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Best Schools with Ethnomusicology Graduate Programs: List of Schools

Ethnomusicology is a specific area of musicology that focuses on the social and cultural facets of music and dance. Which schools offer the best graduate degree programs in this area in the US? We'll cover these, their locations and ranking, curriculum inclusions, and program requirements. View article »

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  • 0:04 School Overviews
  • 0:35 U of California - Berkeley
  • 1:32 U of California - Los Angeles
  • 2:48 Arizona State U in Tempe
  • 3:41 Top Graduate Programs

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School Overviews

Graduate programs in ethnomusicology can lead to master's or doctoral degrees. Some schools offer ethnomusicology as a specific program, while others offer it as a concentration within a broader program. Some of the best programs in ethnomusicology are offered by the University of California - Berkeley, the University of California - Los Angeles, and Arizona State University. Each of these schools has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top universities in the country.

University of California - Berkeley

At the University of California - Berkeley, students studying ethnomusicology can either pursue a graduate degree through the school's music department or focus on a specialty track in ethnomusicology through the school's graduate anthropology program.

The University of California - Berkeley (UC - Berkeley) is one of the top ethnomusicology graduate schools in the United States, and the university is tied at 20th on U.S. News and World Report's 2017 list of top national universities in the United States.

Ethnomusicology students spend their graduate years preparing for research by studying cultural theory and methodology and can choose to work toward a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Ethnomusicology or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Ethnomusicology. The program is known for its expertise in cognitive studies; popular music studies; critical theory; and Asian, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern music.

University of California - Los Angeles

The University of California - Los Angeles department of ethnomusicology offers graduate students the option of specializing in systematic musicology, combining both empirical and philosophical elements of music studies for a comprehensive and interdisciplinary program.

The University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA) is tied as the 24th best school in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report's 2017 list of top national universities in America. Like UC - Berkeley, UCLA also offers an M.A. in Ethnomusicology and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology.

In total, the master's degree consists of 12 credit hours and typically takes two years to complete, while the doctoral program usually takes around three years to finish. To be admitted into the Ph.D. program, students must have an M.A. degree in ethnomusicology or similar field.

The ethnomusicology program combines the social and cultural aspects of musicology with in-depth study of the music found in specific regions of the world. The faculty helps students concentrate on the structural nuances of the music and on the complexities of regional musical performances.

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Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ

At Arizona State University, students can perform in the university's ethnomusicology ensembles, which include groups that focus on African, Latin, and Indonesian traditions. The Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University offers a Master of Arts in Music with a concentration in ethnomusicology, which combines studies in music theory and performance with anthropology coursework. This program consists of 30 total credit hours, 20 of which must be in ethnomusicology, and students must write a thesis and pass an oral and written comprehensive exam prior to graduation. They must also demonstrate proficiency in at least one foreign language.

For 2017, Arizona State University was ranked the #1 most innovative national university by U.S. News and World Report.

Top Ethnomusicology Graduate Programs

Graduate-level ethnomusicology programs can also be found at other highly regarded schools. Let's explore some of them:

  • The Boston University Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology is home to the Center for Early Music Studies, which is focused on the study of music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods. The school is in Boston, MA.
  • At Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, the Department of Music only offers a Ph.D. program in ethnomusicology at the graduate level.
  • At the University of Arizona in Tucson, ethnomusicology graduate students have opportunities to do fieldwork in places like Spain, Israel, Brazil, and Ghana.
  • At the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, the School of Music is home to the Center for World Music, an organization committed to the appreciation of global arts.
  • Graduate students at the University of Maryland - College Park have access to the School of Music's Ethnomusicology & Musicology Technology Lab, which is used to record and edit CDs, DVDs, scores etc.
  • At University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in Minneapolis, ethnomusicology doctoral students work with an advisor to construct an individualized course of study.
  • The University of Pennsylvania's ethnomusicology faculty have expertise in music of the Americas, Western Europe, Africa, and the Indian Ocean. The school is in Philadelphia.
  • The University of Texas at Austin School of Music publishes the Latin American Music Review, a scholarly journal for the study of Latin American music.
  • Located in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia's music library has over 135,000 books, scores, and sound recordings, and it provides access to over a million online tracks.

Interdisciplinary programs in ethnomusicology are available at the graduate level at many top universities. Students can earn a master's or doctoral degree, and they may have the opportunity to study abroad.

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