The Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology is part of the Indiana University College of Arts and Sciences. When pursuing a major in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, you work with award-winning faculty who have lived, traveled, and studied all over the world, experiencing and chronicling the cultural and artistic expression of groups of people in everyday life.
The department has been acknowledged nationally as the premier program in both folklore and ethnomusicology, and is the only program in the country to align these closely-related disciplines. Both study the intersections of culture, traditions, and history.
As a major in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, you can focus on either subject area or combine the two. Folklore courses cover such subjects and themes as material culture, mythology and legend, foodways, verbal art and speechplay, dress and costume, and personal narrative.
Ethnomusicology courses allow you to explore the role of music in human life, studying the relationships between music and culture across and within societies in all parts of the world. Courses include musical traditions from the African diaspora, East Asia, Europe, the African continent, Latin America and the Caribbean, and various regions and ethnic groups in the U.S.
The Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology offers an undergraduate minor for students majoring in other subjects. Students pursuing the minor may choose both folklore and ethnomusicology courses, culminating with a field methods course.
You can start your studies in Folklore and Ethnomusicology in a number of different ways in order to establish a broad foundation in the program. Introductory courses include:
- FOLK-E 151 Global Pop Music
- FOLK-F 101 Introduction to Folklore
- FOLK-F 111 World Music and Culture
- FOLK-F 121 World Arts and Culture
- FOLK-F 131 Folklore in the United States
- FOLK-F 141 Urban Legend
You might also start your studies with a more thematic course, such as:
- FOLK-E 295 Survey of Hip Hop
- FOLK-F 225 Forms of Commemoration
- FOLK-F 230 Music in Social Movements
- FOLK-F 256 The Supernatural and Folklore
You are welcome to take up to four lower-level courses (with no more than two at the 100-level) towards your major before diving into more in-depth upper-level courses.
Tracks and concentrations
Students pursuing the degree can choose to focus either on folklore or on ethnomusicology, but no specific concentrations are required. It's generally a good idea to sample some courses in each area, which will give you a greater appreciation and richer knowledge of the cultural and artistic expression of groups of people in everyday life.
Contact the academic advisor to discuss your specific interests within Folklore and Ethnomusicology.
Upper level coursework
The Folklore and Ethnomusicology major is very flexible. Most of the necessary upper-level work are major electives. There are only two upper-level courses that all majors must take. Juniors in particular are encouraged to enroll in FOLK-F 401 Methods and Theories, in which you learn and practice the field methods for Folklore and Ethnomusicology research.
Seniors enroll in FOLK-F 497 Advanced Seminar during the fall semester. In this seminar, you work with a faculty mentor to produce an original research project based on your own research interests.
Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates
Coursework for the Folklore and Ethnomusicology major represents about one quarter of your degree requirements, giving you plenty of opportunity to combine several areas of interest through additional majors, minors, or certificates.
Folklore and Ethnomusicology students often pursue studies in Anthropology, foreign languages, History, English, Psychology, or area studies such as Latino Studies or African American & African Diaspora Studies. Some students select a Music Studies minor through the Jacobs School of Music.
You can also explore other disciplines, including Environmental & Sustainability Studies, Art History, Theatre, Drama & Contemporary Dance, Journalism, Political Science, and many others.
- Enhance your major
Working with faculty
When pursuing the degree in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have a depth and breadth of knowledge in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your goals and to discuss topics that interest you about the course content, your assignments, and any readings required for the class. Developing these relationships early in your academic career make it easier to ask for letters of recommendation when you need them.
Many students welcome the opportunity to do independent research under the guidance of faculty. While doing your own research you can earn 400-level credit towards your degree through the FOLK-X 490 Individual Study course. Talk with the academic advisor or your instructors about this possibility.
Outstanding students with a passion for research are eligible to apply to the departmental honors program for their senior year. Under the guidance of a faculty thesis director, students complete FOLK-F 399 Reading for Honors (3 credit hours) and FOLK-F 499 Honors Thesis (3 credit hours). After meeting certain academic benchmarks, students defend the thesis before an honors committee. Interested students may seek more information from the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Undergraduate scholarships and awards
Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include these departmental awards:
Other possible scholarship and award opportunities include:
- Carnegie Junior Fellows Program
- Cindy Simon Skjodt Study Abroad Scholarship
- Critical Language Scholarship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Hutton International Experiences Program
- Office of Overseas Study Scholarships
- Service-Learning Student Travel Scholarship
Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.
Folklore and Ethnomusicology students find a wealth of local arts and cultural organizations seeking interns every year, including:
- African American Arts Institute
- Archive of African American Music and Culture
- Archives of Traditional Music
- Lotus Education and Arts Foundation
- Mathers Museum of World Cultures
- Monroe County History Center
- Traditional Arts Indiana
Off-campus internships are available with such organizations as:
- Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
- Smithsonian Institute
- Washington, D.C. Leadership Program
Students pursuing any of these opportunities can also earn internship credit through our FOLK-X 402, X 476, and X 477 practicum and field experience course numbers. Interested students should contact the academic advisor.
Learn more about internships, including the possiblity of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.
Foreign language study
As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages.
Popular languages among Folklore and Ethnomusicology students include Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language, Hebrew, Farsi (Persian), and Swahili.
Here are just a few of the resources available to students at IU Bloomington:
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology
- Chinese Flagship Program
- Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships
- IU Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
- Russian Flagship Program
Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. As a Folklore and Ethnomusicology major, you can expand your knowledge and skills in global culture by studying abroad. Students in the department have recently pursued coursework in the following study abroad programs:
- Dublin IES Semester or Summer Program -- Ireland
- IUB Hutton Honors College Wartime in the Netherlands -- Netherlands
- Canterbury Semester or AY Program -- England
- Seoul-CIEE Semester Program -- South Korea
- Rome-IES Semester Program -- Italy
The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations by contacting your academic advisor as well as the Office of Overseas Study.
The Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association (FESA) is the organization for all undergraduate students with interests in the field. Students plan and lead departmental and campus-wide events, explore careers, and connect with professional folklorists and ethnomusicologists from around the world.
Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.
IU Bloomington and the greater Bloomington community offer you many opportunities to volunteer your time and talents through activities that enhance your knowledge and skills while serving others. Below are some organizations where Folklore and Ethnomusicology students volunteer:
- Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department
- Buskirk-Chumley Theater
- Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
- IU Corps
- Lotus Education and Arts Foundation
- Middle Way House
- Monroe County Public Library
- Indiana Memorial Union Board
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.
As a student at IU Bloomington, you have direct ties to professional organizations related to folklore and ethnomusicology, including:
- American Folklore Society
- Society for Ethnomusicology
- The Journal of Folklore Research
- National Endowment for the Humanities
For more information about professional involvement, consult the faculty and staff of the Folklore and Ethnomusicology department.
- Build your skills
Through the major
The major in Folklore and Ethnomusicology provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:
- Global understanding: gain knowledge and awareness of the diversity of human worldviews and of cultural and artistic expression in everyday life
- Cultural competence: interact effectively with people of different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds
- Aesthetic perception: appreciate and articulate the importance of cultural and artistic expression in human society
- Research expertise: develop observation and interview skills, defend your point of view, and deliver informed oral and written presentations
- Critical thinking and source analysis: utilize both primary and secondary sources, evaluating cultural artifacts and texts in their historical, geographical, and personal context
- Communication and leadership: inform and interact, both in person and in writing, with experts and non-specialists
Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree
Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in ever career path:
- Question critically
- Think logically
- Communicate clearly
- Act creatively
- Live ethically
These foundation skills will aid you in landing your first job, and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.
Skills desired by employers
Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.
The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:
- Problem-solving skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Written and verbal communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Strong work ethic
- Analytical and quantitative skills
- Ability to take initiative
- Being detail oriented
- Demonstrating adaptability
- Technical skills relevant to the field
- Interpersonal skills
- Computer skills
- Organizational ability
As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.
Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.
- Launch your career
Plan your search
The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Learn how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.
Join one or more of the new Career Communities to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. Consult with community facilitators, connect with employers, and learn with fellow students about educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.
You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Folklore and Ethnomusicology students are encouraged to consider taking ASCS-Q 294, College to Career I: Explore Your Options in their first two years at IUB. Q 294 helps you to solidify your major choice by understanding your values, interests, personality, and skills.
Folklore and Ethnomusicology students are also encouraged to take ASCS-Q 296, College to Career II: Navigating Your Arts and Sciences Experience. In the course, students explore the value of their liberal arts education, while also gaining proficiency in writing resumes, crafting cover letters, navigating interviews, and other skills that help them transition from college to new horizons.
The job market
The employment outlook is positive for students with a major in Folklore and Ethnomusicology. The need for skilled cultural specialists, conservationists and intermediaries continues to rise as policy makers contemplate the leadership role of the U.S. in global affairs.
Folklore and ethnomusicology graduates are trained to analyze the ways people around the globe communicate their worldviews through artifacts, music, narratives, and traditional livelihood practices, and can satisfy the needs of employers who are trying to expand their programs and markets to unchartered territories.
In addition, the strong written and verbal communication skills developed through the Folklore and Ethnomusicology degree can help them transition into a variety of different career fields.
Students with the B.A. degree in Folklore and Ethnomusicology can become researchers, educators, entrepreneurs, event planners, museum curators, educational outreach coordinators for nonprofit organizations, healthcare professionals, publishing assistants, and sales representatives, among many other options.
Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center's First Destinations survey!
Initial and long-turn destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors: the entertainment and media industries; education at all levels; museums; libraries; nonprofit organizations; business enterprises; faith-based institutions; and non-governmental organizations.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.
Post-graduate short-term experiences
The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international or domestic internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:
- City Year
- Cultural Vistas
- Global Experiences
- Go Abroad
- IES Abroad
- Peace Corps
- Teach For America
Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:
- Japan Exchange and Teaching Program USA (JET)
- Center for International Education Exchange
- Institute of International Education (IIE)
Using these and other resources, your career advisor can help you put together a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.
Fellowships for post-graduate study
Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.
Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:
- American Council of Learned Societies
- Boren Awards for International Study
- Cultural Vistas Professional Fellowships
- Fulbright Programs
- USAID Payne International Development Fellowship
- Wenner-Gren Foundation
- Woodrow Wilson National Fellowships
Graduate and professional study
When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.
A degree in Folklore and Ethnomusicology will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as folk studies, ethnomusicology, museology, library and information science, arts administration, higher education and student affairs, speech and hearing sciences, and anthropology.
With careful planning and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions, including nursing or public health administration.
Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:
- Folklore and/or Ethnomusicology (MA and PhD)
- Master of Library Science*
- Master of Information Science*
- Master of Arts in Arts Administration*
*Includes the option of a Dual Master of Arts in Folklore and/or Ethnomusicology
Annual conferences of the American Folklore Society and of the Society for Ethnomusicology are also great events for connecting with alumni. IU Bloomington has the largest contingent of alumni in the country for both organizations.
The Folklore and Ethnomusicology Student Association (FESA) also invites alumni to connect with current undergraduate students, particularly for career events.
The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.
Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts + Sciences Alumni, and let other know where your path takes you.
Is it for you?
The Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology draws students who are fascinated by people and cultures. They typically have some of the following qualities:
- Interest in mythology, legend, and folktales
- Taste for music of all kinds and from all types of cultures
- Fascination with group traditions surrounding food, clothing, body art, handicrafts
- Desire to conduct research and preserve traditions
- Enthusiasm for leadership and practicum opportunities
- Desire to build societal bridges through music, story, and material culture
- Affinity for people who regularly gather for food and fellowship
- Sense of humor and playfulness
Contact the department academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.
- Department website
- Advisor email address