Masters in Folklore

The Department of Anthropology administers the graduate degree programs of the interdisciplinary Folklore program, a creative and international center for scholarship and academic training that focuses on the relationship between traditionality and modernity in contemporary research and social life, the historical emergence of traditional cultural forms, and the importance of tradition in shaping political and social projects. For more details on the Folklore Program itself, and on the Folklore Archives maintained by the program, visit the program website: is external)

The Director of the Folklore Program, Professor Tim Tangherlini, Professor of Scandinavian, and two Anthropology faculty, Professor Rosemary Joyce, faculty Head Graduate Advisor, and Professor Laurie Wilkie, faculty Equity Advisor, are core members of the Graduate Group in Folklore. Other faculty in the Graduate Group come from Music, Rhetoric, Scandinavian, Slavic Languages and Literature, Spanish and Portuguese, and Theatre and Performance Studies.

Anthropology Department Graduate Student Affairs Officer Tabea Mastel maintains records of graduate students in the Folklore program, and can answer questions about requirements and procedures of the program. Academic advising is provided by the faculty Graduate Advisor for the Folklore Program, whose name and contact information can be found on the main Folklore webpage.

In addition to overseeing the completion of degree requirements for Folklore graduate students, Anthropology also serves as the home department for Folklore courses, many of which are cross-listed as Anthropology courses, including the core two-semester seminar Anthropology/Folklore 262A and 262B: Theories of Traditionality and Modernity, as well as the perennial undergraduate favorite, Anthropology 160AC: Forms of Folklore, taught once a year, that satisfies the American Cultures requirement. Teaching assistant positions in this course provide employment for many Folklore graduate students.

The terminal degree for the Folklore program itself is the MA. Since 2008, it has been possible for students to concurrently complete a Folklore MA and a PhD in a specific discipline approved to offer that degree.

The M.A. in folklore requires a minimum of 20 units of coursework, of which at least three four-unit courses must be graduate level, and an MA thesis based upon fieldwork or other original research.

During their first year of study, students take Anthropology 160: Forms of Folklore, which provides an overview of folklore and folkloristics, and the core two-semester seminar, Folklore 262A-262B: Theories of Traditionality and Modernity. A graduate course in fieldwork methodology is also required, selected from a list of approved courses. Students work out a program of study that provides depth in an area such as critical theories of traditionalities and modernities; ethnomusicology; medicine and the body; folk art and materiality; festival and religion; performance studies; gender and sexuality; race and coloniality; narrative and discourse analysis.

The Folklore MA requires demonstrated proficiency in reading at least one foreign language. The language is selected in consultation with the Chair or Graduate Advisor; in most cases, it is the language most closely connected with the M.A. thesis. The language requirement is ordinarily satisfied by an examination in which the student translates a passage from an academic text in their language of choice into English.

Folklore degree candidates write a thesis directed by a committee consisting of at least three faculty members, including an "outside member" who does not belong to the Folklore Graduate Group. The Committee Chair and another "inside member" must belong to the Graduate Group. A co-chair from another department or program may be named when appropriate.

Beginning in 2008, one incoming student per year will receive the Alan Dundes Graduate Fellowship in Folklore. Support for Folklore students also comes from Graduate Student Instructor or Reader positions hired through the Department of Anthropology, especially in Anthropology 160AC. Students wishing to be considered for Anthropology teaching positions should fill out the online application by the required deadline. Folklore students are often eligible for teaching appointments in other departments or may find appointments as research assistants.

Designated Emphasis in Folkore For Current Ph.D. Students

Upon successful completion of the dissertation, the student's diploma and transcript will include the designation: "Ph.D. in [major] with a Designated Emphasis in Folklore." Requirements for Admissions

To be admitted to the program, applicants must already be accepted into an existing Ph.D. program at Berkeley (Master's students and students at other institutions are not eligible). Graduate students are strongly urged to apply early in their third semester, but applications will be considered at any time prior to completion of the qualifying examinations. 


Folklore C262A/B, Theories of Traditionality and Modernity (two semesters); Anthropology 160, Forms of Folklore (unless the applicant has taken an equivalent introduction to the discipline). It is strongly recommended that students take at least one course in their home department that focuses on research techniques. 


The student's qualifying examination committee and dissertation committee must have one member of the D.E. faculty. UCB doctoral students who wish to apply to the Designated Emphasis in Folklore Program are welcome to contact the Chair and/or Graduate Adviser. Applications and details regarding the admissions process are available from the Folklore Graduate Student Affairs Officer (