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Best Degrees for a Career in Publishing

For students who want to pursue a career in publishing, there are undergraduate and graduate degree programs in English, writing and publishing. Learn more about the different options to decide which one best meets your needs.

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Essential Information

Publishing combines aspects of writing, editing, design, promotion, and distribution in regard to a variety of texts. There are multiple degree programs that prepare students for careers in this industry, including bachelor's degrees in writing, bachelor's degrees in English with a concentration in creative writing, and master's degrees in writing with a concentration in publishing. In these programs, students develop strong writing skills, learn about the history of the industry, and gain an understanding of copyright law.

To enroll in a bachelor's degree program, students need a high school diploma or equivalent. Students applying to a master's degree program in writing or publishing must hold a bachelor's degree, and most schools accept any major. Applicants usually need to submit writing samples, and some schools require a resume that demonstrates writing or publishing experience.

A bachelor's degree program takes four years to finish, while a master's degree program takes about two. Both bachelor's and master's degree programs may require the completion of an internship before graduating. Master's degree programs allow or require the development of a portfolio, which can include writing, marketing, research, or publishing projects.


Bachelor's Degree in Writing

A bachelor's degree in writing offers students an education in literary history, theoretical ideas, and cultural perspectives. Within the curricula, students develop and revise original works based on criticism from professors and peers. Credit can sometimes be earned for internships or senior projects. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in writing can take courses in literary studies, creative writing, and publishing. Through coursework and discussions students are taught to think critically about texts and gain skills in stylistic writing for fiction, nonfiction, or informational literature. Some common course options include:

  • Creative nonfiction
  • Magazine writing
  • Print publishing
  • Literary foundations
  • Book publishing

Bachelor's Degree in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing

Bachelor's degree programs in English with a concentration in creative writing provide students with the opportunity to excel in the craft of developing literary texts. Internships or study abroad opportunities may be part of the coursework. Courses in a creative writing program explore literature and writing in relation to society and the human experience. Students can take courses that reinforce their skills in literary analysis and in writing, such as:

  • English grammar
  • Playwriting
  • Poetry and fiction
  • Effective writing
  • Cultural literature
  • Major American authors

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Master's Degree in Writing with a Concentration in Publishing

A master's degree in writing with a concentration in publishing combines creative learning with professional skills and experiences required to work in the industry. Students learn about the publishing industry, including book, magazine, and electronic distribution. Individual research and elective studies are encouraged, and students participate in workshops, projects, and internships related to their interests. Students pursuing a master's degree in writing, specifically those with concentrations in publishing, take courses that focus on editing, public relations, marketing, design, production, and ethics. Students are offered courses in the following subjects:

  • Book editing
  • Illustration, design and production
  • Intellectual property and copyright law
  • Magazine publishing
  • Technical editing

Popular Career Options

Earning a degree in publishing qualifies graduates for careers in writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and sales. Because of the analytical and communications skills taught in these programs, students can pursue additional education or career opportunities in fields such as law, education, advertising, and public relations. Some possible vocational options include:

  • Teacher
  • Public relations manager
  • Author
  • Literary agent
  • Editor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 6% increase in job opportunities for high school teachers and a 10% rise in employment for postsecondary English language and literature teachers from 2014 to 2024. As of May 2015, high school teachers earned a median annual salary of $57,200, while college English educators had a median annual wage of $61,990.

The BLS also anticipated a 5% decrease in jobs for editors and a 2% increase for writers and authors from 2014-2024. Salary reports showed that editors earned an annual median income of $56,101 per year, while writers and authors made $60,250 in 2015.

The median annual wage for public relations specialists was $56,770, and demand for these professionals was projected to increase 6% from 2014 to 2024. Advertising and promotions managers were paid $95,890 annually and are expected to have a 5% job growth, as reported by the BLS in May 2015.

There are multiple degree options for students who want to pursue careers in publishing. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of these English, writing, and publishing degree programs, students are also prepared for a wide range of careers in areas such as marketing, teaching, and writing.

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