Ethnomusicology MA/PhD

Application Requirements

The Department of Ethnomusicology accepts applications for the Fall quarter only. Admission to the department is based on acceptance by the UCLA Graduate Division and faculty review of the applicant’s work. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited US institution or comparable international institution, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. An undergraduate major in music is not required as long as the applicant has the necessary background in music theory and musicianship to pursue graduate study.

The department does not offer a master’s-only program. All applicants admitted to the graduate program will be officially entering the program with the prospect of completing a doctoral degree in Ethnomusicology. However, the PhD requires successful fulfillment of the requirements for the MA degree. Applicants who have not previously earned a master’s degree in ethnomusicology or a closely related field should submit an application for the MA in Ethnomusicology, and those who have previously earned a master’s degree in ethnomusicology or a closely related field should submit an application for the PhD in Ethnomusicology.


The graduate application opens for submission every September. Applicants must submit the UCLA Graduate Division Application for Graduate Admission by December 1, 2023 at 11:59 PM PST.

All required components must be submitted by the deadline, including letters of recommendation. Applications submitted after this deadline are not guaranteed to be reviewed. We do not accept applications off-cycle.

The application requires the following components:

  • Statement of Purpose: Your statement can be up to 500 words in length (approximately 1-page, single spaced, using 1-inch margins and 12-point font). The statement of purpose should provide relevant information on the applicant’s background, qualifications, interests, and reasons for undertaking graduate study in this field. Although the content of the statement is flexible, it is helpful for the department to learn about the applicant’s life and educational experiences; musical skills and musical experiences in general, as well as exposure to world musical traditions; intellectual growth and scholarly interests and concerns; contacts with the field of ethnomusicology, familiarity with the discipline, and prior experiences with research in this or related areas; and reasons for desiring to study ethnomusicology at UCLA. If possible, applicants should include the issues, interests, and areas of study they hope to pursue if admitted to the program. The statement is expected to be informative, genuine, and clearly written.
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 letters of recommendation are required. The letters should be written by individuals who have known the applicant well, have observed their recent work and achievements, and are able to speak of their intellectual and research ability, promise, and potential as a student. Applicants must enter the names and contact information of the 3 recommenders within the application. An electronic recommendation request will be sent to recommenders, and recommendation letters must be submitted via this request. It is strongly advised that letters of recommendation are completed before the December 2023 deadline. Recommendations submitted after this date are not guaranteed to be reviewed.
  • Writing Sample: The writing sample should demonstrate originality and creative conceptual thinking, competence in dealing with technical musical issues, writing skill, and proper documentation. A master’s thesis, bachelor’s thesis, or substantial research paper in its entirety is preferred; alternately, several substantial essays that provide a good sense of the character and range of the applicant’s writing skills may be submitted.
  • Unofficial Transcript(s): Upload unofficial copies of transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. The institution logo and your name must be present on the copies.
  • Personal History Statement: Your statement can be up to 500 words in length (approximately 1-page, single spaced, using 1-inch margins and 12-point font). To be considered for a Cota-Robles or Graduate Opportunity fellowship, be sure to describe your contributions to diversity. The University of California Diversity Statement can be found online.


Following review of the application materials, finalists will be invited to interview with department faculty.

International Applicants

  • Academic Records: Please see the Graduate Division website for information about the academic records international applicants are required to submit with the application.
  • English Language Requirements: All applicants are required to demonstrate English language proficiency in order to be eligible for admission. Proficiency can be demonstrated in two ways: 1) Holding a bachelor’s or higher degree from a university located in the United States or in another country in which English is the primary spoken language of daily life (e.g., Australia, Barbados, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, United Kingdom) and the medium of instruction; or 2) Submitting scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL; minimum score of 87 on the TOEFL iBT required) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS; minimum overall band score of 7.0 required).

Scholarships & Teaching Assistantships

At the campus level, UCLA offers the Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship. We strongly encourage doctoral applicants to apply. Please see here for a guide to Graduate Division fellowships and how to apply.

All Ethnomusicology students are offered a funding package that includes coverage of tuition and fees and a scholarship stipend. After their first year, Ethnomusicology students are expected to become teaching assistants within the department. That being said, given the interdisciplinary nature of the field, many students also explore TAships in other departments. TAships are an excellent source of financial support, as they usually include a waiver of in-state tuition and fees, along with a salary.

Ethnomusicology Faculty

Armen Adamian
Instructor of Armenian Woodwinds; Ph.D. Student in Ethnomusicology
Supeena Adler
World Music Instrument Curator and Conservator; Director, Music of Thailand Ensemble; Adjunct Associate Professor
Münir Beken
Associate Professor
Melissa Bilal
The Promise Chair in Armenian Music, Arts, and Culture, Director of Armenian Music Program
Nick DePinna
Adjunct Assistant Professor - Musicianship
Cheryl L. Keyes
Professor - Global Jazz Studies and Ethnomusicology (Contemporary Jazz, Hip Hop)
Mark Kligman
Mickey Katz Chair of Jewish Music and Professor - Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Humanities, Director of Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience
Chi Li
Adjunct Professor
Steven Loza
Director of the UCLA Center for Latino Arts; Professor and Chair of Global Jazz Studies
Mohsen Mohammadi
Director of Indo-Persian Music
Rahul Neuman
Continuing Lecturer
Roger Savage
Professor and Chair of Ethnomusicology
I Nyoman Wenten
Adjunct Assoc. Professor