Funding for PhD in early Buddhism. Can you help?

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Hi everyone!
I have decided to continue my academic studies towards a PhD. In June I graduated from a MA in Buddhist Studies at the University of South Wales with a Distinction award. I can’t give many details about my option for a doctorate because I haven’t even formally applied, but here’s a bit about it:

  • It would be at a good European university
  • The focus would be early Buddhism, and a super interesting topic—I’d say that, wouldn’t I!
  • I already had an informal meeting with a professor there, who is a recognised scholar in early Buddhism
  • The meeting went well and he seemed willing to supervise me

Of course the challenge is funding. This is why, although nothing is set in stone yet, I want to be ahead of this and look for as many options as possible. My plan is to apply for a small scholarship from the university, which would only cover tuition fees. If I am granted this, I will only need additional funds to move there, and even if I can’t get them I will manage somehow — you just don’t let an opportunity like that go to waste! But if I don’t even get the small scholarship I’ll need to be more creative.

I’ve looked into the main names known for funding Buddhist scholarship: the Khyentse Foundation generally gives smaller amounts than what I need to projects also smaller than a full PhD, but I might still try; the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation only funds things like the writing year—though very generously. Perhaps one may find more options in Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia… So that’s why I write here, to see if anyone can help, or anyone has any idea or suggestion of where I might look into.

Absolutely ANY information or hint will be much much appreciated!
Smiles to everyone! :slight_smile:


@sujato do you know of anything or of anyone who might ? Thx


Hi Bernat,

Hmm, I don’t know. I’ve not heard of any such sponsorship arrangements with universities in Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter). Perhaps you might contact some of the experienced Buddhist academics or relevant monastics in Europe? Say, for example, Ven Jampa Tsedroen at the Uni of Hamburg. I wish you the best!


Another university offers fully funded PhDs in Buddhist studies, but unfortunately their areas of research/expertise are not early Buddhism… I’ll keep looking!


Have you tried contacting OCBS (the Oxford Center for Buddhist Studies) or The Buddhist Society in London? They may have some ideas or contacts.


Thanks @Media
The OCBS has problems of funding for itself, but they may know, as well as the Buddhist Society. I’ll also approach the UKABS or the IABU.


Hamburg came to mind because of Analayo. I suppose the first thing is to figure out where Buddhist Studies is happening in Europe (you probably already know these; not something I know much about). Though the wikipedia entry on Buddhist Studies had this sentence: “Prominent European programs include Oxford University and Cambridge University, School of Oriental and African Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Hamburg, University of Munich, University of Heidelberg, University of Bonn, University of Vienna, Ghent University, and the Sorbonne.”
So there seems to be a fair bit going on in Germany in terms of Buddhist Studies. Germany is the kind of place one would expect there to be a decent number of funded PhDs even in humanities. You might, though, I suspect, have to compete for such a scholarship (come up with a good proposal and get an interested potential supervisor on board) under some broader umbrella, e.g. religious studies or Oriental studies. There might not be too many scholarships specifically for Buddhism, let alone early Buddhism, per say.


Do you have to physically be in Europe. I did post grad research in a different country to my supervisor. Admittedly I was neglected but she broke the university rules to let me do it and I did ok. The thing is you generate an international network once you start anyhow.


Thx Fiona. I don’t have to be in the same country, though I live in Europe anyway. I could just make regular trips to that city. But the supervisor/scholar I met with recommended a lot that I live there, at least for the first year or two, because I could sit in on classes and seminars they teach. For example: I did Pali, but not Sanskrit: they teach Sanskrit. Or, my master’s degree wasn’t too strong on abhidharma, or vinaya studies, and let’s say they teach a class at a master’s level: I can sit in.

Depending on the level of funding I can gather, my plan was to live there for longer or shorter periods: from beginning to end of academic calendar, only during the two terms, or, in the worst case scenario, just fly there on occasions (but I’d like to avoid this last option),


Bernat, how about securing some form of employment to cover your room and board costs? If you receive a scholarship for tuition, the university may have positions on campus that might offer compensation to cover your other costs. If you’re an EU citizen, it seems you’d be able to find work to cover your costs in an EU country. Outside the EU, you’d likely be able to do this as well, as I have met some EU grad students in the US (by way of example) that do service work or jobs offered by the university to grad students , to pay rent and buy food. You’ll be busy, and burning the candle at both ends, but hey, that’s the fun of grad school! :slight_smile:


Yes, that’s another option; although after doing my MA while working full time I’m a bit sore of occupational schizophrenia. But it’s an option, unless… brexit (the Uni I have in mind is in the UK).