Recently, I completed the University of San Diego (UCSD) Extension’s Copyediting Certificate program. For over a year, I have been sharing and reviewing my experiences with the courses. Now that I have the certificate in hand, it’s time to share my thoughts on the program as a whole.
Copyediting Certificate Review
In order to receive a certificate, you need to complete four courses. It can be done in as little as nine months (twelve months if taking consecutively). UCSD estimates the cost to be around $2,500 for courses and supplies. Click on the links to see my initial thoughts on a course and a review after it was completed.
- Grammar Lab (Details / Review)
- Copyediting I (Details / Review)
- Copyediting II (Details / Review)
- Copyediting III (Details / Review)
You start with the basics on what it means to be a copyeditor: grammar, markings, Word, and author-editor relationships. By the final course, you are editing a non-fiction manuscript as if you were sending it to the client. It is self-paced with some restrictions.
Who’s It For?
Continuing education is important no matter the field of work. Editing standards change nearly as often as language itself. That’s why I think this course is for more than just those entering copyediting for the first time. It is a great resource to career switchers, those entering freelance, or anyone wishing to brush up on their standards.
Don’t look at this program as a grammar lesson. While there is a course to remind you of that pesky terminology, it should not be used as the ground work. You need to have a solid grasp of English and be able to write well. Without the skills of grammar, syntax, punctuation, and style, you will have extra work to do.
UCSD offers a great resource here. Any of the people I mentioned above could benefit from it. It definitely focuses on non-fiction editing, which may not be your focus. However, a fiction editor will still need these basic skills, they would just apply them more subjectively. I found each course to be informative and challenging in its own way.
The lack of information regarding the instructors is unfortunate. Since the structure, discussion, and grading style all depend on your instructor, this could be an area of frustration. However, there are social media groups where you can get help from previous and current students.
The Facebook group (not affiliated with UCSD) and the Blackboard discussion board are a major benefit. You may not have the same students with you throughout the program, but it is great to be able to interact with people from different backgrounds. While the earlier classes may lack for conversation beyond the normal questions surrounding the assignment, by the end of the program, we were having in-depth and meaningful discussions. The sense of community around the program is a big bonus.
How Does It Compare
While I wish there was some focus on fiction editing, UCSD has expressed interest in a developmental editing course in the future. Occasionally, they offer other courses related to the certificate, such as Marketing for Copyeditors, but they are not required nor are they consistently available.
The price is competitive and often much cheaper than other programs out there. I wrote an article comparing the basics of UCSD’s program to that of the University of Chicago’s Graham School. UCSD came out the clear winner.
Some associations like EFA or ACES offer courses and certificates. Most of these are in the form of webinars. If you are able to be online at the right time, you can still speak with a real person, but you likely won’t get the one-on-one feedback you need or crave. The courses offered would make great additional learning opportunities, but they aren’t equivalent to what you are getting through UCSD.
Is It Worth It?
Personally, I think so. Not only did I gain more knowledge of the field, but I can show future clients that I took the time to further my education and am dedicated to my work. I gained new friends and joined some wonderful editing communities online. My confidence in my abilities grew exponentially.
The UCSD Copyediting program is highly regarded in the world of editing, and it’s unfortunate that there wasn’t much detail out there for prospective students. I hope this series of posts helped you determine if it was the right choice for you. Other than the costs and time, I feel only good things can come from taking it. Good luck in your future editing adventures!
Hi Kyle. This is a great post, thank you for making such a detailed review.
I only have one question: do you think this program is appropriate for print journalists such as myself?
While I think most editors can benefit from the program, it does focus on the Chicago Manual of Style. If the place you work or the clients you work for use AP Style, you may not get as much value in your current role. It could help expand your services if you were interested.
Best of luck!