STUDENT SUCCESS & A Final Project Alternative: Writing for Publication

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/15/15.

For some of my courses I give students an option of a final project alternative. Instead of the final paper for certain courses (if you were a student just ask) I allow the student to write two articles for publication.

If you’ve received approval from me to do so, here are the parameters.

Instead of the assignment as stated in your syllabus, I will accept two articles that you have written and submitted to a magazine, newsletter, e-zine, newspaper, or other media source on insights you have gained from this course.  This is my way of helping you hone your skills in writing research-based articles for popular consumption.  And those of you who wish to develop this skill will find this rewarding.  In fact, I did this for a graduate course over 20 years ago, and it has led to my writing career.

  • Each article (there must be two) should be 1200 to 2500 words,
  • Submitted for publication to a reputable media outlet (this can be online, though a magazine is preferred),
  • You must show proof this was submitted (an email or fax of your submission letter).
  • You don’t have to actually get it published, you only have to try (just give it the ‘ol Wildcat college try!)

But, you must let me know if you are pursuing this within the first 5 weeks of an 8-week course or first 10 weeks of a 16-week course.

So, if you are a student then let me know if you think writing about the nexus of leadership and management for popular consumption is where God is calling you.  We definitely need more good writers teaching how to develop strategic missional leaders.

Hints for Getting Your Article Published

But sometimes students are undecided if they should undertake the final project alternative of two magazine articles.  Often I’ve discovered that this hesitancy can arise because they are unsure about how to approach a magazine with articles for this alternative assignment.  Remember, you must write and submit two (2) articles so you will need to approach two magazines.  Usually the same magazine will not publish two articles by the same author, unless it is a series (it doesn’t hurt to ask though).

In addition, let me give you some basic parameters:

You have two general options:

1)  Contact a magazine and tell them about the topics you are studying.  Ask if they would be interested in seeing a sample article.  Then ask them about length, guidelines, and any special requests.  Their requirements will take precedence over our course requirements of APA style, references, etc. Thus, give the publisher what they want, I will be flexible for those doing the articles.

2)  Or purchase several copies of magazines for which you would like to write.  Look at the articles and select a magazine that is best suited to the type of article you are writing.  Note the type, length, and focus of the articles.  Then write the article and send it to them with a cover letter giving a short synopsis about what the article is about.

You will probably get some rejections, but remember you do not have to be published only attempt to do so.

Here are Some Ideas on Who to Contact:

  • Denominational Magazines (this is usually a good place to start, since they do not have as many submissions)
  • College Magazines (especially your alma mater)
  • National Christian Magazines (they receive many submissions, but there are many of them out there).
  • Online Magazines (called e-zines).  Search the internet for them.
  • Newsletters
  • Newspapers (here you may need to utilize a “human interest” orientation, telling how the principles in this course are affecting your church).

And, a student who undertook this assignment posted this:  “I found a really helpful article on tips for writing blog posts and online publications. Here is the link for that in case it helps in preparing your article: Interestingly, the first thing I had to do for this submission was change my titles because of what I read in this article.


Over the years many students have begun their writing careers via this assignment in my courses.  Here is a growing list: