BSO 101 | Intro to Buddhism:

History, Philosophy, and Practice


18-hour online course  

with Dr. Kate Hartmann (PhD, Harvard University)

Now available for Self-Study.



What do we know about what the Buddha really taught? How did he identify the cause of suffering? What is mindfulness, and how can it help free people from suffering?  

Join professor of Buddhist Studies, Dr. Kate Hartmann and a global cohort of students for this unique opportunity to explore the rich and multifaceted texts, traditions, and practices of Buddhism. 

Buddhism 101

This online course provides an in-depth introduction to the diverse ideals, practices, and traditions of Buddhism from their origins in South Asia to their various expressions across time and place in modernity. We will explore key ideas from the Buddhist tradition about impermanence, desire, and the nature of the self, and ask how these ideas were taken up and reimagined as Buddhism spread to new cultural contexts. Our central question throughout will be how, in various times, places, and cultural contexts, the Buddhist tradition diagnosed the origins of human suffering, imagined the goal of freedom from suffering, and proposed a path to such freedom. 

As such, students in the course will act as historians exploring how Buddhism has developed in the past, as philosophers analyzing Buddhist claims about the nature of mind and reality, and as humans trying to figure out how best to live in this uncertain world. Throughout the course we will reflect on our own understanding of the world by learning with and from Buddhist materials. 

"An accessible, Harvard-quality course in Buddhist Studies"

Course Structure

Students enrolled in this course will receive:

  • 6 prerecorded video lectures + audio recordings (90 min each)

  • 6 live Zoom Q&A sessions + recordings (90 min each)

  • 4 BSO Credits

  • Course Syllabus (PDF)

  • Weekly Readings (PDF)

  • 6 Weekly Handouts (PDF)

  • 6 Weekly Quizzes

  • Access to private Community forum

  • Certificate of Completion (PDF)

Your Instructor


Dr. Kate Hartmann

Kate Hartmann is a scholar and professor Buddhism, and the director of Buddhist Studies Online. She received her PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University in 2021. Her research explores the theory and practice of Tibetan pilgrimage to holy mountains, and focuses on the goal of transforming perception. She also holds an MA in the History of Religions from the University of Chicago, and a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia. She is currently Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming.   

As part of her training, Kate has spent extended periods of time living in Asia. She has spent summers backpacking across India, living with Tibetan Buddhist nuns in Ladakh, in Dharamsala working in the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, studying at the Dunhuang caves in China, travelling to Lhasa, and conducting research around Boudha in Nepal. She speaks modern colloquial Tibetan and conducts research in Classical Tibetan and Sanskrit. 

As a scholar and teacher, Kate has long been interested in the practices religions develop to transform people's experience of the world. She aims to help students understand Buddhist traditions through deep engagement with primary sources, a process that helps illuminate central Buddhist concepts while embracing the internal diversity of Buddhist traditions. She balances an irreverent and down-to-earth style with deep respect for Buddhist texts, traditions, and practitioners. She teaches both online and in-person courses on the history and philosophy of Buddhism and other Asian religions, and has presented at lectures and conferences around the country.

Enrollment is OPEN!

Sign up today and reserve your spot in the course with one of the following options: 

Regular Tuition



  • Lifetime access to BSO 101



Regular Tuition

$88 x 2


  • Lifetime access to BSO 101



Membership Program



  • Access to BSO 101
  • Access to all BSO courses—including future offerings

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