For general information on graduate admission to the Butler School of Music, including deadlines, requirements, and processes, please follow this link.

The Division seeks to enroll 3 to 5 new students per year in each of our two sub-areas (Historical Musicology and Ethnomusicology). The selection process is competitive; approximately 10-15% of applicants are admitted.

The Division endeavors to fund all admitted students through scholarships and/or teaching assistantships. Please follow the scholarship link for information on how to maximize your financial aid opportunities.

While there is no admission examination, all graduate entering the Butler School of Music are asked to take a diagnostic examination in music history and theory.

Funding and Scholarships

The University of Texas is a public university, and as such cannot always offer graduate students the same levels of support they might receive at a private institution. While tuition and living expenses are relatively low in Austin compared with many other areas of the country, students will nevertheless wish to take advantage of all funding opportunities available to them. This includes sources offered campus-wide by the University’s central administration and on a national level by various institutions in addition to local funds offered by the College of Fine Arts and School of Music. An important part of the application process for graduate study involves searching for applicable grants in a timely fashion. It is highly encouraged that students make an appointment in the late summer, even before applying to the music school, with Mary Alice Davila who coordinates fellowships for the Graduate School: 512-232-3603,

Applicants should take the time to look closely at the website of UT’s Graduate School for applicable fellowships on their own. This is especially important for minority applicants, but awards are available for others as well. Grants of interest may include:

Harrington graduate fellowships for incoming students, and dissertation fellowships for continuing students.
McNair Scholars fellowship program for low-income and first-generation undergraduate students entering graduate programs.
The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. This is a graduate fellowship for “either holders of Green Cards, naturalized citizens, or children of two naturalized citizen parents.” The dollar amounts are signficant ($20,000 stipend for two years plus half tuition). Both prospective graduate students and first- or second-year graduate students are eligible to apply. Deadline for application is 1 November.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation awards scholarships to beginning graduate students of exceptional promise and with demonstrated financial need. Each award will fund a portion of educational costs for up to six years.


Area Studies Funding

Those interested in the music of a particular world region should also contact the corresponding area studies center at the University of Texas to inquire about funding options. Again, this must be done early; many deadlines for support come in late Fall or Winter for the following year. Of particular interest are Foreign Language Areas Studies (FLAS) grants, offered for those desirous of pursuing linguistic study as a complement to training in ethnomusicology and musicology.


The Center for East Asian Studies
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies may be contacted for funding as appropriate.
The Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS). Please contact Anne Dibble, Graduate Coordinator at LLILAS, for further information and suggestions at (512)232-2402.
The Center for Mexican-American Studies (CMAS). Fellowships of interest include The Américo Paredes Memorial Fellowship Award.
The South Asia Institute and its FLAS grants.

Targeted Diversity Fellowships

Ford Foundation fellowship
The Hispanic Scholarship Fund for graduate students.


Fellowships Available for Students interested in Latin America

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) are available for Portuguese study at UT or Amerindian language study. Application deadlines are due in mid-February.
Summer Field Research Travel Grants from the Tinker Foundation—description on-line. Application deadline for receipt of a complete application due mid-February.
Many other grants are available as well, including University Continuing Fellowships, University Tuition Fellowships, the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Graduate Fellowship, the Debra J. Herring Memorial Fellowship Fund, and others.


Diagnostic Examinations

Music History DiagnosticAll students who begin graduate study at the Butler School of Music are required to take demanding diagnostic entrance exams testing their undergraduate-level knowledge of Western art music; successful completion of the Masters degree will involve enrolling in remedial classes as necessary to compensate for any deficiencies in such training. This coursework may add as much as one or two semesters to the amount of time it takes to complete the Masters degree, as the suggested program for the Masters does not take such remedial work into account.

Students are strongly encouraged to take preparation for these exams seriously so that they pass out of as many basic classes as possible and thus speed their studies. Feel free to contact the admissions officer at the School of Music ( for further information about exactly what areas will be tested and how best to prepare for them. The music history section of the exam covers material from the Middle Ages through the 20th century with questions about musical terms, styles, and schools of composition. It also includes score identification and listening questions based on score analysis. Resource books that can help prepare students for tests on Western music history are listed below.

Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. 2009. A History of Western Music, 9th edition. New York: W.W. Norton
Burkholder, J. Peter, and Claude V. Palisca, eds.2009. Norton Anthology of Western Music, New York: W.W. Norton

Music Theory Diagnostic The music theory section of the exam includes harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic dictation, as well as harmonic analysis based on multiple score examples. Students may be asked to provide Roman-numeral analysis of chordal structures, complete figured bass notation, or undertake matrix analysis. Helpful resources for the music theory section include:

Kostka, Stefan, and Dorothy Payne. 1995. Tonal Harmony, 3rd edition. New York: McGraw Hill.
Kostka, Stefan. 1990. Materials and Techniques of Twentieth-Century Music. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Straus, Joseph. 1990. Introduction to Post-Tonal Harmony. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall

Specific information for applicants in ethnomusicology


General Description of the Program. Ethnomusicology is a highly interdisciplinary academic field. It combines the formal-structural study of music with ethnographic analysis, historical investigation, socio-cultural anthropology, and techniques from other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Students of ethnomusicology frequently take courses outside of the School of Music and have members of other departments serve on their dissertation committees. Doctoral studies involve extended periods of fieldwork in particular communities, often out of the country. Students are expected to acquire a high level of competence in at least two foreign languages appropriate to their areas of interest prior to receiving a terminal degree. They are expected to be familiar with the Western classical tradition as well, given that their future employment may involve some teaching in that area. It may be informative to take a look at descriptions of various programs in ethnomusicology as you explore this area of study and decide which best suits your needs.

Ethnomusicology and Performance. The acquisition of performance expertise is encouraged in our ethnomusicology program, and, in fact, the performance practices of numerous musical traditions have been taught under the aegis of the graduate program in ethnomusicology. Practical performance skills can be invaluable both in classroom instruction and in the eventual direction of university ensembles during one’s professional career. Yet musical performance does not constitute the center of our discipline, as ethnomusicology is an academic rather than an applied area of study. The objective of most research in recent years has been to link music and performance to broader issues of relevance including politics, power relations, identity formation, race relations, gender issues, religious beliefs, economic activity, global trends in the development of media and communication, and so forth. It is imperative that applicants have some familiarity with the writings of ethnomusicologists in order to be sure that their interests will be furthered by such a degree. If one’s primary interest is music performance or composition, the pursuit of a graduate ethnomusicology degree may not be appropriate.

Funding Your Graduate Education. Funding for your degree from the University of Texas at Austin can come from a variety of sources, both on campus and off. For more information see the top of this page.

Representative Publications in Ethnomusicology.The following is a brief selection of introductory works by ethnomusicologists; students are encouraged to read as many of them as possible before applying to the University of Texas. Following this list appears another series of books and articles illustrative of the research trajectories of current UT faculty.

General Books/Articles
Merriam, Alan. 1964. The Anthropology of Music. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Blacking, John.1973. How Musical is Man? Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Pegg, Carole, et. al.2001. “Ethnomusicology.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 8 pp. 367-403. New York: Macmillan.
Nettl, Bruno. 2005. The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-One Issues and Concepts. Urbana IL: University of Illinois Press.

Selected Publications by our Ethnomusicology Faculty


Erlmann, Veit
African Stars: Studies in Black South African Performance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Nightsong: Performance, Power, and Practice in South Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Music, Modernity, and the Global Imagination: South Africa and the West. New York: Oxford, 1999

Moore, Robin
Nationalizing Blackness: Afrocubanismo and Artistic Revolution in Havana, 1920-1940. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997.
Music and Revolution: Cultural Change in Socialist Cuba. Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 2006.
Music in the Hispanic Caribbean. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Dazón: Circum-Caribbean Dialogues in Music and Dance New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Slawek, Stephen
Sitar Technique in Nibaddh Forms. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987.
with Robert Hardgrave. Musical Instruments of North India: Eighteenth Century Portraits by
Baltazard Solvyns.
 New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 1997.
“Keeping It Going: Terms, Practices and Processes of Improvisation in Hindustani
Instrumental Music.” In Bruno Nettl, ed., In the Course of Performance:
Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation.
 Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 335-68.

Seeman, Sonia
“A Politics of Culture: Turkish Romani Music and Dance at the Dawn of European Union Accession.” In Voices of the Weak: Music and Minorities. Zuzana Jurkova and Lee Bidgood, eds. Prague: NGO Slovo 21. Pp. 206-215. 2009.
Presenting “gypsy” – Re-Presenting Roman: Towards an Archaeology of Aesthetic Production and Social Identity.”Music and Anthropology: Journal of the Anthropology of the Mediterranean Issue 11. 2006.
Kesan’a giden yollar (Roads to Kesan). Co-Producer, liner notes, Kalan Müzik CD 154; Roads from Kesan – Regional and Roma Music of Thrace. Traditional Crossroads CD 80702-6001-2. 1999.

Which degree to apply for, MM or PhD? As mentioned, ethnomusicology is a unique field, quite distinct from music performance, music theory, music education, even much traditional musicology; it requires specific academic preparation. Unless students have this sort of training, unless they have already earned a Masters degree at an institution with a recognized ethnomusicology program, they should apply for our MM regardless of any previous degrees earned. Students should be aware that the successful completion of the MM in ethnomusicology does not in itself guarantee admission to the doctoral program. In this highly competitive discipline, a student must demonstrate the potential to make significant contributions to the discipline in order to be accepted as a candidate for the doctoral degree.

What Constitutes a Strong Application? Ethnomusicology faculty weigh many factors when considering whom to accept into the program. Standard criteria for evaluation include one’s overall undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, graduate grades as appropriate, and letters of recommendation. In addition, the student’s statement of purpose and writing samples are carefully examined. A strong applicant will demonstrate knowledge of the discipline and have focused interests that orient their proposed graduate work. They should make clear that they know the UT program in particular, that they have some knowledge of the campus’ various centers and libraries as appropriate to their work, and understand how these elements will combine to facilitate their goals. If at all possible they should visit the campus, meet the professors, confer with current students, and become as familiar as possible with the school before completing their application. Writing samples should be of high quality, well organized, clear, and should demonstrate a facility with interdisciplinary issues. At least one of their letters of recommendation should come from a trained ethnomusicologist if at all possible.

Because skills in ethnomusicology involve both a familiarity with music per se and with interdisciplinary literature, students need to consider their previous training as they decide how to prepare for graduate studies. Those coming from a background in anthropology or cultural studies, for instance, should make every effort to shore up their formal musical skills (ear training, harmonic theory, knowledge of Western music history, etc.). Those coming from a background in classical music will need to prepare themselves by reading more broadly in other areas, beginning with the books cited above and below.

General information on writing a statement of purpose. More information on how to write a statement of purpose can be found here.

Coursework Toward the Masters Degree. Coursework at the Masters level varies according to students’ individual interests and needs, but conforms to a general pattern.
During the first years of graduate studies at our institution, emphasis is placed on the history of ethnomusicology as a discipline and on the primary issues that have concerned scholars since the 1950s. Students are exposed to information related to fieldwork as well as issues surrounding ethnographic writing and representation. Additionally, they are expected to gain a solid understanding of various world music systems and to begin to familiarize themselves with current literature pertinent to their specific interests through coursework in disciplines such as anthropology, history, and area studies. Masters-level exams (a twelve-hour exam following the completion of coursework) will test proficiency in these areas. Towards the end of this period, students are encouraged to take the Introduction to Graduate Social Anthropology core course or an equivalent through directed readings with a faculty member.

Coursework at the Doctoral Level. At the doctoral level, students’ coursework and interests are expected to become both more focused and more broadly theoretical. Issue-oriented seminars both within the School of Music and in other disciplines should constitute a majority of coursework, and if at all possible the topics of such courses should relate to the tentative dissertation project students have envisioned for themselves.

An Additional Note About Fieldwork. One of the primary ways ethnomusicology differs from traditional music history is in its concern for ethnographic study, interviewing, participant observation, and other forms of interaction with living people, often in other countries. Applicants to the program should recognize this and have some idea what this work involves. Ethnography is the descriptive study of a particular human society. It requires immersion in the culture of everyday life of the people who are under investigation. Students should learn to conduct effective fieldwork and, in the process, to become intimately familiar with at least one other culture besides their own as part of their studies. Consult the following reference for more information. Barz, Gregory and Timothy Cooley. 2008.Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed.