The College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) is a branch college under the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD). Under the guidance of and with seed money from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the late Gen Lobsang Gyatso selflessly and voluntarily undertook the task of establishing both institutes – first IBD in 1973, and then CHTS in 1991. (See the full history of IBD here.)
As soon as some preliminary construction work had been completed, Sarah College began to offer short-term training to newly recruited Tibetan civil servants and primary Tibetan language teachers. Over the next few years, classes expanded as new facilities were erected on the new campus. Then, on February 4, 1997, the whole Tibetan community suffered a tragic shock when our beloved Director Gen Lobsang Gyatso was murdered by Dorje Shugden practitioners, along with two of his students. Even while mourning the loss of Gen la, the whole Institute of Buddhist Dialectics community developed a deep, heartfelt determination to make our educational programs a living legacy of our late founding director.
By July 1997, the Bachelor of Tibetan Studies program (Thorim Rigney Rabjampa) had commenced with a group of about 54 young Tibetans. The students in the first group were also given primary and secondary teacher training courses, with the goal of filling an ongoing need in the Tibetan community for well-trained teachers.
On August 13, 1998, His Holiness the Dalai Lama graced the founding anniversary of the newly completed College and inaugurated it.
Very early in its history, CHTS began to be recognized as a first-rate educational institution. On January 1, 2000, then Education Minister Mrs. Rinchen Khando la, and then General Secretary, Department of Religious and Culture, Ven. Karma Gelek, presided over a special function held at CHTS, to witness the formal signing of an agreement between prestigious Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics regarding an exchange program. In the exchange program, the performance of the Emory students in their studies during the exchange period would be recognized as an equivalent to that of Emory University.
On April 2000, the first group of Bachelor in Tibetan Studies students completed their course in Tibetan Studies and continued on to the Bachelor of Education program. From this point, the College started accepting students on a yearly basis.
On August 17, 2001, Mrs. Rinchen Khando conferred the first graduating class with Bachelor of Tibetan Studies degrees as well as their Secondary Teachers Training course certifications. During the function, the Minister announced the official name of this institution – The College for Higher Tibetan Studies – and approved it on behalf of the Department of Education, while recognizing it as a standard college for imparting Tibetan studies.
Over the years the College, while steadily gaining a reputation in the Tibetan community and abroad as a pre-eminent Tibetan educational institution, has continued to expand our programs. The College started offering many short-term programs for teachers, civil servants and Tibetan youths interested to improve their Tibetan, and branched out to offer Teacher Training programs to other Himalayan regions people as per the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In July 2014, the college implemented Masters in Tibetan History and Masters in Tibetan Literature courses. The college has also started new partnerships with international universities and has begun offering Tibetan language courses designed specifically for international students.
CHTS Today: Sarah College at a Glance
Sarah College has now grown from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most highly reputed higher learning centers in Tibetan studies. As we write this in September 2015, CHTS has 302 students annually, studying in a broad array of undergraduate and graduate-level degree and certificate programs. The College is served by a total of 17 faculty members and 20 staff members.