How to Study Buddhism at UCLA


A wide array of undergraduate courses in Buddhism are offered in various departments at UCLA, such as Asian Languages and Cultures (including its divisions of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, South and Southeast Asia, and Indic), Art History, and Anthropology. Several hundred students take courses on Buddhism every year at UCLA, the largest enrollments of any university in the United States. Many undergraduate courses are available for auditing by members of the community at a nominal cost.

Students wishing to specialize in Buddhist Studies may elect to enroll in the undergraduate major in Asian Religions, offered by the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, or the undergraduate interdepartmental program (IDP) in Religious Studies. Students may also take Buddhism courses as electives in many majors in the Humanities and Social Sciences.


The M.A. and Ph.D in Buddhist Studies is offered through the graduate program of the Department of Asian Languages & Cultures (ALC). UCLA's programs emphasize the study of Buddhism within the cultural, historical, and social contexts of the different national traditions of Asia. Students are expected to be able to carry out original research in Buddhist Studies using Asian-language materials. All graduate students are therefore required to master two Buddhist canonical languages (e.g., Sanskrit, Pali, classical Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and classical Tibetan) and demonstrate the ability to use modern research languages relevant to Buddhist Studies. In addition to purely philological study of Buddhist written texts, students are also encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary research using, historical, art-historical, and ethnographic materials.

The M.A. program is intended to provide a foundation for conducting original research at the Ph.D. level and typically requires one to two years to complete. The Ph.D. requires an additional two to four years beyond the M.A., and will include the writing of a substantial dissertation on an original-research topic.

The Buddhist Studies program is committed to providing substantial financial-aid packages to its graduate students, in many cases multi-year packages with full funding. Graduate students also have available the recently-established Daehaeng Fellowship in Korean Buddhism Studies, which offers two full fellowships each year to Ph.D. students. Teaching and research assistantships are also available to students in Buddhist Studies and most students will also have an opportunity to develop and teach under faculty supervision at least one undergraduate course during their career at UCLA. After advancement to candidacy, Ph.D. students are also eligible for the UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship, which provides a full year of the funding during the final year of research.

Graduates of UCLA's Ph.D. program in Buddhist Studies now teach at major research universities around North America, including Princeton, McMaster, Florida, Colorado, Arizona State, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Concurrent Enrollment @ UNEX

The wider Los Angeles community is welcome to audit many courses on Buddhist Studies taught at UCLA. To learn more about auditing, please visit the UCLA Extension website, which offers information about concurrent enrollment. On the main navigation bar at the left of the home page, select Student Information, then Academic Information, then choose the topic Concurrent Enrollment. Go to UNEX site now »

More Info

Center for Buddhist Studies • 11385 Bunche Hall • Box 951487 • Los Angeles, CA 90095-1487
Tel: (310) 825-2089 • Fax: (310) 206-3555 • Email:

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