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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. These skills combine to inspire students to create meaningful careers that contribute to the greater good though psychology, education, social and spiritual leadership, or the arts.



Student Profile

Fall 2015 Enrollment
397 undergraduate students
93% of undergrad students are full time
35% male — 65% female
56% of students are from out of state

Faculty Profile

2015-2016 Academic Year
46 full-time faculty
117 part-time faculty
14 to 1 student/faculty ratio

Residence Life

Fall 2015
19% of all students live on campus

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.

High-Impact Practices

Read more about the importance of High-Impact Practices 

First-Year Seminars and Experiences X
Common Intellectual Experiences  
Learning Communities X
Writing-Intensive Courses X
Collaborative Assignments and Projects X
Undergraduate Research  
Diversity/Global Learning X
Service Learning, Community-Based Learning X
Internships/Coops/Practicums X
Capstone Courses and Projects/Senior Experience X

Retention Fall 2015

78% of students began in Fall 2014 and returned in Fall 2015 (full time, first time freshmen)

6 Year Graduation Rate 2015

31% of students graduated in 6 years


Nonresident aliens 2%
Hispanic/Latino 10%
Black or African American 2%
White 63%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1%
Asian 1%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 10%
Race and/or ethnicity unknown 11%

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. Emphasis on dialogue in the classroom highlights the importance of interpersonal interactions in both learning and teaching, thus allowing students to develop keen abilities to express themselves, support their ideas, hone their 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 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.

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 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.

Activities Offered

Campus Ministries  
Choral groups  
Concert band  
Dance X
Drama/theater X
International Student Organization X
Jazz band X
Literary magazine X
Marching band  
Model UN  
Music ensembles X
Musical theater  
Pep band  
Radio station  
Student government X
Student newspaper  
Student-run film society  
Symphony orchestra  
Television station  

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, and class sizes typically range from 10 to 19 students. Naropa’s small classes and interactive classroom environments make it possible for faculty to see their students’ gifts and challenges. The personalized teaching at Naropa assists students in discovering their passions and honing their skills for 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.

Common Core

Arts/fine arts X
Computer literacy  
English (including composition) X
Foreign languages  
Humanities X
Sciences (biological or physical)  
Social science X

Class Size Breakdown

Size 2-9 10-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 100+ Total
Number of Classes 39 82 17 1 1 1 0 141

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. 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.

Campus Housing Options for Undergraduates

Coed dorms  
Men’s dorms  
Women’s dorms  
Apartments for married students  
Apartments for single students X
Special housing for disabled students  
Special housing for international students  
Fraternity/sorority housing  
Cooperative housing  
Theme housing  
Wellness housing  
Other housing options  

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.


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.”


Admissions Fall 2015

181 Total Applicants
144 Total Admissions
45 Total Freshmen Enrollment

79.56% of applicants admitted

Admissions Deadlines for 2016-17 Admission

Rolling admission? No

Closing date: Aug 15
Priority date: Feb 1

Admissions Factors

Very Important
Application Essay
Level of applicant’s interest

Rigor of secondary school record
Class rank Academic
GPA Recommendation(s)
Character/personal qualities
First generation

Standardized test scores
Extracurricular activities
Racial/ethnic status
Volunteer work
Work experience


Net Price Calculator 


Tuition $30,400
Fees $170
Total $30,570
Room and Board (on campus) $9,465
Estimated Total On Campus $40,035


Average Financial Aid Packages 2015-2016 Estimated

$24,536 First year students
$24,862 All undergrads

Financial Aid Breakdown 2015-2016 Estimated

90% on average, the percentage of need that was met

$24,862 Average need-based scholarship or grant award
$11,519 Average need-based loan