The purpose of the Seminary Program is to create and maintain a shared body of knowledge and understanding about Dharma and Soto Zen within the sangha. Classes are intended for members of Dharma Rain or its affiliated groups. Participants may be Seminary students taking courses for credit toward graduation, or they may be Dharma Studies students taking courses for personal enrichment without concern for credit.


Seminary students meet eligibility criteria and formally enroll in seminary. After they enroll, they register for each class as they are offered. Class work is subject to observation and review, with a focus on the student’s ability to integrate and express the material. The Seminary Program also prepares members who are interested to move into leadership and instructor roles in the sangha.

Steps for seminary students:

Students are strongly encouraged to be in regular contact with a Teacher, attend a Term Student Program, and participate in at least one sesshin.

Dharma Studies

Student who wish to take seminary classes not-for-credit are called Dharma Studies students. They take classes, participate in class discussions, and do the reading but are not required to complete the written assignments or projects.

Dharma Studies students do not need to enroll in seminary. They can register for classes directly on the calendar, if they meet prerequisites and eligibility criteria:

  • Have taken the Precepts
  • Have taken the Foundational Teachings class that is offered every fall
  • Are a Dharma Rain member

If a student takes a class as a Dharma Studies, and later enters the Seminary program, the student will need to retake the class for credit as a Seminary class.

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