Tewi wrote:If I had my life to live over again, I would go to Ranjung Yeshe / Kathmandu University. (It wasn't around back when I was of an age to go, but I've visited over the years.) The main drawback is that rightly or wrongly, other academics tend to look down on (or just not pay any attention to) degrees from the third world.
Some also look down on degree from other first world countries, too.
I was told by a professor of Columbia University that someone with a PhD from Japan wouldn't get a job in his faculty. A lot of my former professors said that getting a PhD in Asia (even Japan or Korea which are first world countries) will mean you don't get a job in North America. Even European degree holders are not necessarily held in the same esteem as someone with a PhD from a North American university.
This will be an issue if you want to use the degree to apply for further study, or teaching jobs. On the other hand, you'll come out speaking and reading fluent Tibetan, Nepali, and who knows what else. And they've got some fine faculty to guide you in the academic stuff. Also,since RY/KU only offers the BA and MA (in "Buddhist Studies with Himalayan Language"--oh how I love that name!), the drawbacks I mentioned would matter less than they would for a Ph.D. program.
Well, even a PhD degree from some respected western institution doesn't guarantee a position anywhere. In recent years the humanities has been getting axed piece by piece. With the economies of western nations contracting, fields not seen as commercially viable or able to protect themselves with external powers (mainly sponsoring organizations with authority in the real world) are prone to be downsized.
If you go to learn Tibetan in Kathmandu, you'd be better off using that knowledge reading texts and getting teachings from Tibetan speaking authorities. Studying Tibetan there hoping it buys you something back home is probably going to lead to disappointment.
Universities or academic programs run by dharma centers, or closely associated with them, have a poor reputation. Most are expensive (but not Foguangshan or UWest, which might even be free), some are doctrinaire (but perhaps this is what you want), and most have low admissions standards. Naropa has been called a party school (my information is from two decades ago, though), while Maitripa and Namgyal Ithaca are unaccredited. Anyway, it would be very easy to place Ranjung Yeshe in this company, although I like them.
I have friends in RY. From the sounds of it, the quality of the end product depends solely on the student. Kathmandu is full of young backpacker party-goers and as a student there it would be easy to fall into such a lifestyle. It would end up being an extended vacation in Nepal rather than being an educational experience. However, there are serious students and they come out with solid language skills.
The same principle applies to western universities as well.
I've met enough Ivy League graduate students and graduates to know the institution doesn't make the scholar.