Graduate Program

Learn more about the Folkore Program by attending our Open House. Please contact us to RSVP or for more information about the day's schedule.

The Berkeley Folklore Program is 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 on tradition in shaping political and social projects. It provides a solid grounding in folklore theory through core courses and seminars and a chance to specialize in one of the areas in which Berkeley offers particularly strong training. Many students enter the M.A. Program to gain a broad and deep foundation prior to incorporating folkloristic perspectives in future doctoral training. Others see the degree as a chance to enhance their scholarly sophistication and explore a range of topics and perspectives before deciding on a particular career path. Our goal is to train future leaders in folklore study and scholars who will bring folkloristic perspectives to other disciplines.

Concurrent Ph.D. Enrollment

The Folklore Program is now pleased to be able to offer the option of earning the M.A. in Folklore while being concurrently enrolled in any Ph.D. program in the humanities and social sciences available at Berkeley. Students must be accepted by both the Ph.D.-granting department and the Folklore Program and complete all requirements for both degrees. More information on how to apply for concurrent enrollment.

Preparation for Graduate Study

Our students possess a broad range of humanities and social science backgrounds as well as from the natural sciences and other fields. They are drawn from universities in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Previous coursework in folkloristics is not required. All that is needed is a strong undergraduate record and the desire to excel.

Program Description

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 M.A. thesis based upon fieldwork or some other research project. During their first year of study, students take Anthropology 160, The Forms of Folklore, which provides an overview of folklore and folkloristics, and the core seminar, Folklore 262A-262B, Folklore Theory and Techniques. A graduate course in fieldwork methodology is also required, as selected from a list of approved courses. In close consultation with the Chair or Graduate Advisor, students work out a program of study that provides depth in one of the areas in which Berkeley is particularly strong: these include 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. Students may also propose courses of study in other areas.

Language Requirement

The student must demonstrate proficiency in reading at least one foreign language by the time he or she advances to candidacy. 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.

M.A. Thesis

Theses are directed by a Thesis Committee consisting of at least three faculty members, one of whom does not belong to the Folklore Graduate Group. The Committee Chair and inside member must be members of the Graduate Group; a co-chair from another department or program may be named when appropriate.

Programs & Courses