Buddhist Ministry Initiative International Fellows

Please note: the application deadline for the 2022 International Fellows program has passed. Please check back in December 2022 to apply for 2023.

Part of the Buddhist Ministry Initiative, the International Fellows program affords an opportunity for individuals who are deeply engaged in Asian Buddhist communities to do coursework focused on Buddhist ministry at Harvard Divinity School for one year. This fellowship program was created in 2013, thanks to a generous gift from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation. The program is intended for students from Asian countries who plan to continue their work in ministry in their home countries following the completion of the program at HDS. Applicants who are already enrolled in a degree program at their home institution may propose to spend a year at HDS to enhance their understanding of Buddhist ministry from an international perspective. Other applicants may propose to come to HDS for the year to strengthen an existing practice in Buddhist ministry. A major aim of the program is to increase exchange of knowledge and understanding among students of Buddhist ministry in Asia and in the United States; thus, students who are awarded this scholarship will be expected to participate fully in classes as well as co-curricular community activities.

International Fellows receive scholarships to cover full regular tuition and living expenses. The fellows are engaged as full-time students who may enroll for a maximum of eight courses for credit (32 units) within a period of one academic year. They receive full credit for work completed in this program and may transfer these credits elsewhere, or in some cases may petition to have some or all of the work count toward completion of one of the degree programs at HDS.

The 2022 application deadline is February 15, 2022, and all materials must be received by that date for an application to receive consideration.

All applications must be submitted using our online application form. A complete application includes the following:

  • A statement of purpose, indicating why the applicant wishes to come to HDS, take courses at Harvard, and be in residence for the academic year (September 2022–May 2023). Reference should also be made to how this year at HDS will be of benefit to the home community/country of the applicant and the applicant’s ministry vocation. The statement must be double-spaced, size 12 font, not more than 1,000 words in length (approximately 3-4 pages), and represent original work by the applicant alone. It should include the applicant’s general background (education, work experience, volunteer work, and/or relevant personal experience) and how this background has prepared the applicant for graduate theological study; vocational or career objectives in the context of the study of Buddhist ministry; and specific reasons for studying Buddhist ministry at Harvard Divinity School.

  • An updated résumé or curriculum vitae.

  • Transcripts from each postsecondary institution attended showing all undergraduate and graduate work.

  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International Language Testing System (IELTS) is required for all applicants whose native language is not English, or who did not complete their baccalaureate degree at an institution where the language of instruction is English. This year, to accommodate applicants impacted by the pandemic and the closure of in-person testing centers, we are also accepting the IELTS Indicator, an at-home test administered by IELTS, and the TOEFL iBT® Home Edition, an at-home test administered by ETS. If you are unsure whether you must submit test scores, email bmi-applications@hds.harvard.edu as soon as possible to verify requirements.

  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should address the applicant’s intellectual abilities and readiness for studies at the graduate level. The third letter may address the applicant’s standing in a Buddhist community and promise for work in Buddhist ministry.

With the exception of letters of recommendation, these materials must be submitted as part of the online application form. Letters of recommendation may be emailed directly by recommenders to bmi-applications@hds.harvard.edu with the full legal name of the applicant in the subject line.

Among qualified applicants, preference will be given to members of Asian Buddhist communities who plan to continue their work in ministry in their home countries upon completion of their studies at HDS.

Accepted applicants will be responsible for securing a visa for their stay in the United States, working with HDS administrators to arrange any necessary supporting documentation to be supplied by HDS.

Inquiries regarding the program may be sent to bmi-applications@hds.harvard.edu.