How to Study Buddhism at UCLA


Undergraduates

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.

Graduates

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.

Anthropology

Upper Division Courses

175R. Societies of Central Asia. (4) Lecture, three hours. Overview of culture and society among the diverse peoples of Inner Asia, including Mongolia, Tibet, and Soviet Central Asia. Topics include environment and economic adaptation, politics in traditional isolation and within the framework of recent national integration, kinship, forms of marriage and status of women, religion and the social order in Hindu/Buddhist culture contact zone, and current problems of modernization. P/NP or letter grading.

Art History

Lower Division Courses

  • 56A. Art of India and Southeast Asia. (4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Survey of major artistic monuments of Indo-Iranian and Southeast Asian cultures, concentrating on formal and iconographical problems, as well as social and political conditions under which artworks were patronized and produced.
  • 88A. Buddha's Life and Teachings in Art, Texts, and Worship. Lower Division Seminar, three hours. Limited to freshmen. Development of Buddhist art in India through Buddha's teachings, expressed in art, architecture, texts, and ritual. Re-creation of Buddha's life by analyzing art and reading Buddhist texts of his life.

Upper Division Courses

  • 114A. Early Art of India. (4) Lecture, three hours. Not open to freshmen. Survey of Indian art from Indus Valley cultures to the 10th century. Emphasis on Buddhist and Hindu backgrounds of the arts.
  • 114C. Japanese Art. (4) Lecture, three hours. Not open to freshmen. Japanese art from its beginning in prehistory through the 19th century. Emphasis on development of Buddhist art and its relationship with the culture.
  • 114D. Later Art of India. (4) Lecture, three hours. Not open to freshmen. Survey of Indian art from the 10th to 19th century. Decline of Buddhist art, last efflorescence of Hindu architecture, Muslim painting and architecture, and Rajput painting. P/NP or letter grading.
  • 114E. Arts of Korea. (4) Lecture, three hours. Art and archaeology of Korea from the Neolithic Period through the Yi dynasty. Particular emphasis on early archaeology and state formation, Buddhist art, Koryo ceramics, and Yi literati painting.
  • C115E. Art and Material Culture of Early Imperial China, 210 B.C. to A.D. 906. (4) Lecture, three hours. Palaces and tombs of early imperial dynasties, impact of Buddhist art (cave temples), rise of new media and technologies. Concurrently scheduled with course C261B. P/NP or letter grading.
  • C115F. Art and Material Culture of Late Imperial China, 906 to 1911. (4) Lecture, three hours. Secular and religious (Buddhist and Taoist) architecture, painting, sculpture, and various luxury industries (lacquer, porcelain, textiles, jade, bronze, furniture, wood and bamboo carving, etc.). Concurrently scheduled with course C261C. P/NP or letter grading.

Chinese

Upper Division Courses

  • 160. Chinese Buddhism . (4) Lecture, three hours. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. Introduction and development of Buddhism in China, interaction between Buddhism and Chinese culture, rise of Chinese schools of Buddhism such as Pure Land and Zen, contributions to Chinese culture.
  • 165. Introduction to Chinese Buddhist Texts . (4) Lecture, three hours. Requisite: course 100A or 110C or Korean 100A or Japanese 100A. Readings in Buddhist texts written in literary Chinese and taken from translated Indian sutras, indigenous exegetical materials, Chinese apocryphal scriptures, and Ch'an writings. Problems in translation from Indo-European languages into Chinese; evolution of Chinese Buddhist terminology. Coverage varies. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor.

Graduate Courses

  • 265A-B. Seminar: Chinese Buddhist Texts. (4) Seminar, three hours. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor. . S/U or letter grading.

Asian Languages and Cultures

Lower Division Courses

  • 60. Introduction to Buddhism. (4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. General survey of development of Buddhism in India, focusing on those religious doctrines and meditative practices most essential to various Asian traditions of the religion.
  • 60W. Introduction to Buddhism . (5) (Formerly numbered 60.) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Enforced requisite: English Composition 3. Not open for credit to students with credit for former course 60. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. General survey of development of Buddhism in India, focusing on those religious doctrines and meditative practices most essential to various Asian traditions of the religion. Particular attention to problems involved in study of religion. Satisfies Letters and Science Writing II requirement. Letter grading.
  • 61. Introduction to Zen Buddhism. (4) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. Introduction to Zen traditions and to interplay between Zen and other fundamental cultural and religious concerns in East Asia. Topics include role of Zen within Buddhist thought and practice, artistic and literary arts, society, and daily life.

Upper Division Courses

  • 161. Buddhist Literature in Translation. (4) Readings, three hours. Preparation: prior course on Buddhism or traditional Asian religions. Readings from variety of Buddhist literature of Indic and non-Indic origin, with emphasis on key Buddhist themes and critical issues in cross-cultural interpretations of Asian religious texts.
  • 162. Buddhist Meditation Traditions . (4) Lecture, three hours. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. Survey of theory and practice of meditation in Buddhism, with emphasis on Theravada and Zen schools. Topics include various typologies of meditation, symbiotic relationship between meditation and soteriology, and processes by which doctrinal innovation prompts changes in meditative praxis.
  • 163. Buddhism across Boudaries. (4) Lecture, two hours; discussion, one hour. Requisite: one course from 60W, 61, 161, 162, Chinese 160, 165, Japanese C160, 165, Korean 160, or 165. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. Investigation of various themes in development of Buddhist traditions across historical periods as well as national and cultural boundaries, including issues of praxis, politics, and translation. Letter grading.
  • 197B. Undergraduate Seminar: Buddhist Studies. (4) Seminar, three hours. Limited to seniors. Selected topics in Buddhist studies. Letter grading.

Graduate Courses

  • 201. Proseminar: Approaches to Buddhist Studies. (4) Seminar, three hours. Designed for graduate students in Buddhist studies. Introduction to history of field, bibliography, relations with other disciplines, and current issues and research trends. S/U or letter grading.
  • 265A-B. Seminar: Selected Topics in Buddhist Studies. (4) Seminar, three hours. Coverage varies. May be repeated for credit. S/U or letter grading.

Japanese

Upper Division Courses

  • C160. Japanese Buddhism . (4) (Formerly numbered 160.) Lecture, three hours. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. Development of Buddhism in Japan in its cultural context, with emphasis on key ideas and teachings. Concurrently scheduled with course C260.
  • 161. Religious Life in Modern Japan . (4) Lecture, three hours. Religious transformations accompanying rapid industrialization, urbanization, militarism, and defeat in the Pacific War, including analyses of Shinto mythology, secular positivism, Buddhist reform movements, new religions, and continuing role of traditional village/family religious rites. 165. Introduction to Japanese Buddhist Texts. (4) Lecture, three hours. Requisite: course 110 or Chinese
  • 165. Readings in Buddhist texts written by Japanese in literary Chinese, Kambun, and mixed Japanese/Chinese literary styles concerning textual commentaries, doctrinal treatises, hagiographies, temple histories, etc. Coverage varies. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor. Letter grading.

Graduate Courses

  • C260. Japanese Buddhism. (4) Lecture, three hours. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. Development of Buddhism in Japan in its cultural context, with emphasis on key ideas and teachings. Concurrently scheduled with course C160. Graduate students read additional texts and submit one additional written assignment.
  • 265A-B. Seminar: Japanese Buddhist Texts. (4) Seminar, three hours. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor. S/U or letter grading.

Korean

Upper Division Courses

  • 160. Korean Buddhism . (4) Lecture, three hours. Knowledge of Asian languages not required. Introduction and development of Buddhism in Korea, interactions between indigenous Korean culture and Sinitic traditions of Buddhism, Korean syntheses of imported Buddhist theological systems and meditative techniques, and independent Son (Zen) schools of Korea.
  • 165. Introduction to Korean Buddhist Texts . (4) Lecture, three hours. Requisites: course 100A and/or Chinese 110C. Introduction to reading Korean Buddhist texts written in Sino-Korean and taken from indigenous doxographic materials and philosophical writings, Korean Buddhist apocryphal scriptures, native exegetical commentaries, and Son (Zen) texts. Coverage varies. Texts may be read in either Sino-Korean or literary Chinese. May be repeated with consent of instructor.

Graduate Courses

  • 265A-B. Seminar: Korean Buddhist Texts. (4) Seminar, three hours. Selected topics in Korean Buddhist texts. Coverage varies. S/U or letter grading.
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 »

Faculty


William Bodiford
Professor and Chair, Asian Languages & Cultures

Robert L. Brown
Professor, Department of Art History

Robert Buswell
Distinguished Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures

Natasha Heller
Associate Professor, Asian Languages and Cultures
Stephanie Jamison
Professor, Department of Asian Languages & Cultures

Nancy Levine
Professor, Department of Anthropology

Sherry B. Ortner
Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology

Lobsang Rapgay
Research Psychologist, Director of the Clinical Training program for Mental Health Professionals at the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, UCLA

Gregory Schopen
Distinguished Professor, Department of Asian Languages & Cultures

Richard Strassberg
Professor Emeritus, Asian Languages and Cultures

Lothar von Falkenhausen
Professor, Art History & Archaeology