Buddhist Chaplaincy

Graduate Programs

Preparing You to Share Your Wisdom with the World

Our Buddhist Chaplaincy programs are at the heart of UWest’s mission of facilitating understanding and appreciation between East and West and educating the whole person. We specialize in preparing Buddhist practitioners for hands-on work in chaplaincy in interfaith settings, such as hospitals, hospices, police departments, prisons, universities, and the military. Our faculty are actively engaged in the practice of Buddhist chaplaincy. The department collaborates closely with the Business Administration, Psychology, and Religious Studies departments to emphasize and pinpoint real-life applications of the knowledge gained in the study of Buddhist Chaplaincy.

The department is ecumenical, welcoming Buddhists from every branch of Buddhism as well as those of other religious denominations (not all students identify as Buddhist or only Buddhist). Students are encouraged to engage in spiritual reflection and formation from within their own faith tradition and to share those reflections with their peers. In addition, students learn about other faiths, to be of service to a wide variety of people in need.

The department upholds the standards of professional chaplaincy set forth by the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) and encourages all students to complete Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) or other clinical practicum experiences appropriate to their future work setting. These professional standards and trainings ensure that students gain hands-on experience in spiritual care and are ready to enter the world as professional Buddhist chaplains upon graduation.

UWest offers three advanced degrees in Buddhist Chaplaincy.

The Master of Arts in Buddhist Spiritual Care (MABSC) is a 36-unit, low-residency degree program that provides students with a deeper understanding of how Buddhist philosophy, history, and teaching intersect with social and community engagement and are applicable to the contemporary world.

Buddhist spiritual care can help further the clinical practices of social workers, psychotherapists, spiritual directors, religious teachers, leaders, and practitioners. The program also serves as an entrée into the field of Buddhist chaplaincy (with opportunity to transition to the MDiv professional path) or as an APC-approved supplement to previous chaplaincy training for those who seek to complete the requirements for chaplaincy board certification (BCCI).

The Master of Divinity (MDIV) is one of only four accredited chaplaincy programs in the United States specifically for Buddhists. UWest’s MDiv provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to excel as Buddhist practitioners working in the field of professional chaplaincy. This program is designed to meet the needs of those who wish to engage in spiritual care and counseling work and to become properly trained and certified professionals.

The program incorporates the requirements of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC) by offering 72 semester hours covering the nine core educational areas specified by the APC:

  • ritual and liturgy
  • comparative religions
  • religious education
  • pastoral care and counseling
  • spiritual formation
  • religious history
  • institutional organization and administration
  • sacred literature
  • theology/philosophy

The Doctor of Buddhist Ministry (DBMin) is an advanced professional degree culminating in a dissertation project. This selective program enhances the practice of ministry for religious leaders who already hold a Master of Divinity degree or equivalent and applies a Buddhist perspective to ministerial issues facing practitioners in the contemporary world. Students gain a deeper understanding and commitment to the dharma (Buddhist teachings), while refining their ministerial application. Students develop research, writing, and communication skills to the level necessary to participate in professional academic discourse and practice-oriented domains of religion and service.


March 15th (Fall Start)



Victor Gabriel, PhD


Jitsujo Gauthier, PhD



Daphna McKnight, PhD

Adjunct Faculty

Bryan Ferry, MDiv
Dung Nguyen, MDiv
Monica Sanford, PhD
Ven. Xiandong (Yazhe Ying), MDiv
Jieyan Zheng, MDiv

More Info