Certificate in Soto Zen Buddhist Studies Now Offered Online

Authored by: 
Gesshin Claire Greenwood

For the last five years, the Institute of Buddhist Studies has offered the Certificate in Sōtō Zen Buddhist Studies, a six course survey of Sōtō Zen history and texts. Starting this Spring 2021, the certificate program has been officially approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) to operate fully online. IBS is pleased to offer this program to students outside of the Bay Area and across the country.

Modeled after the robust scholasticism of East Asian monastic traditions, the Certificate in Sōtō Zen Buddhist Studies was designed by Rev. Dr. Daijaku Kinst, a transmitted Sōtō Zen teacher and scholar. The purpose of this program, she says, is to provide a “broad understanding of Buddhism, in order to put Sōtō Zen in context.” For this reason, students are required to take courses in both South Asian and East Asian Buddhism, as well as courses specifically on Sōtō Zen history and texts.

This semester (Spring 2021), IBS’s course offerings for this program include Buddhist Traditions of East Asia, and Rea

dings in Mahayana Texts, focusing on The Awakening of Faith, among other relevant courses. Readings in Mahayana Texts will be taught by Rev. Dr. Taigen Leighton, Sōtō Zen teacher and co-translator of Dōgen’s Extensive Record. Most semesters offer deep dives into key texts and scriptures, such as the Awakening of Faith or the Shōbōgenzo, as well as courses on the history of Buddhism and Sōtō Zen. A complete description of the program can be found here.

The application deadline for admission into the Spring 2021 Certificate Program is January 14. Scholarships are readily available, and all people are encouraged to apply.