University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Folklore Program at the University of California, Berkeley trains intellectual leaders in folkloristics for the twenty-first century. We seek to provide a deep, critical, and theoretically-informed reading of folklore scholarship from the seventeenth century through the present. We urge students to develop a particular field of expertise in folkloristics. At the same time, we advise our graduate students to develop strong grounding in another discipline or multidisciplinary perspective, such as race and ethnic studies, performance studies, science studies, rhetoric, narrative theory, ethnomusicology, materiality, women's and queer theory, and others, in order to bring new perspectives to their work in folkloristics.

The Designated Emphasis in Folklore permits students to specialize in folklore while pursuing a PhD in a UC Berkeley department or program. 

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

Our students possess a broad range of humanities and social science backgrounds as well as from the natural sciences and other fields. Previous coursework in folkloristics is not required. All that is needed is a strong undergraduate record and the desire to excel.

The Folklore Program requires one to two copies of your official transcript, a statement of purpose, a personal statement, and a critical writing sample. GRE scores are optional.

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).



Faculty and Instructors


David Bamman, Associate Professor. Natural language processing and cultural analytics, applying NLP and machine learning to empirical questions in the humanities and social sciences.
Research Profile

Robert Braun, Assistant Professor. Comparative historical sociology; peace, war, and social conflict; social movements and collective behavior.
Research Profile

Charles L. Briggs, Professor. Linguistic and medical anthropology, social theory, modernity, citizenship and the state, race, and violence.
Research Profile

Mia Fuller, Associate Professor. Anthropology, Italy, fascism, urban design, architecture, Italian colonialism.
Research Profile

Andrew Garrett, Professor. Karuk and Yurok (languages of northern California) and on early Indo-European languages, especially Greek, Latin, and languages belonging to the Anatolian branch (such as Hittite and Lycian).
Research Profile

Peter Glazer, Associate Professor. Theater, commemorative practices, 20th century American theater and culture, political performance, directing and directing theory.
Research Profile

Ronald Hendel, Professor. Textual criticism, Hebrew bible, ancient Near Eastern religion and mythology, Northwest Semitic linguistics.
Research Profile

Rosemary Joyce, Professor. Latin America, anthropology, cultural heritage, gender, archaeology, sexuality, museums, ethics, Central America, feminism.
Research Profile

Margaretta M. Lovell, Professor. Architecture, design, American art.
Research Profile

Daniel F. Melia, Professor. Rhetoric.
Research Profile

Minoo Moallem, Professor. Postcolonial and transnational feminist theories, immigration and diaspora studies, feminist cultural studies, Middle Eastern studies, Iranian cultural politics and diasporas.
Research Profile

Candace Slater, Professor. Spanish, Portuguese.
Research Profile

Timothy Tangherlini, Professor. Scandinavian Studies.
Research Profile

Leti Volpp, Professor. Immigration law and citizenship theory.
Research Profile

Bryan Wagner, Professor. African American expression in the context of slavery and its aftermath, legal history, vernacular culture, urban studies, and digital humanities.
Research Profile

Laurie Wilkie, Professor. Anthropology, historical archaeology, oral history, material culture and ethnic identity, family and gender relations, North America, Northern California, Caribbean Bahamas, African consumerism, creolization, multi-ethnic community.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Ronelle Alexander, Professor Emeritus. Slavic languages and literatures, Balkan Slavic dialectology, Balkan linguistics, language contact, oral tradition, Parry-Lord theory of oral composition, South Slavic epic singers, issues of language and identity.
Research Profile

Stanley H. Brandes, Professor Emeritus. Cultural anthropology, ritual and religion, food and drink, alcohol use, visual anthropology, Mediterranean Europe, Latin America, Spain, Mexico.
Research Profile

Benjamin Brinner, Professor Emeritus. Indonesia, Java, Bali, Israel, musical memory, situated musical cognition, musical interaction, improvisation, gamelan, music and oral narrative.
Research Profile

John Lindow, Professor Emeritus. Old Norse-Icelandic literature, Scandinavian folklore, Finno-Ugric folklore, Pre-Christian religion of the North, Scandinavian mythology.
Research Profile

Bonnie Wade, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Folklore Program

232 Anthropology and Art Practice Building

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Interim 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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