize the three meditation traditions being studied.
  • ASST 391: Independent Study (required)
    Students spend three weeks of the program engaged in independent study of a topic related to Buddhist Studies, utilizing the unique resources available in India and neighboring countries. At the completion of the Independent Study period, students return to the Burmese Vihar, where their work is reviewed by their advisor and presented to the group. View a sampling of past independent study projects here.

Core Courses

  • PHIL 318: Buddhist Philosophy
    This course introduces students to major trends in Buddhist philosophy as it developed in India from the time of the Buddha until the 11th century CE. The course emphasizes the relationships between philosophical reasoning and the meditation practices encountered in the Buddhist Meditation Traditions course. With this in mind, the course is organized into three units covering the Indian philosophical foundations for the Theravāda, Zen, and Tibetan Vajrayāna traditions. While paying attention first and foremost to philosophical arguments and their evolution, we also examine the ways in which metaphysics, epistemology and ethics inform one another in each tradition.
  • SOAN 322: Contemporary Buddhist Culture
    This course introduces students to the complexity and plurality of Buddhist traditions that have flourished in diverse societies and cultures in the modern era. This course enables students to sympathetically understand and critically investigate various Buddhist traditions and their historically and culturally specific configurations of philosophical beliefs, cultural values, everyday practices, social institutions, and personal experiences. Focusing on Buddhist traditions of South and Southeast Asia, Japan, and Tibet, we explore topics including syncretism and popular religion, monasticism, gender, economic development, social movements, political violence, and religious revival. Students expand their research skills in anthropology through field assignments in Bodh Gaya.
  • ASST 319: History of South Asian Buddhism
    This course provides students with an introduction to the history of South Asian Buddhism. Using primary and secondary sources and resources available to us in Bodh Gaya, we evaluate competing perspectives on the history of Buddhism and debate significant historical and ethical questions. How did Buddhism relate to other ancient Indian religions? What was the relationship between Buddhism and ancient Indian political, social, and economic structures? How did Buddhism change during its 2000 years in India? What impact did South Asian Buddhism have on the ancient and medieval world? What is the relationship between modern Buddhism and ancient Buddhism?

Language Courses

  • LCST 101: Elementary Hindi
    An introduction to basic colloquial Hindi speaking and writing skills for everyday interactions in Northern India. Essential grammar is introduced and reviewed in morning meetings, and conversational and reading abilities are developed in afternoon practice. Students are encouraged to practice speaking and listening comprehension by conversing with Hindi speakers outside of class.
  • LCST 103: Intermediate Hindi
    This course builds on the student’s previous training in spoken and written Hindi language.  Students will gain the ability to initiate and sustain conversations with Hindi speakers, read and write in Hindi about personal and social situations, as well as extract the main idea and information from descriptive and narrative texts. Students will apply their language learning and deepen their understanding of Indian culture through interaction with local residents and participation in seasonal festivals and other activities.
  • LCST 101: Elementary Tibetan
    This course seeks to develop students’ level of proficiency in spoken Tibetan for basic communication, as well as the ability to read and write simple sentence constructions. Learning is grounded in written Tibetan, covering the alphabet, pronunciation, grammar, and basic vocabulary. Reading and comprehension skills are enhanced through direct translation of essential texts such as the Heart Sutra and a prayer of Manjushri. Students gain facility with spoken Tibetan through classroom drills and informal practice with Tibetans in Bodh Gaya. Students will also improve their understanding of Tibetan culture and society through this course.

For course syllabi, contact Carleton Global Engagement at