MM in Musicology and Ethnomusicology

Degree Requirements: MM

A minimum of 32 credits is required for the Master of Music degree.

Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree from a college or university in good standing before the time of enrollment. Students accepted for the program may be required to take review courses prior to beginning courses required for the degree. Candidates choose one of the following fields of specialization:

  • Historical Musicology
  • Ethnomusicology

Historical Musicology students should take the Pro-Seminar in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 828) in their first semester and Research and Bibliography (CFA MU 749) in their first year. There are no further specific course requirements for the MM in Historical Musicology, but students should customize their program in consultation with their advisor according to the following distribution:

  1. 19 credits from among graduate-level courses in musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory;
  2. 4 credits in approved non-music electives;
  3. 4 credits in Master’s Thesis (CFA MU 795).

Ethnomusicology students should take the Pro-Seminar in Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 828) in their first semester.  Other requirements are as follows:

  1. 13 credits in ethnomusicology and musicology seminars, to include Research Methods in Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 829) and Contemplating Ethnomusicology (CFA MU 830);
  2. 12 credits of music and non-music electives (these courses can come from areas such as  Anthropology, Musicology, Music Education, History, or specific Area Studies);
  3. at least two semesters of World Music Ensemble (CFA MU 567), either as student, auditor, or instructor (worth 0 to 1 credit);
  4. knowledge of the undergraduate survey course Musical Cultures of the World (CFA MU 340/350), either as auditor or teaching assistant;
  5. 4 credits in Master’s Thesis (CFA MU 795).

Language Requirements

MM candidates in Historical Musicology must demonstrate a reading knowledge of German and one other foreign language. MM candidates in Ethnomusicology must demonstrate a speaking knowledge of one foreign language relevant to their studies.

Comprehensive Examination

MM candidates in Historical Musicology must pass a Comprehensive Exam.  This exam must be taken at the beginning of the fourth semester of course work.  The exam will be oral and will consist of a one-half hour round of questions from members of the faculty on fundamental repertory of Western music. Candidates must display a general knowledge of and familiarity with this repertory and its history.

MM candidates in Ethnomusicology must pass a Comprehensive Exam. The exam must be taken at the beginning of the fourth semester of course work.  The exam will be oral and will consist of a one-half hour round of questions from members of the faculty on the theory, history, and practice of ethnomusicology. Candidates must display a general knowledge of the field and its history.

Terminal Project

Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology candidates must write a thesis. The student will first submit to the Chair of the Department a proposal of approximately 10 pages in length, consisting of:

  1. a description of the subject to be addressed and the methods of research involved,
  2. a chapter outline, and
  3. a bibliography.

After the proposal has been approved, the candidate may enroll in Research and Directed Study (CFA MU 921). The candidate submits two copies of the final draft to the Chair of the Department.

Research with Human Subjects

Students doing research with living human subjects, or with data from living human subjects, are required to comply with IRB regulations. For further information and to begin the process of obtaining IRB compliance, see the Institutional Review Board website.

Application Requirements

  • Completed application for graduate admission to the College of Fine Arts
  • Non-refundable application fee of $80
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation from music professionals/educators, one of whom must teach music history. These may be submitted online using supplied Letter of Recommendation Form, or an official letter from the recommender in a sealed envelope.
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Personal statement indicating the applicant’s purpose in pursuing graduate work, career objectives, and particular interest in BU
  • Current résumé
  • An example of a term paper in music history from undergraduate work or a paper prepared on a musical topic
  • GRE score (School code: 3082)
  • International applicants: please click here for special requirements

Application deadline: December 15

Apply OnlineApplication Instructions

Mailing address:
Office of Graduate Admissions Room 230
College of Fine Arts
855 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215

Financial Aid

All admitted students are automatically considered for all available scholarships and assistantships. There is no financial aid application. For more information regarding financial aid, please visit the financial aid link.

About the Department

For more information about the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, please see bu.edu/musicology.