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Best Online Master's Programs in Digital Marketing

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Updated on: 10/04/2018

Communications professional can raise their yearly median salary from $54,000 to $67,000 by earning a master's in communications and mass media, which includes programs in digital marketing online. Graduates can become marketing executives, marketing managers, or public relations managers. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects growth in each of these careers. Furthermore, these professions each earn a median of over $100,000 each year.

These professionals have high earnings in growing sectors and work with exciting new technology. Digital marketers use emerging media platforms to promote brands. An online master's in digital marketing is a great field for any student interested in technology.

What Can I Learn in an Online Master's in Digital Marketing Program?

Students learn about existing and emerging technologies in digital marketing master's programs. Programs cover how brands use platforms to engage consumers. As traditional marketing takes a back seat to its digital counterpart, professionals need to stay up-to-date on emerging strategies. Many of these programs focus on business operations. Classes include creative topics like design, as well as budgeting and organizational structures.

Programs can take between one and three years to complete. Students who have educational or professional backgrounds in marketing or digital communications can complete these programs in less time. Since subject matter is digital, online classes are a great option. Students can benefit from flexibility and the low cost of a distance education.

What common courses are offered in a master's in digital marketing program?

Schools offer different courses and concentrations; however, there are fundamental subjects in any master's in digital marketing online. While classes may be listed under different names, the following courses are common in digital marketing programs.

Communication, Media, and Society

In this foundational course, students learn how media influences culture. Learners examine how forms of communication impact society. Professors may require degree candidates to assess their own relationship with media.

Social Media Marketing

Social media campaigns have a huge impact on brands. This class teaches students to design and implement strategies in this medium. Students may also learn to use social media marketing measurement tools to create effective campaigns.

Search Marketing

When consumers use search engines, companies want to be the first search result. This course teach students to devise search engine optimization strategies and use search engine advertising to promote their brand.

Laws and Ethics

This class covers the legal limitations of marketing, court cases that set these standards, and ethical considerations. Law is particularly important in the age of growing technology; this course helps professionals navigate the changing landscape.

Mobile Marketing

Now that smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous, most website traffic comes from mobile devices. Therefore, it is essential for marketers to fit promotions to these devices. In this class, students learn the technical and strategic skills needed to scale marketing to mobile devices.

What exams or projects should I expect?

Online master's in digital marketing programs require final projects. Creative programs often want students to compile and present portfolios, which are created throughout coursework. Other programs may require degree candidates to present a thesis paper. Students can spend several semesters working on a thesis. Some professors require thesis projects to include independent research. In MBA programs with concentrations in digital marketing, students may need to create business plans in place of thesis projects and some programs may require learners to complete internships.

What elective courses are available in a master's in digital marketing program?

Digital marketing is often a specialization within another program; however, students can design a degree to fit their career goals. With elective courses, learners can explore subjects that will make them experts in niche areas of marketing. Below are some of the electives offered.

Mobile Applications

As tablets and smartphones grow in popularity, mobile marketing is an essential part of any business plan. This course teaches students to use mobile applications to promote brands. Students learn about designing brand-specific applications and advertising on existing apps.

User-Centered Design

Mobile applications and websites allow consumers to interact with brands. This class teaches learners to design easy-to-use applications and websites that keep consumers interested in brands.

Internet Consumer Behavior Analysis

Marketers have access to more data than ever before, which allows marketers to conduct thorough data analysis. This course teaches students to track consumer behavior online and use analysis information to promote brands. This course combines analytics, mathematics, and theory.

What Can I Do with a Master's in Digital Marketing Degree?

With a master's in digital marketing online, a graduate can choose from several career paths. A master's degree gives job candidate's a competitive edge. Graduates with leadership skills can become marketing managers, public relations managers, and chief marketing officers. Those with analytical skills and attention to detail can become market research analysts. Graduates who enjoy public relations can become specialists.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

These professionals manage in-house marketing teams or work for agencies with several clients. They oversee every creative aspect of marketing campaigns, including graphic design, social media, and copywriting. They also promote brands and engage potential customers. Managers make budgets, set deadlines, and negotiate contracts.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Although public relations and marketing have nuanced differences, marketing graduates can become public relations managers. These professionals oversee public relations activities, including press releases, media interviews, and damage control. In today's technological world, it is essential that public relations managers are digital media savvy.

Public Relations Specialists

Whereas public relations managers look over all of the public relations operations, these professionals concentrate on specific areas. They often work under managers and draft press releases, speak to media personnel, write speeches, analyze campaign effectiveness, or devise strategies. Some specialists work in particular industries or help brands in crisis.

Top Executives

Graduates with master's degrees in digital communications can work as chief marketing officers. These top-level officers make the final decisions on marketing budgets, strategies, and new hires. They meet with other chief officers and board members. Master's degrees give marketing specialists the skills they need to advance in their careers.

Market Research Analysts

When companies want to sell new products or services or expand into new markets, they call on market research analysts for idea feedback. These professionals conduct studies to determine which demographics will buy a product or service. Then, they decide which forms of marketing will elicit the best response. Analysts reports drive marketing and advertising strategies.

Professional organizations offer students and workers the chance to grow their careers. Networking opportunities like annual conferences, online forums, and local chapter meetings can open doors for new graduates. Organizations offer continuing education and certification opportunities; mentorship programs; access to exclusive research journals and job boards; and resume reviews.

The American Marketing Association

This national association provides the latest marketing news. Members gain access to resources like the marketer's toolkit, webinars, in-person training, newsletters, and certification programs.

The Internet Marketing Association

The IMA invites digital marketers to become members and gain access to certain free resources. The premium membership includes additional perks, such as a public profile and the chance to chair a local organization.

The Branded Content Marketing Association

This global association welcomes marketing professionals to advance their branded content skills. Members get access to the latest research, discounts on marketing measurement tools, and invites to networking events.

The Association of National Advertisers

When the Data and Marketing Association joined forces with the ANA, the organization became the largest of its kind. Marketing and advertising professionals can benefit from membership and enjoy complimentary training, unlimited webinars, and the association's publication.

The Mobile Marketing Association

As website traffic becomes mobile, savvy marketers adapt new strategies. This organization helps members explore new marketing methods through an annual conference, the latest research, and online education.

How Much Can I Make with a Career in Digital Marketing?

Graduates with digital marketing credentials can become marketing managers, public relations managers, public relations specialists, chief marketing officers, or market research analysts. Many of these occupations pay average salaries above $100,000. Factors influence whether a professional is on the low or high end of the scale. For example, professionals in major metropolitan areas often earn higher salaries than their rural or suburban counterparts.

Job Title Lowest 10% Earned Annually Median Annual Salary Highest 10% Earned Annually Job Growth 2016-2026
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers Less than $48,150 $129,380 More than $208,000 +10%
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers Less than $61,130 $111,280 More than $112,260 +10%
Public Relations Specialists Less than $27,240 $51,500 More than $93,780 +4%
Top Executives Less than $44,510 $104,700 More than $208,000 +8%
Market Research Analysts Less than $34,510 $63,230 More than $122,770 +23%

Source: BLS 2018

BLS projects all of the careers above to grow as fast as the national average. In many cases, BLS projects growth rates well above average for careers in digital marketing. For example, analytical graduates can take advantage of the 23% growth rate of market research analysts; a percentage three times the national average. In more competitive areas, like public relations and top executive positions, graduate degrees can set candidates apart.

Education is one of the biggest factors that impacts salary for marketing and communication professionals. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that professionals with undergraduate degrees earn $54,000 per year; however, those with master's degrees make $67,000 annually. With a $13,000 increase per year, a master's in digital marketing can pay for itself.

Online Master's in Digital Marketing Program Accreditation

Candidates should consider accredited universities with credentialed business programs. There are two types of accreditation, the first is institutional which includes regional and national accreditation. Credits from regionally accredited universities are easier to transfer. Learners who earn degrees from institutions without accreditation may have difficulty obtaining professional certifications. Some employers require applicants to hold accredited degrees.

The second type of accreditation is programmatic. Agencies award these credentials to programs within a university, such as graduate digital marketing programs. Since marketing programs are often within business schools, students should look for accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. This organization ensures academic rigor and the highest educational standards and help students gain professional certifications.

How to Pay for a Master's in Digital Marketing Degree

Students who want to earn a master's degree can access several types of financial aid. Master's students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which gives students federal assistance and access to private scholarships.

  • Federal Financial Aid

    Learners can complete the FAFSA online to assess their financial needs and apply for financial assistance. While graduates do not need to repay grants, they must refund loans. Many scholarships and other need-based aid programs require completed FAFSA forms as well.

  • School Scholarships

    Most schools provide scholarships to admitted students based on financial need or merit. For example, Full Sail University focuses on creative fields, like marketing, and awards seven different types of scholarships. One award goes to an alumni of the university who wants to pursue additional educational opportunities, such as a master's degree.

  • Private Scholarships

    Professional organizations, nonprofits, and corporations award scholarships to deserving students. Digital marketing students can find these opportunities through media-focused associations. For example, Hire Influence is a digital marketing agency that awards scholarships for $500, which can cover the cost of books or other financial needs.