The Bhaktivedanta Institute cherishes the privilege to have started the world's first Master's degree and Ph.D. programs in the rapidly emerging field of consciousness studies. This program was launched in Mumbai in collaboration with the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS Pilani), one of India's top technical schools. While a growing number of major universities offer degree programs in related fields such as cognitive science, our program is, to the best of our knowledge, the first full-fledged program exclusively dedicated to consciousness studies.
The first group of students entered the M.S. program in January 1997. Over the next 20 years, over thirty students graduated the Master’s degree program. In 2017, the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India withdrew support for off-campus Master’s degree program, therefore this program has been suspended until further notice. We are still offering the PhD. program in collaboration with BITS Pilani. Our graduate program is a natural culmination of the active participation of the Institute in the development of the new scientific field of consciousness studies. In a modest sense, the Institute can be said to have played a pioneering role in the development of this field.
For example, the Institute hosted the First International Conference on the Study of Consciousness within Science in 1990 in San Francisco. The conference featured sixteen invited speakers including three Nobel Laureates. About 490 scholars from different universities in North America and overseas attended as registered participants. The conference was considered a trend-setting major academic event of the time. Immediately after the conference, the Bhaktivedanta Institute started a colloquium on Consciousness and Science in the San Francisco Bay Area. The colloquium ran for over a decade, with a list of speakers that is a veritable who's-who of leading researchers in consciousness studies.
A graduate program in any field can be only as good as the research carried at the host institute. The staff of the Bhaktivedanta Institute pursue vigorous state-of-the-art research programs in many areas of consciousness studies. The Institute has developed a unique perspective on what consciousness studies should entail, and the insights developed have already enriched the planning and conducting of the graduate program.