This week, Pace University celebrates the 25th anniversary of its master of science in publishing program. Since its 1984 inception, the program has seen vast changes in the book business, from corporate conglomeration to the rise of e-publishing, financial cutbacks to declining book sales. And even as a similar program, the Stanford Publishing Course for Professionals, shut down earlier this fall, Pace has survived. Director Sherman Raskin attributed his program's success to the fact that, unlike Stanford, which relied heavily on employers sending their employees there for career enhancement as well as on the university's endowment (which has dipped recently), Pace is a tuition-based program, with scholarships and graduate assistantships available to prospective students. Pace has also weathered publishing's changes by continually updating its curriculum.
Raskin's goal in founding the program was to develop a course that would “make publishing more than accidental” and give students who excelled in communication and language skills another career option besides teaching or law. He hired publishing professionals to teach the courses, and 24 students enrolled in the first semester. In recent years, the average number of students enrolled in a typical semester has grown to 150, including both full-time and part-time students, and about 400 people have graduated, either with a master's degree (36 credits) or a certificate (12 credits). Students attend classes at Pace's midtown Manhattan campus and online (about 40 students take courses exclusively online).
Pace's curriculum requires M.S. students to take classes in acquisitions, editorial, marketing, promotion, production and design, the financial aspects of publishing, distribution, contracts, subsidiary rights and information systems. Electives cover classic skills like copyediting and magazine circulation, and more current topics, such as e-publishing and ethics in publishing. Students not already working in the industry must participate in six credits worth of internships.
Recent graduates include Kelly Allen, director of content acquisition at Sony; Linda Bathgate, senior editor, communication studies, at Routledge; Kerry Morris, client services manager at Harper Collins/Tokyopop; Denolyn Carroll, deputy managing editor at Essence; and Erin Bascom, production editor at John Wiley. Raskin said 98% of recent graduates are working in publishing or related fields, although he admitted that number may be lower next May when the 2010 class graduates. “I do worry about where the industry is going,” he said, though he added that publishers seem eager to hire interns, which often leads to full-time employment.
Tuition for the fall 2009 semester is $926 per credit. At three credits per course, the cost per course is $2,778. Obtaining a master's degree costs roughly $33,000, a certificate about $11,000. Raskin knows that especially in this economy, a $30,000-degree that doesn't guarantee a job after graduation isn't an easy sell. “Tuition is expensive and we want to help students,” he said, noting that Pace's publishing program has more than $1 million in endowment money.
Raskin has found support from the industry during these changing times. American Media chairman and CEO David Pecker, a longtime supporter of the program, has developed a visiting professorship, through which Michael Healy of the Book Rights Registry will give two lectures to students in November and February about issues confronting the industry. He will also advise students throughout the year.
Pace is celebrating the anniversary with a party in New York City this Friday evening.