The Graduate Center of The City University of New York offers a dynamic doctoral program in ethnomusicology, drawing on the rich resources of the Graduate Center, of the CUNY system, and of the New York City area as a whole. Ethnomusicology graduate students at the Graduate Center receive a thorough general background in the discipline, while enjoying considerable latitude in pursuing their own interests in accordance with the flexibility of the program and the diverse interests of the ethnomusicology faculty.  A special attraction of the Graduate Center is its location in the heart of New York City, with its extraordinarily rich musical and cultural life. Aside from being a center for classical music, opera, and music theater, New York is also renowned as the jazz capital of the world, as the single biggest center for Latin and Caribbean popular music, and is host to a thriving indie/alternative music scene. It is also host to a dazzling array of diverse immigrant communities, whose musical activities present unique research as well as performance opportunities for ethnomusicologists. Further, New York is home to such research institutions as the New York Public Library’s Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture and Performing Arts Library, the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies.

Joshua Katz-Rosene performs with the Bogotá-based panpipe troupe Zampoñas Urbanas at an event organized by the Bolivian embassy in Colombia to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Evo Morales' presidency (Photo: Laura Molina Benavides).

Joshua Katz-Rosene performs with the Bogotá-based panpipe troupe Zampoñas Urbanas at an event organized by the Bolivian embassy in Colombia to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Evo Morales’ presidency (Photo: Laura Molina Benavides).

Ethnomusicology students at the Graduate Center combine coursework in theory and methodology with courses on specific topics and world areas, as well as in related disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, history, media studies, and religious studies. Students are able to work not only with the Graduate Center’s faculty, but also with faculty throughout the CUNY system, which includes several colleges with distinguished music departments, such as Queens College, Hunter College, City College, and Brooklyn College. Through the Inter-University Consortium, advanced students may also take courses at other schools in the New York area such as Columbia University, New York University, the New School, and Stony Brook University. Many students interact in various ways with faculty in the other music subdisciplines, with whom the Ethnomusicology Program has always enjoyed mutually supportive and enriching relations. The program is further enriched by the activities of the Foundation for Iberian Music, RILM, and the Music in Gotham project. The breadth of these resources, together with the flexibility of the CUNY program and the rich cultural offerings of New York City, have enabled the ethnomusicology program to attract students from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds.

All students in the Ethnomusicology Program are fully or partially funded. Once in the program, many students also receive internal grants for dissertation or pre-dissertation research. Particularly useful have been the numerous grants awarded by the Baisley Powell Elebash Endowment, which supports research on the musical life of New York City. After their first year, most students teach undergraduate courses, such as a world music survey, somewhere in the CUNY system. In doing so, they gain valuable teaching experience and often find themselves learning much from the ethnically diverse CUNY undergraduates as well.

Our numerous alumni have made major contributions to the field, and the Program has an impressive record of placing its graduates in academic positions. CUNY Ethnomusicology graduates currently hold professorial positions at Columbia University, University of North Carolina, Temple University, University of Vermont, the New School, University of New Haven, and the University of North Texas, as well as at John Jay College, York College, Gutman College, and Baruch College within the CUNY system.

Lastly, the Program’s students and faculty have always constituted a convivial and supportive community, whose members like to socialize, make music, and share their experiences.

Miranda Fedock demonstrates the Tibetan piwang fiddle in a seminar.

For further information, please see the links in the drop-down menu above, or scroll down.

palo drummers

Manuela Arciniegas (second from right) with the Legacy Women performing Afro-Dominican palo


Core faculty regularly teach seminars in the program.  Affiliated faculty are involved in other ways, including as resources for dissertation committees and independent study.  In Fall 2017, Eliot Bates will join the program’s full-time faculty. Ethnomusicology students also study in various capacities with other members of the Graduate Center’s music faculty, including Mark Spicer and Sean O’Donnell (popular music), Jeffrey Taylor (jazz studies), and Emily Wilbourne (gender studies).


Core Ethnomusicology Faculty

Eliot Bates: music production; music of Turkey

Peter L. Manuel
: Musics of India, the Caribbean, and Spain; world popular music

Jane Sugarman
: Music of Southeastern Europe; gender studies; cultural theory


Affiliated Faculty

Chris McGuinness demonstrating EDM production and analysis for a seminar

Ray Allen
 (Brooklyn College): West Indian music in New York; gospel music

James Cowdery (RILM): Irish music

Barbara L. Hampton (Hunter College): Music of Africa

Benjamin Lapidus (John Jay College): Music of Cuba; Latin music in New York

Antoni Pizá (Foundation for Iberian Music): Music of Spain

Jonathan Shannon: Middle Eastern music


Further Links

Janice Mahinka (right) doing fieldwork on the musicality of salsa dancing

For further information for prospective students, click here

For links to faculty pages, click here

For further information on current students, click here

For further information on alumni and past dissertation titles, click here


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