Religious Studies

Graduate Program

A Religious Studies Degree You Can Use Every Day

UWest’s Religious Studies Department specializes in the study of religion, with a strong emphasis on real-life application. Asian religious traditions, particularly Buddhism, provide the core focus of the program. The department is dedicated to open academic inquiry and religious diversity and committed to fostering an environment that furthers religious understanding between East and West.

Students acquire a deep understanding of the history and cultural impact of religious practices, ideas, outlooks, and concerns. Our faculty are involved in groundbreaking research projects, including the detailed study of ancient Buddhist texts and the study of Asian religions in global society and the contemporary world. The Religious Studies Department also works closely with other departments, particularly Buddhist Chaplaincy and Psychology, providing a bridge between the study of religion—past, present, and future—and the problems of modern life. And UWest partnerships with the Claremont School of Theology and the Academy for Jewish Religion also offers students an opportunity to take a broad range of graduate-level courses.

Students from all religious backgrounds are encouraged to bring their own unique and enriching perspective to the study of religion.

UWest offers two advanced degrees in Religious Studies.

The Master of Arts in Religious Studies (MA) allows students to gain a critical appreciation and understanding of different facets of religion. More specifically, it seeks to extend a student’s background in Buddhism and Buddhist Studies, with an emphasis on practical applications in the contemporary world. The program offers three concentrations:

– Buddhist Texts & Translation
– Mindfulness, Meditation, & Mind
– Global Buddhism

Our flexible MA prepares you for doctoral work through the program’s optional PhD track that includes language training (Pali, Sanskrit, Classical Chinese) and thesis work. Alternatively, students can tailor the program in order to pursue their interests and enhance their knowledge.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Religious Studies is an advanced research degree leading to a dissertation. A master degree in Religious Studies or allied field is required for admission. Students who currently do not have this training are encouraged to pursue our Master of Arts in Religious Studies. Most or all of the units are applicable to our PhD when you apply.


June 15th (Fall Start)
November 15th (Spring Start)
April 1st (Summer Start)


PhD Religious Studies
March 15th (Fall Start)



Miroj Shakya, PhD



William Chu, PhD
Shou-Jen Kuo, PhD


Emeritus Faculty

Lewis R. Lancaster, PhD
Darui Long, PhD

More Info