FPMT Basic Program

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The FPMT Basic Program is a sequence of introductory and intermediate courses in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and praxis offered by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international network of Gelugpa dharma centers. Designed by FPMT co-founder Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, the sequence was, according to Daniel Cozort, "developed in the mid-1990s and launched in 1998," along with the FPMT Masters Program.[1] Basic Program courses may be taken at participating FPMT dharma centers (of which there were 28 as of 2013); or through homestudy / online learning. The program is designed to take up to five years to complete and is sometimes offered residentially.

Those who complete the program (including ancillary practice requirements) are awarded the FPMT Basic Program Completion Certificate or the FPMT BP Homestudy Completion Certificate, as appropriate. Graduates of the center-based program "become eligible to serve as teachers and tutors for FPMT education programs," while homestudy/online students qualify to teach "Discovering Buddhism" and other introductory courses.


The core sequence comprises nine subjects:

(a) "Awarenesses and Knowers", using Yongdzin Purbuchok's textbook
(b) "Minds and Mental Factors", using Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen's commentary

The following subjects are supplementary:

The following are recommended preparatory courses:

  • "Discovering Buddhism"
  • "The Foundation of Buddhist Thought"

The teachers are generally either Tibetan geshes or Western FPMT Masters Program graduates. The subjects may be studied in any order; the lamrim is considered to offer overall context, Tenets and Mind and Cognition are recommended to precede study of Chapter 9 of Bodhisattva Deeds and the Special Insight and Concentration sections of the Middle Length Lamrim. The Ornament subject is relatively difficult. Both center-based and homestudy/online versions of the program include tests, and 'behavior' and practice components. The program is concluded by a final exam and completed with a retreat.

Requirements for the center-based program include sincere training in observance of the Five Precepts, regular meditation practice, and three months of lamrim retreat; for homestudy / online students the completion requirement is one-month of lamrim retreat. Additional requirements apply for the tantra subjects.


  1. Cozort, "The Making of the Western Lama," in Heine & Prebish (eds.), p. 226.


Official site

FPMT Online Learning Center site


  • Cozort, Daniel. "The Making of the Western Lama." In Buddhism in the Modern World (Steven Heine & Charles S. Prebish, eds), Oxford UP: 2003, ch. 9. Cozort discusses the ILTK's Masters Program in the context of the overall educational curricula of the FPMT, which he compares with the traditional system of Sera Je Monastery.