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  • Locations: Bodh Gaya, India; Delhi, India; London, United Kingdom
  • Program Terms: Fall, Fall Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: Carleton College 
  • The OCS office is currently updating this page. Please check back later. If you have any questions, contact the OCS office at x4541.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Areas of Study: Asian Studies, Hindi, History, Independent Study, Philosophy, Religion, Sociology and Anthropology, Tibetan Language of Instruction: English
Housing: Other Program Features: Carleton Faculty-Led, Field Studies, Independent Research, Independent Study Project
Faculty Director(s): Arthur McKeown
Program Description:

C-GEP Logo

About the Program

Since 1979, the program has been recognized for the academic excellence of its comparative approach to both the theory and practice of Buddhism. The program weaves together the diverse resources of Bodh Gaya, a unique pilgrimage center in northern India, home to more than 40 Buddhist temples within a largely Hindu and Muslim community. Each temple offers a gateway for students to explore a particular culture and region where Buddhism manifests around the world, including Tibet, Sri Lanka, Burma, Japan, Bhutan, and others.

Through comparative study, the program examines each of the three major Buddhist traditions and their historical developments: Theravada, Mahyana and Vajrayana. Students live in a Burmese Vihar, or monastery, where our highly qualified team of faculty and on-site staff provide an engaging and supportive environment. In addition, the program includes group travel to Varanasi and New Delhi, as well as a month-long Independent Study Project at the end of the semester that includes the opportunity to travel to a Buddhist community in India or neighboring countries. 

Educational Approach

This program emphasizes a comparative approach to both theory and practice. At the heart of the Buddhist Studies in India program is the desire to allow students to explore this subject from as many different points of view as possible. Western academic models are systematically used in the core courses, while Buddhist philosophies are tested in the Meditation Traditions course.

BSIN staff & students in Bodhg

The diverse and highly qualified program faculty teach a variety of intellectual and cultural viewpoints, creating a stimulating milieu in which genuine inquiry can occur. Participants are encouraged to examine their own cultural and intellectual assumptions as they pursue these studies in a challenging and supportive environment. 

Location: Bodh Gaya, India

It was here in Bodh Gaya, under the Bodhi tree that the prince-ascetic Gotama became the fully enlightened Buddha. For two and a half millennia, Bodh Gaya has been a magnet for pilgrims from all Buddhist cultures who come to venerate this sacred site, each in a fashion unique to his or her own tradition. Thus, within a two-mile radius, temples have been constructed to function with the cultural traditions of Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Bhutan, and Tibet. As well as being a pilgrimage center for Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is home to several thousand Hindus and Muslims. Religious and cultural festivals abound here.

Schedule and Daily Life

The program begins with a three-day program orientation in London. The group will then spend three days in Delhi for further orientation before proceeding to Bodh Gaya. 
Classes are held for nine weeks, followed by the three-week independent study period, which may include independent travel to other areas of India, and a final week in Bodh Gaya. 

GEP India 3

Daily Schedule
5:30 am - Meditation
6:30 am - Breakfast
7:30 am - Language Class
8:30 am - Class Period
10:00 am - Tea
10:30 am - Class Period
12:00 pm - Language Practice
1:00 pm - Lunch
4:00 pm - Tea
5:00 pm - Meditation
6:30 pm - Dinner

Outdoor corridor at the Vihar

Lodging and vegetarian meals will be provided at the guest house within the compound of the Burmese Vihar (monastery). Living within a Buddhist monastery, following a rigorous daily schedule and the five basic Buddhist ethical precepts, creates a nourishing environment for study and practice. While residing at the Vihar, it will be necessary for students to follow the five basic Buddhist precepts:

To abstain from taking life.
To abstain from theft.
To abstain from sexual misconduct.
To abstain from lying.
To abstain from intoxicants.

Some may feel these requirements to be too rigorous, but after consideration, it will become clear that any individual consistently deviating from this code would lack the clarity of mind necessary for full participation in this intensive program. The culture and environment of Bodh Gaya generally support the maintenance of these precepts, thus easing the individual's difficulty. 


The Buddhist Studies in India curriculum consists of three components: Required Courses, Core Courses, and Language Courses.
The language of instruction for the required courses and core courses is English.

Students enroll in five courses comprised of three required courses, one core course, and a language course or an additional core course, earning the equivalent of 16 semester credits upon successful completion. Course credits are awarded in Carleton College academic credits. The student’s home institution is responsible for converting the Carleton credits.

Required Courses

  • RELG 359: Buddhist Meditation Traditions (Required)
  • ASST 255: Introduction to Field Methods and Ethics (Required)Buddhist Studies in India AEA
  • ASST 319: Independent Study (Required)

Core Courses

  • PHIL 318: Buddhist Philosophy
  • SOAN 322: Contemporary Buddhist Culture
  • ASST 319: History of South Asian Buddhism

Language Courses

  • LCST 101: Elementary Hindi
  • LCST 103: Intermediate Hindi
  • LCST 101: Elementary Tibetan
For course syllabi, contact Carleton Global Engagement at

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

The Buddhist Studies in Bodh Gaya, India Program runs every fall semester (late August to mid December).
The dates for Buddhist Studies in India 2022 will be published in November 2021.

Program Fees

The program fee for Buddhist Studies in India Fall 2022 will be published in October 2022.

The program fee includes tuition, room and board, CISI emergency medical insurance, round-trip London- Delhi- London airfare, and program-related travel within India.
Students are responsible for books and research materials, passport and visa fees, transportation to and from London, and personal expenses.

BSIN Arthur, Erica, Sonyia

Faculty & Staff

The strength of the Buddhist Studies program comes from a combination of diverse and highly qualified faculty, and a very low student-faculty ratio. A combination of Western and Eastern instructors is utilized in order to ensure a continuity of American educational patterns, as well as access to the indigenous philosophies in their genuine form. Western faculty are responsible for the organization and evaluation of coursework, while the Asian teachers present perspectives of the traditions being studied. The variety of intellectual and cultural viewpoints creates a stimulating milieu in which genuine inquiry occurs. 

Program Director

Dr. Arthur McKeown received a BA magna cum laude from Dartmouth College. He received an MA and PhD from Harvard University, where his dissertation was titled From Bodhgaya to Lhasa to Beijing: The Life and Times of Sariputra (c.1335-1426), Last Abbot of Bodhgaya. Dr. McKeown has received a Fulbright Fellowship, Reischauer Center Fellowship, as well as the Harvard Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. He has research experience in South Asia and Tibet, and has presented papers at meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Dr. McKeown has experience teaching Tibetan Language and Buddhist Studies as an Instructor and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. He served on the faculty with the Buddhist Studies in India program from 2010 to 2014 and was the Assistant Program Director in 2015 before becoming Program Director in Fall 2016. 

Course Instructors

Dr. Gaurav Agarwal received a BA in History, Hindi Literature, and Political Science. He completed an MA in Indian History and received an MPhil and PhD in Hindi. His areas of expertise are Indian Culture, History and Literature. He has also earned a three and half year diploma in Yoga and Naturopathy. He has been invited regularly as a panelist, lecturer, and/or moderator on various topics related to Indian culture, history, and contemporary issues. Dr. Agarwal was a member of the core organizing team for the second World Council of Elders of Ancient Traditions and Culture’s International Summit held in Jaipur. He is currently working as Head of Department for the faculty of Arts at Poddar International College, Jaipur. Dr. Agarwal has taught with the Antioch-Carleton Buddhist Studies in Bodh Gaya program since 2010. 

Punya Prasad Parajuli received a BA in Physics, an MA in Anthropology, and an MA in Nepalese History, Culture and Archeology from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.  He has also received an MA in Buddhist Studies from Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, India. Punya is actively involved in translating Tibetan and Sanskrit texts into Nepali. He has been a Tibetan language instructor at the Center for Nepalese and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University and a Sanskrit language teacher at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling and Shechen Monasteries in Kathmandu. Punya taught Tibetan language with the Buddhist Studies program in 2006, 2009, and 2011–2018. He has also been a Tibetan language and culture instructor and research guide for Cornell University students studying Buddhist Culture in Nepal.

Information about other instructors for Buddhist Studies in India 2021 will be available in March 2021.

Meditation Instructors

Ācariya U Hla Myint was born and educated in Myanmar (Burma). He became a novice monk at the age of ten and a fully ordained bhikkhuat at twenty. He has 22 years of monastic training and a PhD in Buddhist Studies and Pali language. A former assistant meditation instructor at Mahasi Meditation Center in Burma, he remained a close disciple, translator, and teaching assistant of the late Sayadaw U Pandita. He has translated numerous Burmese dhamma books and dhamma discourses and has authored Meditation Lectures, Conditional Relations in Daily Life (from the Abhidhamma) and Pali Language Lessons for English Readers. After his years as a monk, U Hla Myint became a householder, and now has a wife and two children. U Hla Myint divides his time between his home in Pyin Oo Lwin near Mandalay in the Shan Hills, Sayadaw U Pandita's Panditarama Meditation Center near Yangon, and San Jose. 

Ekai Korematsu Osho was born and raised in Japan, but began his formal Zen practice while a university student in California where he was affiliated with the San Francisco Zen Center.  In 1979 he returned to Japan for formal monastic training at Eiheiji the principal Soto Zen monastery.  Returning to America in 1983 he founded Kojin-an which later became the Oakland Zen Center. At the request of his teacher Narasaki Roshi he returned to Japan in 1987 to become the director of an International Zen monastery, Shogoji, in Kyushu. From 1994 to 1996 he was again at Eiheiji, and was also the Practice Director at Zuigakuin Temple in Yamanashi Prefecture.  At present he lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he is the founder and spiritual director of Jikishoan Zen Buddhist Community.   

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche 2019
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is the abbot of Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling Monastery and the founder of Rangjung Yeshe Institute, a college for Buddhist Studies in Boudhanath, Nepal. Born in Ti
bet and educated at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim under the guidance of H.H. Karmapa XVI, he is the holder of Drikung Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. Rinpoche is a scholar and master of both Dzogchen and Mahamudra practice. He has taught meditation and philosophy to many Western students, while also supervising a large shedra or traditional monastic training center in Nepal. He regularly teaches in Europe and North America where he has meditation centers in Denmark, Germany, and California. Rinpoche is the author of several books including The Union of Dzogchen and Mahamudra, Indisputable Truth and Present Fresh Wakefulness. 


Erica Ruiz Vargas received her BA in Physics and Mathematics from the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, Mexico, and her MA in Mathematics from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. She has been studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism for the last 17 years and in 2017 was a participant in the Shamatha Project: a longitudinal study investigating meditative quiescence, loving-kindness, and human flourishing. She has also completed all the requirements for becoming a licensed teacher (AZ teacher license in process) and has volunteered as a teacher in India (high-school, math and English). She enjoys chocolate, dancing, and exercising a bit every day. She’s been working for the program since 2015 and thinks of Bodhgaya as a second home. 

BSIN banner image of monks

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

The OCS office is currently updating this page. Please check back later. If you have any questions, contact the OCS office at x4541.