Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnomusicology

Department of Musicology

The PhD program in the field of ethnomusicology addresses music in its social and cultural contexts across the globe and over time.  Students may specialize in any musical tradition and in any area of the world, including genres such as jazz and popular music of the United States. Designed for students seeking the highest degree in the field, the PhD is a rigorous five-year course of study culminating in a doctoral dissertation.

Program Requirements

For requirement details, including the Handbook for Doctoral Students in Musicology, please see the Degree Requirements and Term-by-Term Layout for Current Students.


Program of Study

The PhD program in ethnomusicology enables each student to follow a course of study that meets their intellectual and professional goals. Students must complete three required departmental courses—addressing theory, methodology, research methods, and pedagogy—in their first year of study:

  • Musicology 501, Musicology Research Methods: Historical Musicology
  • Musicology 502, Musicology Research Methods: Ethnomusicology
  • Musicology 509, Musicology Pedagogy

Musicology 509 satisfies the school’s pedagogy requirement and qualifies students to be considered for a graduate-student instructorship.

During the first three years of the program, ethnomusicology students must complete eight elective courses in the department (500-level or above), including Musicology 990 (an independent study course in preparation for the special field examination). In addition to taking courses in ethnomusicology, students are encouraged to complete coursework in historical musicology.

Students are also required to complete two cognate courses, one of which is normally completed during the first two years of study. These courses must be elected outside the School of Music, Theatre & Dance in a field related to the student’s areas of interest. The selection of courses and cognates depends upon the student’s background, individual needs, interests, and the plan of research for the PhD. Students may take additional cognates beyond the two required courses.

Students must demonstrate proficiency in two foreign languages, basic level; or one thesis-related language, advanced level. Students are expected to demonstrate basic competency in the first language during the first year of residence.

The department conducts an annual review of students toward the end of the Winter semester, for which all students must submit a learning and teaching portfolio. First-year and second-year precandidates must submit additional writing samples.

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

Requirements for Candidacy

Two examinations must be satisfied in addition to the language requirement and coursework.

  • Music Theory General Preliminary Examination. Students must successfully complete two 500-level Music Theory courses in preparation for taking the general preliminary examination in Music Theory.
  • The Special Field Examination in Ethnomusicology includes two components— preliminary examination, and an examination in the field of specialization— of which are taken during the 6th term of study and followed by a discussion with the exam committee.

Candidacy will be conferred upon completion of these requirements and examinations. It is expected that students will achieve candidacy within three years (six terms) of entering the program. A dissertation committee must have been appointed by the time candidacy is achieved.

Field Work

Depending on the topic of the dissertation, field work may be encouraged, although it is not a requirement for the degree.

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.


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.

How To Apply

How To Apply

Academic Eligibility

Applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy in Ethnomusicology must have completed a bachelor’s of music degree or equivalent to be eligible for admission.

Applicants must:

  • Apply to U-M via the Rackham Graduate School Application by December 1
  • Submit an SMTD Artistic Profile by December 1
  • Send official transcripts from all previous schools to the Rackham Graduate School

Click “Apply Now” below to read more detailed information about the application requirements and procedures.

Apply Now

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