Editing Degree and Training Program Information

Editing is a discipline taught in English departments, often in conjunction with professional writing. Schools offer bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates, in English and editing.

Essential Information

A bachelor's degree program in English sometimes features an editing specialization. Students learn to edit and publish materials and focus on various types of writing, such as nonfiction, multimedia and technical writing. Graduate certificate programs may cover digital publications, technical editing, visual communication and textual criticism. Master's programs in professional writing and editing are usually designed for students with an undergraduate background in English, and they usually include advanced coursework, internships and case studies.

Bachelor's Degree in English

Students in 4-year bachelor's degree programs in English might be able to declare a concentration in professional writing and editing. As opposed to creative writing, professional writing is designed to improve communication in the business world in settings ranging from company public relations to the medical industry. Students learn to communicate to a large audience with precision and clarity while writing for such projects as technical instruction manuals or company websites. Candidates for undergraduate English programs are generally required to have completed high school. Common course topics include:

  • Editing and publishing
  • Grammar
  • Multimedia writing
  • Nonfiction writing
  • Technical writing

Graduate Certificate in Publishing and Editing

Graduate certificate programs are designed for students who have completed an undergraduate program of study. Some schools offer internship opportunities with publishing companies to give students experience under the guidance of professional editors. Graduate certificate programs in publishing and editing offer coursework to improve an individual's skills as a critic, writer and editor. These programs usually take one semester to complete and require a bachelor's degree. Common course topics include:

  • Computerized publications
  • Journalism
  • Professional editing
  • Technical editing
  • Textual criticism
  • Visual communication

Master's Degree in Professional Writing and Editing

Students in master's degree professional writing and editing programs apply the theories behind editing to real-world situations in the business world through case study and internships. Courses in technical communication and sociolinguistics teach students the best way to convey different types of company messages to the public.

Training in writing and editing covers issues in intellectual property law, the annotation of existing authoritative texts and looking at non-text sources, such as a sound archives. Applicants to these 1-year programs could be expected to have earned a bachelor's degree in English or have a sufficient amount of relevant experience. Commonly offered courses include:

  • Document production
  • Publication management
  • Research for composition
  • Technical editing
  • Teaching writing to students

Popular Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 96,690 editors employed across various fields as of May 2015 ( Among these, entry-level workers found employment in the following positions:

  • Editorial assistant
  • Mass media assistant
  • Public relations assistant
  • Publishing assistant

Jobs within the professional writing and editing field are found in business sectors, government agencies and not-for-profit organizations. Job titles available to master's degree graduates include:

  • Editor
  • Project manager
  • Technical writer
  • Writing consultant
  • Writing teacher

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, employment opportunities for editors are expected to decline 5% during the 2014-2024 decade. As of May 2015 BLS data showed that the median annual wage of editors was $56,010.

Continuing Education

Graduates from master's degree programs in professional writing and editing qualify to advance to doctoral-level studies in technical communication or composition and rhetoric. Students can focus their studies in areas such as technical communication or the maintenance and updating of academic periodicals.

Students pursuing an editing degree can enroll in a bachelor's program in English where they can possibly select a concentration in writing and editing. Graduate certificate programs and master's programs offer internships in addition to classroom coursework to prepare students for a career in editing.

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