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Sri Lanka is considered as a blessed land for protection and preserving Buddhism. Hence it is called as "Center of Theravada Buddhism". The Postgraduate Institute of Pali & Buddhist Studies came to the stage to uplift, enhance and nourish this theme through research and Buddhist scholarship.

Postgraduate Institute of Pali & Buddhist Studies was established as far back as 1975 with the enactment of the University Act. No. 16 of 1978 and subsequent orders, the Institute has been affiliated to the University of Kelaniya. The first director of the institute was the Ven. Dr. Hawanpola Ratanasara thera who played a key role in the formation of the Institute. Now it has grown up to be the center par excellences of postgraduate studies in Pali & Buddhist studies in Sri Lanka.

It has gained recognition locally as well as internationally and this is evident from the ever increasing number of scholars who enroll for different courses, the institute offers. Its international fame and popularity is seen from the number of foreign students coming from Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, U.K, U.S.A, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, German, Nepal, Bangladesh etc. that have successfully followed postgraduate studies and research.

The research degrees offered by the Institute are a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D). The taught courses, for a Postgraduate Diploma and Masters degree, are meant basically to provide backgrounds for those wishing to proceed to research degrees. However, the taught courses have been found to be attractive by a large number of mature students, coming from various fields of studies, who wish to undergo a systematic study of Buddhism, which they have learned only through insufficient introductions. Several thousands of students, men and women, clergy and laity, local and foreign have followed these courses over the last three decades. Several dozens of research studies on various aspects of Buddhist Studies have been completed and several more dozens are in progress.