Program Summary

While other programs focus exclusively on the business and editorial sides of publishing, they often do not delve into literature and writing the way that Emerson’s program does. Our integration of publishing, literature, and writing cultivates your ability to respond to creativity with creativity.

Students will develop and demonstrate skills in writing, editing, design, production, marketing, sales, and distribution as they relate to publishing in print and digital environments. Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills and knowledge about publishing history, business models, professional ethics, and new technologies.

The program is offered in a hybrid format with classes available both online and in-person, with most in-person classes being offered at night to accommodate your schedule.



The MA Publishing and Writing program is available full-time or part-time and requires 40 credit hours, including:

  • 24 credits of Publishing courses 
    • 3 required overview courses and the option to do a 4-credit Master’s Project or take an additional Publishing elective
  • 16 credits of department elective courses from Literature, Publishing, and Writing

Core Requirements (16 Credits)

Number Course Course Modality Credits
PB 680 Magazine Publishing Overview Online or In-Person 4
PB 683 Book Publishing Overview Online or In-Person 4
PB 692 Digital Publishing Overview Online or In-Person 4

PB 698*


PB Course*

MA Project


4-Credit Publishing Course

Online or In-Person 4

*MA Project or Course Option

Students in the MA in Publishing and Writing program may choose to produce, as a culmination of their graduate work, a project showing a professional level of accomplishment in publishing. 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.  Alternately, 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 within the publishing industry.

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

Sample Elective Course Offerings (Choose 16 Credits) 

Electives may be chosen from the Literature, Publishing, and Writing departments. Sample electives include:

Note: Prerequisite courses may apply.

Number Course Course Modality Credits
PB688 Copyediting Online 4
WR655 Writing the Nonfiction Book In-person 4
PB693 Book Marketing & Sales In-person 4
LI635 Travel Literature In-person 4
PB676 Magazine Writing In-person 4

Sample Curriculum Map: Publishing and Writing

The sample curriculum map is intended to show the mix of course modalities available each semester. Students may choose to take between 4 to 12 credits each semester.

Program Start (Fall)

Fall Semester 1 (8 credits)

  • 2 online core courses

Spring Semester 2 (8 credits)

  • 2 online courses

Summer Semester 1 (4 credits)

  • 1 in-person course

Fall Semester 1 (12 credits)

  • 2 in-person courses
  • 1 online course 

Spring Semester 2 (8 credits)

  • 1 online course
  • 1 in-person course 

Program Completion (Spring)

4+1 MA Option

Current Emerson students working toward a BA in WLP may apply for the 4+1 program at the beginning of the first semester of their junior year. Applications will be evaluated by the MA graduate program director and faculty of the department. Students will be notified of acceptance at the start of the second semester of their junior year. The 4+1 MA in Publishing and Writing will require students to take eight graduate-level publishing courses (32 credits), which can include the optional MA Project (PB 698), in their senior and fifth years. A maximum of four graduate courses (16 credits) may be taken in the senior year. These classes will count as electives toward the undergraduate degree and toward the master’s degree. Students in the program cannot count any graduate overview courses, PB 680 Magazine Publishing, PB 683 Book Publishing, PB 692 Digital  Publishing, or PB 688 Copyediting, and PB 691 Applications for Print Publishing toward the MA.

Students must complete all requirements for the BA degree by the end of their senior year and are required to complete the following courses as part of their degree: PB 203 Introduction to Digital  Publishing, PB 302 Copyediting, PB 380 Magazine Publishing, PB 383 Book Publishing, PB 395 Applications for Print Publishing.

Students must complete these five undergraduate publishing courses and eight graduate publishing courses, the latter of which can include the optional MA Project (PB698).