The Master’s degree in Book Publishing is a 48-credit degree. Students are required to complete:
- 24 credits (i.e. 6 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);
- 4 credits (i.e. 1 course) of electives designated with the prefix WR, which includes all Book Publishing courses;
- 12 credits (i.e. 3 courses) that may involve coursework in another discipline with advisor approval.
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 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 online (available to current students only).
Final Research Paper
In preparation for the final research paper, students are required to enroll in WR579 Researching Book Publishing (offered Fall and Winter every school year).
A student writes a final research paper with a 4,000-word minimum and a 5,000-word maximum, exclusive of any front or back matter. The topic of this research paper is determined by a research question generated by the student and approved by the student’s advisor. Students submit a research question to their advisor or instructor of WR579 Researching Book Publishing; this research question should be capable of generating a scholarly research essay. The student’s advisor/instructor 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. It is recommended that students consult with their advisor about their research question well in advance of the submission deadline, and they may even want to conduct some preliminary research on the topic in order to assess its viability for a research paper.
A student’s final research question will be generated and approved via WR510 Researching Book Publishing with Dr. Rachel Noorda or Dr. Kathi Inman Berens. The course will provide a framework for preliminary research, question generation, and work on early drafts of the final 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 1 other faculty member. Any faculty member teaching at PSU is eligible to participate, not just faculty in the graduate program in Book Publishing.
Graduation and Final Project Timeline
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 week 7 and later, in any given term. Check the oral exam calendar to confirm days and times available. Once the availability of all oral exam committee members for a specific date and time has been confirmed, email the Director of Publishing, Dr. Rachel Noorda, and she will add this information to the oral exam calendar.
- Begin work on the portfolio.