Naropa University
"Naropa asks you to 'show up'—not just physically, but intellectually. At Naropa, you will...

Naropa University

Boulder, Colorado

Transform Yourself. Transform the World.

Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado is a non-traditional liberal arts university. Naropa’s approach is grounded in the belief that personal discovery precipitates inner and outer change and fosters compassion and creativity. Naropa purposefully creates an environment rich in self-discovery by combining traditional academics with experiential education and mindfulness practice. Known as contemplative education, Naropa’s one-of-a-kind way of educating builds intellectual acuity, a strong sense of self-awareness, and practical skills that inspire students to create meaningful careers that contribute to the greater good though psychology, education, social and spiritual leadership, or the arts.



Student Profile

383 undergraduate students (36% male, 64% female); 35% in-state, 63% out-of-state, 2% international

Faculty Profile

43 full-time faculty, 121 part-time faculty. 11:1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

At Naropa, about 18% of students live in on-campus housing. Naropa University’s Snow Lion apartments are not your traditional dorm rooms. These are fully furnished apartments, complete with full kitchens, closet space, a courtyard, and wireless Internet access. The complex also includes free off-street parking, a coin-operated laundry facility, a small community meeting space, and a meditation room. Snow Lion residents organize a variety of community events, such as movie nights, study sessions, potlucks, or 24-hour poetry reading marathons. Students 20 years old and younger, with less than 30 credits, are required to live on campus. All other students can opt to live at Snow Lion or take advantage of numerous off-campus housing resources.

School Location

Naropa University is located in Boulder, CO. A progressive town of 100,000 people known for its emphasis on the environment, arts, technology, and health, Boulder has attracted intellectuals, artists, and seekers. With a wealth of cultural and recreational opportunities, Boulder continually appears on lists of best college towns, as well as best places to live.

For Naropa students, Boulder is part of the learning laboratory. On any given week, students can attend experimental poetry readings and concerts, meet authors, attend art exhibits, explore museums, practice yoga, or volunteer in a community garden (not to mention hike, snowboard, rock climb, or kayak).

Boulder is also part of Colorado’s Front Range green energy and technology corridor. People come to Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins to start green businesses, biotechnology companies, software and design firms, organic food companies, and other ventures. Colorado’s Front Range cities offer Naropa students plenty of opportunities for internships, career exploration, and personal growth.

Other Information

With a vision to create a university that combines Eastern wisdom traditions with the best of Western scholarly traditions, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and Oxford University scholar, founded the Naropa Institute in 1974, naming it after the eleventh-century Indian Buddhist sage Naropa, an abbot of Nalanda. The Naropa Institute has since become the accredited Naropa University.

Academic Programs

Contemplative Psychology (BA)

Creative Writing & Literature (BA)

Early Childhood Education (BA)

Environmental Studies (BA)

Interdisciplinary Studies (BA)

Music (BA)

Peace Studies (BA)

Performance (BFA)

Religious Studies (BA)

Traditional Eastern Arts (BA)

Visual Arts (BA)

Art Therapy (BA) (under development)


View a list of graduate programs at

View Extended Studies offerings at

Inherently Engaged

A Naropa education goes beyond traditional academics, offering a curriculum that includes interactive engagement both inside and outside the classroom. Opportunities such as internships, service learning, and special community events challenge students to engage more deeply both with each other and with their studies. Students are also encouraged to help build a stronger university community by organizing new student groups and campus events.

Small, Powerful Classes

Most Naropa classes range from ten to nineteen students. Students are expected to show up not just physically, but also intellectually, contributing to the dynamic discussions characteristic of the Naropa classroom experience. This emphasis on dialogue highlights the importance of interpersonal interactions in both learning and teaching, allowing students to develop a keen ability to express themselves, support their ideas, hone communication skills, and acknowledge multiple perspectives. 

Contemplative Education

Naropa University practices contemplative education, an approach to learning and teaching that combines traditional academics with experiential learning and mindfulness practice to help students develop expertise, real-world skills, and self-awareness. Like at most schools, students engage in research, write papers, and take exams. However, the traditional academic experience is enhanced by the addition of experiential opportunities such as field study, internships, and volunteerism, and mindfulness practices such as sitting meditation, t’ai chi ch’uan, and yoga.

Internships and Community Service.

Service learning represents a key element of a Naropa education. The core curriculum includes a Civic Engagement Seminar, giving students an opportunity to serve others while also gaining insight into future careers. Various other courses also incorporate service learning into the curriculum, and the university often hosts days of service to local organizations. 

Many programs offer internships that help students deepen their humanity and hone professional skills they can use in the workplace.

Personalized Studies

Naropa’s Interdisciplinary Studies program offers students the opportunity to design their own custom major by integrating two to three disciplines taught at the school. Students receive support in designing their course of study and work with faculty mentors throughout their academic journey. The program also affords students the opportunity to engage in independent study and research.

Study Abroad

Valuing active engagement both locally and globally, Naropa University offers a number of options for studying abroad. A powerful tool in expanding your worldview, studying abroad helps students to better understand the differences and interdependencies that characterize our world. Through an exclusive partnership with the Royal University of Bhutan, Naropa offers a study abroad program in Bhutan. Naropa also offers study abroad opportunities in China, India, the Himalayas, and the Andes and Amazon, through a partnership with Where There Be Dragons. Students may also choose to study abroad with Naropa’s affiliate program, the School for International Training (SIT), which offers more than 55 programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific.

World-Class Minds and Mentors.

Fulbright scholars. Internationally respected researchers. Practicing psychologists. Award-winning poets. Groundbreaking environmentalists. And, most importantly, exemplary teachers.

Rather than take a top-down approach to education, Naropa faculty see themselves as mentors and collaborators, people who are experienced seekers passionate about helping others on similar paths. Whether it’s guiding someone toward an interesting internship, discussing philosophy, or advising a thesis, Naropa professors challenge students to grow intellectually, professionally, and personally.

Naropa’s student-faculty ratio is 11:1; class sizes typically range from 10 to 19 students. Naropa’s small classes and interactive classroom environment make it possible for faculty to see their students’ gifts and challenges, so they can personalize their teaching, assisting students in discovering their passions and honing their skills in service of meaningful career development.

As fellow seekers actively engaged in their own fields, the university’s world-class scholars, artists, and lifelong learners are transforming their disciplines while also helping students transform their lives.

Bolder and Boulder

Both Naropa University and the surrounding Boulder, Colorado community place strong emphasis on innovative thinking, social and environmental justice, spiritual development, and artistic expression. For this reason, community activities go beyond the expected college town happenings. While Boulder offers plenty of nightlife, many Naropa students find themselves more attracted to engaging in activism, outdoor recreation, spiritual practice, and volunteerism; attending concerts, readings, and lectures; and organizing their own community events.

Practicing in Community

Each semester, Naropa hosts Community Practice Day. On this day, classes are suspended and offices are closed, allowing the entire university community to engage in a variety of contemplative practices together and build relationships. The day includes sitting and walking meditation, guest speakers, and the opportunity to engage in mindfulness practices from a diversity of cultural and religious traditions. Such practices include Japanese tea ceremony, Hindu chanting, walking a labyrinth, contemplative prayer, and many more.

Celebration, Eco-Style

Naropa hosts a number of events that celebrate the environment, green solutions, and sustainable practices. Each year, the university celebrates Sustainability Day in the fall, and Earth Day in the spring. These events include guest speakers, eco-activities, student performances, dialogues around improving personal and campus sustainability, and engagement with local environmental groups and start-ups. Additionally, the Naropa community participates in the annual RecycleMania, a national competition for universities to divert waste from landfills.


Equipped with self awareness, outstanding analytical and communication skills, and the courage to take chances, Naropa graduates go on to make meaningful lives for themselves as writers, social entrepreneurs, teachers, lawyers, artists, therapists, doctoral students, community recyclers, world travelers, and lifelong learners.

Many Naropa alumni pursue graduate studies, and have been highly successful in gaining admission to prestigious graduate programs worldwide in psychology, the arts, religious studies, urban planning, sustainability, education, and other fields.

Naropa students graduate with tremendous amounts of personal agency and spirit, because as one students put it, “At Naropa, you not only engage with subjects in a scholarly way, there is also an integration of that learning into your body, heart, and spirit. It’s not only transformative for me, but also in its implications for taking that work into the greater world.”


Naropa University uses a rolling admissions policy. Applying early provides applicants with the greatest chance to be considered for financial aid eligibility and allows us to process application documents in a timely manner. However, the Office of Admissions will gladly continue to review applications until the school year begins. To ensure fairness, applications received will be reviewed in the order in which the Office of Admissions receives them.

The most important aspects of the Naropa admissions process are a transcript, essays, interview, and letters of recommendation. Naropa’s Admissions Committee also considers academic background, inquisitiveness, connection to the mission of contemplative education, readiness to engage in experiential and contemplative college work, and community engagement.

Learn more about the admissions process at

Costs and Aid

The average cost of tuition and fees per year for a full-time undergraduate student is $29,970. Approximately 70% of Naropa students receive some form of financial aid, with the average student receiving about $23,676 in scholarship and grant funding. In addition, Naropa offers student employment opportunities through federal work-study, and students are eligible for $5,500–$12,000 in federal loans each year. Tuition payment plans are also available.

Learn more about costs and financial aid at


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