main navigation bar - top row

main navigation bar - bottom row

main menu

Doctor of Philosophy in Musicology with Ethnomusicological Emphasis

The Ph.D. program in the field of ethnomusicology addresses continuities and changes in the spheres of music across the globe as well as in the United States. Students may specialize in any musical tradition, in any area of the world including American traditions such as jazz and popular music. The doctoral program trains students to teach ethnomusicology and world music, and develops the ability to pursue original research. The major emphasis of the program is on the theory and methods of the field in light of the changing nature and meanings of data and the complexities of interpretation. Performance experience is available in Javanese gamelan as well as other performing groups on campus that range from a takht ensemble to Korean drumming. Other groups can be organized when instruments are available and student interest exists. Click here for more information on performance opportunities for ethnomusicology students.

Annual deadlines can be found here.

Program of Study

At least one academic year of full-time residence is required.

The First Two Years

The first two years of study provide training in the theory and methodology of ethnomusicology and introduce students to repertories and concepts of world music. Two departmental courses are required:

  • Musicology 501, Bibliography and Methodology
  • Musicology 502, Scholarly Writing and Research Technique.

A student wishing to be considered for a teaching assistantship must take Musicology 509, Teaching of Introductory Courses in Music, or petition the Department for a waiver of this course based on demonstrated competence in teaching.

The selection of other courses and cognates depends upon the student's background, individual needs, and special interests. Entering students are given a diagnostic examination in music theory to help in course selections. Recommended cognate disciplines include anthropology, sociology, history, literary criticism, and area studies, though others are possible.

Third-Term Review: Research Paper

During the fall term of the second year of graduate study the student will be expected to:

  1. Take an examination designed to test the student's knowledge of the discipline of ethnomusicology, including history, methodologies, ways of analyzing music, and important theories.
  2. Complete a critical-bibliographical paper on a topic of the student's choice, typically selected and developed in the course of MUSICOL 502. The third-term paper should demonstrate the student's ability to pursue original scholarly research and to articulate findings in clear English prose.It should review a well-defined musicological topic and selection of music, evaluate criticallythe available literature on the topic, and describe lines of inquiry that remain to be pursued.While developing the topic, students should feel free to contact faculty members for general guidance. Such contacts are most beneficial early in the process, particularly during the project’s conceptual stage. The third-term paper is not to be a mentored project, so students should not expect faculty members to read and edit drafts of the paper.

The recommended length for this paper is 35–40 pages of prose, in addition to the bibliography, with appendices and musical examples as needed. One hard copy and one electronic copy (Word document) of the paper are to be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies bySeptember 15(or the first business day thereafter) of the second year of study. After faculty critique, a revised version will be submitted six weeks later. As they work on this second draft, students are encouraged to consult with any department faculty to discuss individual comments and suggestions. Again, faculty members will not read/edit/comment on the second draft. How students respond to faculty comments and incorporate faculty suggestions is a valuable component of the exercise.

The departmental evaluation of all students in the third term is based on graduate-level course work completed to date, the third-term paper, the results of the preliminary exam, and the student's prospects for continued success in the field. The department's judgment is a collective one. If the evaluation is favorable, the student may continue in the Ph.D. program. If a student has not successfully fulfilled the requirements of the third-term review, but has performed adequately in other respects, he or she will be awarded a terminal master's degree. The department chair will report the results of the evaluations to the students concerned.

Program of Study Beyond the First Two Years

It is expected that students in Musicology will achieve candidacy within six terms of entering the program. All students admitted to the PhD program in Musicology are provided with five-year funding packages. Financial aid at the doctoral level is conditional on the achievement of candidacy within six terms.

Requirements for Candidacy

  1. Successful completion of at least two courses in the field of specialization.
  2. Demonstration of proficiency in a second foreign language, preferably one related to the student's field of doctoral research.
  3. Successful completion of Musicology 509, Teaching of Introductory Courses in Music, or exemption by the Faculty Council on Graduate Studies based on demonstrated competence in teaching.
  4. Successful completion of two cognate courses taken outside the School of Music, Theatre & Dance in a field related to the student's field of specialization.
  5. Successful completion of the general preliminary examination in music theory.
  6. Students are strongly encouraged to take courses in historical musicology if they wish their competence in Western historical musicology to be demonstrated on their transcripts. Taking the general preliminary examination in musicology is also encouraged.
  7. Each student must successfully complete: (a) the general preliminary examination in music theory, (b) a general preliminary examination in ethnomusicology, and (c) a preliminary examination in the field of specialization. The general preliminary examination in ethnomusicology is a written examination covering the general field concerning a particular repertoire, and a theoretical question. The questions and associated bibliographies will be prepared by the student and submitted to the advisor. After approval has been secured, a date for the examination will be set. The preliminary examination in the field of specialization will similarly be based on questions prepared by the student and submitted to the advisor. The general preliminary examination in music theory is administered by the Department of Music Theory. (See this page for more information on the Ethnomusicology Preliminary Exams.)

Candidacy will be conferred upon completion of these requirements and examinations. A dissertation committee must have been appointed by the time candidacy is achieved.

Note: Students holding GSI appointments and wishing to be considered by the department for a one-term candidacy fellowship must achieve candidacy in the term prior to the fellowship term. In such cases, the Rackham grace period (within the fellowship term) may not be used.

Dissertation Requirement

The dissertation requirement in musicology comprises four parts: the dissertation proposal, the dissertation conference, the dissertation oral presentation, and the dissertation itself.

The dissertation proposal will consist of a carefully researched and written description of the proposed topic (approximately 20-25 pages) that will argue for its relevance, feasibility, and originality as a scholarly contribution to the field of ethnomusicology. The proposal should also describe the plan of research and indicate as precisely as possible the objectives of the project, the sources to be consulted, the current state of research, and the cultural, musical, methodological, historical, aesthetic, anthropological, critical, analytical, and social issues relevant to the topic. If the project involves fieldwork, the proposal should indicate how it will be carried out and what criteria will be applied in the evaluation of data.

The dissertation conference is a meeting of the student with a committee of the faculty (typically but not necessarily the dissertation committee) soon after candidacy has been achieved to explore the avenues of research outlined in the candidate's proposal and pertinent to the dissertation topic.

While researching and writing the dissertation, each Ph.D. candidate will present a lecture in a public forum before an audience of students and departmental faculty. This dissertation oral presentation will describe the topic, methodology, and results of his or her dissertation research to date. This lecture will customarily be presented at a point when the candidate can benefit most from the exchange: after enough research has taken place to define the chief issues of the topic but before a large portion has been written.

The dissertation in ethnomusicology must make a significant and original contribution to the field, and otherwise conform to the standards of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

Field Work

Depending on the topic of the dissertation, field work may be encouraged, although it is not a requirement for the degree. Candidates who wish to do overseas field work usually apply for grants through the Fulbright program, the Social Science Research Council, and/or the Institute for International Studies at the University of Michigan.

Final Oral Examination

A comprehensive oral examination on the candidate's dissertation will be conducted by the dissertation committee following the completion of the dissertation.

main navigation bar - top row

main navigation bar - bottom row

Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower