PhD programs in Indian Philosophy in Europe—Updated

This post is the European continuation of Andrew Nicholson’s one. Andrew is also the one who prompted me to write a European list.

Indian philosophy is taught in at least two different places in Europe: (South) Asian (or Oriental or Indological) Studies and —less often— Philosophy departments. The dominant trend of US universities, where Indian philosophy is taught predominantly in Religious Studies departments is only evident in the UK. Departments of Asian Studies, of Oriental Studies or of Indology, often have a philological focus (so that knowing Sanskrit or other relevant languages is strongly recommended, although not compulsory), whereas studying Indian Philosophy in a Philosophy department may imply having to avoid Sanskrit.

Further elements for non-European students and scholars:
1) university fees are by and large very low in Europe (between nothing and 1,500 E per year for full-time students) and in many countries funding is available.
2) the main point of a PhD course in Europe is the final output, i.e., your dissertation. You might have to attend classes (or not), but the main focus should remain the fact of becoming an independent researcher, and this is proved by your ability to write a book on your own.
3) do not choose a certain department on the basis of your expectations to have a career in Indian Philosophy. Write a PhD in Indian Philosophy (only) because you are interested in it. There are little or no SLACs in Europe and in this sense you cannot really plan a career as a university teacher of Indian Philosophy in Europe (you might have a few more chances as a researcher, but this involves being willing and able to do research with others, or alone and to apply for fundings).

Now, a disclaimer: the European landscape of research related to Indian philosophy os variegated. I have surely forgotten many institutions (for instance, as far as I know, there is no one working on Indian philosophy in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta…is this really the case?) and have not been exhaustive in the case of others (for instance, I have been unable to gather exhaustive informations concerning Croatia and Hungary). I rely on readers for emendations and supplements.

The elements which will be listed, beside the universities, are: AOS, whether funding is possible and whether it is possible to write one’s PhD thesis in English. In all cases, no information does not mean that it is impossible, it only means that I have no information about it.

  • AUSTRIA (possibility to write a PhD thesis in English)

University of Vienna (Institute of South Asian, Tibetology and Buddhist Studies) Sanskrit philosophy, Āyurveda, Sanskrit philology, Buddhist philosophy, especially Pramāṇavāda and Mādhyamaka, Tibetan philosophy)

  • BELGIUM (possibility to write a PhD thesis in English)

Brussel, Vrije Universiteit (Antwerp FVG, Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions) (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Indian Philosophy, especially Vedānta schools, Kaśmīr Śaivism) 2 funding posibilities: FWO (regional) and BOF (university)

Ghent (dept. of languages and cultures of South and East Asia) (Jainism, Buddhism, Indian Philosophy)


Zagreb (Humanities) (Upaniṣads, Vedānta)

  • CZECH REPUBLIC (possibility to write a PhD thesis in English) UPDATED

Charles University of Prague (Institute of Philosophy & Religious Studies) (Buddhism, especially Mahāyāna and Madhyamaka, Nyāya, Kashmiri Śaivism)

  • FRANCE (French needed)

Paris, EPHE (5th section, “Sciences Religieuses”) (Sanskrit philosophy, especially Abhinavagupta and Vedānta), limited possibility for fundings

Paris-I Panthéon Sorbonne (Comparative Indian Philosophy) NO Sanskrit

Lille III (Tantrism)

  • GERMANY (special emphasis on Sanskrit texts, so that critical editions (also) of philosophical texts are possible also at other locations) (in all cases below, the universities have an “institute of Indology” or something similar)

Göttingen (Indian religions, including Veda, Pāli, Epics…)

Hamburg (Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Tantrism, Kaśmīrī Śaiva Philosophy, Mahāyāna, Tibetan Buddhism)

Halle (Sanskrit Philosophy, especially Mokṣopāya and Kaśmīrī philosophy)

Heidelberg (Pramāṇavāda)

Leipzig (Sanskrit Philosophy, especially Pramāṇavāda)

Mainz (Buddhist Philology in Central Asia)

Marburg (Śaiva and Kashmirī philosophy, Mokṣopāya, Buddhist Philosophy)

Münich (Buddhism, Tibetan religions)


Budapest, Eötvös Loránd University (dept. of Indo-European Studies) (Sanskrit philology)

  • ITALY (possibility to write a PhD thesis in English)

Cagliari University (faculty of Humanities) (Sanskrit philosophy, Vyākaraṇa), full funding for 3 years possible

Milan University (aesthetics), full funding for 3 years possible

Naples University (Oriental Studies) (Sanskrit philosophy, especially Śaivism, Buddhism and Tantrism in general, Sanskrit philology), full funding for 3 years possible

Rome, Sapienza University (Oriental Studies) (Sanskrit Philosophy, especially Śaivism, Pramāṇavāda, Tantrism and Vyākaraṇa, Sanskrit philology), full funding for 3 years possible

Turin University (Oriental Studies) (Indian religions and philosophy, especially Advaita Vedānta and Buddhism), full funding for 3 years possible (1 new funded position every year)

Venice University (Asian and African Studies) (Indian religions and philosophy, especially Vedānta, Sāṅkhya, Yoga, Dharmaśāstra, Sociology of Indian religions), full funding for 3 years possible


Leiden (Institute for Area Studies) (Buddhist Philosophy)


Krakow (Pedagogical University, dept. of Philosophy) (Indian Philosophy, especially Buddhism, Sāṅkhya, Yoga, contemporary Indian philosophy)

Krakow (Jagiellonian University, dept. of Oriental Studies) (Indian Philosophy, especially early Advaita Vedānta and Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta, Vaiṣṇavism)

Poznan (Languages and Literature) (Indian Philosophy, especially ethics)

Warsaw (dept. of South Asian Studies) (Indian Philosophy, especially Jainism, Mīmāṃsā)

  • RUSSIA (possibility to write a PhD thesis in English at St. Petersburg)

Moscow (institute of Philosophy) (Indian philosophy, especially Vaiśeṣika)

Moscow (Moscow State University) (Vyākaraṇa, Sanskrit Philology)

Moscow (Russian State University for Humanities) (Jainism, Indian Philology)

St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg State University) (Bhartṛhari, Vyākaraṇa, Buddhism, some Indian philology)

St Petersburg (Institute of Oriental Manuscripts (Buddhist philosophy, Kaśmīri Śaivism, Bhartṛhari, Tibetan Buddhism)


Stockholm (Oriental languages) (Indian Philosophy, especially Nyāya and Buddhism)

  • SWITZERLAND (possibility to write a PhD thesis in English)

Lausanne (Section on languages and cultures slavic and of South Asia) (Buddhist studies, contemporary Indian philosophy)

Zürich (Hinduism, contemporary Hinduism, Ethics, Ethics of Medicine)

  • UK (much higher fees, up to 4,000 pounds per year) (some possibilities of fundings through the University, the Colleges and private institutions)

Bristol (centre for Buddhist studies) (Theravāda Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Zen Buddhism)

Cambridge (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies) (Sanskrit Philology, Vyākaraṇa, Mīmāṃsā, Buddhist Studies)

Cambridge (Divinity) (Vedānta)

Cardiff (Religious and Theological Studies) (Buddhist studies and philosophy)

Dundee (Philosophy) NO SANSKRIT

Durham (Philosophy) (Metaphysics and Philosophy of Language, especially in Madhyamaka Buddhism)

Edinburgh (South Asian Studies) (Indian Philosophy, especially Jainism)

Kent (Religious Studies) (Buddhism, Vedānta)

Lancaster (Religious Studies; Philosophy) (Indian Philosophy, especially Vedānta)

Leeds (Theology and Religious Studies) (Sāṅkhya, Pātañjala Yoga)

Liverpool (Philosophy) (Vedānta, contemporary Indian philosophy)

London, King’s College (Philosophy) (logic, epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of language in India, Greek and modern Western philosophy) NO SANSKRIT

London, SOAS (Religion; South Asia) (Buddhist studies, Tibetan Buddhism, Yoga, Jainism)

Manchester University (Arts, Languages, and Cultures) (Indian philosophy, especially Vedānta)

Oxford (Oriental Studies) (Indian philosophy, especially Vyākaraṇa and Mīmāṃsā, Sanskrit philology, Sanskrit scientific literature)

Oxford (Theology and Religion)

Oxford (one might also want to get in touch with the Oxford Center of Buddhist Studies and the Oxford Center of Hindu studies for external tuition)

Sussex (Philosophy) (Indian Philosophy, especially Nyāya, Vedānta)

York (Philosophy) (Indian ethics and Indian Buddhist philosophy), NO SANSKRIT

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: I am really obliged to the following people for their help: Daniele Cuneo, Evgeniya Desnitskaya, Camillo Formigatti, Jonardon Ganeri, Marzenna Jakubczak, Lubomir Ondracka, Isabelle Ratié, Agnieszka Rostalska, Alex Watson

(cross-posted also on the Indian Philosophy blog)

Comments and discussions are welcome. Be sure you are making a point and contributing to the discussion.

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20 thoughts on “PhD programs in Indian Philosophy in Europe—Updated

  1. very usefull but, maybe, you should note down some further information, i.e. nepotism and clientelar situation in every nation; the Italian’s situation is well known by Italians, but I would like to tell to everybody: to get a place as PhD student you have to win a public contest, but the interesting thing is that this public & statal contest (more than) usually is not regular, and just to get a place as PhD without grant you have to have good connection inside the department (or the commission), sometimes few good person win place without grant because they are the best, but to win a place with a 3 years full grant you must be very well inside the “baronal” italian system, also called “universitarian mafia” system. Obviously, people that win the contest with 3 years grant are great students, but they used a system that in my opinion is unethical, and they do not care regarding how this “patronage system” is degrading the Italian universitarian system.

    • Bodhi, that’s an interesting point and I was hoping that readers would have stepped in to fill the gaps. My impression is that the patronage system favours good students with good connections over good students with no connections, but not bad students with good connections. But I might be over optimistic. Where did you study, if I may ask?

      • Dear Elisa, sorry for my late reply. You can ask but I would feel free to do not answer because maybe you do not know but people that think and say what I am telling are used to be discriminated, and my fear about this should demonstrate how strong is the “mafia” and “baronal” system inside Italian universities. Never mind if I am PhD student in Turin, Pisa, Milan, Bologna, Naples, Rome or Venice, the problem is always the same.
        For sure PhD students or post-doc researcher are very good but just checking on the net who is used to win grent (PhD or post-doctoral), with which committee and you can understand how they really do not care about what they do. They (the “barons”) think that this is the right and only system. They think that the university is somthing of their property. For this when I read about a meeting on May in Rome regarding indological topics I was thinking why they do not dedicate 1 hours reflactions about this problems? Maybe you never speak about this with PhD student without grent, you should try to approach someone, and maybe you will start to understand how people are resigned to this “baronal” system.

        • Bodhi, this is an interesting topic, although the Coffee Break Project group is made of (I am speaking of academic age) younger scholars and students, with little influence on PhD grants (I, for one, work and live abroad, and so most of us). If you think that it would nonetheless make sense to discuss the topic, write me (here or per email) with a few topics to be dealt with —we have a long round table at the end of the CBC in May. It would be even better if you could come and join us (no need to state overtly why you are there, just come).

  2. Thanks for this! By any chance do you know if the program at the University of Vienna requires proficiency in German for acceptance? Obviously it will help immensely but I wonder if it is a requirement.

    • You will have to check this with your tutor, but usually either German is not required at all or you are given one year to reach the level B2 in German (which means that in the first year you will be quite busy with that…). Let me know, here or privately, if you need further details.

  3. I am immensely grateful to you for putting all this together. Thanks a lot. I have been wanting to read about Indian philosophy including Charvak, Buddhism, Vedanta, Tantra. I have no understanding of these issues but I have been passionately drawn to the concept of advaita, Shankara’s interpretation of moksha. Neti Neti or aham bhramasmi, electrifying concepts. I was reading something about death, an article that argued that death is an illusion as we essentially interpret it from the prism of time and space and as we associate our consciousness our being with our bodies. Now, this makes me instantly appreciate the knowledge hidden in Vedas and aspire towards a timeless and space-less understanding of the world! I would like to take a deep dive and experience all this. Indian philosophy is all about having a guru. One who is experienced and kind enough to lead and guide and be patient. I hope the universities listed above can match my extremely ambitious expectations. Amen

    • Dear Smitā, in fact, I am not sure whether you will be able to find such a guru in a university environment. I would rather imagine that university lecturers can help you in gaining the skills needed to read Śaṅkara (and so on). But the personal experience you long for is usually not considered part of an academic curriculum. Anyway, you might have better luck than that! Best wishes for your studies!

  4. Ciao Elisa,

    Grazie mile. Sto cercando adesso per fare il dottorato (PhD) in vedanta advaita, ma nella Spagna non ci sono borse di studio e meno ancora contratto di lavoro. La tua informazione e stata tanto buona, me se conosci qualcuna/o che mi puoi aituare, lo appezzerie tantisimo.

    buona gionarta ancora,

    • Caro José,

      molto dipende da se saresti disposto a spostarti e, se sì, dove. Inoltre, quali sono le tue competenze linguistiche e filologiche? Accetteresti solo di lavorare al tuo progetto o potresti accettare di finanziarti lavorando al progetto di qualcun altro? in bocca al lupo! elisa

  5. The Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (University of Munich) has an M.A. program “Religion und Philosophie in Asien”, which has a focus on Buddhist studies because it resulted from the formation of the “Department für Asienstudien” comprising Indology, Tibetology, Sinology and Japanology: this list of disciplines will make it sufficiently clear what the reason for that Buddhist focus is. This resulted in a structured doctoral program, simply because of the presence of Buddhism-related resources.

    It must be stressed, however, that non-Buddhist traditions are studied as well. Last year, a student received her doctorate for her work on a Jaina philosophical topic, under my guidance, and at present I have a doctoral student who is working on Indian doxographies (not only Buddhist).

  6. For the studies we have to do self finance or the university will provide financial assistance,even for the visa procedures and all?

    • Dear reader, I do not know of any university which will finance visa. Financing one’s study fees is realatively easy (since many universities offer scholarships), whereas only some universities finance also one’s stay and maintenance (see details above).

  7. Respected Prof Freschi,

    It would be immensely helpful if you could provide us with the interdisciplinary research works which can be done by an indian philosophy student. I find recent works on Self and Consciousness quite interesting, as carried in by Prof Evan Thompson, Mark Stideris, and others.

    It would be really kind if we could get more information on such topics.

    • Dear Buddhaditya,

      do you mean you would like to know which fields are more promising for interdisciplinary research (philosophy of mind is, as you point out, one such fields which is rapidly growing)?

      • Thank you mam, and it would be really helpful if I could know more promising fields of interdisciplinary research. And where to apply.
        It is important as my PhD should open up carrer opertunities.