I'm interested in doing a masters in Buddhist Studies and have a few questions.
What are some of the best programs? In the US, I know Emory has a Tibetan partnership and there is Naropa. What about other countries?
It seems like you need to choose a language and a field as part of your specialization ... perhaps someone who has completed a MA in Buddhist Studies could speak to this.
Please check out the list at H-Buddhism:http://www.h-net.org/~buddhism/GradStudies.htm
In general, in the US and most Western Universities, Buddhist studies language requirements include (in addition to English) two "canonical languages", eg. Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese; and two modern languages that a important for Buddhist studies, eg. Japanese, French, German, etc. Most people still study these during the first couple of years of their PhD, before confirmation of candidacy.
Fields of specialization are getting broader these days, especially with more inter-disciplinary studies. However, the somewhat old school approach tended to break Buddhism up into three groups: South Asia Buddhism - focusing on Pali Buddhism, esp. in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and maybe with Sanskrit added; East Asian Buddhism - once upon a time more focusing on Japan, but now more Chinese stuff, Korean always on the edge here, utilizing classical Chinese but through modern Japanese scholarship (though again, more and more Chinese scholarship esp. from Taiwan is being used now); and Tibetan / Himalayan Buddhism - through Tibetan and Sanskrit, though maybe with a bit of Mongolian / Kalmuk or what have you. The languages effectively make little areas of focus, which then block out other relationships. So, becoming more aware of this, scholarship is now tending to avoid this somewhat.
For an MA, your focus won't be that tight. Very few if any MA studies are really coming up with anything new. So, usually one follows some basic direction from one's professor. A PhD on the hand should be something new and cutting edge, but by the time you've gone through the MA and the first few years before candidacy, one should have the skills and outlook to do this.
So, best to find a good place with a good program, and if one can, a really good particular prof to study with.