Summer Classical Tibetan Language Study

Summer Program 2021

Orientation sessions start from 9 June 2021, and classes run from 14 June to 5 August 2021 (eight weeks).

Please note that the information below relates to the online Summer Program 2020. More information regarding the Summer Program 2021 will be available in January 2021. 




Summer Classical Tibetan Course

The Classical Tibetan summer program comprises three courses offered on two levels: Beginning and Intermediate. The two beginning-level courses comprise RYI’s existing online Moodle-based courses that provide video lessons, comprehensive learning materials and thorough moderation by the course leader. The intermediate-level class works differently. It is an eight-week intensive course that will be taught by an instructor through a blend of live and recorded classes using the free Microsoft Teams application.

The level of intensity of the summer Intermediate Tibetan course is high and the courses require considerable time and effort in order to meet class requirements and academic expectations. However, students who successfully complete the summer courses will be well on their way towards a high degree of proficiency in classical Tibetan.

Beginning Classical Tibetan options

This year we will not be running the Beginning Classical Tibetan as a Summer Program Intensive. RYI already offers comprehensive and accredited online courses at this level. All those wishing to undertake beginning-level Classical Tibetan courses are invited to sign up for the following courses:

Classical Tibetan I (online)

Classical Tibetan I covers the principal topics of classical Tibetan grammar using handbook material as well as text passages from classical Tibetan Buddhist literature. Although the topic of grammar is central, students are also introduced to the basic vocabulary of classical Tibetan philosophy. This course can serve as a springboard for students to begin to delve into Tibetan texts on their own, and as a foundation for more serious students to continue with confidence into more advanced language instruction. In the self-study format, this course is a good refresher for those who have had some instruction in Tibetan language previously and wish to solidify foundations.

Please note that when you sign up for this course you will be given free access to The Tibetan Alphabet online course as this is a prerequisite for the Introduction to Classical Tibetan course.

Find out more here.

Classical Tibetan II (online)

In Classical Tibetan II, students will continue with an introduction to the classical Tibetan language and its grammar, and gain more experience and confidence reading and understanding classical Tibetan texts. After completing this course, successful students will be able to approach Tibetan texts by themselves with confidence.

Students will use their knowledge of basic Tibetan grammar and vocabulary to move into the world of Tibetan literature in a guided way. The focus of the course is on learning by doing, so the primary means of instruction is through guided readings of Tibetan classics such as The Jewel Ornament of Liberation (དྭགས་པོ་ཐར་རྒྱན་) and Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva (རྒྱལ་སྲས་ལག་ལེན་). Students will also read the highly regarded Mahāyāna Heart Sutra as part of the course. Students are guided through these texts sentence-by-sentence in recorded visual lectures. The readings in the lectures are interspersed with explanations of the grammar found there, which sometimes includes aspects of grammar as explained in the traditional Tibetan style. The course also focuses on the expansion of students’ vocabulary.

Find out more here.

Please note that the above two online courses are NOT part of the summer intensive program. Their recommended study schedules stretch for up to 15 weeks, although you can complete them quicker according to your preferences. Importantly, however, those wishing to apply academic credits for further study at RYI in the fall 2020 semester must complete the course by August 7, 2020.

Intermediate Classical Tibetan Online Summer Program

This summer intensive is offered for intermediate-level students with two semesters of prior study of classical Tibetan. The course assumes familiarity with the fundamentals of Tibetan grammar, including the eight cases and their associated particles, common grammatical structures and verb tenses, along with knowledge of Buddhist terms and vocabulary.

For more information, please download the detailed course syllabus.



The course is accredited at the Centre for Buddhist Studies as follows:

  • For beginning-level Classical Tibetan:
    • Introduction to Classical Tibetan I (3 credits, equivalent to TLAN 101)
    • Classical Tibetan II (3 credits, equivalent to TLAN 102)
  • For Intermediate Classical Tibetan: Classical Tibetan III and IV (6 credits total)

Admission Criteria

All applications for the Moodle-based courses Introduction to Classical Tibetan and Classical Tibetan II are subject to approval by the Centre for Buddhist Studies.

All applications for the online Intermediate Classical Tibetan program are subject to approval by the Centre for Buddhist Studies. Students applying to the Intermediate program must present documentation of prior Classical Tibetan studies at a university or from a similarly recognized program.

For more information, please refer to the Eligibility Requirements and Admissions Process for the summer program.

Fee Request

Information available in January.