What type of student does the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education attract?

There are a wide diversity of students enrolled in our program. Some come already familiar with mindful and/or contemplative approaches to education, while for others it is a brand-new idea. This type of diversity allows us to learn from each other. It is an accredited graduate program that is rigorous, fulfilling, and will teach you practical skills that you can apply every day.

The one thing all of our students have in common is a deep connection to their students and to meaningful teaching. 

Why does the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education program begin in the summer?

Coming together as a cohort helps establish a coherent contemplative community that will follow you through your program. This sense of community extends into the online portion of the program. Beginning in the summer and sharing the same physical learning environment with others will help you embody the contemplative learning principles.

What are the ages of typical students?

Students’ ages range from the early 20’s to the early 60’s.

Where do your students come from?

They come from all over. Most come from the United States or are American citizens teaching overseas but we have enjoyed the presence of international students as well. The ease and availability of our online low-residency format makes the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education program accessible wherever you are.

Do I need to be a current K–12 teacher to participate?

No. The majority of our students do teach in K–12 settings but this is not a requirement. Students who have successfully completed the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education program range from teachers of pre-kindergarten all the way to university-level professors. Some are school principals or directors. We have professional enrichment students who work as educational administrators and teacher educators.

It is not necessary for you to be a current teacher or ever have been a teacher to participate though. Through our Education Beyond the Classroom option you can learn how you can apply contemplative practices to your area of interest. 

The approaches you will learn in the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education program are applicable in a wide variety of settings.

In what kind of schools do most of your students teach?

Many of our students teach in public schools, serving both traditional and progressive school districts. The settings they teach in vary from spiritually oriented to ultra-conservative and from inner-city to rural. There are also a number teaching in parochial and private schools.

The flexibility of the Master of Art in Contemplative Education program allows anyone with a passionate interest in studying education from a contemplative perspective to participate. Where you teach, if you teach, does not matter as much as a willingness to grow and learn.

Are there teachers in certain content areas best served by your program?

Teachers of any content area who share a desire to embrace meaningful teaching strategies will find our program fits their need. Our students teach in math, foreign language, social studies, English, music, etc., spanning all grades. Contemplative Education adapts to all subjects. As a student in the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education program you will learn a foundation of compassionate teaching education presence and ways of making subjects meaningful to yourself and your students.

Can I take individual online courses without becoming a matriculated student?

Yes. Many of our online courses are open to non-program students. In most cases courses taken for credit can be applied to your degree if you seek matriculation at a later date. It is important to note that in order to secure financial aid you do need to be enrolled for at least 6 credits.

I am a full-time teacher. Is it reasonable to expect to complete the program in two years?

The vast majority of our students successfully complete their degree in two years. The ease and availability of the online course format allows you to access classes when it is convenient for you and summer sessions minimize the school year workload. That said, enrolling in a graduate program will put higher demands on your time. We highly recommend planning ahead and simplifying your responsibilities during the two-year program.

How are the courses graded? Do I receive a letter grade?

In most cases you will be awarded a letter grade for a course. These will reflect your mastery of the material using criteria such as conceptual understanding, attendance, class participation, writing mechanics, and citation. Your letter grade will also reflect your mastery of the more contemplative aspects of the program such as: integration of relevant personal experience, application of contemplative principles and practices to teaching and learning, and the development of compassionate communication skills.

The Community Seminars during the summer program are graded pass-fail.

I am not a Buddhist. Will I fit into the Naropa University community and the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education Program?

Yes. Both Naropa University and the Master of Arts in Contemplative Educations program are Buddhist-inspired but not Buddhist-required. What this means is we integrate Buddhist principles and practices into a nonsectarian approach. Our students find that the program opens them to greater dimensions in themselves; often crediting the program for instilling in them a new devotion and deeper understanding of their own faith. A previous student wrote, “I would not have read these books without your directions, due to my own…spiritual prejudices.”

Students graduate from the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education and remain committed to their religion or philosophy.

Do you include other approaches beyond Buddhism?

Yes. We incorporate practices from other traditions, holistic pedagogies, and social emotional learning pedagogies. Drawing heavily from the works of Parker Palmer and educators like Rachel Kessler .

There are courses devoted to exploring a wide range of sources in sacred learning and development. One of the great things about contemplative education is its adaptability. Our students have successfully merged contemplative training with a wide variety of other educational approaches.

How are contemplative practices integrated into the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education?

We adapt practices from Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, as well as the Christian-based educational work of Parker Palmer . Our fundamental practices are sitting meditation and mindful awareness. These practices will allow you at attend to your inner experiences— thoughts, feelings, emotions—but not cling to what you discover. This allows your teaching to be uninterrupted by unexamined thoughts or emotions. As you become more familiar with your inner-experience, mindfulness will become an ally. The practices you will learn in the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education program will allow you to integrate the richness of your inner-life into your repertoire of teaching skills.

Learning to use these practices and integrating them into your everyday life will aid you in reading and discussing with clarity and precision, becoming more attentive when listening or speaking, and opening you up to become more present in your environment so when you interact with your students you will communicate with your entire presence not just your words.

What is maitri space awareness practice?

During your second summer, you learn to practice maitri (loving-kindness) space awareness. The practice has been used in different academic disciplines at Naropa University for more than thirty years and in teacher educations since 1990. Through simple yoga practices you directly experience a range of energy styles, similar to temperaments and learning styles, in the process learning to embrace the complexities that make you unique as a teacher and learner.

Derived from the maitri practice are the Five Qualities of Contemplative Education. These are studied during the online portion of the program and provide a conceptual understanding to the many ways you can relate to knowledge and interact with others in learning environments. You will then practice applying these qualities to curriculum development and your daily responsibilities of teaching. Graduates of our program report that these areas of study and practice prove invaluable to increasing their everyday effectiveness, communications skills, and equanimity as a teachers.

Is it possible to visit your program prior to applying?

Yes, of course. We openly welcome visitors to our summer program. It’s a great time to sample contemplative education in its many dimensions. On a visit you could join in certain classes, share a meal with the students and faculty, and ask questions of any of the participants.

If this is something you would like to do please contact us prior to visiting.

Could I speak with or email a current student or past graduate of the Master of Arts in Contemplative Education program to inquire about their experience?

Yes. We will gladly supply contact information for students and graduates willing to share their experience with prospective students. Just let us know what type of student or graduate is closest to your situation and we will get you in contact.

Other questions?

We are open and available to answer any other questions that you may have. Please contact us.