East Asian religion and Buddhism are particularly well represented at Columbia, with Chün-fang Yü covering Chinese Buddhism, Bernard Faure, Michael Como, and D. Max Moerman focused on Japanese religion and Buddhism, Robert Thurman and Tom Yarnell teaching Tibetan Buddhism, and a forthcoming position in Korean Buddhism. Besides these core faculty members, there is a staggering number of other scholars whose primary fields are not religion (e.g., history, literature) but whose research focuses on various aspects of East Asian religion and Buddhism. These include Robert Hymes (Chinese religion), Haruo Shirane (pre-modern Japanese Buddhism and religion), and Gray Tuttle (early modern and modern Tibetan Buddhism), among others.
Graduate students studying Buddhism or East Asian religion at Columbia usually do so in either EALAC (Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures) or the Department of Religion. Interested students should carefully read the degree requirements of the department to which they wish to apply. (For EALAC degree requirements, click here; for Dept. of Religion requirements, click here, and be sure to read the “Buddhism” and “East Asian Religions” sections under “Fields of Study.”) Students entering EALAC will follow the newly created "Religion" track (rather than the "History" or "Literature" track), while students entering the Department of Religion will choose either Buddhism or East Asian religion as their field of study. This being said, students who wish to study Buddhism or East Asian religion through the disciplines of art history or archeology may also wish to consider the Department of Art History and Archaeology. (Students who study history usually enter either EALAC or the Department of History and follow the interdepartmental East Asian history track maintained by these two departments.) Other departments to which students may apply include those of Anthropology,Economics, Political Science, and Sociology, although most faculty members researching Buddhism and East Asian religion are in EALAC, Religion, and Barnard College. Regardless of the department in which the one studies, however, one is able to take courses outside of one’s department; this includes taking courses with Barnard faculty members (e.g., D. Max Moerman, Jack Hawley, Rachel MacDermott). Please see the last section of this page for a list of other faculty members whose research is on or related to East Asian Religions and Buddhism.
Interested students should also take note of the strengths of Columbia’s libraries. As of summer 2011, the C.V. Starr East Asian Library had approximately 1,000,000 volumes of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Mongol, Manchu, and Western-language materials and almost 7,500 periodical titles, and more than 55 newspapers, with an emphasis on the humanities and social sciences. The library has an extensive collection of primary sources for the study of Buddhism and East Asian religion, many of these being Japanese editions of Buddhist and religious texts from modern and pre-modern East Asia. In addition, due to the long history of scholarship on Buddhism and East Asian religion at Columbia, the library is well-stocked with secondary literature on these topics in both East Asian and Western languages. More generally, both the Chinese and Japanese collections are particularly strong in religion, philosophy, history, and traditional literature, while the Korean collection is currently strongest in history. The Tibetan collection has expanded from a large core centered on traditional Tibetan subjects to include modern Tibet. The Kress Special Collections Reading Room provides access to the rare book, special, and archival collections, as well as extensive collections of non-print materials such as ancient Chinese oracle bones, Chinese paper god prints from the early twentieth century, Edo-period Japanese woodblock prints, maps, and paintings. (Follow this link to read more about the C.V. Starr East Asian Library’s collection.)