Folklore and Ethnomusicology B.A.

The Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology is part of the 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.


Getting started

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 is 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 consists of 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 spring 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, Linguistics, Media, Psychology, or area studies such as Jewish 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 Sociology, Philosophy, Creative Writing, and many others.

Check your bulletin for more information about these majors and minors, and contact the academic advisor for advice about how to pair your major with other coursework.

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.

You can get involved in research as early as your first year. Many incoming first-year students apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker. 

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.

High-achieving students may be recognized for academic excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include these departmental awards:

Other possible scholarship and award opportunities include:


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:

Off-campus internships are available with such organizations as:

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 80 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:

Overseas study

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
  • 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.

Student groups

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.

Volunteer opportunities

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:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

As a student at IU Bloomington, you have direct ties to professional organizations related to folklore and ethnomusicology, including:

For more information about professional involvement, consult the faculty and staff of the Folklore and Ethnomusicology department.

Use the Indiana University Libraries system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, nonprofit organizations.

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

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach at the Walter Center for Career Achievement.

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.

To further maximize your career preparation with a career course, Folklore and Ethnomusicology majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. The section dedicated to Arts and Humanities provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!

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!

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

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.

Talk with faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology.

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:

Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as:

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:

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:

    *Includes the option of a Dual Master of Arts in Folklore and/or Ethnomusicology

Alumni connections

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 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

Learn more

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