Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford University

An intensive, four-week introduction to all aspects of book publishing

An institution in American publishing since 1949, the Columbia Publishing Course in New York is known for launching the careers of hundreds of publishing professionals, including many top editors and executives. The Columbia Journalism School is proud to announce the creation of a four‐week sister program in the United Kingdom, to be housed at Exeter College, Oxford.

Who Should Apply

The course is aimed primarily at recent university graduates but other applicants are not discouraged. Many students have worked in publishing briefly and would like to broaden their understanding of the field or have decided to make a career change from an unrelated field.

British and EU citizens are encouraged to apply. Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other countries covered under the British government’s Youth Mobility Scheme may also find the program of special interest. American applicants are also most welcome and will receive job placement assistance in the United States. We cannot assist American citizens with securing permission to work in the United Kingdom.

While most applicants have studied English and the humanities, many have degrees in other disciplines such as art, economics, business, law, music and the sciences.

Students with a demonstrated interest in publishing have always gained the most from the course. Many types of interests, work or volunteer experiences can be considered related to publishing, including:

  • Publishing work placements
  • Photography, graphic arts, sales or marketing experience
  • University or school newspapers, literary journals, blogs, etc.
  • Bookstore, library and/or office experience

Because of other available educational opportunities, the course does not emphasize instruction in journalism or creative writing. Applicants with writing experience who seek new ways to apply their skills within the world of publishing – as editors, publicists, designers, marketing and business managers or publishers – are encouraged to apply.

All applicants must have successfully completed all requirements for a BA or BS degree by the start of the course. Only in extremely rare circumstances do we admit students who have yet to finish their undergraduate degrees, since students who are not ready to enter the workforce immediately cannot take full advantage of the networking opportunities, job market preparation and career placement services we offer. Please contact our office if you are a UK citizen who has decided to forego a university education to pursue a career in publishing.

How to Apply

The application opens every year in November. We have 70 places in the Oxford program.

Applicants who wish to be considered for both the UK and the NY programs should indicate CPC UK as their first choice program and indicate that they wish to be considered for CPC NY as well. Dual applications must be submitted by the CPC NY deadline in March.

Most components of the application are to be submitted electronically. For detailed instructions, review the “Instructions” page of the online application.

  • Online application
  • Nonrefundable application fee - $25 for CPC UK We do not grant application fee waivers.
  • Active email address - All admission and financial aid notifications will be sent by email.
  • Transcript(s) - PDFs of transcripts from each of the undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended as a degree‐seeking student.
  • Two to three reference letters - Two are required; the third letter is optional. You may submit your online application even if the letters have not yet been submitted by your evaluators.
  • Personal essays - One personal statement (two double‐spaced pages) and one short answer (one paragraph) in response to the given prompts.
  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae - Preferably a two‐page, professional CV that succinctly summarizes your skills, experience and education.
  • Clips (Optional) - Applicants have the option to submit up to two examples of publishing work (e.g., published articles, blog posts, etc.) through our online application. We will not accept any hard copy materials via post.


Course Fees

The costs of the Oxford program are as follows:

Tuition & Workshops: $5,300.00

Lodging: $2,000.00

Board: $800.00

Total: $8,100.00

The mandatory board plan includes breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays. Students living off campus will be assessed a $800.00 fee for the mandatory board plan. While students do not have to live on campus, we strongly recommend that they do so because of the rigorous schedule, as well as the camaraderie that develops in close quarters among a group of people with a common passion and common goals.


Information Sessions

No information sessions are currently scheduled. Please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to receive event updates.

In 2016 we visited Oxford University, University College London, Cambridge University, Southampton University, King's College London, City University of London, University of East Anglia and the University of Warwick. Please let us know if you would like to see us at your university next year!

Course Descriptions

The Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford, unlike the New York program, concentrates solely on book publishing. Through lectures and small seminars, students study every element of the process: manuscript evaluation, agenting, editing, design, production, publicity, sales and marketing. Students also learn about different types of publishing houses, publishing strategies and career paths.

In preparation for the program, all students must complete advance reading and assignments based on the real‐world responsibilities of publishing’s editorial, publicity, marketing and sales departments. These assignments cover many of the topics to be discussed in lectures and are evaluated by publishing professionals. They are short, practical and require students to perform tasks related to the publishing process.

One such assignment is the reader’s report, which provides students with the opportunity to practice the fundamentals of manuscript evaluation. Each student reads an unpublished manuscript and writes a brief report recommending whether or not to publish. Once at Oxford, students meet in small seminars with editors to discuss their assignments, the editing process and methods of manuscript evaluation.

Book Workshop

The keystone of the Columbia Publishing Course experience is, without question, the hands‐on book workshop. This weeklong exercise is an intensive, collaborative simulation that requires students to apply what they’ve learned in the first two weeks of the course and to interact with writers, agents, illustrators and advertisers.

Based on his or her particular areas of interest, each student will be assigned to a workshop group and have specific job responsibilities. Each group will form a publishing company and develop six potential titles for publication; determining the company’s editorial mission, evaluating book ideas and manuscripts, and contacting authors and agents. Teams of carefully selected mentors will work with each group, facilitating discussion and providing guidance and professional advice.

Students will create marketing, publicity and subsidiary rights plans for each book and present their titles to the class at a simulated rights auction. They will design book jackets, set production specs and use computer models and industry databases to create financial projections for each title and for the publishing house as a whole.

At the end of the workshop, top publishing leaders will carefully evaluate each group’s proposal, giving constructive criticism and real world feedback. The book workshop will equip students with the practical knowledge, experience and confidence needed to help them succeed in their careers.

Careers Guidance

The Publishing Course provides a comparison of career options within book publishing which will help students determine their professional goals. Students will learn about different types of publishing houses, publishing strategies and career paths. The course’s brevity and emphasis on practical work skills prepare students to take publishing jobs right away, making it an appealing alternative to longer, more academically‐oriented courses of study that exist elsewhere.

During the course every effort will be made to prepare students for entry into the job market. Students will participate in workshops on CV and cover letter writing and will meet with course staff throughout the program to discuss career plans, interests and goals. New job listings will be posted during the program and continuously throughout the year.

A career fair will be held the week after the course ends. Representatives from a wide range of publishing companies will meet with graduates to discuss employment opportunities. At a reception honoring the class, students will mingle with publishing professionals working in London, including alumni of the Columbia and Radcliffe Publishing Courses.

Upon graduating, students will become part of a global alumni community that stretches throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The wide‐ranging network of course graduates provides students with access to individual companies and publications as well as information about specific openings and general employment opportunities.

While students are not guaranteed job placement, the Columbia Publishing Course in New York places a high percentage of its graduates in publishing jobs and the course at Oxford University will offer the same personalized attention and guidance to those who are eligible to work in the United Kingdom. Additionally, American citizens will receive the same job placement assistance in the United States as their CPC N.Y. counterparts and will be included in all invitations to N.Y. activities planned after the courses are over.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Us

Shaye Areheart is the director of the Columbia Publishing Course (formerly the Radcliffe Publishing Course).

For thirty‐one years, she worked as an editor at Doubleday and Company, now Doubleday Knopf, and at the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. She began her career as an assistant to the editor and rose through the ranks to editor, senior editor, executive editor, editorial director and publisher. She was given an eponymous fiction imprint in 1999 and published authors including Alice Hoffman, Gillian Flynn, Lisa Unger, Chris Bohjalian, Roland Merullo, Craig Nova, Barbara Vine and Tom Bailey.

She also ran Harmony Books, a largely nonfiction imprint, which published books by Deepak Chopra, Carol Burnett, Ben Macintyre, Ram Dass, Tony Curtis, Cesar Millan, David Sanger and many others.

During her long career, she worked closely with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, co‐editing a variety of books from Michael Jackson's #1 bestselling memoir, Moonwalk, to Gelsey Kirkland's bestselling memoir, Dancing on My Grave, to George Plimpton's Fireworks: A History and Celebration and Diana Vreeland's book on style, Allure.

Over the years, she also worked with Ray Bradbury, Martin Amis, Douglas Adams, James Dickey, Thor Heyerdahl, Stevie Nicks, Christopher Isherwood and Sir Edmund Hillary, among others.

She feels fortunate to be in a position to help new generations of young people carry on the important work of finding, editing, marketing, publicizing and publishing books and authors, as well as contributing to the print and digital publications that are the all‐important showcases for writing talent of every stripe and a map to any culture's progress and interests.

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