University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The interdisciplinary Folklore Program at the University of California, Berkeley trains intellectual leaders in folkloristics for the twenty-first century. We provide a rigorous, critical, and theoretically-informed grounding in folklore scholarship drawing from intellectual traditions worldwide. Students develop a particular field of expertise in folkloristics, drawing on methodological, theoretical and cultural frameworks. We  encourage our students to develop a strong grounding in another discipline or multidisciplinary perspective, such as race and ethnic studies, data science, environment and sustainability, law and policy, organizational theory, performance studies, rhetoric, narrative theory, ethnomusicology, materiality, women's and queer theory, etc. in order to bring new perspectives to their work in folkloristics.

The Folklore Program offers two options: a two-year-long MA in Folklore requiring a thesis; and a Designated Emphasis.

The Designated Emphasis in Folklore  permits students enrolled in a separate PhD program at UC Berkeley to specialize in folklore while pursuing their PhD.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Admission to the Program

Applicants for the Masters degree in Folklore must hold a Bachelor of Arts degree or its equivalent from an institution of acceptable standing.

Master's Degree Requirements

Unit Requirements

The requirements for the MA in Folklore include 20 units, of which at least 10 must be graduate-level (200 number) in Folklore.


ANTHRO 160ACForms of Folklore (Required if no equivalent introduction to the discipline has already been taken. )4
FOLKLOR C262ATheories of Traditionality and Modernity4
FOLKLOR C262BTheories of Traditionality and Modernity4
One graduate elective, in methodology
Electives, per approved study list

Foreign Language

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 adviser; in most cases, it is the language most closely connected with the MA 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.

Capstone/Thesis (Plan I)

MA thesis based upon fieldwork or some other research project. (No course credits are allowed for the 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.

Designated Emphasis Requirements

The Designated Emphasis in Folklore permits students to specialize in folklore while pursuing a PhD in a UC Berkeley department or program. The DE seeks to train future leaders in the field of folklore by assisting students in developing their own critical, theoretically-informed reading of folklore scholarship from the seventeenth century through the present, developing sophisticated analyses of traditional cultural forms and how they are imbricated in producing modernities, and juxtaposing folkloristic approaches with perspectives emerging from their home disciplines in shaping interdisciplinary exchanges of ideas and development of rigorous research that challenges epistemological boundaries.
Upon successful completion of the dissertation, the student's diploma and transcript will include the designation: "PhD 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 PhD 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.

Curricular Requirements

FOLKLOR C262A and FOLKLOR C262B, and ANTHRO 160AC, 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.

Examination and Dissertation Requirements

The student's qualifying examination committee and dissertation committee must have one member of the DE 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 admissions process are available from the Folklore Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Tabea Mastel (; 510-642-3406).



Contact Information

Folklore Program

232 Anthropology and Art Practice Building

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Folklore Director

Tim Tangherlini

Faculty Head Graduate Advisor

Rosemary Joyce

Faculty Equity Advisor

Laurie Wilkie

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Tabea Mastel

213 Anthropology & Art Practice Building

Phone: 510-642-3406

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