graduate students sitting at a table
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From left to right: Stanford University Religious Studies PhD students: Grace Ramswick, Yi (Allan) Ding, Daniel Tuzzeo, and Simon Wiles. Photo credit: Irene Lin


Doctoral Degree Program

The Department of Religious Studies offers a doctoral degree in the field of 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. Students are encouraged to design their own courses 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, subfield qualifying examinations, and 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 for publication in their field. For further information on the Religious Studies doctoral program, see Religious Studies or contact the department's graduate student administrator, Jill Covington, at 650-723-2548, jillj [at] (jillj[at]stanford[dot]edu).


Admission to the doctoral program in Buddhism does not require a master's 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). Religious Studies typically admits three or four doctoral students each year and, at any one time, has about twenty-five students in the program. Buddhist Studies applicants compete with all other applicants in the field of religious studies for openings in the department each year. Applications are typically due in December for admission in the autumn of the subsequent academic year. For further information on admission, contact the Department of Religious Studies graduate student administrator, Jill Covington, at 650-723-2548, jillj [at] (jillj[at]stanford[dot]edu); 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 relevant faculty members to discuss their plans: John Kieschnick: kiesch [at] (kiesch[at]stanford[dot]edu); Paul Harrison: paulh1 [at] (paulh1[at]stanford[dot]edu); Michaela Mross: mmross [at] (mmross[at]stanford[dot]edu); James Duncan Gentry: jdgentry [at] (jdgentry[at]stanford[dot]edu)


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. The HCBSS maintains a small fund to provide occasional grants for student research and travel expenses.