Master of Theology in Buddhist Studies (M.Th.)


This is a comprehensive degree in Buddhist Theology, covering the mythological origin, archeology, history, scriptures, doctrines, schools and contemporary movements. It is designed for ministry professionals (lay, religious, ordained) who wish to foster self-improvement through the pursuit of theological education as an end in itself or in preparation for doctoral studies. This degree may also serve as preparation for those who are interested in ordained ministry requiring additional training components. (see below)  This degree program couples graduate-level course work with the writing of the Master of Theology thesis.
Ministry Licensure: The student must complete 4 additional classes, 2 weekend retreats each year, a senior year Field Ed project and a General Ordination Examination. A final year of supervision with biweekly verbatim and doctrinal presentations completes the preparation for full ordination. For further information on Buddhist Ministry Licensure, please contact Dr. John Anthony Stultz or the Blue Lotus School of Mindfulness
Chaplaincy Certification: Those students seeking employment as professional chaplains will be required to complete 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education or an institutional equivalence.
This degree is a 30 credit program that may be completed in no less than eighteen months and no more than three years.
  • 24 credits (8 courses)
  • 6 credits (thesis)
Admission Requirements
  1. Baccalaureate degree or equivalent validated by a transcript.
  2. Five years of accumulated experience in a cognate field of ministry (lay, religious, ordained).
  3. Completion of the Application Procedure.
Program Requirements
  1. Students are expected to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the Student Handbook of the year of their acceptance with a particular focus on their particular degree program.  Students are bound by the academic and financial requirements of the Handbook in use at the time of their acceptance.  The current Student Handbook, as well as past years’ Handbooks, can be viewed here
  2. Completion of eight Units of Study from the Buddhist Studies Curriculum
  3. Completion of the non-credit course, Research Methodology. This course is a prerequisite to beginning the master’s project.
  4. Completion of the Master’s Thesis of 35,000-40,000 words and submission of one electronic or hard copy including the Thesis Supervisor’s evaluation forms. 

All academic requirements must be met by March 1 of the intended year of graduation.
All financial requirements must be met by April 1 of the intended year of graduation. 

Research Methodology
Research Methodology is a required course for all students completing a thesis.   The Research Methodology course requirement is explained here.
The coursework is to be completed using the GTF E-tutorial method:
As an institution basing its tutorials on the Oxford University model (our institutional affiliate), the Graduate Theological Foundation has always valued the “passage of time in the deepening of expansive thought,” therefore, the six-week requirement for the six papers (one a week) and then up to four more weeks for the final submission seems to serve that valued tradition of time and learning.  The lapse of time often helps thoughtful reflection and cogitation and, thus, the six weeks/six papers requirement. E-Tutorials use email as the sole mechanism for communication between the student and the faculty. Each course is taught as a one-on-one tutorial between the student and the faculty person offering the course. 
Weekly Schedule: The student will complete the assigned readings for each week and will submit a 500-1,000 word response paper each Monday after the weekly assignment. The tutor will respond within 72 hours.  While waiting for the response from the tutor, the student will continue reading for the next response paper which will be due the following Monday.   This schedule will continue until the end of the six-week class. The student will then write a 3,000-6,000 word paper that is composed of the papers from the previous six weeks’ writings and incorporates any corrections and faculty feedback.  This must be submitted within 30 days of receipt of the tutor’s response to sixth paper last paper.
The eight course curriculum is listed below.
Required Textbooks: 
  • Myths to Live By: Joseph Campbell; Penguin Putnam (New York, 1993)
  • Reinvention of the Sacred: Stuart Kaufman; Basic Books (New York, 2008)
Suggested Readings: 
  • The Complete Guide to World Mysticism: Freke and Gandy; Piatkus Books (United Kingdom, 1998)
  • In the Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology: Gordon Kaufman; Harvard Univ. Press (Cambridge, Mass., 1995)
Required Textbooks:
  • An Introduction to Buddhism: Peter Harvey; Cambridge Univ. Press (New York, 2013)
  • What the Buddha Taught: Walpola Rahula; Grove Press (New York, 1974)
Suggested Readings:
  • The Gospel of the Buddha: Paul Carus; BiblioLife (South Carolina, 2010)
  • Buddhism: The Religion of No Religion: Alan Watts; Tuttle Publishing (Boston,1995)
Required Texts: 
  • Buddhist Scriptures   Edward Conze
  • The Dhammapada: Gil Fronsdal; Shambhala Publications (Boston, 2005)
Suggested Readings:
  • A Modern Buddhist Bible: Donald Lopez; Beacon Press (Boston, 2002)
  • Cultivating the Mind of Love: Thich Nhat Hahn; Parallax Press (Berkeley, 2008)
  • Book of Common Meditation: Sensei Tony Stultz; HOM Press (Harrisburg, PA 2008)
Required Texts:
  • One Dharma: Joseph Goldstein; Harper Collins (New York, 2003)
  • The Awakening of the West: Stephen Batchelor; Parallax Press (California, 1994)
Suggested Readings:
  • Engage Buddhism in the West: Christopher Queen; Wisdom Publications (Somerville, Mass., 2000)
  • The Making of Buddhist Modernism: David McMahan; Oxford Univ. Press (Oxford, 2008)
Required Texts:
  • Buddhist Theology: Jackson and Makransky; Curzon Press (New York, 2000)
  • Buddha Nature: Sallie King; SUNY Press (New York, 1991)  
Suggested Readings:
  • Buddhist Cosmology: Sadakata and Nakamura; Kosei Publishing (Tokyo, 1999)
  • Alone With Others: Stephen Batchelor; Grove Press (New York, 1983
Required Texts: 
  • Toward a Psychology of Awakening: John Welwood; Shambhala Publications (Massachusetts, 2000)
  • Free Your Mind: The Four Direction of An Awakened Life: Anthony Stultz; iUniverse (Nebraska. 2007)
Suggested Readings:
  • The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology: Jack Kornfield; Bantam (New York, 2008)
  • Buddhism and Jungian Psychology: Marvin Spiegelman; New Falcon (Tempe Arizona, 1995)
  • Buddha’s Brain: Rick Hanson; New Harbinger Press (Oakland, 2009)

Socially Engaged Buddhism

Required Textbooks:

  • Keown, Damien (Co-Author). Prebish, Charles S. (Author). Queen, Christopher S. (Co-Author)
  • Stultz, Anthony J. (Co-Author) Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism. (London: Routledge Curzon, 2003)
  • Queen, Christopher S. (Author). Stultz, Anthony J. (Co-Author) Engaged Buddhism in the West. (Somerville:Wisdom Publications,2012))

Contemporary Meditation and Mindfulness Practice in Buddhist Thought

Required Textbooks: Both are available through

  • Smalley, Susan L. (Author) and Winston, Diana (Co-Author). Fully Present: the science, art, and practice of mindfulness. (Philadelphia: First Da Capo Press, 2010)
  • Stultz, Anthony. Free Your Mind: The Four Directions of an Awakened Life.(New York-Lincoln-Shanghai: iUniverse, 2007)

Suggested Reading: Available through

  • Hanson, Rick. Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom. (USA; New Harbinger Publications, 2009)
Faculty Thesis Supervisor
Dr. John Anthony Stultz serves as thesis supervisor for all M.Th. in Buddhist Studies students. When the student is ready to begin work on the thesis, the online thesis supervisor nomination form must be filled out. Click here to access that form.
Master’s Thesis
The master’s thesis is a research-based academic work of 35,000-40,000 words, which addresses some topic, issue, or problem in the field of theological inquiry and demonstrates a grasp of the literature and philosophical/theological components required in the treatment of the selected topic. The master’s thesis must include a table of contents and bibliography of a minimum 20 sources, with annotations for the 10-12 key sources. The thesis must be written in 12 point Times New Roman (or comparable) font, and double spaced.
When the thesis in its final form has been reviewed and approved by the student’s Thesis Supervisor, it must be submitted to the GTF for final review. One copy of the master’s thesis must be submitted by electronically to the Office of the Registrar, by March 1 of the intended year of graduation.   Click here to fill out the form to request the email address of The Office of the Registrar. 
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