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FGU is a private liberal arts university situated on the forested mountain slopes of north east Taiwan, looking out over the Lanyang plains to the Pacific Ocean. The College and Department of Buddhist Studies feature BA, MA and PhD level programs. The BA is taught in Mandarin, the MA program has both English and Chinese Mandarin tracks, and the PhD is taught bilingually. Classes in classical and modern Chinese are provided for non-Chinese speakers. While the academic focus is on Chinese Buddhism, both classical and modern, Indian, Tibetan and other forms of Buddhism are also taught at all levels. Full scholarships for all students, covering both tuition and board, are provided. In addition to academic studies, the dormitory lifestyle at the Dept. of Buddhist Studies includes morning and evening meditation and chanting, and preparation of vegetarian meals. Monastics and those interested in experiencing a near monastic lifestyle are particularly encouraged to apply.
Fo Guang University's College of Buddhist Studies was officially recognized by the Taiwan Ministry of Education in 2006. It is the first specialist Buddhist Studies Department established at a full university in Taiwan under new legislation which restricted Buddhist Colleges and the like to monastery and seminary institutions outside of recognized universities, enabling full academic accreditation. Previously, there were some 130 Buddhist colleges, various Christian seminaries and theology centers, and Daoist institutes and the like in Taiwan. However, none of them were accredited within the Taiwan Ministry of Education University qualification system. Now, this has changed!
The process began in 2000, when the Ministry opened discussion with various religious groups on higher education. In 2004, new legislation established that universities can now have studies programs specific to a single religion as opposed to the previous system of more general religious studies. This change was to aid in Taiwan academia to have a more international approach. In the past decades, many religious groups have had great success in the areas of education, developing human potential. However, due to the past situation, they were restricted in terms of faculty, teaching materials and curriculum planning. After the change to allow such specialized religious study at university level, not only will this raise the standard of Buddhist studies in Taiwan, it will bring about a greater standard of scholarship to all areas of religious education and be of great benefit to society at large. This change will usher in a new age for Buddhist education in Taiwan.