The inauguration of the Sakya College for Nuns (initially Sakya Nuns Institute) on September 26, 2009, ushered in a new era for Sakya nuns. For the first time, the nuns could engage in higher Buddhist studies at a dedicated facility. They are able to pursue Buddhist studies for up to 15 years at the Sakya College for Nuns, earning the highest degrees in the Sakya tradition.
Sakya College for Nuns is situated in Manduwala, about 19 km from Dehradun, and is home to about 51 nuns. The head of the Sakya College for monks, Khenchen Gyatso, came up with the idea of converting an under-utilized retreat complex into an institution where nuns could study. His Holiness Sakya Trizin welcomed his idea, and Khenchen Gyatso approached the Tibetan Nuns Project in 2006 for assistance.
The Tibetan Nuns Project agreed to find sponsors for all the nuns and to also assist the nunnery with teachers’ salaries. The nuns follow the same curriculum as the Sakya College monks, graduating with equal degrees.
As the nuns advance through their training, they are able to earn a series of degrees. Those completing seven years of study will earn the Kachupa degree, and after two more years will attain the Lopon degree. Those who complete 13 years of study, including an examination and the composition and defense of an original thesis, will be awarded the Rabjampa degree. Finally, those completing a further two years of study in tantra will receive the highest degree of Ngagrampa.