Music PhD in Ethnomusicology

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The graduate program in ethnomusicology offers rigorous training in the intellectual history of the field, theory, fieldwork, ethnography, transcription, and area studies. Our ethnomusicology students not only benefit from collaboration with the faculty and students in musicology and composition, but they build an important interdisciplinary underpinning to their studies with required courses in performance studies, anthropology, critical theory, and cultural studies.

We welcome any student interested in examining music in its social context. Our program is particularly strong in traditional and popular musics of the Americas, Indonesia, East Asia, and Central Europe, with theoretical emphases on race, gender, performativity, religion, and politics. The small size of our graduate program allows close relationships between students and advisers.


Consideration for program admission requires:
• A bachelor’s degree comparable to a degree from the University of California in both distribution of academic subject matter and scholarly achievement
• Three letters of recommendation
• Official transcripts (sealed and delivered to Marian Bilheimer, 216B Art Building, One Shields Avenue, UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616)
• GRE scores (subject test in music not required)
• TOEFL or IELTS score (if applicable)
• A CV and a substantial paper or papers
• A minimum GPA of 3.0
• An Office of Graduate Studies online application with fee by the stated admission deadline.


Ethnomusicology students must successfully pass an exam in two foreign languages, one of which must be a language relevant to the student’s fieldwork/research.


At the end of two years, students take comprehensive examinations, and then draft their dissertation proposal. At the end of the third year, they take a qualifying examination. Upon successful completion, students advance to candidacy.

Transfer Credits

Ordinarily all work for the master’s degree is done in residence on the Davis campus. However, with the consent of the graduate adviser and the dean of Graduate Studies, some work taken elsewhere may be credited toward the degree. The limit for such transfer credit is six units from another institution or up to one-half of the unit requirement if earned from another campus of the University of California, provided the units were not used in satisfaction of the requirements for another degree. Students may transfer up to 12 units of work from the Concurrent Courses program offered by University Extension.


Candidates are required to present and successfully defend a dissertation in a final public oral examination. The doctoral dissertation is to be an original and significant contribution to the field of musical scholarship. The dissertation is supervised by the faculty and approved by a committee named by the Graduate Division. The final copies should conform to the requirements described by the Office of Graduate Studies.

Length of study

This varies according to individual circumstances. Completion of the master’s and doctoral programs typically takes 5-6 years. For students who already have a master’s degree in ethnomusicology, doctoral work may be completed in 3-4 years.

Core Course Work

(12 units)
MUS 210A. Proseminar in Music (Theory and Analysis) (4)
MUS 210B. Proseminar in Music (Musicology and Criticism) (4)
MUS 210C. Proseminar in Music (Ethnomusicology) (4)

Emphasis Course Work

(36 units)

12 units from the following:
ANT 201. Reading Ethnography (4)
ANT 204. Contemporary Issues in Anthropological Theory (4)
ANT 205. History and Theory in Anthropological Linguistics (4)
ANT 210. Aspects of Culture Structure (4)
CST 200A. Theories, Histories, and Practices of Cultural Studies (4)
CRI 200A. Approaches to Critical Theory (4)
PFS 265A. Performance Studies: Modes of Production (4)
PFS 265B. Performance Studies: Signification and the Body (4)
PFS 265C. Performance Studies: Performance and Society (4)
PFS 265D. Performance Studies: Theory, History, and Criticism (4)

12 units from the following:
MUS 212. Ethics of Musical Ethnography (4)
MUS 213. Transcription and Notation (4)
MUS 214. Recent Issues in Ethnomusicology (4)
MUS 221. Topics in Music History (4)
MUS 222. Techniques of Analysis (4)
MUS 223. Ethnomusicology (Pacific Cultures) (4)

12 units of adviser-approved electives which may include MUS 299 units.

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