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Master of Ethnomusicology Degree Program Overview

Majors Overview February 25, 2016

This article talks about master’s degree programs in ethnomusicology and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master of Ethnomusicology Programs

The relationship between music and culture is ethnomusicology. Schools typically offer master’s level degree programs in this field, where studies of anthropology, music, and cultural theory are combined to impart a grasp of human interactions. Students can usually customize their coursework in accordance with their area of interest, and/or opt for specialization in the music of specific geographic regions, such as Latin America, Asia or Africa.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to have musical aptitude and meet an audition requirement. Akin to other graduate programs, admission norms require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree, in addition to submitting GRE scores. Proficiency in two languages may also be necessary, depending on students’ area of specialization.


Program coursework explores genre, music criticism, practice, influence, and performance. Other aspects of music, such as culture and race, are in the coursework. Apart from research and courses, a master’s thesis is also necessary. Participation in fellowship programs may be a choice of students keen on fieldwork. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Culture of music
•Popular music studies
•Ethnomusicology analysis
•Music history
•Cultural anthropology

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek jobs in universities, colleges, arts agencies, museums, and the music industry. Varying by background and interests, they may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Cultural Interpreter

Job and Wage Outlook

In May 2012, curators brought in an average annual wage of $46,300 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, a seven percent job increase has been predicted for these professionals (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Graduates may seek entry-level careers or continuing education via a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology. Coursework in doctorate programs covers ethnomusicological thought and history. Preparation and presentation of a dissertation is also expected. A doctorate could lead to careers in academia and research.

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