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The program can accommodate interests in ethnomusicology’s wide range of geographic areas and intellectual issues. We strongly encourage performance, close interaction with related disciplines (anthropology, area studies, sociology, linguistics, etc.), as well as border crossing within music (composition, theory, and historical musicology).

What makes the program unique?

We balance diverse aspects of ethnomusicology by stressing performance, music transcription, theory and analysis, and social and intellectual history equally. We collaborate regularly with music theory, historical musicology, and composition divisions in the School of Music, and are linked to Area Studies and other departments across the university. Our goal for every student is to communicate our dedication to and love for the musics of the world, and to encourage original, critical, and constructive writing on music that will enable graduates to contribute actively to scholarship, education, and the cultures of world musics around us. The ethnomusicology students and faculty comprise a small community, but our time together is intense and vibrant, and excellent work is being done.


Program Enquiries

Still have questions after reviewing this page thoroughly?
Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

1) Check Eligibility

Minimum Academic Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:

Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.

English Language Test

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.

Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based

Overall score requirement: 90









IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 6.5









Other Test Scores

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is not required.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

The applicant must ordinarily possess a B.Mus., B.S. or B.A. degree

Course Requirements

The applicant must ordinarily possess a B.Mus., B.S., or B.A. degree and demonstrate strengths in a range of musical skills, including musicianship, transcription, and analysis, as well as prose writing skills. No rigid prerequisites are specified but a music major is strongly recommended, including courses in World Music Cultures and close study of individual world areas. Solid grounding in performance and/or fieldwork is an asset. Applicants should demonstrate interest in the practice and perspectives of ethnomusicology in its broadest senses, including its place (and the place of music) in the history of ideas and cultural relations. Predetermination of a focused research topic can certainly be helpful but is not expected at this stage. Sustained interest in European Art Music may prove beneficial. It is also recognized that ethnomusicology is closely related to other disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, folklore, Asian studies (or other area studies), and linguistics. Students with Bachelor's degrees in these disciplines are encouraged to consider this program and discuss its prerequisites prior to application.

Document Requirements

Follow the general graduate application guidelines in How to Apply and in addition: Submit a maximum of two papers dealing with a topic in music that is representative of work to date.

Submit at answer to each of the following questions (max. 300 words per question):

  • What are your strengths as a musician?
  • What would you like to work on?
  • What kinds of musical activities do you especially enjoy and why?
  • Describe two books or articles about music you have particularly learned from or been stimulated by.
  • Name some music you particularly admire and explain why. What draws you to music scholarship?

A transcription exercise will be required of all applicants to the program. This exercise will become available on the Ethnomusicology website the first or second weekend after the deadline for the application; applicants will be contacted by the department with further instructions. Most students will use standard Western notation, but modified Western notation or other systems are acceptable.

Other Requirements

The applicant must demonstrate strength in a range of musical skills and prose writing skills.

2) Meet Deadlines

Application open dates and deadlines for an upcoming intake have not yet been configured in the admissions system. Please check back later.

3) Prepare Application


All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

Letters of Reference

A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.

Statement of Interest

Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.


Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Master of Arts in Music, Emphasis Ethnomusicology (MA)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

4) Apply Online

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.

Research Information

Research Highlights

Nathan Hesselink

"Catching a Groove: Stan Lynch's Relationship with Time." Classic Drummer(forthcoming)

"From Point Grey to Little Mountain: Connections and Intersections between UBC Music and Little Mountain Sound."MUSICultures (forthcoming)

Springate, Michael and Nathan Hesselink. “Küt: Shock and Awe.” In Revolt/Compassion: Six Scripts for Contemporary Performance, by Michael Springate, 259-84. Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2019. 

“The Ethnomusicologist as Composer.” Music and Culture 31:31-44 (2014).

“Rhythmic Play, Compositional Intent, and Communication in Rock Music. Popular Music33.1:69-90 (2014).

“Radiohead’s ‘Pyramid Song’: Ambiguity, Rhythm, and Participation.” Music Theory Online 19.1.3 [13,500 words] (2013).

SamulNori: Contemporary Korean Drumming and the Rebirth of Itinerant Performance Culture.Chicago Series in Ethnomusicology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. (201 pp.)

“ ‘Yŏngdong Nongak’: Mountains, Music, and the SamulNori Canon.” Acts Koreana 12.1:1-26 (2009).

“Taking Culture Seriously: Democratic Music and its Transformative Potential in South Korea.” TheWorld of Music 49.3:75-106 (2008).

“SamulNori, Wŏn-Pang-Kak,and Cosmological Didacticism.” Yearbook for Traditional Music 39:140-61 (2007).

P’ungmul: South Korean Drumming and Dance. Chicago Series in Ethnomusicology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. (296 pp.)

“ ‘The Formation of Namsadang(Korean Itinerant Performer) Troupes’: Chapter One A Study of Namsadang Troupes,” by Shim Usŏng. Translated, edited, and with an Introduction by Nathan Hesselink. Acts Koreana 9.2:31-57 (2006).

“Samul norias Traditional: Preservation and Innovation in a South Korean Contemporary Percussion Genre.”Ethnomusicology 48.3:405-39 (2004).

Contemporary Directions: Korean Folk Music Engaging the Twentieth Century and Beyond. Korea Research Monograph 27. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001. (262 pp.)


Michael Tenzer
2019. “That’s All it Does: Steve Reich and Balinese Gamelan Music.” In S.Gopinath, and P. Siôn, eds., Rethinking Steve Reich. New York: Oxford. p. 303-322.
2019.“How Many Kinds of Rhythm are There?” In A. Hamilton and M. Paddison, eds., Philosophy of Rhythm, New York: Oxford. p.199-215.
2018.  “Polyphony.” In A. Rehding and Steven Rings, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Basic Concepts in Music Theory. New York: Oxford. p. 597-641.
2018.“Chasing the Phantom: Features of a Supracultural New Music.” Music Theory Online 24/1.
2017. “Transforming African Music Cycles.” Music Theory Spectrum Vol. 39, 2., p.  139-157.
2017. “In Honor of What We Can’t Groove To Yet.” In Robin Moore, ed. College Music Curricula for a New Century. New York: Oxford, p. 169-190.
2015. “Meditations on Objective Aesthetics in World Music.” Ethnomusicology, 59/1, p. 1-30.
2011. Analytical and Cross-Cultural Studies in World Music ( with co- editor John Roeder) New York: Oxford
2009. Let Others Name You. (compositions) New World Records Recorded Anthology of American Music CD80697
2006. Analytical Studies in World Music. (ed.) New York: Oxford.
2000. Gamelan Gong Kebyar: The Art of Twentieth Century Balinese Music. Chicago: University of Chicago

Research Focus

Our primary regional specialties are Bali/Indonesia (Tenzer) and Korea/East Asia and Great Britain (Hesselink), but we pursue research on many kinds of music and have supervised work on Sri Lanka, Ghana, Zambia, Iran, Czech Republic, Brazil, Morocco, Japan and more. We especially welcome students with an advanced grounding in a tradition whose inner workings they seek to uncover.

Research Facilities

From the state-of-the-art Chan Centre for Performing Arts, one of North America's premier musical venues, to the historic Old Auditorium and intimate Roy Barnett Recital Hall, to university-wide resources such as the Emerging Media Labs, graduate students in Ethnomusicology have access to world-class facilities.

Tuition & Financial Support


FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$114.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,838.57$3,230.06
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$1,116.60 (approx.)
Costs of livingEstimate your costs of living with our interactive tool in order to start developing a financial plan for your graduate studies.
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Financial Support

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

Program Funding Packages

Students admitted to the School of Music’s graduate programs are automatically considered for scholarships under the GSI (Graduate Support Initiative) program. These competitive awards typically range from $1,000 to 12,000 and are guaranteed for two to four years.

Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)

All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their supervision. The duties constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is considered a form of fellowship for a period of graduate study and is therefore not covered by a collective agreement. Stipends vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.

Graduate Academic Assistantships (GAA)

Academic Assistantships are employment opportunities to perform work that is relevant to the university or to an individual faculty member, but not to support the student’s graduate research and thesis. Wages are considered regular earnings and when paid monthly, include vacation pay.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.

Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.

Cost Estimator

Applicants have access to the cost estimator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Options

Our recent PhDs have been successful in landing tenure-track positions at major universities including MIT, University of Waterloo, UC Davis, Tennessee State, and the Indonesian Institute of the Arts. Others have gone into music and film production. Some MA students continue to PhDs elsewhere or move on to other fields including law, arts administration, coding, and more. 


Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Master of Arts in Music, Emphasis Ethnomusicology (MA). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.


New Registrations20020
Total Enrolment20134

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 100% based on 5 students admitted between 2015 - 2018. Based on 6 graduations between 2020 - 2023 the minimum time to completion is 1.7 years and the maximum time is 5.8 years with an average of 3.01 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each registration year, May to April, e.g. data for 2022 refers to programs starting in 2022 Summer and 2022 Winter session, i.e. May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023. Data on total enrolment reflects enrolment in Winter Session Term 1 and are based on snapshots taken on November 1 of each registration year. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Graduation rates exclude students who transfer out of their programs. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs.

Research Supervisors


Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their thesis supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding thesis supervisor contact for Master of Arts in Music, Emphasis Ethnomusicology (MA)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.
Advice and insights from UBC Faculty on reaching out to supervisors

These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a supervisor. They are not program specific.


Further Information


The ethnomusicology program accommodates interests in the discipline’s wide range of geographic areas and intellectual issues. We strongly encourage performance, close interaction with related disciplines (anthropology, area studies, sociology, linguistics, etc.), as well as border-crossing within music (composition, theory, and historical musicology).

Faculty Overview

Academic Unit

Program Identifier

Supervisor Search

Departments/Programs may update graduate degree program details through the Faculty & Staff portal. To update contact details for application inquiries, please use this form.

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