eLearning MA Program in Buddhist Studies

eLearning MA in Buddhist Studies program is delivered to students around the world via an elearning environment. It uses web based materials, specific readings and electronic interaction on a group and individual basis.

1. Objectives:

  • To extend on a world-wide scale the teachings of Buddhism using Internet technology through the borderless barrier-free world-wide-web.
  • To meet the needs of students around the world who wish to study in the comfort of their own home.
  • To equip students with the necessary research skills to produce independent research.
  • To provide students with the opportunity of in-depth Buddhist studies with an understanding of Buddhism from the basis of existing knowledge.

2. Career Opportunities

This program is suitable for those who are involved or planning to participate in teaching subjects relating to Buddhism in universities, colleges and schools. The program is also suitable for those wishing to advance to do a doctorate in Buddhist Studies or related fields, and for those involved in running various kinds of Buddhist Centers.
Taking this program will also develop skills of analysis and communication which are of relevance to a wide range of occupations.

3. Entrance Requirements

Applicants should be at least 21 years and have a good first degree or a degree of equivalent standard from any accredited University.
Applicants must have attained a level of proficiency in English language acceptable by the Than Hsiang Buddhist Research Centre for admission.
Students need to send their BA certificates and other required documents to Than Hsiang Buddhist Research Centre administration prior to admission to the program.

4. Evaluation

The following grading system is implemented:
A+ (Excellent) - 4.00
A (Almost Excellent) - 3.75
A- (Fairly Excellent) - 3.50
B+ (Very Good) - 3.25
B (Good) - 3.00
B- (Fairly Good) - 2.75
C+ (Fair) - 2.50
C (Satisfactory) - 2.25
C- (Minimum Satisfactory) - 2.00
D+ (Fairly Poor) - 1.50
D (Poor) - 1.00
F (Failure) - 0.0
W (Withdrawal with Permission)
WF (Withdrawal with F)
0 (Withdrawal from course after time limit)
TR (Transfer Credits)

5. Study Program Plan

The following courses are offered in Semester 1:

C1 - ME6101 Theravāda Buddhism - Core course
C2 - ME6102 Mahāyāna Buddhism - Core course
E1 - ME6208 Buddhism and Society - Elective course
E2 - ME6205 Survey of the Doctrines of the Abhidharma Schools - Elective course
E3 - ME6215 Chinese Buddhist Thought - Elective course
E4 - ME6210 Buddhist Psychotherapy - Elective course
ME6321 Independent Study Report

The new students who joined the program in Semester 1 are to take C1 and C2. The students who joined the program in the previous semester are also to take C1 and C2, whereas all other students can chose 2 courses from E1 - E4.

The following courses are offered in Semester 2:

C3 - ME6103 History of Indian Buddhism - Core course
E5 - ME6217 Lam Rim Chen Mo: The Path to Enlightenment in the Tibetan Tradition - Elective
course
E6 - ME6223 Buddhism In Japan - Elective course
E7 - ME6220 Theravāda Abhidharma - Elective course
E8 - ME6206 Bodhisattva Ideal - Elective course
E9 - to be confirmed - Elective course
ME6321 Independent Study Report

The new students who joined the program in Semester 2, as well as the students who were admitted to the program in the previous Semester 1, are to take C3 and any other 1 elective course from the list. The rest of the students can chose 2 elective courses from E6 - E9.

The invigilated Comprehensive Exam will be conducted at the end of the course.

6. Core Courses

ME6101. Theravāda Buddhism  (3 credits) (3-0-6)

The Buddha’s teachings recorded in the Pāli literature will be the main focus on this study. Attention is drawn to the definition of Theravāda Buddhism and the differences existing between Theravāda Buddhism and Early Buddhism, Early Buddhism and Pāli Buddhism. Candidates are expected to study the basic concepts of Theravāda Buddhism in comparison with the concepts of early Indian culture. The following concepts will be studied in detail: Buddha, Bodhisatta, Arahanta, Gods, Four Noble Truths, Dependent origination, Kamma and rebirth, Five Aggregates and twelve bases, cosmology, cultivation (bhāvanā) of mind and spiritual faculties.

ME6102. Mahāyāna Buddhism  (3 credits) (3-0-6)

This course aims at students without any previous knowledge of Mahāyāna Buddhism. It provides an introduction to Mahāyāna Buddhism in the widest sense. After a brief look at the development of Buddhism in India after the death of the Buddha, this course concentrates on the historical, philosophical and religious origins of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India. These include the Bodhisattva ideal; Buddhological developments; the philosophical systematizations of the Mādhyamaka and Yogācāra schools; the reasons for the dominant position of Mahāyāna Buddhism in China and an investigation on the features of the newly emerged Mahāyāna modernism (i.e., Japanese Buddhism).

ME6103.  History of Indian Buddhism (3 credits) (3-0-6)

The course gives a comprehensive coverage of Indian Buddhism from its origin to the decline and disappearance of Buddhism in India, with focus on the Nikāya Buddhism, the rising of Mahāyāna and its significance in the development of Chinese Buddhism.

II.  Selected Elective Courses

ME6205.  A Survey of the Doctrines of the Abhidharma Schools  (3 credits) (3-0-6)

The period of Abhidharma Buddhism is of great importance for a proper perspective of the development of Indian Buddhism in general. It was essentially in this period that Buddhist ‘philosophy’ first evolved. Traditionally, there were said to be eighteen Abhidharma schools, sometimes also referred to as the Hīnayāna schools. This course will begin with an outline of the historical evolution of these schools, highlighting the doctrinal controversies that led to the schism at different schools. This will be followed by a survey of the fundamental doctrines of the more important schools in the northern tradition, particularly the Sarvāstivāda, the Sautrāntika, the Mahāsaā9ghika and the Sā9mitīya.

ME6206.  Bodhisattva Ideal (3 credits) (3-0-6)

The course begins with a brief review of the historical perspective of the antecedent teachings that led to the Mahāyāna’s version of the Bodhisattva ideal of the Bodhisattva’s path. This will be followed up with a discussion of the theoretical and practical aspects which covers the aspect of generating the mind of Enlightenment, the practice of pāramitas, the ten levels of the Bodhisattva ground, the five paths and thirty-seven factors of Enlightenment to the eventual attainment of Buddhahood. The theory and practice will be based primarily on texts using the Buddhist tradition of Mental Development and two other great books such as the Bodhicaryāvatāra of Śāntideva and the Madhyamakāvatāra of Candrakīrti.

ME6208.  Buddhism and Society (3 credits) (3-0-6)

This course concentrates on the various aspects of Buddhist social philosophy and its historical development. It consists of various topics, such as the twofold process of society (origin and dissolution), the Buddha and society, the Buddhist stratification of society, social implication of the five precepts, Buddhist perspectives on morality, ethics and economics, Buddhism and peace, the environment, and human rights.

ME6210.  Buddhist Psychotherapy (3 credits) (3-0-6)

Early Buddhist analysis of the individual and the conceptual world with special reference to the teaching of aggregates, elements, four foods, faculties, senses, four great elements, three humors, and dependent co-origination, analysis of mental illnesses, problematic behaviors and psychosomatic disorders, applicability of basic Buddhist teachings for psychotherapy, therapeutic theories and approaches of Buddhist Psychotherapy, Visuddhimagga and Buddhist Psychotherapy similarities and dissimilarities of Buddhist and modern psychotherapies, relevance of Buddhist psychotherapy in the global context.

ME6215.  Chinese Buddhist Thought: A Historical Perspective (3 credits) (3-0-6)

This course examines the Chinese development and interpretation of Buddhist thought in a historical perspective, with a special emphasis on the teachings and practices. The major figures and their contributions to the formation and development of schools, important and influential sūtras and the cults of important divinities will also be examined.

ME6217.  Lam Rin Chen Mo:  The Path to Enlightenment in the Tibetan Tradition (3 credits) (3-0-6)

In all Tibetan Buddhist schools – Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug – practices are basically classified into Sūtra and Mantra paths. All four schools have instructive literature to both Sūtra and Mantra. The present course will survey the most elaborate Guide on Sūtra: Lam rim Chen mo (“A Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path”) produced by the founder of the Gelug School, Tsongkhapa Lobsan Drakpa (1357-1419), with references to the corresponding literature of other schools. This text covers practices for 3 scopes of persons (lesser, middling and great) in 3 parts, and separately treats shamātha and vipashyana.

ME6219.  The Ch’an (Dhyāna) School – A Historical Survey

This course is a historical survey of the Ch’an (Dhyāna) school of Chinese Buddhism, one of the most influential Buddhist schools in China.  The survey includes the most important periods in the development of this school, such as the introduction of Patriarch Ch’an into China for the first time, the establishment of Patriarch Ch’an as a separate School, and the divisions of Patriarch Ch’an over time. It will also outline the special features of the Patriarch Ch’an of each different major sub-school or lineage. Representative Ch’an masters or Patriarchs (including their biography, doctrines, method of teaching, influences etc.) of each important period will be discussed with reference to the historical background.

ME6220.  Theravāda Abhidhamma (3 credits) (3-0-6)

The course introduces the Theravāda Abhidhamma by studying its texts, technical terms and the dhamma theory, seeing their connection to early Buddhism, and the texts, technical terms and dharma theories of other early Buddhist schools of Sautrāntika and Sarvāstivāda inparticular.
The course will begin with the doctrinal trends and historical factors that led to the emergence of the Abhidhamma and its development as contained in the Canonical texts and the Abhidhamma manuals.This will be followed by a discussion of the AbhidhammaVibhanga, Dhātukathā, Puggala-paññatti and Kathāvatthu, Yamaka and the Paţţhāna; dhamma and its study; dharma taxonomy; time; intrinsic nature; causation and epistemology. The course will conclude with the theory of expression (Paññatti) and the two truths (sammuti and paramattha).

III.  Thesis Report

ME6322.Thesis (12 credits)

Thesis of about 25,000 words approved and supervised.



For further questions please contact us by e-mail: elearning@thanhsiang.org