About Our Program

About Our Program Image

Mason’s Folklore Program offers the only masters-level degree in folklore in the mid-Atlantic region, with a robust slate of course offerings and strong ties to local institutions such as the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, Virginia Folklife Program, Maryland Traditions, and other arts, culture, and heritage entities in the region. The program also offers a graduate certificate in folklore studies, an undergraduate concentration in the English major, and an undergraduate minor in folklore and mythology. With a distinguished 40-year history, Mason's Folklore Program is a leading center for the study of vernacular cultures. 

The program offers opportunities to explore folklore both globally and locally. Faculty in the program work in diverse geographies including Africa, China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America as well as Appalachia and vibrant cultures encompassing the Washington, D.C. region.

Award-winning faculty in the program regularly receive grants for folklore research in which students have an opportunity to participate. Students interested in careers in cultural heritage can choose to add electives from Mason’s Arts Management Program to supplement folklore course offerings. 

The Washington, D.C. area offers extensive possibilities for folklore research. Mason’s Folklore Program collaborates regularly with the Library of Congress on the Field School for Cultural Documentation. In this field school, participants learn how to complete a professional ethnographic project by working in investigative teams to document a local community. Projects have included cultures of Arlington National Cemetery, the Alexandria waterfront, the former coal mining regions in West Virginia, and agriculture and community in Calvert County, Maryland. Current projects include on community building in the National Parks within the Washington D.C. area.

In collaboration with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the program also offers training and practical experience in festival management.

The program prepares students for careers in cultural agencies, governmental organizations, and teaching institutions, and advanced study in the humanities. Graduates of the program have worked in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, Tribal Tech (a technology company that works with indigenous peoples), the Philadelphia Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures School, and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, in addition to jobs in teaching, libraries, or management. Graduates have pursued doctoral study in leading folklore programs in the United States and internationally.