U of T Buddhist Chaplaincy Masters & Mindfulness Diploma update

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I had the opportunity today to meet with Jenn Neufeld, the Admissions Counsellor for Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto, to find out more information about the Masters-level Diploma in Buddhist Mindfulness and Mental Health, starting in January 2015, and the possible Masters in Pastoral Studies/Buddhist Chaplaincy degree program. The university is still gauging interest and working through the process of developing appropriate curriculum.

The Diploma program involves a half-credit course in the Tenets of Buddhism and five other half-credit courses from a select list. The first two courses will run at night. It is unlikely that applicants would be able to mount an academic challenge to avoid having to take the Tenets course, regardless of their prior education in Buddhism. The fee for each course is $600, plus approximately $600 in other university fees (only some of which offer opt-out). The University does not offer any scholarship assistance for the diploma program.

Initial interest in the diploma program has been good, but since the deadline for applications is October 30, it is too early to quantify. Since the courses are open to other graduate students in the various theological colleges at U of T, they do not anticipate any shortage of students. Many of those who have expressed interest so far are considering the diploma as part of a second career move.

The Masters of Pastoral Studies program is a two-year, full-time, day program involving 20 half-credit courses and a culminating project. Students who have completed some or all of the diploma program in Buddhist mindfulness and mental health will be able to apply those credits, so the MPS degree would require a year-and-a-half full-time. The culminating project typically takes two months. Many students take Masters degrees part-time, and one has up to eight years to complete the course requirements. However, in order to become licensed chaplains, graduates would still need to take relevant courses and log hours to qualify with the Canadian Pastoral Education requirements and the Canadian Registered Psychotherapists Association requirements.

Emmanuel College offers entrance scholarships (based on GPA) for Masters degree programs, as well as bursaries (based on financial need). Students are required to take a number of compulsory courses, and choose from a menu of electives offered in different streams or by different theological colleges within the University. Details on that are still in the process of being determined (since for example Buddhists will not be expected to take the compulsory course in Old and New Testament Bible studies, but rather some equivalent).

I’ll add more details after the consultation session with the Buddhist communities being planned for September.

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