Joining Conceptual Understanding with Personal Experience

In bringing the full power of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings to the West, it’s important to understand that Nitartha Institute is not about replicating another culture’s understanding of truth. The point of joining study and practice is to awaken our own intelligence and compassion, balancing practice with the precision and insight that intensive study provides. Westerners typically have well-developed intellectual skills due to the nature of our educational system, but this training is often divorced from the heart, from intuition, from personal experience. It is the goal of Nitartha Institute to integrate conceptual understanding with personal experience.

The teaching style of the Institute is a unique blend of Western and traditional Tibetan pedagogical approaches, suited to 21st century practitioners. For example, debate and analytical meditation are traditional skillful methods taught throughout the curriculum. Both Tibetan and Western teachers creatively collaborate to develop new approaches to analytical meditation to help 21st century students connect the content of their classes to their direct experience.

Nitartha Institute’s Department of Buddhist Studies offers a systematic set of courses that present the curriculum of the shedra or monastic university tradition of the Kagyü and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The courses are arranged into the three progressives sets of courses of the Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced curriculums, with certificates granted at the completion of each level of curriculum.

The format and delivery of the shedra course material is varied, to meet the needs of modern 21st century students. These are:


Nitartha’s Summer Institute is an intensive residential program which occurs annually, over the span of four weeks. Typically, the summer schedule is arranged into two modules of two weeks each. Students may attend one or both modules, but for new students, the first module is a usually a prerequisite to the second.

The Summer Institute strives to offer programs from all four of our academic departments: 1) Department of Buddhist Studies (BUD), which covers both the Inner Science of Mind and the Science of Valid Cognition, 2) Department of Languages (LAN)3) Department of Healing (HEA), and 4) Department of Creative Arts (SOCA). + More

This varied, flexible approach to course scheduling allows you to proceed through the Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of the curriculum at your own pace, mixing the inclass and online courses that best fit your schedule.

Additionally, the Department of Language Tibetan Language intensive courses (both literary and spoken), Department of Creative Arts courses, and the Department of Healing (Tibetan Medicine) courses are offered at the month-long Summer Institute, and occasionally offered in workshop format during the fall and spring semesters.

Complete Buddhist Studies (Shedra) Course List

Below is a list of all currently offered Buddhist Studies courses. Please check Registration for current course offerings. Self-Paced Online courses are available anytime, year round and most semester courses are open for online enrollment.


You should first take BUD 501 Mind and Its World I and BUD 502 Clear Thinking together, since the first course uses traditional tools for analysis taught in the second course. After that, we recommend taking the three remaining courses of the Foundation curriculum in sequential order, though you may take them in any order if that is better for your schedule.

BUD 501 Mind and Its World I
BUD 502 Clear Thinking
BUD 510 Mind and Its World II
BUD 520 Mind and Its World III
BUD 530 Mind and Its World IV

Find out more about our Foundation curriculum