Master of Arts (MA) in Translation, Textual Interpretation, and Philology

The MA program is a 2-year (4 semester/60 credit) program that combines graduate-level philosophy and translation seminars in which students work with primary source literature and the languages of the Buddhist tradition. The aim of the program is to introduce students to the methods and skills involved in translation, textual interpretation, and philology and to develop their ability to undertake independent translation projects and translation research within the field of Buddhist Studies. During the first year of the program each student is assigned a Thesis Supervisor who works with the student to help select and define a thesis project, generally consisting of an annotated translation with introduction. Students are expected to have an excellent command of Classical Tibetan and some experience with Sanskrit and spoken Tibetan before entering the program.

Course work in the first year includes Buddhist philosophical and textual study with scholars of the Tibetan traditional scholastic tradition, translation workshops that allow students to develop their work within a productive and informed environment of mutual critique, and course work in translation and philological method. In these methodology seminars, students develop an understanding of the global history of translation and translation theory and they experiment with an array of distinct approaches to the practical tasks of the translator. In this way the courses introduce students to the field of Translation Studies while making use of specific case studies to analyze translation methods of particular relevance to the translation of Buddhist texts. They also develop the ability of the students to engage in critical scholarship and research in the field of Translation Studies.

For a detailed description of the program, please download the MA Course Description.

To view the Fall 2024 course offerings for MA in Translation, Textual Interpretation, and Philology please visit this page.

Visit our admissions page for application details and program-specific dates

Meet the Students

 “The learning environment is very helpful because of the Tibetan community but also the vibrant Dharma activity is very inspiring. Being able to go to pujas and work with monks, and also to get help from knowledgeable monks and others for translations—that’s definitely been very helpful. The more you practice translation the more you learn about It – about different genres of texts and so on. Translation is not only knowing about the Tibetan language, but it is also about thinking about translation–like learning about the methodology, and learning the theory, and which resources to use, so I think it’s very useful if you actually want to do good translations.”

-Oriane Lavole, France

“The course exceeded my expectations! Actually, we learned not just translation methods and Tibetan practice, but also bigger picture ideas about translation theory and how translation affects the world and how the translation of Tibetan texts into English is a really important project that has much larger implications than I first thought. I was motivated by my interest in Tibetan  Buddhism, and I wanted to read texts on my own and to be able to pick up any text from a 1000 years ago or 50 years ago and to read it fluently—that goal kept me going through the hard preparation. I definitely recommend this course for anyone interested in Tibetan  Buddhism and specifically for reading Tibetan texts—especially if you want to be a translator, but even if you just want to be a fluent reader, this MA is helpful. I can’t speak of it highly enough. I think that it is unique in the world and a very thorough preparation to be a Tibetan textual translator.”

-Ben Ewing, USA

Application and Admission

Entrance into the MA program in Translation, Textual Interpretation, and Philology requires at least three years of Classical Tibetan, one year of Sanskrit, one year of Colloquial Tibetan, and 12 credits of Buddhist Studies coursework. An excellent level of proficiency in English writing and composition is also required. Interested applicants who lack some of the required prerequisites may do preparatory work in our MA Preparatory program to ready themselves for admission to the MA. Interested applicants with all other prerequisites but with only two years of Classical Tibetan study may take a placement exam to qualify for the program. Such applicants should apply directly to the MA program and arrangements will be made for the placement exam if the applicant’s other qualifications warrant consideration for admission.

To apply to the MA program, applicants should visit the Admissions Section of this website. Please note that only a limited number of students can be admitted to the program each year, and the requirements listed above are the minimum required for application. Admission is competitive and meeting the requirements does not guarantee admission: admission is based on an evaluation of the overall application package.

For more information, please refer to the Eligibility Requirements and Admissions Process for the MA in Translation, Textual Interpretation, and Philology program. You will find the Tuition Fee List for all programs linked on the right-hand side of the admissions page.


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Rinpoche Talk for RYI - 2022
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Erik Pema Kunsang & Catherine Dalton - "The Practice of Buddhist Translation"

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