World Music Program Graduate Studies - NIU - College of Visual and Performing Arts

Graduate Studies in World Music


Graduate Studies

The graduate program in world music is an Individualized Study Program: students consult with their faculty advisor to design their specialization with course work selected from existing courses, seminars, and/or independent study, offered both in and out of the School of Music. The interdisciplinary nature of such a program provides students opportunities not only to acquire high-level music skills and overall musicianship, but also to increase their awareness of the cultural and social aspects of various musical practices of the world.  Collaborative disciplines from past successful programs include Anthropology, Art History, Communication, Foreign Language, Political Science, etc. NIU’s well-known Center for Southeast Asian Studies is another interdisciplinary area for students to develop such collaboration.

Applicants are admitted to this specialization only upon the recommendation of a committee of the music faculty after an in-depth examination for competence in music and/or other applicable fields, and a review of application documents. Preference will be given to applicants with performance ability in non-European music.

Program Curriculum

All students will be required to complete the graduate music core curriculum that provides the essential academic foundation of graduate level study in music at NIU. The core includes courses in research methods, music theory, and music history, as well as a final recital, thesis, composition, or project. In addition, three tracks are available in the graduate world music program depending on students’ backgrounds, interest, and future career goals.  

Track A: World Music Performance

This track is designed to give students extensive world music performance experiences by studying world music instruments individually with our instructors, participating in the many world music ensembles, and/or directing their own world music fusing ensemble. In addition to studying their primary instrument, students are encouraged to expand their skills to include instruments with which they are unfamiliar.

They are also encouraged to take advantage of all the non-European music courses offered by the NIU Music School and to create projects fusing musical elements and concepts they have learned in the course.

Track B: World Music Pedagogy

This track is designed to combine current pedagogical trends in music education and world music. The course work is framed within multiculturalism and globalism because of their strong influence on pedagogical practices in the U.S. and all over the world.

In addition to studying their primary non-European instrument and participating in the world music ensembles, students are expected to reflect on the rationale, pedagogical strategies, and educational benefits of incorporating world music into the K-12 and College curricula.

Track C: World Music Research

Students interested in preparing for a doctoral program in ethnomusicology elsewhere will be required to take courses in anthropology, art history, cultural studies, communication, history, political science, etc. , in addition to taking selected world music courses and participating in world music ensembles. At the end of the program, students will also be required to conduct ethnomusicological research and write a publishable manuscript (20-30 pages) or a thesis (100-150 pages), which demand proficient academic writing skills. 


To be considered, Track A and Track B applicants must submit audio materials that demonstrate their non-European performance or singing skills. These materials can be CDs, DVDs, or YouTube links.

To be considered, Track C applicants must submit a 15-page writing sample on a subject relevant to music. This sample must follow the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. For an example of this style, consult an issue of Ethnomusicology journal.

All the application materials must be submitted to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies Professor James Brown (, 815-753-7975). Any questions about the world music program should be addressed to Dr. Jui-Ching Wang ( 815-7537979).

Graduate Assistantships and Scholarship

Assistantships may be awarded to qualified candidates, preferably those who pursue Track C, who demonstrate a knowledge of world music cultures and ethnomusicological research trends, and possess highly developed interpersonal skills. Graduate assistants will be assigned to teach an undergraduate Music and Culture course and will receive a full tuition waiver and a stipend.

Track A and Track B applicants may also apply for Artistic Talent Tuition Waiver Awards. These awards waive up to 9 credits of tuition a semester.

Application process

Priority Consideration Deadline: March 1

Application to the Graduate School, graduate assistantship application, and audition must be completed by this date for priority consideration.

Award notification: Winter through early April.

Current Graduate Students in World Music

NIU World Music Program Activities

students post by the Javanese gamelan

Students post by the Javanese gamelan set with Prof. Kertayuda

topeng dance

Mirah Kertayuda, Topeng, traditional Balinese mask dance (World Music Concert, Spring  2013)

Javanese gamelan at the SEA gala

Students played Javanese gamelan at the Gala Concert celebrating the 50th Anniversiary of Center for Southeast Asian Studies (Spring, 2013)

Omar and MEME world music concert

Members of the Middle Eastern Ensemble played at the world music concert (Spring 2013)