Photo of some graduate students

From left to right: Stanford University Religious Studies Ph.D. students: Grace Ramswick, Yi (Allan) Ding, Daniel Tuzzel, and Simon Wiles. Photo credit: Irene Lin


Doctoral Degree Program

The Department of Religious Studies offers a doctoral degree field in Buddhist Studies. The program encompasses Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese Buddhism in their historical and cultural contexts. Training emphasizes research in primary sources and requires reading knowledge of the languages relevant to the area of specialization. The field recognizes a wide range of approaches to the understanding of Buddhism, and students are encouraged to design their own course of study, to explore a variety of academic disciplines, and to undertake independent research.


The doctoral program at Stanford requires three years of course work plus the dissertation. In addition, students in Religious Studies work closely with a faculty member to develop and teach a course in the department and to prepare a paper in their field for publication. For further information on general requirements of the Religious Studies doctoral program, see Religious Studies or contact the department's graduate students administrator, Jill Covington, at 650-723-2548,


Admission to the doctoral program in Buddhism does not require the M.A. degree; it does require background in at least one of the major canonical languages of the Buddhist tradition (Sanskrit or Pali, Tibetan, Chinese or Japanese). Applicants to the program compete with those in the other fields of religious studies for approximately four openings in the department each year. Applications for admission in the following September must be filed by December 6. For further information on admission, contact the Department of Religious Studies graduate student administrator, Jill Covington, at 650-723-2548,; for application forms, contact the Office of Graduate Admissions, Old Union 141, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 (phone: 650-723-4291).

Prospective applicants in Buddhist studies are encouraged to contact the relevant faculty to discuss their plans: John Kieschnick:; Paul Harrison:; Michaela Mross:


Doctoral students in Religious Studies receive a five-year funding package that includes full fees, tuition, and stipend. Additional funding is available through FLAS grants and research assistantships. HCBSS maintains a small fund to provide occasional grants for student research and travel expenses.