Publishing comes in many forms, from newspapers to magazines to e-books to technical journals. The backgrounds of students looking to enter the publishing field are just as diverse. There’s no one major that opens the door to the world of publishing. If you’re looking for industry-specific know-how, you might want to consider an undergraduate publishing degree. However, plenty of people pursue liberal arts, communications or even business degrees depending on their preferences.
Some schools offer undergraduate publishing degrees, and even more offer Master of Arts degrees in publishing. Illinois State University, for instance, covers how various written works are authored, edited and produced via the internet and on paper for scholars, businesses, nonprofits and scientists. Illinois State students who major in publishing studies can work on any one of 10 university-published journals or newsletters. Emerson College in Boston offers a writing, literature and publishing major that combines writing instruction with classes on the history of publishing and significant texts. The curriculum includes copy editing and book publishing courses. So if you want specific career-based instruction, a program like one of these may suit you.
You don’t necessarily need a degree in publishing to work in the industry. In fact, many publishing executives and editors have liberal arts degrees. Among the most popular is English. Roosevelt University in Chicago, for instance, advocates on behalf of English majors because they understand writing, reading, research and editing and they’re good communicators. The school recommends English majors use their language skills to intern in publishing-related businesses. Clerical duties as an intern may not be fulfilling initially, but an internship can introduce you to potential employers and open the door to entry level publishing jobs such as an editorial assistant or a copy editor.
Portland State University and Olivet College in Michigan advocate communications as a major for future publishing executives. Communication majors learn how to write effectively across different genres, including expository news articles, long-form features, opinion pieces and technical how-to stories. They also learn how to use computers and software to package the writing and present it in the most appealing way. These diverse approaches and technical skills supplement the essay and paper-writing skills of a liberal arts major. Communications majors who work on a college newspaper can build up skills needed to break into print media publishing.
Publishing is a business, so majoring in business can give you skills needed to enter the profession through a side door. Not everyone in publishing is an editor. The industry needs accountants, marketers, human resource managers and sales managers. A good business program will cultivate these skills. The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business offers undergraduate business degrees in information technology, entrepreneurship, finance and marketing, any of which are needed in publishing houses. Business majors can pursue internships in the business offices of newspapers, scholarly journals, magazines or book publishers.
- Illinois State University: Department of English: Publishing Studies
- Emerson College: Writing, Literature & Publishing (B.A.)
- GradSchools.com: Publishing Graduate Programs
- Roosevelt University: What Can You Do With an English Major
- Olivet College: What Career Opportunities Are With a Communication Degree?
- Portland State University: What Can I do With a Degree in Communication?
- Princeton Review: Career, Book Publishing Professional
Rudy Miller has been writing professionally since 1996. Miller is a digital team leader for lehighvalleylive.com, a local news website and content provider to the Express-Times newspaper in Easton, Pa. Miller holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Miami.