Master of Arts in Pastoral Care & Counseling: Buddhist Track

Alfonso Wyatt as Master of Ceremonies for a lantern lighting Buddhist ceremony commemorating 9/11

New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) is a Christian institution of graduate theological education that is historically committed to educating people for ministry in the urban context.  NYTS and its degree programs are accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS).  The New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care (Zen Center) offers a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Buddhist chaplaincy training program that is fully accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE).  The Zen Center serves the growing needs of Buddhists and followers of other religious traditions for accredited training in chaplaincy.  The Zen Center does not offer an accredited graduate degree.  To meet the needs of chaplaincy training candidates in the Zen Center who are seeking to earn an accredited graduate degree for professional purposes, NYTS and the Zen Center collaborate to offer a Buddhist track in the NYTS Masters of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling (MAPCC) degree program.

The MAPCC is a 48-credit graduate degree designed to be completed in two years and to prepare candidates for specialized ministry.  It should be noted that the MAPCC degree does not meet the full educational requirement of 72 graduate credits that has been established by the Association for Professional Chaplains (APC) for board certified chaplains.  Candidates in the Buddhist track who complete the MAPCC at NYTS will be expected to complete four units of CPE through the Zen Center (worth 16 graduate credits) plus 8 additional credits of graduate coursework at NYTS or in another institution in order to meet the 72-credit equivalency requirement of APC.

Candidates in the Buddhist track of the MAPCC at NYTS must successfully complete 18 credits of study in Buddhist scriptures, Buddhist history, and Buddhist philosophy or world religions in order to meet the established requirements for biblical, historical, and theological studies in the MAPCC degree; and they take the year-long sequence of Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care I & II in their first full year in the program in place of the Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling course in the MAPCC.  These courses are offered within the NYTS curriculum and are taught by members of the NYTS Core or Adjunct Faculty who are also approved by the Zen Center.  Students in the Buddhist track must also attend four retreats offered through the Zen Center in place of the four NYTS Masters degree program retreats that are required as part of the MAPCC.  All students identified as being in the Buddhist track will be assigned an academic advisor from the Zen Center who is also an Affiliate member of the NYTS faculty and who will work closely with the NYTS Academic Dean to insure all matters of academic advisement are addressed.  All other components of the degree are the same as others in the MAPCC program.

The Curriculum

The MAPCC curriculum integrates theological learning with psychological training in order to enhance both skill and understanding.  Of the 48 credits, 28 are for required courses and 20 are electives.  Of the 28 required credits, 8 are for Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling (4) and the year-long Practicum with Capstone Project (4).  The remaining 20 required credits are distributed across other disciplines in the theological curriculum as follows:  10 credits for Bible (First Testament, Exegesis, Second Testament); 4 credits for Introduction to Theology; 4 credits for Modern Church History; and 2 credits for Introduction to Theological Education, a year-long course that combines spiritual and academic aspects of formation in learning.

Students who are in the Buddhist track of the MAPCC to take 9 credits in Buddhist scriptural studies or comparative scriptural studies from world religious traditions to meet the requirements for Bible; and 9 credits in Buddhist history and philosophy, and/or the history of religions / comparative religious studies (with special attention to religious pluralism in the United States) to meet the requirements for theology and history.  They also take the year-long sequence of Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care I & II, offered annually.  These courses are offered annually within the NYTS masters degree program and are identified in the annual NYTS course list by the prefix “ZEN” in the course code.

Students in the Buddhist track must complete Introduction to Theological Education for 2 credits during their first year in the program.  Introduction to Theological Education has five components:  attendance in 2 evenings of orientation from 6 to 9 pm the first Tuesday and Wednesday after Labor Day each year; a writing sample which is administered during one of these evenings; an introduction to the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, which is offered during the month of September; training in the NYTS online learning system (Moodle), which is also offered in September; and attendance and participation in two retreats held during the first week of the fall and spring semesters.  Candidates in the Buddhist track participate in two retreats offered by the Zen Center during the first year to meet the retreat requirement.  The Zen Center will certify with the NYTS Academic Dean or designated professor of record for Introduction to Theological Education satisfactory completion of this requirement for each candidate.

Learning Competencies

The MAPCC Buddhist track seeks to prepare men and women for ministry who are:

  • informed scripturally, and knowledgeable concerning the historical development of Buddhist thought and tradition as well as other religious traditions
  • equipped for diverse and inclusive partnerships in religious communities, the city, and the world
  • centered in a spiritual tradition which is dynamic in its formation and open to continuing revelation
  • aware of their own ongoing personal spiritual and psychological development
  • knowledgeable about the complexity of the human being and the contribution that context makes in terms of the formation and development of the person and groups of people
  • skillful at translating their gained knowledge into praxis in expressions of ministry, and into leadership within their religious community

Admissions and Registration

Candidates for the Buddhist track of the MAPCC degree must follow the regular NYTS application and admissions process and be accepted into the degree program.  Candidates should identify themselves at the time of their initial application as being candidates for the Buddhist track, doing so through the Zen Center.  An academic advisor who is an Affiliated faculty member at NYTS from the Zen Center will be assigned to them.

Candidates for the Buddhist track of the MAPCC must register for all courses through NYTS and are responsible for all applicable NYTS tuition and fees.  Candidates for the degree are eligible for financial aid under regular NYTS guidelines, including federal loans.  All other academic policies and procedures for the degree will apply.  Candidates who are not pursuing the MAPCC degree but wish to attend one of the courses designated in the NYTS curriculum as a “ZEN” class may do so by registering as an “Auditor” through the Zen Center, paying any fees that are charged by the Zen Center.  NYTS will not accept auditors for courses identified by the “ZEN” prefix in the curriculum.  Those wishing to audit these courses must do so through Zen Center.


NYTS Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling (MAPCC)

Buddhist Track
Curriculum Design


 All Year





 Year A

*Introduction to Theological Education


 *Buddhist Scriptures


 Elective (2)

*Buddhist Scriptures



June (2 /3)
July (3)

 August (3)

 *Foundation in Buddhist Cont. Care I


 *Foundation in Buddhist Cont. Care II


 Year B


with Capstone

fall & spring

(2 & 2)


* Buddhist History and Philosophy (4)

Elective (2)

*Buddhist History and Philosophy (4)

Elective (4)

Elective (4)


* indicates required course for MAPCC degree

Suggested schedule of classes for completing the degree in 2 years 48 credits needed to graduate:

  • 28 required, 16 electives, 4 Practicum with Capstone Project
  • Of the 28 required credits, 16 are in Buddhist scriptures, Buddhist history, and Buddhist philosophy / world religions; 8 credits are in Foundations of Buddhist Contemplative Care I & II; 2 credits are in Intro to Theological Education
  • Required courses and electives may be offered in a summer session for 3 credits.
  • Two retreats annually are required as part of Introduction to Theological Education (Year A) and the Practicum with Capstone Project (Year B)

Students seeking to meet 72-credit equivalency requirement of APC complete four units of CPE through the Zen Center (16 credits) plus an additional 8 credits of course work at NYTS or another graduate program; CPE credits and can be listed on the NYTS transcript for purposes of APC equivalency certification.


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