The Five College Buddhist Studies Certificate Program is administered by the Five College Buddhist Studies Council through its Faculty Liaison Committee, which consists of the certificate program advisors from each of the five colleges. Because Buddhist Studies is an interdisciplinary field—straddling anthropology, art history, Asian studies, history, language study, literary and textual studies, philosophy, and religious studies—students are often unaware of the integrity of the field or of the range of resources available for its study in the valley. The Certificate Program provides a framework for students interested in Buddhism to develop a coherent, interdisciplinary approach to the study of this subject as a complement to their majors.
An Amherst student qualifies for the certificate by satisfactorily completing the following requirements:
- The certificate must be comprised of at least seven courses, at least one of which must be at an advanced level (200 or 300 at Hampshire, 300 or above at Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, or the University of Massachusetts; comparable upper-level courses at Amherst).
- Students must take at least one course in three different disciplines of Buddhist Studies (anthropology, art history, Asian studies, philosophy, religious studies, etc.).
- Students must take at least one course addressing classical Buddhism and one course addressing contemporary Buddhist movements (19th-21st century), and they must study Buddhism in at least two of the following four geographical areas: South and Southeast Asia, East Asia, the Tibeto-Himalayan region, and the West.
- Up to two canonical or appropriate colloquial Asian language courses may count towards the certificate.
- Students must receive a grade of at least “B” in each course counting towards the certificate.
- Courses must be of three credit-hours or more to count towards the certificate.
- Courses taken abroad or outside the Five Colleges may count towards the certificate only if they would be approved for credit toward the major in the appropriate department of the student's home institution.
- Exceptions to these requirements by petition to the student's campus advisor and the Five College Buddhist Studies Steering Committee.
For students who may wish to pursue a certificate in Buddhist Studies as preparation for graduate study in this field, we strongly recommend the study of at least one canonical language (Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese or Tibetan) and/or the modern language of at least one Buddhist culture (especially for those who have an ethnographic interest in Buddhism). Up to two courses in a relevant language can count towards the certificate, although we strongly encourage these students to continue language study beyond the first-year level. Language study is not required, however.
Faculty advisors will help students design their programs of study. Further information about the Five College Buddhist Studies Certificate is available at https://www.fivecolleges.edu/buddhism. The Amherst faculty advisor will be Professor Maria Heim of the Religion Department.