Tsadra Foundation Advanced Contemplative Scholarships offer Western practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism an opportunity to pursue long-term contemplative training.

There are many ways to approach the vast and profound nature of the Tibetan contemplative domain through individual and collective retreats. The traditional group three-year retreat is a most effective means for achieving a comprehensive introduction to advanced meditation while facilitating the development of the discipline necessary for a long-term contemplative practice.

A number of three-year retreat centers now exist in the West. Each year Tsadra Foundation offers Advanced Contemplative Scholarships to individuals entering such three-year retreats as well as to three-year retreat graduates who wish to undertake further solitary retreat for one year or longer.


To qualify for this scholarship, a person wishing to enter a traditional group three-year retreat must have been accepted as a participant in such a retreat. A retreat graduate applying for a scholarship for solitary retreat must present a clearly defined retreat program and demonstrate that physical and support conditions are present for the successful realization of the proposed retreat. In addition Tsadra Foundation will be looking for the following qualifications:

  • Applicant must have studied and practiced Tibetan Buddhism for at least five years.
  • Applicant must have completed the Preliminary Practices of the specific tradition with which the retreat is associated.
  • Applicant should have a rudimentary knowledge of the Tibetan language (depending on the requirement of the retreat center.)
  • Applicant should exhibit the qualities of a successful practitioner: critical intelligence, emotional maturity, flexibility, modesty, selflessness, kindness, humor, etc.
  • Applicant must demonstrate financial need justifying the scholarship.

At the present time scholarships are limited to retreats taking place in the US, Canada, France, Spain and the U.K.

Financial Award

The Advanced Contemplative Scholarships are based on the applicant’s need and their retreat budget. While the costs of retreat centers vary, the amount allocated is based on our study of a number of group and individual retreat situations. It assumes modest living conditions, takes into consideration normal participation in the operating costs of the retreat, and includes some allowance for basic personal expenses. Scholarships generally range between $400 and $1,000 per month. The Foundation takes particular note of and appreciates candidates who have made the effort to find partial support for their retreat costs before applying for a scholarship.

Scholarships for those participating in group three-year retreats will be for the duration of the retreat. Scholarships for solitary retreats will be awarded for the duration of the retreat (up to three years) but will be accorded and renewed on a year-by-year basis.

The Foundation does not offer support for building or infrastructure costs associated with the applicant’s retreat project.

Application Procedure

Tsadra Foundation Advanced Contemplative Scholarships are made available each year to a number of worthy applicants. We accepts applications each spring up to the application deadline of August 1st for scholarships that will begin the following year.

Once the application period has closed, the applications will be examined. Short-listed candidates will be contacted to schedule personal interviews. Final results of the selection process will be announced by the end of November.

Those wishing to apply for an Advanced Contemplative Scholarship should submit the following documents to Tsadra Foundation before August 1st:

Three-year retreat applicants
  1. A letter from the lama of the retreat confirming that you have been accepted as a participant.
  2. An outline of qualifications for entering your retreat and the extent to which you satisfy these qualifications.
  3. A letter from the retreat manager or administrator specifying the retreat costs.
Solitary retreat applicants (three-year retreat graduates)
  1. A description of your proposed hermitage and of the practical support conditions that will allow you to accomplish your solitary retreat.
  2. A description of your retreat program including practices and schedules.
  3. A detailed budget of your retreat costs.
All applicants
  1. Completed Online Application Form (see link below.)
  2. A standard curriculum vitae detailing your study and work history.
  3. A Dharma curriculum vitae detailing your Dharma history (both study and practice).
  4. A recent head and shoulders photo
  5. A clear description of your financial situation, including any personal savings or income, as well as any external sponsorship or support and your efforts to secure such support.
  6. A letter of recommendation from your current lama or meditation instructor. In the case of retreat graduates, you may alternatively request a letter of recommendation from a Buddhist colleague.
  7. A letter of recommendation from an individual who is not a lama nor a family member.

The two letters of recommendation should be submitted directly to the Foundation by those writing them on your behalf. All the other materials listed above should be submitted during the online application process and uploaded in PDF format.

Deadlines for Scholarships
  • Application deadline is August 1st, of each year.
  • Short-listed candidates must be available for interviews from August 15 to October 31.
  • Final decisions will be announced by November 30.

Reporting and Evaluation

Scholarship recipients will be required to submit an annual report to the Director of Contemplative Scholarships at the end of each calendar year for the duration of the scholarship. This report should describe in detail the scholarship activity, including retreat schedule and program, progress made, and any difficulties encountered in accomplishing the purpose of the scholarship during this period. Recipients are to inform Tsadra Foundation if there were any periods of time when they were not able to accomplish this activity. If there were such periods, they are to indicate their length in days or weeks and may be required to reimburse the Foundation grant funds for these periods of inactivityIf a scholarship recipient decides to terminate their retreat prematurely they may be required to reimburse all or part of the scholarship funds.

Not more than one month following the completion of the retreat, scholarship recipients are to provide a final report including (i) an activity summary similar to their annual reports for the entire scholarship grant period; (ii) an honest appraisal of their retreat detailing what they feel were its strengths and weaknesses; (iii) how they feel the retreat may have prepared them to benefit others and generally have a positive impact in the world after their retreat.

All reports are to be submitted to the Foundation as PDF files. Scholarship funds are generally disbursed annually. Disbursement of scholarship funds for a subsequent period is dependent upon timely submission of the year-end report.

Ready to Apply?

Online Application Form

If you would like to apply for an Advanced Contemplative Scholarship, please complete and submit the Online Application Form along with the other required documents, as listed above in the Application Procedure section.