Masters Program

The Asian and Comparative Studies MA Program seeks to create a fruitful and rigorous environment in which students may gain a broad foundation in Asian philosophy and religion, while engaging critically with textual, historical, sociological/anthropological, and practical applications of Asian philosophy and religion.

Graduates of our MA program will: 

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the scholarship in Asian or Comparative religion or philosophy.

  • Reflect critically upon the histories, tenets, and traditions in their major field.
  • Demonstrate a detailed overview of the histories, traditions, and tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Chinese philosophy.

2. Learn and apply research skills

  • Synthesize existing knowledge, identifying and accessing appropriate resources and critically analyzing and evaluating material
  • Explore religious practice as a source of academic insight
  • Communicate in a style appropriate to the fields of religion and philosophy

3. Demonstrate engagement with current advances within the field and related areas

4. Demonstrate ability to connect scholarship to social and personal transformation

5. Demonstrate professional skills

  • Adhere to ethical standards in the discipline
  • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively
  • Demonstrate social media literacy     


MA in Philosophy and Religion with a concentration in Asian and Comparative Studies

Total Unit Requirement: 36 units

The master's program requires two years of full-time coursework for the 36-unit curriculum. A Master's thesis is optional, but not required to complete the program. Three areas of concentration are available:

1. Buddhist Studies

Buddhist Studies offers a rare opportunity for the cognitive and experiential study of the three major traditions of Buddhism: Theravada (South and Southeast Asia); Mahayana (India, China, Tibet); and Tantra (India, Tibet). Students may study the classical languages of Buddhism: Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan.  

2. Chinese Philosophy

Chinese Philosophy provides a structure for the rigorous study of Chinese philosophies. Taoist, Confucian, and Chinese Buddhist topics are covered. The concentration includes Chinese-language study in its classical form.  

3. Hindu Religion and Philosophy

Hindu Religion and Philosophy offers a wide ranging set of offerings that, while giving due emphasis to traditional schools and views, point toward the wide diversity of viewpoints within Hinduism over time. "Integral" aspects of Hinduism are highlighted here, particularly in regard to how Hindu practice and philosophy creatively engage modernity. Students may study Sanskrit language.  

I. Core Requirements: 12 units

PARA 5100 Introduction to Hinduism
PARA 5102 Introduction to Buddhism
PARA 5104 Introduction to Islam
PARA 5501 Introduction to Chinese Philosophy

II. Asian and Comparative Studies Electives: 9 units

A. One course in Hinduism. Possibilities include the following:

PARA 7235 The Bhagavad Gita: Ancient and Modern Perspectives
PARA 7275 Orthodoxy, Heterodoxy, and Dissent in Indian Traditions
PARA 7280 The Hindu Goddess
PARA 7285 Hindu Tantrism

B. One course in Buddhist philosophy. Possibilities include the following:

PARA 7554 Buddhist and Western Philosophies: The Search for Meaning
PARA 7560 Buddhism Meets Shamanism
PARA 7600 Ch'an Buddhism (Chinese Zen)

C. One course in Chinese philosophy. Possibilities include the following:

PARA 5501 Essence and Development of Chinese Philosophy
PARA 7344 Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism
PARA 7605 Life Wisdom of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu
PARA 7654 The Divination and Wisdom of the I Ching  

III. Spiritual Practices: 3 units

Three 1-unit courses or workshops, one each in Hinduism, Buddhism and Chinese tradition (a spiritual practice course in Islamic tradition may be substituted for one of these.)  

IV. Philosophy and Religion Electives: 3 units

Either 3 units from the Philosophy and Religion with a concentration in Women's Spirituality program or 3 units from the Philosophy and Religion with a concentration in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program.  

V. General Electives: 7 units  

7 units from any CIIS program.  

VI. Integrative Seminar: 2 units

PARA XXXX MA Integrative Seminar   

VII. Thesis (optional): 0 units

PARA 6900 Thesis/Dissertation Proposal Completion
PARA 7900 Thesis/Dissertation Seminar