This post is all about the University of Chicago Editing certificate, my review, whether or not I think the editing certificate online is worth it, info on the core classes, tuition and fees, and more!
When becoming a freelance editor, there’s so much you learn on the job. Even if you have a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, the art of manuscript editing takes time and practice, even if you have an understanding of grammar, usage, punctuation, and syntax.
But what about your editor training?
How do you become a certified editor, and is a certificate in editing worth it? What are the best editing certificate programs, and does the University of Chicago Graham School curriculum make the list?
As an editor who has earned an Editing certificate through the University of Chicago Graham school, I share my honest review of the program, the pros and cons, and everything you need to know about the editing courses to help you make the decision that’s right for you.
University of Chicago Editing Certificate Review
- What is the Chicago Editing certificate?
- Pros and cons of the University of Chicago Editing certificate
- How does the certificate program work?
- University of Chicago Graham School curriculum
- Tuition and fees and how to sign up
- Who should enroll in the editing certificate program?
- Who teaches the editing certificate program?
- Editing certificate cost comparisons
- Is a certificate in editing worth it?
- Growing your editing career
- Frequently asked questions
What Is the Chicago Editing Certificate?
The University of Chicago Graham School Editing certificate is a program designed to help you solidify foundational editing skills to create a successful career in publishing. The main goal of the certificate program is to equip you with the latest trends and technologies so you can feel confident in your knowledge of The Chicago Manual of Style and editing capabilities.
While you will receive grades for each course, the classes are noncredit. Enrollment into the certificate program is part time, and the program typically takes anywhere from nine to twenty-four months to complete. You can enroll in person, online, or select a hybrid format option. Through the Editing certificate, you can also attend virtual or in-person events related to editing and the publishing industry.
Pros and Cons of the Chicago Editing Certificate
As with any continued education course or online certificate, my number one piece of advice for anyone interested in the Chicago editing program is: You get what you put into it.
I don’t want to say you can coast through the classes, because they are challenging, but the level of engagement, discussion, and learning you get out of this editing certificate program depends entirely on how much you’re willing to put into it.
I know editors who took the course and were unimpressed. They didn’t do their assignments or the readings, and they didn’t make connections with instructors or other classmates.
I know other editors who experienced significant growth and have even gone on to form long-lasting editing mentorships and mastermind groups from their experiences. If you’re willing to take it seriously, there’s a lot of value to gain.
- Incredible name recognition among publishers and small presses
- Great mixture of self-led remote learning and classroom feel
- Knowledgable, responsive teachers with industry insight
- Rigorous reading and helpful examples, exercises, and activities for the self-motivated student
- Gives you confidence in your knowledge of the CMOS
- Synchronous sessions are generally small and easy to engage in discussions
- It can take up to twenty-four months to complete, which is a considerable investment compared to other editing classes you could take online
- It’s one of the more expensive editing certificate programs
- Requires a bachelor’s degree to apply
- Some of the exercises or homework assignments aren’t always applicable to your editing career
- Group projects can be cumbersome
- Connections and long-lasting relationships aren’t a given; you have to work hard for them
- Not a lot of accountability to do the work with a self-led program
How Does the Certificate Program Work?
Through synchronous sessions, the online Chicago Editing certificate program helps students not only build their editing skills but learn the ins and outs of the publishing industry.
Online Editing Courses
For remote learning, each course is roughly four to seven weeks, starting on a Monday. You can complete self-study activities and assignments in the school’s learning management system called Canvas.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to navigate, and the instructors are readily available if any questions arise about how to access course material or submit assignments. There were a few times in the beginning when I thought I’d submitted an assignment and actually didn’t because of the interface of Canvas. Not my favorite, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s that different from other online course platforms—I’m just #old.
With the online courses, you have self-guided exercises, reading, learning and assignments with one synchronous session through Zoom each week. Attendance to these sessions is mandatory, the level of discussion or participation varies for each class.
For Chicago residents who would like to attend editing courses in person, class sizes range from ten to twenty students per course. You can also opt for a hybrid format and have some courses in person and others online for the best of both worlds.
The University of Chicago Graham School Curriculum
The editing program structure is designed so that students complete four required courses:
- Basic Manuscript Editing
- Intermediate Manuscript Editing
- Advanced Manuscript Editing
- Editing Electronically
Outside of those four core classes, you can select one elective course out of seven (as of 2021). When I was enrolled in the program a few years back, it was so difficult for me to decide what my elective course would be!
Ultimately, I decided to take the Essentials of Grammar for Professionals course because it was what I needed at the time, but I wish I could have taken each one of the other courses, especially Developmental Editing for Fiction. But Essentials of Grammar for Professionals was still so valuable to me.
What Are the Best Classes to Take?
I found Electronic Editing to be so, so helpful (and also incredibly challenging!). You learn about editing tools and software as well as tricks of the trade that I just didn’t know about, even as a seasoned freelancer. Any course I had taught by Siobhan Drummond was solid gold.
Tuition and Fees and How to Sign Up
How much does the University of Chicago Editing certificate cost? The short answer: $1,300 per course and $6,500 for the whole certificate tuition (as of October 2021). That doesn’t include the cost of books.
Financial aid isn’t applicable for the noncredit students in the Professional Development certificates. The program does have a withdrawal and cancellation policy, as well as an alumni scholarship program.
To sign up, you can apply online, which requires a non-refundable $40 application fee. You will need to include a personal statement, current résumé, and transcript to show you received your bachelor’s degree. If you aren’t sure about the program just yet, you can take one course without applying for the whole certificate.
My advice if you haven’t earned a bachelor’s degree? Contact the school directly. This is not a promise that you will be admitted, but I found that the admissions team was very helpful, and you really never know—they could be willing to work with you based on your other education or experiences.
Once the U of C accepts you into the program, you will receive information. about course advising and can take courses immediately—as long as you register within twenty-four hours before the start of class.
Who Should Enroll in the Editing Certificate Program?
The majority of the people who pursue the Chicago Editing certificate are current or aspiring acquisitions editors, assignment editors, associate editors, developmental editors, managing editors, editorial project managers, and more—freelancers or employees at publishing houses and editorial agencies.
That said, the U of C encourages professionals from diverse backgrounds to apply to this certificate, so if you have an interest in advancing your editing career or just beginning your editing career, the University of Chicago Editing certificate program is a great one to pursue.
Who Teaches the Editing Certificate Program?
Right away when I enrolled in the University of Chicago Graham School editing program, I was blown away by the level of experience the instructors had.
The editors of the University of Chicago Press are the instructors in the program, which is a huge benefit as a book editor working with The Chicago Manual of Style. The instructors in your classes know that style book through and through, and it’s incredibly helpful to have expert-level CMOS editors.
Many of them have worked for years and years in the publishing industry as freelancers, consultants, in-house editorial and production managers—and many of them worked at prestigious, well-known presses.
Each instructor is skilled in very specific areas, from copyright and trademark regulations to technology solutions, electronic editing tools, and grammar or copyediting. I’ve also found that when I’ve emailed instructors with questions after completing a course—even if a few months had passed—they were always quick to respond. You just get the sense that the teachers really want their students to succeed.
Editing Certificate Cost Comparisons
You can choose from a variety of certificate programs for a career in editing, and there are a number of editing courses out there through associations like the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) or the American Copy Editors Society for Editing (ACES).
These are the most well-known, best editing certificate programs out there:
- The University of Chicago Graham School (online, in person, or hybrid): Estimated $6,500 certificate tuition, including course fees
- The University of California–San Diego Extension (online): Estimated $2,566 certificate tuition, including course fees and books for the program
- Columbia Publishing Course (in person at NYC or Oxford): Estimated $8,661 certificate tuition, which includes room and board
- Ryerson University: The Chang School of Continuing Education (online): Certificate tuition is calculated on a per-course basis; estimated $5,600 certificate tuition
Note: Some in-person programs, such as Columbia Publishing Course, are currently offering remote learning opportunities due to COVID-19.
Is a Certificate in Editing Worth It?
Freelance editors and aspiring editors always ask me my University of Chicago Editing certificate review, followed by the question, “Is a certificate in editing worth it, really?”
The short answer is yes, I believe continued education is always worth it. I would also do it all again if I had to.
Can you piece together a variety of editing courses through different associations or programs to add to your “editing tool belt” and come away with the same information? Yes. I also believe this is possible, and it’s much cheaper, especially if you can space your courses out.
You can also find more affordable editing certificates, like the Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing, which includes six self-paced courses ($150 for nonmembers and $75 for members).
Building Your Editing Confidence
However, completing an editing certificate offers a sense of pride, satisfaction, and confidence that just doesn’t come from a single editing course that you add to here and there. It also looks much more impressive to potential clients and hiring managers.
If you can swing it financially, an editing certificate, especially from a prestigious program like the University of Chicago Graham School, can only help you in your career. But how much you learn and the value you take away is somewhat up to you and your willingness to lean in to your education.
Foundational Technical Editing Skills
If you’re the kind of editor who would prefer the hand holding and would rather not create your own editor training path, an editing certificate program is a great option. It curates everything you need to know and gives you a few options to choose from. However, you may not get the same level of specialization as a continued education course through a very niche association.
The University of Chicago Graham School won’t teach you about editing science fiction, but it will teach you about developmental editing, if that’s a path you’re interested in. Editing certificate courses are much more foundational, and I still refer to my notes often on my editing projects.
Growing Your Editing Career
If you aren’t looking for the foundational technical editing courses necessarily but still want to begin or expand your editing career, my self-guided e-course, Freelance Editing 101: Launch or Grow Your Editorial Business, will equip you to do just that.
You’ll have access to:
- Templates I use every day in my business
- Worksheets to help you grow, dream, and brainstorm
- Samples of materials I use in my business
- Writing prompts to help you on your editing journey
- Craft resources to further your education
- Checklists to help you with the technical aspects of editing
- Productivity tips and tools, including an estimate calculator
- A self-check quiz and CMOS cheat sheet
If you want to become a freelance editor and don’t know where to start—or you’re looking to expand your editorial business but feel stuck—my course will help you create a road map for your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you become a certified editor?
There isn’t a certification or licensure requirement to build or advance your career in editing, and you can become an editor in a variety of different ways.
Any certificate out there that has to do with copyediting or publishing is essentially a group of courses designed to equip you for a career in the publishing industry. Some publishers or companies may prefer hiring editors who have received editing certificates. To earn a certificate in editing, enroll in an editing certificate program you trust and work toward completing the courses.
Do you need a certificate to be an editor?
No, you don’t need a certificate to be an editor. The courses you take to earn a certificate can only help you on your editing journey, but you don’t need a certificate to find work as an editor.
You do, however, need to have a firm grasp on the English language and a deep understanding of grammar, usage, punctuation, and syntax. You need to be able to abide by style guides and have a meticulous eye.
What are editing courses?
Editing courses teach the craft of editing and, in doing so, the craft of writing, You can take courses specific to the type of editing you’re interested in learning more about, from medical editing and copyediting to the business of freelance editing, developmental editing, proofreading, and more.