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 Institution, the National Park Service, and the Library of Congress that provide internship and employment opportunities. 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 the vibrant cultures that comprise the Washington, D.C. region. You will also learn about both contemporary and historical folk cultures. Award-winning faculty in the program regularly receive grants for folklore research in which you will have an opportunity to participate.

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, you will 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. 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 work in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and Tribal Tech, a technology company that works with indigenous peoples, and jobs in teaching, libraries, or management. Other graduates have pursued doctoral study in leading folklore programs in the United States and internationally.