Ethnomusicology Concentration

Students focusing their studies in ethnomusicology pursue the Ph.D. degree.

The program provides students with a thorough general background in the discipline, while enjoying considerable latitude in pursuing their own interests in accordance with the flexibility of the program and the diverse interests of the ethnomusicology faculty.
 
A special attraction of our program is its location in the heart of New York City, with its extraordinarily rich musical and cultural life. Aside from being a center for classical music, opera, and music theater, New York is also renowned as the jazz capital of the world, and as the single biggest center for Latin popular music. It is also host to a dazzling array of diverse ethnic and immigrant communities, whose musical activities present unique research as well as performance opportunities for ethnomusicologists. Further, New York is home to such research institutions as the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies.
 
Ethnomusicology students are able to work not only with The Graduate Center's faculty, but also with other faculty throughout the CUNY system, which includes several colleges with distinguished music departments, such as Queens College, Hunter College, and Brooklyn College. The breadth of these resources, together with the flexibility of the CUNY program, the rich cultural offerings of New York City, and the affordability of CUNY tuition, have enabled the ethnomusicology program to attract students from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds. As of 2008, the research interests of the approximately thirty students currently working in the program cover large stretches of the globe, including Central Europe, Brazil, Ladakh, India, Turkey, Kurdistan, Japan, Thailand, Cape Verde, North and West Africa, Ireland, Cuba, and diverse aspects of North American popular music.

Director: Jane Sugarman (JSugarman@gc.cuny.edu)

In additional to the general program learning goals, students concentrating in ethnomusicology should be able to demonstrate:

  1. A broad knowledge of musical practices from around the world as well as specialized knowledge of music in at least one world region or representing one major repertoire. (Assessed by First and Second Examinations)
  2. A familiarity with current scholarship in the discipline written in English, and with major writings in at least two other languages. (Assessed by Second Examination)
  3. A familiarity with relevant current theories and methods in the social sciences. (Assessed by Second Examination)
  4. The ability to define a suitable research topic, identify appropriate written sources, carry out appropriate field and/or archival research, interpret their findings, and produce an original piece of ethnomusicological scholarship.
  5. The ability to teach courses on general or theoretical topics and on the music of at least one world region, as well as broad introductory courses on World Music. (Assessed by Second Examination)
  6. A grounding in professional ethics in all aspects of teaching and research.
  7. Professional skills in applying for research funding and presenting their research their research through oral and written means and through multi-media.

Paths to Degree

The timelines below are a guide to expected progress toward the Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology. Program policies dictate when certain benchmarks must be achieved for satisfactory progress in the program.

The degree is designed to be completed in 5 years for students entering with a master’s degree, and 6 years for students entering with a bachelor’s degree. 

Academic Year 1

  • Take 2-3 seminars each semester. In fall, one should be MUS 71200, Research Techniques in Ethnomusicology, if no equivalent course has been taken at graduate level.
  • Those without formal music training should take an undergraduate music theory sequence at a CUNY college.
  • Take one language exam.
  • In fall, attend Professional Workshops on conferences, fellowships, and dissertations.
  • In spring, take the Teaching Proseminar (Mus 71200).
  • Apply for Elebash or DSRG grant for funding of summer research if appropriate.
  • Complete First Examination (both Parts A and B as required) by August
    • All students will take Part B (two-week written paper)
    • Students whose master’s degree is not in ethnomusicology will also be required to take Part A (written exam)
  • Participate in departmental and Graduate Center events such as colloquia, paper run-throughs, and field research reports (every semester in residence).
  • Attend at least one conference during the year (SEM, MACSEM, graduate student, etc.)
  • Over the summer, begin field research if possible and/or take language course.

Academic Year 2

  • Take 2-3 seminars a semester (this may include Independent Study).
  • In fall, begin to formulate dissertation project, in consultation with likely advisor and other faculty. In spring, enroll in Independent Study with likely advisor to begin to draft dissertation proposal.
  • Attend Professional Workshop on publication of article. Re-attend any other workshops if possible.
  • Submit abstract for MACSEM or other conference if have written suitable seminar paper.
  • Attend SEM meetings.
  • Complete language requirements as soon as possible.
  • Once 45 credits have been completed, apply for en-route M.A. degree.
  • Over summer, conduct additional field research; draft field research fellowship proposal/s.

Academic Year 3

  • Complete coursework in fall if possible. Plan to take Second Exams in January or August.
  • During semester before exams, submit preliminary reading lists early in semester, and final ones at end.
  • Submit and defend dissertation proposal before taking Second Exams.
  • In fall, apply for field research fellowships. Apply for summer research funding, as appropriate.
  • Attend SEM meetings. Consider submitting an abstract if ready.
  • Over summer, continue field research; prepare for exams, if appropriate.

Academic Year 4 and beyond

  • Complete field research for dissertation.
  • Write dissertation.
  • Give paper at SEM.

Academic Year 1

  • Take 2-3 seminars each semester.  In fall, one should be MUS 71200, Research Techniques in Ethnomusicology, if no equivalent course has been taken at graduate level.
  • Those without formal music training should take an undergraduate music theory sequence at a CUNY college.
  • Take one language exam.
  • In fall, attend Professional Workshops on conferences, fellowships, and dissertations.
  • In spring, take the Teaching Proseminar (Mus 71200).
  • Apply for Elebash or DSRG grant for funding of summer research if appropriate.
  • Participate in departmental and Graduate Center events such as colloquia, paper run-throughs, and field research reports (every semester in residence).
  • Attend at least one conference during the year (SEM, MACSEM, graduate student, etc.)
  • Over the summer, begin field research if possible and/or take language course.

Academic Year 2

  • Take 2-3 seminars a semester. Those teaching for the first time are advised to take a lighter courseload in the fall. You may also take courses through the Consortium at this point. As you begin to formulate a dissertation topic, you should look for appropriate electives.
  • Take second language exam. Begin study of field language if it is offered.
  • Apply for Elebash or DSRG grant for funding of summer research.
  • Attend SEM meetings if possible.
  • Complete First Examination (both Parts A and B) by August, or in January if ready.
  • Over the summer, conduct pilot research toward dissertation.

Academic Year 3

  • Take 2-3 seminars a semester (this may include Independent Study).
  • In fall, begin to formulate dissertation project, in consultation with likely advisor and other faculty.In spring, enroll in Independent Study with likely advisor to begin to draft dissertation proposal.
  • Attend Professional Workshop on publication of article. Re-attend any other workshops if possible.
  • Submit abstract for MACSEM or other conference if have written suitable seminar paper.
  • Attend SEM meetings.
  • Complete language requirements as soon as possible.
  • Once 45 credits have been completed, apply for en-route M.A. degree.
  • Over summer, conduct additional field research; draft field research fellowship proposal/s.

Academic Year 4

  • Complete coursework in fall if possible. Plan to take Second Exams in January or August.
  • During semester before exams, submit preliminary reading lists early in semester, and final ones at end.
  • Submit and defend dissertation proposal before taking Second Exams.
  • In fall, apply for field research fellowships. Apply for summer research funding, as appropriate.
  • Attend SEM meetings. Consider submitting an abstract if ready.
  • Over summer, continue field research; prepare for exams, if appropriate.

Academic Year 5 and beyond

  • Complete field research for dissertation.
  • Write dissertation.
  • Give paper at SEM.

Curriculum Requirements

A minimum of 60 credits of approved course work is required for the Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology. Courses will be credited toward the degree only if they are part of a program approved by the Executive Officer or his/her deputy.

The master’s degree with which the student enters normally counts for 30 credits of the total requirement

First 30 credits of coursework:  For students entering without a master's degree; must include MUS 71200, Research Techniques in Ethnomusicology; three other ethnomusicology seminars; one seminar in Western music; one course in anthropology.  Those entering with a master's degree must make up any of these requirements for which they have not already had an equivalent course.

Second thirty credits (for all students) must include:  one additional regional seminar and one additional topical seminar; two additional music seminars on any topic; two additional seminars in anthropology or a related discipline.

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Ph.D. students must demonstrate a reading and pronunciation knowledge of two languages other than English. Students are encouraged to take one language exam before the end of their first semester in the program, and the second language before the end of their third semester in the program. Students must pass at least one language examination in order to take the First Examination.  They must complete all language requirements in order to take the Second Exam.

Learn more about language requirements in the Student Handbook »

FIRST EXAMINATION

The First Examination consists of two parts: part A is a written examination; part B is a two-week paper written on a given topic. Ph.D. students entering the program with a bachelor's degree, or a master’s degree in a field other than ethnomusicology, are required to take both parts of the exam; students entering with a master's degree in ethnomusicology will take only part B.

SECOND EXAMINATION

The Second Examination consists of a one-day written examination in two parts, a take-home analysis examination, and an oral examination.

Learn more about examination requirements in the Student Handbook »

All Ph.D. students are required to complete a dissertation under the guidance of a member of the doctoral faculty and to defend it at an oral examination to the satisfaction of an examining committee.

In the dissertation students should demonstrate:

  • Mastery of the scholarly literature relevant to their topic.
  • The ability to conduct original research incorporating where appropriate current theoretical approaches and research methodologies.
  • The ability to reason and write at a professional level.
  • The ability to conceive, execute, and complete a scholarly monograph of substantial length and significant content.

Learn more about dissertation requirements in the Student Handbook »

Ethnomusicology Faculty

Stephen Blum faculty photo

Stephen Blum

Professor Emeritus

  • Music

Professor Emeritus

  • Middle Eastern Studies
Sugarman faculty photo

Jane Sugarman

Professor and Head of Ethnomusicology

  • Music

Professor

  • Middle Eastern Studies

Professor

  • Women's and Gender Studies