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Graduate Programs in Publishing: What to Expect


Kathryn Muehlberger, Client Communications Specialist

December 2022

The publishing industry is a fast-paced and ever-changing environment. If you want to pursue a career in publishing—whether as a book editor, for an academic journal publisher, or in journalism—completing a graduate program may be worthwhile. Many universities offer a variety of programs that can help you the develop the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the publishing industry. Here I share some insights on what to expect when pursuing continuing education in publishing and I summarize two examples: a professional graduate studies certificate and a master’s degree. If you are considering an online program, you can also check out our Learning Nexus article on how to find the right program for you.

The two main types of continuing education programs in publishing are graduate certificates and master’s degrees. Certificate programs typically last from one month to one year. With that, certificate programs will be packed with information in a shorter amount of time than a master’s program. Notably, one of our Assistant Editors at LetPub, Nicholas Goudsmit, completed the Denver Publishing Institute’s publishing certificate program and had this to say about his experience:

“During my four weeks at the Denver Publishing Institute, we approached publishing from a business perspective, where before I had only learned about the industry from the reader's shoes. Each department within publishing—between sales, editorial, marketing, subsidiaries, publicity, and printing—was covered, and the program provided an idea of the breadth of the industry, helping me narrow down my career search.”

Due to the condensed four-week program, Nicholas was able to get a well-rounded education on the multifaced publishing industry in a short time. The program consisted of graduate-level workshops, lectures, discussions, and some field studies. He was also able to network and connect with other members of the publishing community and found Denver’s program instrumental in landing his position as an Assistant Editor at LetPub.

If you are interested in comprehensive training over a longer period, you may wish to pursue a master’s degree. One option is the master’s degree in publishing offered by The George Washington University. Their program is made for “aspiring professionals without significant publishing experience.” This is a great option to those starting out in the publishing industry. Their program provides a broad foundation on the entire publishing industry: from publishing books, journals, or digital media. You can also focus on a specific track with professional roles such as marketing, editing, or technology development. Moreover, many graduates of GW’s program have demonstrated success in finding career opportunities at major publishing companies.

It is important to have a clear understanding of the time commitments, financial costs, and personal effort required to excel—so ensure you do your research before deciding on which program to pursue. Fortunately, many institutions offer information sessions and Q&As with alumni to help you during your search. You can also find a short list of current institutions that offer publishing programs here.

Whether you undertake a certificate program (great for those with busy schedules and looking for a lower cost option) or master’s degree (higher cost, but offer a more traditional academic experience), you can look forward to a dynamic experience with numerous opportunities to network with colleagues and industry professionals. Ultimately, either path will help you in your pursuit of a career in publishing.

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