An intensive, four-week introduction to all aspects of book publishing
An institution in American publishing since 1947, the Columbia Publishing Course in New York is known for launching the careers of thousands of publishing professionals, including many top editors and executives. In 2016, The Columbia Journalism School proudly announced 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.
The program is open to all nationalities and the American contingent is strong. British and EU citizens are also 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 will receive the same job placement assistance in the United States that their CPC N.Y. counterparts receive.
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 literary agents – are encouraged to apply.
All applicants must have successfully completed all requirements for a BA or BS degree by the start of the course if they plan to work in the United States. 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 and also because an undergraduate degree is necessary to get a job in publishing in the U.S. Please contact our office if you are a UK citizen who has decided to forego a university education to pursue a career in publishing because we will make exceptions for those students, as degree is not required to work in the U.K.
How to Apply
Applications for the 2020 Oxford cohort will open in December 2019. We have only 70 places in the Oxford program.
Applicants who wish to be considered for both the UK and the NY programs should indicate which program is their first choice program and indicate whether they wish to be considered for both if one course is filled. Dual applications must be submitted by the CPC NY deadline in March. Because the program at Oxford begins three months later than the N.Y. program, applications for CPC U.K, remain open until the middle of June.
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 - $55 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 or two paragraphs) 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, reader's reports etc.) through our online application. We will not accept any hard copy materials via post.
The costs of the Oxford program are as follows:
Tuition & Workshops: $5,300.00
The mandatory board plan includes breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekdays. Students living off campus will be assessed an $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.
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, editing, design, production, publicity, sales and marketing. Students also learn about different types of publishing houses, literary agencies, publishing strategies and career paths.
In preparation for each 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 on 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.
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.
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 emphasis on practical work skills prepares students to take publishing jobs right away, making it an appealing alternative to much 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.
At a reception at the end of the course 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 places a high percentage of its graduates in publishing jobs, offering personalized attention and guidance to those who are eligible to work in either country. Additionally, American citizens will be included in all invitiations to N.Y. activities planned after the courses are over.
Frequently Asked Questions
Shaye Areheart is the director of the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City and Oxford.
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 Penguin 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 Jeanne Ray.
She also ran Harmony Books, a largely nonfiction imprint, which published books by Douglas Adams, Deepak Chopra, Carol Burnett, Ben Macintyre, Ram Dass, Tony Curtis, Cesar Millan, David Sanger, Patti Boyd 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 former Vogue and Maribella editor in chief 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.