Majors & Programs

Publishing and Writing (MA)

We have the skills fit to print.

Pursuing a career in publishing? Whether you want to shape the prose of fresh voices as an editor, represent writers as a literary agent, or work with exciting online publications and new media formats, Emerson’s prestigious Publishing and Writing MA will help you succeed in this ever-vital, ever-changing field.

You’ll receive a comprehensive overview of the publishing industry with the flexibility to take classes in a variety of areas, including book, magazine, and electronic publishing, customizing the program to meet your interests. With the support and guidance of our award-winning faculty, you will master:

  • Writing for print and online magazines;
  • Book and magazine design and production;
  • Publishing for tablets, e-readers, and mobile devices;
  • Web design and publishing;
  • Publicity and marketing;
  • Developmental, line, and copy editing; and
  • Acquisition skills.

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Program Summary

What excites you about publishing? Do you want to shape fresh voices as an editor? Would you like to represent writers as a literary agent? Are you enthused by the potential of online publications and new media formats? Do you see yourself publishing your own niche magazine?

Emerson’s unique Publishing and Writing Program provides an overview of the publishing industry, from writing and editing to design, production, promotion, and distribution. You may also take literature courses or writing workshops, teach college composition, or intern at a literary agency, magazine, or book publisher. Throughout your time at Emerson, you’ll learn professional skills and earn the experience to succeed in this ever-vital, ever-changing industry.

While other programs will also provide experience in the business and editorial sides of publishing, they don’t often delve into literature and writing. Our integration of publishing, literature, and writing cultivates your ability to respond to creativity with creativity. We offer a flexible curriculum where publishing and writing meet. You have the option to choose from book, magazine, and electronic publishing courses. You will be exposed to:

  • Developmental, line, and copy editing
  • Acquisitions skills
  • Publicity and marketing
  • Book and magazine design and production
  • Publishing for tablets, readers, and mobile devices
  • Web design and publishing

Each year, a selected number of graduate students in Writing, Literature, and Publishing learn to teach writing at the undergraduate level. Teaching College Composition is a 4-credit, one-semester course that prepares students to teach at Emerson during their master’s programs and then at other institutions after graduation. Although taking the course does not guarantee a part-time teaching position at Emerson, students who have completed the course are interviewed by faculty and are often offered appointments. Many students find that this foundation in teaching is a valuable tool in pursuing jobs after graduation.

 

For many students, the Publishing and Writing Program culminates with a project that demonstrates a professional level of accomplishment.

The MA project can be a traditional thesis-type project that explores an editorial or publishing issue in depth by doing appropriate research and analysis. Alternatively, it can be a project such as a magazine prototype, a book design project, a website, a book translation, or any other publishing project in which the student exhibits expertise in at least two areas of the publishing industry.

To register for a project, students must write a two-page prospectus in the preceding semester. The prospectus must be approved by the project committee chair. Students may complete a 4-credit Publishing (PB) course in place of the project.

Past projects have included:

  • A fixed layout, illustrated e-book;
  • A memoir of life in London’s publishing business;
  • An editorial style guide researched with and written for MIT Press, Newsweek, Inc., Men’s Journal, Boston magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly.

Detailed Curriculum

View degree requirements, sample curriculum maps, and more.

Careers & Connections

Boston is an ideal place to launch your publishing career. We are home to major book publishers, including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Beacon Press, Da Capo Press, MIT Press, Addison-Wesley, David R. Godine, Bedford/St. Martin’s, Allyn and Bacon, and Pearson. Boston magazine, Ploughshares, and Cook’s Illustrated are also based here. Emerson’s campus is only blocks away from many of these industry giants. Our city is synonymous with writing as both an artistic pursuit and a business endeavor, and our students are immersed in this dynamic literary community.

Publishing and Writing alumni have gone on to become leaders in the publishing industry, working as literary agents and critics, editorial consultants, book and magazine editors, magazine writers, publicists, marketers, and print production specialists.

They help produce many well-respected local and national magazines. With the range of skills developed at Emerson, our graduates find that they are able to transition comfortably from one role in the publishing process to another, and they advance quickly into senior positions.

Faculty

Our faculty is made up of accomplished publishing and writing professionals. They are editors, writers, designers, publishers, and consultants currently working in the field. They come from major industry sources such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Addison-Wesley, Globe Pequot Press, Nation Books, Viking, Penguin, Da Capo Press, Newsweek, Inc., Men’s Journal, Boston magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly. Their expertise gives you a solid foundation in traditional publishing as well as exposure to current market trends, including innovations in electronic publishing.

Your Graduate Program Director

John Rodzvilla has worked on a variety of editorial, production, and subsidiary rights endeavors in publishing. Rodzvilla edited the first collection of weblog writings, We've Got Blog (Basic Books), in 2002. 

While earning his Master's in Library and Information Science from Simmons College, Rodzvilla received a grant to study the applications of the Amazon Kindle in the library and worked in the library's technical services department. Rodzvilla has presented internationally on social networks and digital content creation and currently sits on a number of publishing boards.

Learn the landscape of publishing.

Hear current students, alumni, and faculty describe how Emerson's Publishing and Writing graduate program immerses you in every aspect of the publishing industry.