Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any age limits for entry to RYI?

RYI accepts under aged students (16-18) in the Summer Program on condition of signing of the legal waiver form (unaccompanied is ok). RYI accepts under aged students (16-18) in its other Programs, on condition of signing of the legal waiver form and if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for the entire time of study. Students must have completed high school or equivalent in order to gain entry to the BA program. There are no upper age limits for admission.

Will my dependents be able to get a visa through RYI?

All legally married partners and dependents are eligible for spousal/dependent visas. The spousal visa cost is US$30 a month; children under the age of 10 are normally free. RYI processes all visas at the beginning of the fall semester and is unable to process visas for students who arrive later.

Is accommodation available on campus?

RYI does not currently provide on campus accommodation for students, there is however a variety of comfortable accommodation available in close proximity to the campus.

How can I find suitable accommodation?

There are many rooms, furnished apartments and guesthouses available within a few minutes walk of the Institute.

At the beginning of the semester RYI carries out a housing search and prepares a list of housing available for students. The Institute’s main notice board also carries many adverts for accommodation posted by local landlords. Please click here for further information on prices.

What employment opportunities can I anticipate with a degree in Buddhist Studies? What career directions have alumni taken?

As with all liberal arts degrees, the focus of RYI’s study programs is on teaching students how to think critically and creatively about their world and their role in it. RYI’s graduates have gone on to become teachers, interpreters, translators, academic tour guides, social workers, counselors and international development professionals. Others have been accepted to study for higher degrees at leading international universities including Harvard and Berkeley.

One of the more popular career paths for graduates is that of oral interpreter working between Tibetan and English, or other languages. These graduates have normally focused on colloquial and classical Tibetan and studied at least two semesters of Sanskrit. Some successful graduates have also found work at RYI and other Buddhist studies centers around the world. It should be noted here that RYI’s 12 month non-degree Translator Training Program is specifically designed for students wishing to specialize in interpreting.

Some BA and MA graduates have found employment as textual translators in projects sponsored by, for example, the 84,000 project ( and Tsadra Foundation ( The Dharmachakra Translation Committee ( frequently recruits graduates for these projects.

Several alumni have pursued careers as teachers of Buddhism in schools, colleges, dharma centers and universities around the world. Others have found work as academic tour guides utilizing their advanced language skills and in-depth knowledge of philosophy, culture and history to guide study tours in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India and Ladakh.

Can the course be paid for in monthly installments?

No. Full payment of tuition fees is due at the beginning of each semester, before the start of classes.

How many hours of study are required each day?

Your workload will depend on how many credits you take each semester. 15 credits is considered full-time study and will normally require an average of 4 hours of classes and 3 – 5 hours of homework each day.

How is the undergraduate and graduate program pricing determined?

For studies in our fall and spring semesters, the cost each semester depends on the program you are enrolled in and how many courses (credits) you are taking per semester. 15 credits per semester is full-time study.

First year students additionally pay admission and registration fees, where applicable.

Tuition fee information can be accessed here.

Are there any scholarships available at RYI?

RYI operates a financial aid program for students. This includes scholarships and work-study. Details can be found here.

The Tsadra Foundation offers three different scholarships for Western students committed to the in-depth study of Buddhist philosophy in the Tibetan language. Find more information here

The Khyentse Foundation Translation Studies Scholarship support students in advanced degree programs in translation studies and Buddhist philosophy with the express purpose of training Dharma translators for the future.  Candidates must already have some translation experience and be enrolled in an advanced degree program (MA, PhD, or MPhil).

How do I transfer CBS credits to my home university?

If you are enrolled in a college or university program and are considering spending a period of study at RYI, please discuss your plans with your academic tutor and university’s international office. It may be possible for you to receive advance accreditation for CBS’ courses. 

For more information on the transfer of course credits, please contact us.

Is there the possibility of working in Nepal to earn a sufficient income to cover living expenses and incidentals?

The Government of Nepal’s regulations prohibit foreign students from seeking employment and, as such, this option is not normally available.

Is the degree and/or the University accredited internationally ?

Kathmandu University is regarded as the leading University in Nepal and one of the emerging new universities in South Asia. As such, its degrees are normally accredited internationally. Credits earned at the Centre for Buddhist Studies have been accepted at more than 35 universities world-wide. Read more information here.

Are the courses in the MA program taught in English or Tibetan?

The MA program is taught in English and Tibetan, although students who are not able to join Tibetan-only philosophy courses are able to take translated classes, with suitable adjustments in the assignments.

Are the courses mainly an academic study of Tibetan Buddhism or do they also include guidance and practice of meditation?

CBS’s main focus is the academic study of Buddhism and its associated languages. However numerous opportunities exist outside of class to receive direct instruction and guidance on meditation and to practice both with fellow students e.g in our weekly meditation class and in retreat during vacation periods. The Institute is always happy to help students to get in touch with the retreat centers at Nagi Gompa Nunnery and Asura Cave in Pharping – both approximately 1 hour’s journey from the RYI campus.

Some Student Society clubs, such as Chod club, also focus on practice and meditation. These clubs are open to RYI students, staff, and alumni. For more information, please contact 

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has been offering talks, seminars, and retreats in Nepal throughout the year. Many of these directly introduce the participant to meditation and include guided meditation sessions. 

Some of these talks can be found here

Can I start the BA or MA program in the spring semester?

No. The BA and MA program has only one intake per year, in the fall semester. 

Do you accept new MA Preparatory, Non-Degree and Visiting students in the spring semester?

RYI receives new students in the fall, spring, and summer. In the fall and summer, programs begin with orientation, preparing students for their academic programs, including sessions with useful information about living in Nepal and beginning level language alphabet classes. During orientation, students complete official registration paperwork, including visa applications, where applicable. Please note that the orientation sessions are full-time and intensive. New students who join RYI in the spring semester are requested to carefully read the RYI Student Guidebook, as just a brief introductory meeting with the head of student services replaces the orientation days.

Most spring classes are continuations of fall semester courses. We don’t offer beginning level courses of colloquial/classical Tibetan and Sanskrit in spring.

Classes have already started. Can I join classes late?

Students may join or switch classes no later than one week after the start of each semester. Registered and prospective students are welcome to sample any class that they are eligible to join for up to one week without charge. Following this period, they must decide whether or not they will formally enroll.

All those wishing to sample a class for one week are required to register in advance at the Administration Office.

What kind of English language proficiency is required for admission?

The language of instruction at RYI is English and all students need a good command of English language in order to follow classes. View the individual English language proficiency requirements for the different programs here.

Is there a minimum number of classes that I need to take?

Generally RYI has no minimum credit policy. 15 credits per semester is full-time study at RYI.

Students on study visas must keep enrolled for 9 credits in the fall and spring semesters.

Is it possible to put an emphasis on Tibetan language classes, e.g. spoken Tibetan and classical Tibetan?

Yes this is possible. We offer both, colloquial and classical Tibetan classes in 6 levels and during the fall and spring semesters they can be taken together. The level of intensity of the summer programs is high and the courses require considerable time and effort in order to meet requirements and academic expectations. Therefore students can only study one course at a time during the summer.

How do I know which level of language class is right for me?

All students at RYI are placed in language classes that match their level of proficiency. Students with previous studies in colloquial or classical Tibetan, Sanskrit or colloquial Nepali will be placed in more advanced classes after taking an Advanced Language Placement Exam at the beginning of the fall semester. For Summer program courses the evaluation of a student’s language level is part of the application process (for intermediate or advanced courses).

Generally, students can make changes to their course registration during  the first week of classes.

Can I choose additional classes freely from the offered program?

MA program students may register for additional undergraduate classes free of charge. Students enrolled in an undergraduate program can register for any undergraduate class they have the necessary prerequisites for.  

What is the attendance requirement?

One of the requirements for passing your courses is a minimum attendance of 80%. Each student needs to take full responsibility for finding out how many classes there are in a particular semester and course and ensuring that they maintain the 80% attendance standard. If you miss more than this due to illness a medical certificate is required and your case will be reviewed.

What is the difference between colloquial and classical Tibetan?

Colloquial Tibetan is the everyday modern contemporary Tibetan language in its oral and written form. Classical Tibetan is the written Dharma terminology, used in Dharma texts.

Grammar and vocabulary differ significantly, however the script is the same. For understanding Dharma teachings in Tibetan, one will need both.

Which should I study first, colloquial or classical Tibetan?

There is some overlap between the two languages. Some people find learning the two together helpful, others prefer to focus on one or the other first, and then start the other a year later. It really depends on your own interests and abilities in language learning.  If you are trying to read a pecha or a sadhana, then starting with classical Tibetan makes sense. If you want to speak to Tibetans in the street and during your travels, you should start with colloquial Tibetan. If you eventually want to understand Dharma teachings in Tibetan, you will need both.

What about the Study Visa?

Nepal allows visitors to stay on a tourist visa for up to 150 days per calendar year. Summer or study abroad students who enroll for one semester only, usually just get tourist/visitor visas. For those staying longer, and enrolled at Kathmandu University, student visas are arranged in the fall semester. You need to enroll for at least 9 credits each fall/spring semester to receive a study visa (US$30 per month). Completing a fall and subsequent spring semester in the non-degree program on a tourist visa works out fine if you have not yet used up tourist visa days of the given calendar year.

What credit system does CBS use?

The Centre for Buddhist Studies awards credits in accordance with the most common North American credit system which is based on these assumptions:

A standard full-time student load is fifteen credit hours per semester, or thirty credit hours per academic year.

Credit hours represent time spent both on the formal learning done during class hours, and on independent study and homework outside of class.

The usual ratio of class hours to independent study and homework hours is one hour of class to two hours of independent work. Thus, a three-credit class requires nine hours of student work per week, and a successful full-time student is expected to work approximately forty-five hours per week.

Please note that for three-credit colloquial language classes, the ratio of class hours to independent study and homework time is different. These classes meet six hours per week with the expectation that one-on-one conversations that take place during the two to three hours of that class time substitute for some of the out-of-class work time that would normally be expected in courses where language acquisition is not the primary goal.

For students receiving credits through European universities, CBS awards 0.5 credits for each credit earned according to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Therefore, credits earned by a student studying at CBS convert on a two:one ratio. For example, one CBS credit is equivalent to two ECTS credits.

For RYI’s Summer Intensive Courses, six credits are awarded for eight weeks of study because each course covers two full semesters of material. During the regular academic year, each three-credit course assumes nine hours of student work per week over thirteen weeks as a combination of in-class time and homework time (see above). This results in 117 hours of work for a three-credit class over an entire semester, or 234 hours of work for a six-credit class over an entire semester.

During the summer, students spend about four hours each day in class (148 hours overall), leaving eighty-two hours of expected work time outside of class (approximately ten hours per week). Thus, reflecting the intensive nature of the summer courses, the ratio of in-class time to homework time is higher for the summer program.


Follow us on

Financial Aid

Applications are accepted year-round

Online Resources

Rinpoche Talk for RYI - 2022
Weekly Meditation Class ~ Day 1
Erik Pema Kunsang & Catherine Dalton - "The Practice of Buddhist Translation"

Upcoming Programs

RYI Student Facilities

RYI Program Sponsors

Become a Sponsor

Khyentse Foundation