Alumni English Careers

Exploring Publishing Careers through Graduate Studies

I pursued an English degree because I love words and books—a bit cliché, I know, but true for so many of us. I went through a childhood writing phase, but I discovered as a teenager that the things I got especially excited about were grammar and editing. Punctuation is fascinating to me, the intricacies of sentence structure never cease to amaze, and finding the perfect word to fit what I’m trying to say is a rush like no other. Working at my college newspaper showed me that helping a writer polish their work to make it publication-ready was more rewarding for me than anything I tried to write myself. I knew that English majors had a myriad of career options open to them. Now, I was set on one in particular: I wanted to be an editor. I followed this feeling throughout college and beyond, until it led somewhere kind of unexpected: The George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Higher education was not in my plan when I finished my undergraduate studies. Not for a while, at least. But graduating into a global pandemic had me reevaluating my career options, and research into graduate programs followed not long after. Publishing had interested me for a long time, but I wasn’t sure that any formal education existed in that field. To my delight, it does at GW. Research revealed that GW offers a comprehensive, career-focused Master of Professional Studies in Publishing program, and off I went.

My two years at GW provided an in-depth look at the publishing industry from professors with extensive publishing careers. The classes covered topics such as the business of publishing, marketing and publicity, copyright, book design, e-publishing, editing, and production. In addition to learning from experienced publishing professionals, I had the opportunity to apply my newfound skills through projects in every class: I developed plans for hypothetical presses and imprints, created marketing and publicity strategies for books and journals, and completed a production portfolio that encompassed everything from the initial idea for a book to its printing specifications. Best of all, I continued to polish my editing skills with projects that involved developmental editing, peer reviewing, and copy editing everything from journal articles to novels. This graduate program opened my eyes to roles within publishing that I never knew existed and expanded my perspective of what a career in publishing might look like.

The GW publishing program also operates the GW Journal of Ethics in Publishing, and a publishing ethics course is one of the program’s required credits. In this course, we participated in discussions about significant topics that have gotten a lot of traction in the publishing industry recently. We explored access and censorship, ways to create more diversity in publishing, and the impact of technology on the future of the publishing industry. While other courses helped me develop applicable skills for pursuing a publishing career, this course helped contextualize the industry I was stepping into and gave me ideas about how I might make a difference.

I graduated with my master’s in the summer of 2023, and I’m still figuring out what the next step of my career path will look like. However, I know that the knowledge and hands-on experience I gained in the publishing program at GW will set me up for success in whatever I choose to pursue.

Are you a Sigma Tau Delta Alumni member? Consider submitting a blog to WORDY by Nature to share with your fellow Sigma Tau Delta members how you have been using your English degree.

Cassie LaJeunesse
Epsilon Kappa Chapter
Berry College, Mount Berry, GA


Sigma Tau Delta

Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society, was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The Society strives to

  • Confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies;
  • Provide, through its local chapters, cultural stimulation on college campuses and promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities;
  • Foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing;
  • Promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members;
  • Exhibit high standards of academic excellence; and
  • Serve society by fostering literacy.

With over 900 active chapters located in the United States and abroad, there are more than 1,000 Faculty Advisors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.

Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.

More from Footnotes: May 7, 2024

Chapter Annual Report
Outstanding Chapter Award
More Pride, Less Prejudice
Graduation Photo Contest

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment

  • Hello, Cassie. What a great article. I just began a certificate program at UCLA for copyediting and was never happier with my choice. Now that I know at GW I can pursue a masters in editing and publishing I am elated to dig deeper into the possibilities. Is it possible to complete the degree online at GW?