If you find yourself singing along to a modern rock album one day and enjoying a classical music performance the next, the study of musicology might be right for you. Read on to learn more about this field of study, including career options, salary potential and degree requirements for musicologists.

Is Musicology for Me?

Overview of the Field

Musicology is the historical and scientific study of music and music literature within a cultural context. It primarily focuses on the European classical tradition, whereas the sub-field of ethnomusicology emphasizes music from around the world This can include examining the cultural and historical background of a piece or studying the life of the composer. As a musicologist, you'll draw from many different fields of study, including anthropology, history, sociology and psychology, as well as music theory.

Career Options

Musicology programs can help you prepare for a career as a teacher, researcher, writer or critic, among other professions. However, you might also go on to manage a music library or work in another occupation that utilizes your knowledge of the history and theory of music.

Employment and Salary Information

As a graduate of a musicology program, you may qualify for a position as a music teacher at a college or university. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median yearly salary for a postsecondary art, drama and music teacher in May 2012 was $62,160. The BLS also noted that employment of postsecondary teachers is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate between 2012 and 2022, in comparison to other occupations (

How Can I Work in Musicology?

Educational Requirements

You'll most likely need a graduate degree if you want to work in musicology. While a master's degree in music or musicology may be sufficient to work as a music writer or postsecondary teacher at a community college, many research and teaching positions require a doctoral degree. Master's degree programs typically take two years to complete and can lead to a Master of Arts or Master of Music in Musicology. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in general or historical musicology, music or music education can require an additional 3-4 year commitment. As an aspiring graduate student, you may also find programs in ethnomusicology and music theory.

Undergraduate Preparation

Graduate admission requirements typically include a bachelor's degree in music or music history, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Music or Bachelor of Music. Undergraduate programs usually take four years to complete and include topics in music history and theory, composition and performance; some schools offer specialized studies in jazz.

Other Requirements

In addition to a degree, you'll need a deep love of music and an open mind to excel in this field. Musicology leaves little room for ideas like, 'country music is the only type of music worth listening to.' Cultural studies are just as important to musicology as the study of music theory, and this deeper understanding of where music comes from often leads to a broad appreciation of all types of musical traditions.

Related Videos

  • What is Ethnomusicology? - Video

    Ethnomusicology, which is a branch of musicology, is the study of music from all over the world. Ethnomusicologists focus on the anthropology of music. Many become musicians themselves to get a better understanding of music and the people who play it. Learn more about a career in Ethnomusicology here.
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