Asian Philosophies and Cultures MA and PhD Programs

California Institute of Integral Studies

Program Description

Asian Philosophies and Cultures MA and PhD Programs

California Institute of Integral Studies

Asian Philosophies and Cultures MA and Ph.D. Programs

The Asian Philosophies and Cultures Program is committed to integrative, cross-cultural study and research in Asian religions and philosophies as they have developed regionally and impacted each other and the world from the classical period through the present and into the future. In keeping with this commitment, the program brings together both traditional and contemporary approaches to classical Asian material and, within an integrative framework, brings these approaches to bear on issues of contemporary relevance.

Such issues include but are not limited to Asian religions and conflict, Asian philosophical perspectives and ecology, traditional Asian practices of mindfulness and well-being, and cross-cultural hermeneutics.

The program is distinctive in its recognition that spiritual discovery and practice can contribute to academic rigor in the study of Asian religious and philosophical traditions and their application to contemporary challenges. Its scope includes the study of Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese philosophy, and Islam, with respect to their classical development and their continuing global impact in the modern world.

Students examine classical texts and contexts, spiritual practices and disciplines, and issues of contemporary relevance such as the contribution of Asian traditions to psychology, cognitive science, modern and post-modern philosophy, and the emergent ecological crisis. Courses in interdisciplinary research methods and optional language study complete the curriculum.

Students gain an in-depth understanding of philosophical and religious thought in classical and contemporary contexts through their engagement with the curriculum and collaboration with faculty mentors and fellow students. The curriculum focuses on practical skills in interdisciplinary research and teaching as well as cross-cultural communication as preparation for research and teaching in the fields of comparative philosophy and religious studies. Students are also encouraged and mentored in envisioning creative applications of Asian thought that may provide employment in areas outside of academia.

Our Faculty and Community

Students love our program for many reasons. Our faculty foster a rigorous academic environment that also recognizes the importance of and supports a student's overall well-being. We encourage students and members of our wider community to join us for regular community events, including a monthly colloquium series that invites students to share their research on Asian philosophical and religious texts in a supportive environment.

In addition to our core faculty, students also have several opportunities each year to attend classes and free guest lectures presented by world-renowned visiting scholars.

Masters Program

The Asian Philosophies and Cultures MA Program seeks to create and sustain an academic environment in which students gain a broad foundation in Asian philosophy, religion, and culture, through engaging critically with textual, historical, sociological/anthropological, and practical applications of Asian thought and culture.

Students in the MA program in Asian Philosophies and Cultures are expected to critically reflect upon, synthesize, and apply knowledge and skills in the disciplines of comparative philosophy and Asian religions. Upon completion, students will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in the following:

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the scholarship in religious studies and philosophy.

  • Learn and apply research skills.
  • Identify and access appropriate resources and critically analyze and evaluate material.
  • Apply existing research methodologies, techniques, and technical skills and evaluate research in the field.
  • Communicate in a style appropriate to the disciplines.
  • Demonstrate a detailed overview of the histories, traditions, and tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Chinese philosophy.

2. Demonstrate engagement with current advances in the field and related areas.

3. Demonstrate the ability to work with multiple perspectives and theoretical traditions.

4. Demonstrate the principles of integral education by thinking critically and deeply across paradigms, traditions, worldviews, and ways of knowing.

5. Demonstrate professional skills in relation to career development.

  • Adhere to ethical standards in the discipline.

Doctoral Program

The Asian Philosophies and Cultures doctorate offers intensive study in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of South Asia, China, and the Himalayan regions, both with respect to classical and contemporary contexts.

The Ph.D. consists of 36 semester units of coursework, plus two comprehensive examinations and a dissertation. The coursework consists of twelve units within the program, twelve units in Asian-themed electives, and twelve units of general electives.

Graduates of our Ph.D. program are expected to:

1. Make an original and substantive contribution to the disciplines of Asian religion or philosophy.

  • Think independently to develop questions, concepts, and methodologies.
  • Identify new research opportunities within these fields.
  • Reflect critically upon the histories, tenets, and traditions in their major field.
  • Keep abreast of current advances in these fields and related areas.

2. Demonstrate advanced research and writing skills.

  • Synthesize existing knowledge, identifying and accessing appropriate resources and other sources of relevant information and critically analyzing and evaluating their own findings and those of others.
  • Master application of existing research methodologies, techniques, and technical skills.
  • Understand the range of issues in the comparative approach to religion and philosophy.
  • Demonstrate the ability to write about complex ideas and research in a professional and nuanced manner.

3. Demonstrate commitment to participation in the community of scholars.

  • Show commitment to personal professional development through engagement in professional societies, publication, and other knowledge transfer modes.
  • Show commitment to supporting and promoting learning through teaching, collaborative inquiry, or professional practice.

4. Demonstrate the ability to situate scholarship in relationship to social and personal transformation.

  • Situate self in relationship to work and multiple perspectives.
  • Build upon internal passion and vision toward external career and action.

5. Demonstrate professional skills.

  • Adhere to ethical standards in the discipline and in relation to the communities studied.
  • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively.
  • Communicate in a style appropriate to the discipline and setting.
  • Appropriately use media for the dissemination of work.

Ph.D. Language Recommendation

Ph.D. students may be required to demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language if it is deemed essential for the student's dissertation research. Language proficiency may be demonstrated by having passed two years of coursework in the study of a language, or additional language study depending on the dissertation topic.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated December 14, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
Full time
USA - San Francisco, California
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2018
USA - San Francisco, California
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info