The Master’s degree in Writing with a specialization in Book Publishing is a 48-credit degree. Students are required to complete 20 credits (i.e. 5 courses) of required foundational courses; 8 credits of Ooligan Press–related coursework, which can be completed through any combination of Publishing Studio (WR 574) and Publishing Lab (WR 575); 8 credits (i.e. 2 courses) of elective courses designated with the prefix WR, which includes all Book Publishing courses; and 12 credits (i.e. 3 courses) that may involve coursework in another discipline with advisor approval. (For example, students in the graduate program in Book Publishing have taken business, technical writing, non-profit management, and design courses in other PSU programs/departments. Of course, many students simply take more Book Publishing courses to fill these final 12 credits.)
Students must have a B average (3.0 GPA) on the courses used to fulfill their degree requirements. Although grades of C+, C, and C- are below the graduate standard, they may be counted as credit toward the Master’s degree with specific written approval of the Department Chair. Grades of D and F carry no graduate credit.
In addition to completing coursework, students in the graduate program in Book Publishing are required to complete a final project. This final project is composed of three parts: a portfolio of work demonstrating competence at a professional level, a final research paper, and an oral exam in defense of the portfolio and research paper.
Portfolios reflect the tastes, skills, and interests of their creators. A student’s portfolio should focus in greater detail on one or more areas of study based on that student’s career goals. The portfolio should function as a professional development tool that the student can use after graduation and over the course of a career. The intended audience for the portfolio is a future prospective employer, not program faculty. Therefore, don’t put more into it than an employer would be interested in seeing, and it is probably important to contextualize the included materials for an employer’s benefit.
The graduate program does not mandate a particular format or contents, but a student’s portfolio should contain a sufficient number and kind of work samples to suggest both accomplishment worthy of a graduate degree and the promise of career success. Most of this work should have been completed during the student’s time in the graduate program (e.g. for courses, for Ooligan Press, for an internship), but the portfolio is not limited to this content.
Examples of previous portfolios are available in the Ooligan Press workroom (NH 372) and online (available to current students only).
Final Research Paper
A student has 15 business days to write a final research paper with a 15-page minimum. The topic of this research paper is determined by a research question generated by the student and approved by the student’s advisor. Students are required to email a research question to their advisor; this research question should be capable of generating a scholarly research essay. The student’s advisor will then have the option of approving the research question as is, or amending it if he/she doesn’t think it’s appropriate for the graduate paper (e.g. it’s too broad, it’s too narrow, it doesn’t lend itself to a scholarly research essay). When students get their research question back from their advisor, they have 15 business days to write their final research paper. Because of this quick turnaround time, it is recommended that students consult with their advisor about their research question well in advance of the deadline, and they may even want to conduct some preliminary research on the topic in order to assess its viability for a research paper.
Examples of previous final research papers are available online via PDXScholar at the Portland State University Library.
The oral exam is a collegial discussion and questioning proceeding in response to the portfolio and final research paper, but topics may range beyond the two documents. Each exam is approximately 1 hour long.
Students are responsible for identifying an oral exam committee and confirming their availability. The oral exam committee should consist of at least 1 full-time faculty member plus 2 other faculty members. Any faculty member teaching at PSU is eligible to participate, not just faculty in the graduate program in Book Publishing. It is also possible to substitute an internship supervisor for 1 faculty member.
Countdown to Graduation
The term prior to the term in which the student plans to graduate
- Identify an oral exam committee and confirm their availability. Available dates for oral exams are typically Fridays in weeks 7, 8, and 9, in any given term. Check the oral exam calendar to confirm what times on these dates are available. Once the availability of all oral exam committee members for a specific date and time has been confirmed, email the Director of Publishing, Per Henningsgaard, and he will add this information to the oral exam calendar.
- Begin work on the portfolio.
- Conduct some preliminary research on a proposed research question for the final research paper in order to assess its viability. Consult with the student’s advisor about the proposed research question.
Week 1 of the term in which the student plans to graduate (a more specific deadline in this week for the graduation paperwork listed below can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies website, in the section labeled “Application for Graduate Certificate or Degree”)
- Deadline to submit the Program Requirements Worksheet. This form must be filled out by the student and signed by the student’s advisor. Then, it must be submitted to the English Department Graduate Coordinator (Matt Swetnam, NH 405, firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Deadline to submit a Foreign Language Requirement Verification Request to the Department of World Languages and Literature if the student is working toward a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Writing with a specialization in Book Publishing. (Students working toward a Master of Science [M.S.] in Writing with a specialization in Book Publishing are not subject to the foreign language requirement. Other than this requirement, however, the two degrees are identical.)
- Deadline to submit the Application for Graduation to the Office of Graduate Studies directly. More details can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The Application for Graduation is now submitted through Banweb. Log in, go to the Student Services tab, then Graduation Application and Diploma Orders. There is a required $30 application fee per degree as well as a $2 service charge; you must pay with a Visa or MasterCard at the time you submit the application.
Week 3 of the term in which the student plans to graduate
- The portfolio is due by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday of Week 3 of the term in which the student plans to graduate. Please deliver one copy of the portfolio to each oral exam committee member either by email or by placing it in faculty mailboxes in the English Department office (NH 405).
- The student must also email his/her advisor a proposed research question for the final research paper by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday of Week 3 of the term in which the student plans to graduate.
Week 4 of the term in which the student plans to graduate
- The student will receive an approved research question for the final research paper on the Tuesday of Week 4 of the term in which the student plans to graduate. This gives the advisor time to review all proposed research questions prior to approval. If a student’s proposed research question is judged by the student’s advisor to be inappropriate for the final research paper (e.g. it’s too broad, it’s too narrow, it doesn’t lend itself to a scholarly research essay), this timeline also gives the advisor time to work with the student to come up with a research question that is acceptable to both parties.
Week 7 of the term in which the student plans to graduate
- The final research paper is due by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday of Week 7 of the term in which the student plans to graduate. Please deliver one copy of the final research paper by email to each oral exam committee member.
Week 7, 8, or 9 of the term in which the student plans to graduate
- The scheduled oral exam. These are typically Fridays in weeks 7, 8, and 9, in any given term.