Literary Editing and Publishing

Explore the roles of editor and publisher, with an emphasis on literary nonfiction, by applying to our innovative progressive master’s degree program in Literary Editing and Publishing. Current USC undergraduate students apply during their junior (or senior) year and begin their graduate course work the following year—and have the potential to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just five years. This program is not currently available as a stand-alone master’s degree.

This program is designed for exceptional students with backgrounds in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Narrative Studies and lets you explore the roles of editor and publisher, emphasizing literary nonfiction. If the editor can be considered the “hidden coauthor,” then learning to become an editor requires deep literary reading, the insights of creative writing, and the elements of editing and publishing. Students admitted to the program will have a love of writing and a love of bringing others’ voices to the world.

This program will interest exceptional students in the sciences, the humanities, and the fine arts, so students of any major are welcome to apply, but we recommend that you consider a minor in English or Narrative Structure.

This is a progressive degree program, which means in the typical pattern of a junior applicant, you will start your master’s degree course work during your senior (fourth) year of undergraduate study. At the end of your senior year, you’ll finish your bachelor’s degree. Senior applicants may choose to stretch their undergraduate requirements into a fifth year, while simultaneously beginning graduate course work. All students will complete the next year as a full-time graduate student to finish the Master of Arts degree in Literary Editing and Publishing.

Benefits of a progressive degree

In a progressive degree program, you can apply to the graduate degree program during your junior (third) year, and you can start your graduate course work during your senior (fourth) year. In this case, students in the program complete five total years of course work at USC and graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.

There is no application fee, and GRE scores are not required.

A minimum of 28* units of graduate-level course work is required. All courses are 4 units unless otherwise noted.

A timeline of the LEAP degree program, The first three years of their BA program students enroll in undergraduate courses. The fourth year of BA is also the first year of graduate students. The 5th year is devoted to graduate student.

* For the cohorts entering in Fall 2023 and 2024, while curriculum still reflects a total of 28 required units, students were informed during the application process that two new courses had been approved which they would be expected to take during their first year. This leads to a new minimum of 32 units.

    • ENGL-601 “Introduction to Literary Editing & Publishing”
    • ENGL-602 “Writers in the World: Text and Context”
    • ENGL-603 “The Editorial Experience: The Craft of Publication”
    • ENGL-604 “The Non-Fiction Experience: A Literary-Editorial Focus”
    • ENGL-606ab* (See above explanation) “The Literary Landscape – Digital Toolkit”
    • ENGL-607 “Digital Publishing and Literary Writing for New Media”
    • ENGL-608 “Publishing on Both Sides of the Transom”
    • ENGL-609ab “Internship in Editing and Publishing: Ethics and Eloquence”
    • a and b courses are each two units


Applicants should apply for admission to the progressive degree program during their junior (third) year of undergraduate study, or in certain cases during their senior (fourth) year of undergraduate study.

Pre-requisites: ENGL 300 or ENGL 310

Note: Students who find they have not been able to enroll in one of these pre-requisites prior to the time they wish to apply for LEAP should speak with the program’s director about their extenuating circumstances.

Please find our 2018 Program Guidebook below. Some program and faculty details have since changed, but the spirit of the program remains the same.

    • a completed USC Progressive Degree Program application,
    • a resume of previous work and experience,
    • a statement of purpose (500) words,
    • a sample essay prompt (500-750) words,
    • a writing sample of 7-10 pages, which may be critical or creative,
    • a USC STARS report of all undergraduate and graduate course work taken to date, and
    • at least two letters of recommendation from persons directly familiar with the student’s academic work and the potential for successful graduate study, at least one of which should be from a faculty member in the English department.
  • The deadline to apply for Fall 2024 admission to the progressive degree program has been changed from Friday, March 1, 2024 to Monday, April 1st, 2024. 

    Seniors wishing to apply may apply by the above date or choose the senior-only early action deadline of Monday, December 4, 2023.

    The early action deadline is a shifted timeline, while the mode of assessment is not modified. This means that students may apply only once to the program, with the early action deadline available to students who are seniors, and the March deadline serving juniors or seniors.

Financial Aid

The USC Financial Aid Office can provide guidance for students to apply for financial aid. Progressive degree students are classified as undergraduate students until their undergraduate degree is conferred or they complete 144 total (undergraduate plus graduate) units, whichever comes first.

Contact Details

USC Department of English

3501 Trousdale Parkway
Taper Hall of Humanities 404
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354

Office Hours

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