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Liberty University
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Liberty University
Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology
Graduate Specialization in Ethnomusicology

Type of Program and Degrees Offered

The M.A. degree is offered as part of the Center for Worship and Music at Liberty University. The department also works closely with the department of Intercultural Studies, the Graduate School, the Seminary and the School of Religion. The M.A. in Ethnomusicology is a 42-credit graduate degree. The program emphasizes four aspects of preparation.

Scholarship and Research, including the following courses:

Introduction to Ethnomusicology

Field of Ethnomusicology

Anthropology of Music


Worship and Culture

(Various) Seminars in Ethnic Music

Skill Development, including the application of technology in the following courses:

Ethnic Music Theory

Transcription and Analysis of Non-Western Music

Ethnic Music Performance, including the following courses:

Applied and/or Ensemble Performance

Application, including the following courses:

Music, Orality and Storytelling

Applied Ethnomusicology

Resources and Materials in Ethnomusicology

Research Design in Ethnomusicology

Field Experience in Ethnomusicology

Master’s Thesis or Project

Thirty (30) credits are offered throughout the year via distance education, making it possible for students to make practical application of coursework while on location during their field experience. Students are required to take four resident courses that may be completed in one summer. The department also offers an 18-credit graduate specialization or minor in ethnomusicology.

Program Focus

The M.A. in Ethnomusicology degree emphasizes Applied Ethnomusicology. Students enrolled in the degree are preparing themselves for work in a cross-cultural or multi-cultural environment as music educators or some other form of service in the field of music or cultural development. Throughout the degree the curriculum is designed to provide the student with a general overview of history and theories in the field, while beginning the development of an area of specialization for further study. The university currently offers one undergraduate general education course in world music.

Special Resources

The university maintains a significant collection of print, audio and video materials related to ethnomusicology, including accessible online resources such as the Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Smithsonian Global Sound, JSTOR, and ProQuest. The department has its own computer lab and is capable of live interactive audio and video instruction.

Full-Time Faculty in Ethnomusicology

John L. Benham. Ed.D. from the University of Northern Colorado, 1971. Professor of Music and Coordinator of Ethnomusicology. Center for Worship & Music Studies. Applied Ethnomusicology, International Music Education & Literacy.

Affiliated Faculty

George McDow. Ph.D., University of Oklahoma, 1989. Adjunct Faculty in Ethnomusicology. Center for Worship & Music Studies. Southeast Asia, China.

Jeffrey Meyer. Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1999. Adjunct Faculty in Ethnomusicology. Center for Worship & Music Studies. Ethnic music theories, transcription of non-Western music, Eastern Europe.

Katherine Morehouse. Ph.D. Candidate, University of Maryland, Adjunct Faculty in Ethnomusicology. Center for Worship & Music Studies. India, West Africa, Middle East.

Paul Rumrill. D.M.A., Eastman School of Music, 1996. Adjunct Faculty in Ethnomusicology. Center for Worship & Music Studies. Multi-cultural music and diversity, Asia.

General Program Statement

The Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology at Liberty University

With the increasing emergence of cultural diversity and global accessibility, ethnomusicology has become an important field of study in music education, music performance, and other areas of cross-cultural service. The department subscribes to the concept that while music may be a universal expression, it is not a universal language. In the same way that there are different written and spoken languages, there are multiple music systems that are incompatible with each other. Acquisition of a basic understanding of the music of another culture can be vital to gaining access to its people, lead to improved intercultural understanding, and result in the development of positive relationships.

The Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology at Liberty University is a 42-credit degree that provides advanced study in world music for individuals seeking national or international careers in cross-cultural environments. In each course, the student learns the general principles of ethnomusicology, gains an understanding of the role of the ethnomusicologist, and has the opportunity to begin the development of an area of specialization. Curricular content includes four basic components:

  • Scholarship & Research: academic readings, history, and theories of application
  • Skill Development: non-Western music theories, alternate systems of notation, transcription & analysis of music, cultural analysis
  • Performance: applied study and/or ensemble performance in ethnic music
  • Application: field experience (internship), thesis or project

A required residency consists of four intensive courses that can be completed in one or more summers. All other courses are offered online via distance education. Thus the student is able to complete most courses while on location of the required field experience. This enables the immediate application of principles and theories learned in the classroom to research and practice. During the field experience, the student may complete requirements for ethnic music performance; and will also perform research related to the completion of the Master's Thesis or Project.

With over 40,000 students registered in various distance educational programs, the university has the technology capacity to provide for the unique needs required in the ethnomusicology program. In addition to resources available to resident students, an extensive collection of resources is available online through the Integrated Resource Learning Center. The department also maintains a modest collection of world music instruments.

The department has a faculty membership of individuals each of whom have been carefully selected and assigned to each course based on their educational qualifications and field experience in that related area.

The ethnomusicology program at Liberty University was developed in 2008 and received full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in the fall of 2009. Students are admitted throughout the academic year, and may begin their course of study coincident with the beginning of any class.

The university also offers an 18-credit Specialization in Ethnomusicology that may be combined with other degrees.

Financial Support

Financial aid is available only in the forms of loans. The department has been granted a part-time graduate assistant for the current year.

Further Information

Dr. John L. Benham, Coordinator of Ethnomusicology, 1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg VA 24502. Cell: 763-232-6018. Email: jbenham@liberty.edu

Program Website


Related Websites

Liberty University Website:http://www.liberty.edu

The content for Liberty University was last updated June 23, 2010.

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