A guest blog post by
PublishSavvy intern Katie Rokakis
When I entered college as an English major four years ago, I had a vague idea that I wanted to pursue a career in publishing. I didn’t know much about all of the different jobs in the industry or how to get one, but it was a goal that was always in the back of my mind. After I started interning at PublishSavvy and worked on everything from book design to marketing, I knew that I wanted a job in publishing after graduation. But I still didn’t know exactly how to get there.
The problem with going into publishing is that it isn’t like becoming a doctor or lawyer–there isn’t a well-trodden path to follow. Lots of people in publishing today started off as English majors like myself, but others have degrees in business, marketing, fine arts, or pretty much anything. Some have master’s degrees, some don’t. From what I’ve heard, it seems that most people have worked their way up from an internship or an editorial assistant position.
I felt that I wasn’t quite ready to start a full-time publishing job without a little more knowledge of the industry. And since I’m a complete nerd, I loved the idea of continuing my education. So, I started looking at summer courses and master’s degree programs in publishing. I figured that one of these programs would give me the time and preparation I wanted before jumping into the workforce. I did a lot of research to decide on where to go, and we thought maybe you all would like to see what I discovered.
While not a complete list of all the publishing programs out there, here are some that stood out to me:
Columbia Publishing Course: Formerly the Radcliffe Publishing Course, this is a six week summer program known as “publishing boot camp.” It is over 60 years old, so it’s one of the most established and well-known publishing programs. The curriculum is a mix of lectures from leaders in the industry and intensive workshops. The course covers book, magazine, and digital publishing, and offers a career fair with professionals based in New York City.
NYU Summer Publishing Institute: This program is also six weeks long, and is structured very similarly to the one at Columbia. The course is divided between book and magazine publishing, consisting of both lectures and workshops. The main thing that sets this program apart is that instead of earning a certificate in publishing, you earn six graduate credits. These can then be applied toward a master’s degree in publishing at NYU (or another school that accepts them).
Denver Publishing Institute: Housed at the University of Denver, this program focuses on book publishing, with a couple of days dedicated to magazine and digital publishing. Similarly to the other summer courses, it provides a mix of lectures and workshops, mostly about editing and marketing. While the lecturers come from a range of well-known companies, the program’s location may be a disadvantage to those who want to be in the heart of the publishing world.
Master’s Degree Programs
New York University MS in Publishing: This 42-credit program (two years of full-time study) offers a core curriculum that is focused on the business side of print and digital publishing, with courses such as ‘Intro to Multimedia Financial Analysis’ and ‘Publishing & Internet Law.’ It also offers three areas of specialization to choose from: Media Content Development, Media Marketing & Distribution, and Media Profitability. There is an optional internship for credit–a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience while studying.
George Washington University MPS in Publishing: This 30-credit program is tailored toward people already working or unable to relocate, as the classes all take place in the evening, and the degree can be completed entirely online. Similar to the NYU program, it involves six required core courses on the foundations of the industry. It also offers several areas of specialization such as Editorial, Design and Production, Business, Technology, and Marketing. One of the most interesting aspects of this program is the required Summer Institute for Professionals, where students learn about the ethical issues of publishing from industry leaders.
Emerson College MA in Publishing & Writing: Emerson’s program is unique because it goes beyond publishing and offers courses on literature and writing. Students take three required courses on the basics of book, magazine, and electronic publishing, and are then free to choose from a wide range of publishing electives. They must also take 16 credits from the department of Writing, Publishing, and Literature. Compared to other programs, this one offers a lot of flexibility in customizing it to your interests, especially if they include writing.
Shannon’s alma mater in the heart of Boston
Oxford Brookes University MA Programs: The Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies offers five different publishing degrees: MA in Publishing, MA in International Publishing, MA in Publishing and Language, MA in Digital Publishing, and MA in Book History and Publishing Culture. Each of these programs varies in the amount of required coursework, but they all provide a comprehensive education on a specific area of the industry. The school’s location in England also allows students to take field trips to book fairs in Frankfurt, Bologna, and London.
These are just some of the many publishing programs that exist worldwide. Other universities that provide publishing degrees include Pace University, University of the Arts London, Portland State University, and University of Houston-Victoria.
Grad school is becoming a popular path to a career in publishing, with enrollment in these programs increasing exponentially in the past few years. If you haven’t had any luck in the job search yet or are looking to further your education, one of these programs may be an open door to the competitive and ever-changing world of publishing.
Katie is a 2013 University of Michigan graduate headed to the Columbia Publishing Course this summer. She enjoys ice hockey, watercolor painting, and searching for the perfect vegetarian burger.