Graduate students in Buddhism benefit from our area strengths in both pre-modern and contemporary Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. Advanced study of Bengali, Buddhist-hybrid Sanskrit, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Malayalam, Malay, Mongolian, Nepali, Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai, Tibetan, Vietnamese and other Buddhist languages are offered for interested students. Anthropological, historical, material-visual cultural, philological, socio-political, and textual approaches are all possible, and students typically take courses not only in RELS but also in Ancient History, Anthropology, Art History, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Music, and South Asian Studies. 

Daud Ali (SAST)

Christopher Atwood (EALC)

Linda Chance (EALC)

Frank Chance (EALC)

Hsiao-wen Cheng (EALC)

Paul Goldin (EALC)

Victor Mair (EALC)

Deven Patel (SAST)

David Spafford (EALC)

Julie Davis (ARTH)

Jim Sykes (MUSI)


Coursework and research using advanced language skills (esp. Sanskrit and Pali or Chinese and Japanese) are essential beginning in the first year of study. Before entering the program most applicants have completed at least two years of formal study in one or more of Buddhist languages (either Japanese, Classical Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali, Thai, Lao, Korean, or others) and by the beginning of the third year, they are expected to have strengths in a secondary Buddhist language, as well as to have passed their modern language reading exams in French and German (or in some cases Japanese, Portuguese, or Dutch).

FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) fellowships are available for some of these Asian languages at Penn, and matriculating graduate students may be eligible for this federal funding. Please contact Justin McDaniel, Jolyon Thomas, or the appropriate area studies center for details before applying.