Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology

The interdisciplinary field of ethnomusicology is concerned with understanding music as a global and social phenomenon, and as a creative practice that is at once political. Universities engaged in the professional training of ethnomusicologists have developed programs with differing emphases, in part, reflecting the specialties of the faculty and their distinctive approaches to the concerns of the field. Programs variously strike a balance between the ethnographic and musicological. The Duke track is designed with the versatility to accommodate students’ diverse interests. Those who envision conducting research that primarily intersects with other musical subfields can utilize the multi-faceted training available with in Duke’s small music graduate program. Students whose primary interest lies in linking music studies to the interpretive social sciences and global humanities can exploit Duke’s lateral opportunities and interdisciplinary relationships.


The Graduate School requires six semester of "full-time" registration regardless of the number of courses taken or residence.

Reduction in Courses for Students Entering with Masters Degree

Entering students who have already completed a master's program at another institution can reduce their total Duke course requirements by up to four courses, reducing the number of required courses taken at Duke to thirteen. You must prepare a written request listing the courses for which transfer credit is desired and submit to the Director of Graduate Studies no later than the end of the second semester in residence at Duke.  Specific course requirements (for example, music analysis) may be waived if the student has successfully taken the equivalent course elsewhere, subject to the approval of the DGS.  The transfer of graduate credit does not change any other requirements for the doctoral degree. Students who have completed a graduate degree in a language other than English and who need to take remedial course work in English at Duke may take two courses of language study during their first year.

Typical Degree Sequence

Semester Typical Course of Study
Year 1
  • Coursework
  • Begin developing portfolio using work from courses, submit mini portfolio by end of first year
Year 2
  • Coursework
  • Field Specializations Workshop
Year 3
  • Complete the portfolio
  • Prepare final version of a dissertation prospectus
  • Portfolio Workshop
Year 4
  • Dissertation research
Year 5
  • Dissertation writing