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Apply for the Graduate Program

In this time of uncertainty and crisis, the music department at Berkeley believes that it is more important than ever to build and sustain strong communities through the arts. The graduate programs at Berkeley support communities of scholars, teachers, and musicians for years of intensive work and study. For decades, Berkeley has provided tuition waivers and stipends to all admitted graduate students, offering guaranteed support over 5 or 6 years, with the opportunity of continuing support beyond that.  In the current economic climate, and in the midst of calls for racial and social justice, it is more important than ever to reaffirm our commitment to the project and values of humanist scholarship and to the continuing struggle to build sustainable long-term infrastructures for our profession.

Due to the exceptional circumstances of the past six months, we have decided to pause admission to the ethnomusicology program for the 2021/22 academic year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put an incredible strain on our existing graduate students, including the need to restructure research projects, reorganize funding sources, and balance coursework and research with increased health and dependent care needs. We, the program faculty, believe it is imperative that we focus our energies this year on supporting our current cohorts as they cope with this moment.

In addition, the field of ethnomusicology is engaged in an intense moment of recognition and self-reflection in regards to its legacies of colonialism and racism. We are devoted to examining these concerns as they are manifested in our program and plan to use the coming year as a space to build the first concrete steps toward adjusting our structures to mitigate these systemic issues.

We will resume regular graduate admissions for the 2022/23 academic year, with applications due in December 2021. Please contact Zoe Xu ( to express your interest in the program and be added to a list to stay updated on our ethnomusicology admissions. You are also welcome to continue to contact ethnomusicology faculty with questions regarding the program or admissions.

The musicology and composition programs will continue to accept applications for the 2021/22 academic year.

The Application for Graduate Admission and Fellowships will open on September 15, 2020. Please submit the application and all supporting materials by 8:59 pm Pacific Standard Time on December 1 in order to be considered for admission for Fall 2021. No changes can be made to your application after submission.

Please begin an application to view all of the requirements, including a Statement of Purpose, Personal History Statement, Transcripts, Test Scores, and 3 Letters of Recommendation. Composition applicants are asked to upload recordings and scores for 3-5 pieces. History & Literature and Ethnomusicology applicants should submit 1-2 research papers as samples of their scholarship.

The Department of Music offers a combined M.A./Ph.D. program and a Ph.D. program, with specialties in composition, history and literature of Western music, and ethnomusicology. A terminal M.A. degree is not offered. All applicants should select ‘Music Ph.D.’ on the online application.

All admitted graduate students are supported by fellowships and teaching opportunities. A typical funding package consists of an annual stipend of $30,000, plus covered tuition, health insurance, and student fees, guaranteed for five years (M.A./Ph.D.) or four years (Ph.D.).

The most appropriate preparation for the graduate program is a B.A. in Music, though applicants with undergraduate degrees in other fields may still apply. Applications are considered once a year for admission to the fall semester. Students will be notified of the admission decisions by e-mail no later than April 1st.

An audition is not required. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required.

Applicants who would like to visit the department should contact faculty members in their field of interest directly. Applicants who are offered admission will be invited to visit the department in the spring.

International applicants: All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 90 or the IELTS with a minimum score of 7. These scores must be received by December 1st. For additional information, see the Graduate Division’s policy.

If you have any questions, contact our Graduate Student Services Advisor at