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Western Kentucky University

WKU "50 years of folk studies" logo

Western Kentucky University is home to one of the most renowned folklore MA programs in the United States. We are celebrating 50 years of folklore graduate studies over the 2022-2023 academic year! Folklore studies at WKU goes back to 1917, when Gordon Wilson began a folklore library and began collecting folklore locally. He went on to hire folklore faculty, and an undergraduate minor was established in 1968, followed by a Master of Arts degree in 1972. We are the home of the Kentucky Folklife Program, which was established in 1989 and joined our department in 2012.

Learn more about our Celebration Speaker Series

Why study folklore at WKU?

The Master of Arts program in Folk Studies at Western Kentucky University is known internationally for its academic rigor and hands-on approach to folklore studies. We prepare graduates for continued graduate study and professional careers, and we have a wide network of alumni employed in public folklore programs, arts agencies, museums, historic preservation organizations, parks, schools, universities, and elsewhere.

Hear from our alumni

Graduate student funding is available

Graduate Assistantships are awarded to qualified students on a competitive basis and include a stipend and a partial or full tuition waiver. Positions range from assisting faculty members with research and teaching, to working with the Kentucky Folklife Program and the Kentucky Museum, to special opportunities funded by grants and other sources.

Funding may be available in 2023-2024 for the South Arts In These Mountains Graduate Student Fellowships for students who are legal residents of an Appalachian Regional Commission county in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia.

Learn more about funding

Choose your path

Students in our MA program in Folk Studies take a core of courses that provide them with a firm grounding in the theories and methods of the field of folklore, preparing them for further study in folklore and/or a wide range of careers. Courses provide opportunities for applied learning through projects that engage with local communities through festivals, exhibits, and other projects and programs. Students choose from concentrations in Public Folklore, Historic Preservation, Museum Studies, or a traditional thesis track.

Learn more about our MA program and concentrations

Help us recruit

Do you teach undergraduate students who would be good candidates for our program, or who may want to learn more about us? In addition to sending them to our website or encouraging them to email us, you can contact us to schedule an information session via Zoom or request brochures and posters.

View our brochure

Connect with us to learn more about our program and keep up with our latest news!

Folk Studies Program

Ann K. Ferrell, Director
Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Kentucky Folklife Program

Brent Bjӧrkman, Director
[email protected]

Joel Chapman, Folklife Specialist [email protected]