Thanks everyone for their responses.
A few things about me:
I'm a professional Tibetan translator and fluent in Tibetan. I've been studying Buddhism for 14 years, and Tibetan Buddhism for 10 years. I've been living in India studying Tibetan language and Buddhism (including high level philosophy) for about 5 years. Not to toot my own horn, but to give you a better idea, from what I've seen, I probably have one of the highest levels of fluency in spoken and literary Tibetan among Western Tibetan language students living in Asia (maybe 5th or 6th place), and I arguably might be the best Tibetan-English translator under the age of 32. But in Buddhist philosophy I still consider myself a relative beginner compared to, for example, people who have studied for years in shedras (I've done quite a bit of philosophical study but probably only totaling the equivalent of a couple years of shedra). My work is becoming somewhat well-known in the Tibetan Buddhist community. You can read more about me and my work at the following links:http://www.sugatagarbhatranslation.comhttp://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Erick_Tsiknopoulos_%28Sherab_Zangpo%29
This will probably give you a better feeling for my background and interests.
I'm currently involved in a few projects that will be published as books when they're finished and will probably be a big deal when they come out, popular texts such as the Sutra of Golden Light -- 29 and 31 chapter versions -- and the complete Yuthok Nyingthik, etc. I'm also translating orally 5 days a week for a great lama (Lobsang Choegyel Rinpoche) here in Dharamsala, and I think it will become quite a local sensation within the next year.
This is also part of the reason I want to stay in India for a while. To really do textual translation work properly ideally requires being around Tibetan scholars (in my opionion), and I am really enjoying translating for the Rinpoche. Also, I like all of the options I have here for Tibetan Buddhist studies in general.
It was based on all of my previous studies that I was able to enter into the online MA program from the International Buddhist College in Thailand, since I don't have a BA. It's an accredited program through the government of Thailand. It's also rather inexpensive, and seems relatively easy. I definitely want to stay in India for another few years. So for all of these reasons I think that this program is about the best I can do right now.
The suggestion of Leiden seems like it would be the best option for me, since even three years from now, I will probably
want to stay in India and continue my work and studies here in the future. That is, if I can really do all of my PhD work here in India and not have to go to Holland more than briefly once a year or something. Actually, my first Tibetan language teacher, Chris Wilkinson, is also doing his PhD through Leiden (he lives in Washington). I will ask him about it.
Anything under China (Hong Kong etc.) is out of the question for fairly obvious political reasons. I also have a Tibetan wife, so as long as we stay together, definitely anything China is not possible, and even Taiwan might be difficult (I am not sure), and if I did go to another country, it would have to be a place where they could secure a "dependent visa" for her.
In a sense, I am not so worried about the status of degrees, since I am not even sure whether I would definitely want to be a professor or not. It's mainly
for my own status and respectability as a translator and to more easily get translation grants in the future. But of course the higher the status of the degree, the better. I am not really planning on moving back to the US in the near future, and really anywhere in the West is not that appealing to me at the moment, although things could change a few years down the road. However, the possibility of working as a professor or teacher in the future is certainly one of the reasons that I want to get a PhD. I am a little worried about being "stuck" as a translator or even being "stuck" in India due to my translation work, and so more options would definitely be a good thing.
The whole talk about how American/North American universities don't recognize most Asian degrees in BUDDHIST STUDIES just reaffirms my disgust with the American educational system and society in general. Very self-focused and arrogant to say the least. Not to mention a racket. Turns me off even more than I already am. Most of those Western Tibetan Buddhism professors don't even speak decent Tibetan, which to me is kind of a joke.
Rangjung Yeshe is not appealing to me for various reasons, I am not really into their "thing", I don't want to live in Nepal (for a lot of reasons), they are overpriced, I find their approach rather yuppie-ish and overly "Western Buddhist", and a Nepal degree is even worse than an Indian degree.
Again, an Indian PhD doesn't seem that doable for me for all the reasons I mentioned in my first message.
be willing to move to another country in Asia, but probably I will want to stay in India and continue the good things I'm doing here.
I am somewhat more interested in Japan because I have an old strong connection to that country. I used to study Japanese, and lived there for 6 months, and actually attained a somewhat high level of fluency in the language at the time (2005), although I've forgotten most of it. The cost is a concern though.
And as I said, Taiwan seems like a fairly good option for the reasons I mentioned.
I will look into Leiden, since most likely I will want to stay in India. Hopefully they would recognize my Thai degree.
I am not really super-focused on the academic side of things, but I think it's a good thing to do, which is why I am going to do this Masters. A PhD is, as I said, 3 years from now for me, but I want to look into things ahead of time.
I think that's all for now. Thanks to everyone once again for their suggestions.