Technology suffuses not only everyday life, but also how companies and organizations conduct business. In its 2017 report, the U.S. Census Bureau notes that eCommerce revenue increased steadily over the past nine years, from 4% of total retail sales in 2009 to over 9% in 2018. In the first two quarters of 2018, online sales surpassed $250 million.
With a digital marketing master's degree, you can tap into this growing business sector. Through advanced coursework, practical training, and practicum experiences, you develop the skills to pursue careers in online advertising, social media marketing, and project management. You can also apply your talents in analysis and consulting. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects market research analyst positions to grow 23% through 2026. This guide provides information on degree types, course offerings, career options, and professional development opportunities for aspiring marketing professionals.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Digital Marketing Programs? Here Are Our Top 10:
|1||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign, IL|
|2||Brandeis University||Waltham, MA|
|3||Temple University||Philadelphia, PA|
|4||Montclair State University||Montclair, NJ|
|5||Concordia University - Chicago||River Forest, IL|
|6||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, FL|
|7||Saint Mary's University of Minnesota||Winona, MN|
|8||Messiah College||Mechanicsburg, PA|
|9||Fairleigh Dickinson University||Teaneck, NJ|
|10||East Tennessee State University||Johnson City, TN|
Should I Get a Master's in Digital Marketing?
Graduate marketing master's programs enable students to become business leaders and innovators. Degree candidates can expect such course topics as information systems administration, digital brand management, and managerial economics. Through project-based assignments and practicum experience, students learn to integrate advertising, sales, and supply chain logistics across physical and online networks. The curriculum culminates in a capstone project, where students design a digital marketing campaign or propose solutions to challenges in the business field.
Master's in internet marketing programs offer many networking opportunities. Graduate students cultivate professional relationships by engaging with campus groups and national organizations, like Mu Kappa Tau. A prestigious marketing honor society, Mu Kappa Tau supports student members with scholarships, research opportunities, and job listings.
Colleges and universities also provide career assistance, including dedicated support staff and work placement programs. An accredited master's degree shows employers that graduates possess industry knowledge, applicable skills, and leadership training.
Academic options exist for all students. Adult learners gravitate toward distance education, which comes with asynchronous classes and flexible scheduling to accommodate school, work, and family obligations. Recent bachelor's degree graduates generally prefer traditional academics, which affords easy access to university resources.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Digital Marketing?
Digital marketing master's programs prepare students for diverse and growing careers. Opportunities include internet marketing, social media management, copywriting, and web development. The BLS projects web developer positions to grow 15% through 2026. In addition to business administration, marketing, and information technology (IT) classes, graduate degree plans emphasize leadership skills, equipping graduates to occupy roles as project managers and program directors. They may also pursue careers as entrepreneurs, consultants, and postsecondary instructors.
Working as freelancers or part of a company team, copywriters create advertising content for magazines, commercials, blogs, and corporate websites. Those who specialize in digital marketing can work as social media coordinators and online communication specialists. These professionals possess exceptional research skills, enabling them to cater copy to specific audiences. To bolster job opportunities, copywriters pursue professional certification on top of a graduate degree.
Median Annual Salary: $61,820*
- Public Relations Specialist
These marketing professionals oversee the development and maintenance of a company's public image. Through press releases, advertising campaigns, and social media presence, public relations specialists engage consumers. They also field questions from media sources and help executives craft and present speeches. To access this career, professionals need a master's degree and an up-to-date portfolio.
Median Annual Salary: $59,300*
- Marketing Manager
These business leaders work with teams to promote products and services. They design digital marketing and print media campaigns using data-supported research and best practices. Marketing managers also train and supervise employees to ensure projects get done on time and meet designated goals. In addition to master's credentials, professionals need extensive marketing experience to occupy this role.
Median Annual Salary: $129,380*
- Market Research Analyst
These specialists examine market history and current conditions to forecast sales of a product or service. With digital marketing training, analysts can apply their skills to e-commerce, using statistical software and data collection methods to assess and present information to team members, directors, and stakeholders. Market research analysts hold a master's degree and certification from organizations like the Insights Association.
Median Annual Salary: $63,230*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Master's Program in Digital Marketing
When researching schools, students should consider program length, location, and type. Master's in digital marketing programs generally span four years, requiring students to earn at least 30 semester credits. Degree plans vary by curricula, program goals, and faculty expertise. This guide covers the differences between master of science and master of business administration programs.
Most colleges and universities allow learners to individually pace their courses, taking as many or as few classes each term as they want. Some schools require students to engage in cohort learning, where they take one or two classes at a time and advance through the degree at the same pace as their peers.
Cost represents another major factor. Online digital marketing master's degrees offer competitive tuition through flat rates, discounts, and scholarships specifically for distance learners. These programs also provide flexible scheduling and allow degree candidates to complete practicum experiences with a local organization or current employer. On-campus programs give students more course and specialization options. Online curricula are more linear due to the limitations of digital learning platforms, like Blackboard and Canvas.
Prospective students should also consider location. While private or online schools may disregard residency status when calculating tuition, public institutions charge out-of-state students higher prices. Location also dictates cost of living and job and professional development opportunities.
What's the Difference Between a Master's in Digital Marketing and an MBA in Digital Marketing?
Due to its multidisciplinary nature, digital or internet marketing contains multifarious topics and subfields. This diversity leads to ample academic options for students of all backgrounds, interests, and goals. Two main program types exist: the master of science (MS) and the master of business administration (MBA).
Internet marketing master's degrees provide specialized training that focuses on theoretical aspects of product design and advertising. MS candidates also learn technical skills in such areas as content management systems, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media marketing. The MS degree suits students pursuing careers in analysis, research, and education.
MBA in internet marketing programs emphasize practice over theory. While less specialized than its counterpart, the MBA provides more advanced strategic management and financial training. MBA graduates are equipped for larger roles in organizational growth. These programs are also adaptable, benefiting students who do not know in which business sector they want to concentrate their efforts.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's Programs in Digital Marketing
To earn valid degrees, students must attend a school that holds national, regional, and/or programmatic accreditation. Colleges and universities earn national accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. They obtain regional accreditation from one of six organizations, depending on location. For example, Massachusetts colleges earn regional accreditation through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Schools may also earn programmatic accreditation for digital marketing master's degrees. In the business field, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) grant this stamp of approval. While colleges generally pursue programmatic accreditation from one or the other, these two sets of standards are not mutually exclusive.
The ACBSP emphasizes teaching and educational outreach. The AACSB prioritizes business research. Both organizations advocate for individual and institutional members through public policy initiatives and professional development programs. Online programs can earn specialized accreditation through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission.
Master's in Digital Marketing Program Admissions
Colleges and universities commonly request an application, academic transcripts, and recommendation letters for admission. Candidates must also furnish a personal statement, detailing how their professional achievements prepare them for graduate school and how their goals align with those of the program. Some schools, particularly those that offer MBA programs, also require a resume or CV.
Prospective students may need to satisfy prerequisite requirements in topics like statistics, ethics, organizational behavior, and foundational marketing. Students who have not completed these classes need to do so before taking on a master's curriculum. In general, online digital marketing master's programs operate more intensive admission processes. Through entrance assessments and interviews, online students must demonstrate that they possess the discipline and drive for self-motivated learning.
To make the application process more manageable and cost-effective, students should narrow school choices to around five. Major criteria to consider include cost, financial assistance, academic outcomes, career services, and overall student support.
- Bachelor's Degree: Graduate programs require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree. Some colleges require the degree to be in a specific program, such as marketing, business administration, or a related field. Accreditation is especially important here. Regionally accredited schools only accept credentials from other regionally accredited institutions.
- Professional Experience: Through their personal statement, resume/CV, and recommendation letters, candidates must show they possess at least two to three years of relevant work experience. MBA programs generally require more experience than MS programs.
- Minimum GPA: To gain full admission (also known as "good standing"), applicants need to possess a minimum 2.5-3.0 GPA. Students may be able to offset an inadequate GPA with exceptional GRE/GMAT scores.
- Application: Prospective students must submit an application online. Graduate schools do not use The Common Application, but some institutions use Interfolio as an alternative.
- Transcripts: In addition to furnishing an accredited degree, applicants must submit unofficial transcripts. If a student is accepted, they might need to submit official documents. Students can request transcripts by contacting the registrar's office.
- Letters of Recommendation: Marketing master's programs ask for two-three recommendation letters from professors and supervisors who can attest to a candidate's achievements and characteristics.
- Test Scores: Most graduate schools require students to submit GRE scores. MBA programs also accept GMAT results. In certain cases, students can supplement an unsatisfactory GPA or work experience with test scores.
- Application Fee: Most institutions charge an application processing fee of around $50. Some schools waive this fee for students with demonstrable financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's Program in Digital Marketing?
Graduate schools typically offer digital marketing as a concentration under general MBA or MS in marketing programs. However, separate digital marketing master's degrees exist and come with their own concentrations. Students can focus on tech-based skills through IT and web design concentrations. Or they can pursue specialized coursework in such practical business areas as project management and entrepreneurship. The table below details five popular digital marketing concentrations.
|Data Analytics||In this concentration, students learn to gather, clean, interpret, and present data for diverse audiences. Through predictive models, data analysts forecast business trends and prescribe marketing strategies. Students also examine Big Data, developing strategies to make sense of unstructured and textual information. Data analytics prepares graduates for careers in marketing research and analysis.||Market research analyst, digital marketing manager, user experience (UX) designer|
|Social Media Marketing||Combining traditional marketing strategies with social media theory, students learn to engage consumers, build loyalty, and increase revenue. Students take classes in integrated marketing communication and strategic management, learning how to concretize and spread brand messaging to new audiences. The concentration enables graduates to occupy positions as marketing managers, specialists, and consultants.||Social media marketer, online community manager, pay-per-click specialist|
|Multicultural Marketing||This concentration focuses on market diversity and how ethnicity, race, and gender affect consumer behavior. Students learn to identify potential markets and create targeted communication media to appeal to and engage specific consumer groups. Course topics include competitive analysis, forecasting methods, and strategic implementation. As global markets expand, a firm understanding of multicultural marketing is required for all digital marketing professionals.||Copywriter, public relations specialist, marketing manager|
|Electronic and Social Commerce||Students apply management concepts to eCommerce through IT integration across social media channels. They also learn to design, create, and test collaborative shopping platforms. Coursework includes technological innovation, human-computer interaction, and e-commerce laws and ethics. The electronic and social commerce concentration greatly benefits digital marketing managers and directors.||Digital marketing manager, email marketing specialist, marketing manager|
|Information Systems Management||In this concentration, students learn to oversee the development of large marketing software systems. They also develop skills in data analysis to evaluate productivity and project success. Students also learn project management skills, such as budgeting and scheduling. A Master's in information systems management prepares graduates for technology-based marketing careers.||Web developer, SEO marketing specialist, IT sales professional|
Courses in a Master's in Digital Marketing Program
Internet marketing master's degree curricula begin with fundamental topics, like quantitative decision-making, managerial finance, consumer behavior, and integrated marketing communications. Beyond core classes, curricula vary by program type and specialization. MBA candidates may pursue advanced courses in supply chain management and strategic planning, while MS students delve into UX design and digital branding. The list below comprises five possible courses for digital marketing students.
- Integrated Marketing Communications
This class provides students with fundamental multimedia theories, enabling them to understand how different channels link to form a coherent brand message. Students learn to integrate marketing communication tools, including sales promotion, social media, advertising, and public relations. As new media forms gain popularity, integration is a necessary concept for all marketing and business professionals.
- Brand Strategy
To create a successful brand, students must consider longevity on top of customer engagement. This course prepares students to maintain, strengthen, and evolve brands by establishing clear criteria and information hierarchy. Students also learn to capitalize on marketing communication to reduce risks and simplify customer decision-making.
- Data Visualization
This course takes students through standard data analytics lifecycles, from retrieval and classification to translation and presentation. Students learn to apply structured approaches to assessing and predicting data relationships, including Big Data. They also develop communication skills, enabling them to work in teams and present a coherent information story to stakeholders. Data visualization is a required topic for all business professionals.
- Online Marketing Channels
In this class, students learn to identify responsive marketing channels for a product or service. These channels include internet display advertising, email marketing, remarketing, affiliate marketing, and social media platforms and players. Students also delve into game-based advertising, particularly through mobile applications.
- Ethical Leadership
By analyzing case studies of diverse business leaders, students develop an understanding of motivational and strategic management strategies. Topics comprise organizational culture, group behavior, and workforce diversity. Students learn how to build and maintain multinational partnerships. This class is particularly important for digital marketing professionals who want to manage teams and/or work in international settings.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Digital Marketing?
Conventional digital marketing master's programs take two years of full-time study and at least 30-36 semester credits to complete. Individual course progression and program type affect this timeline. Students who want to expedite degree completion can take full course loads every semester, including optional summer and winter sessions. They should also consider accelerated degree plans, which allow students to earn the master's in as few as 12 months. These intensive programs generally require applicants to hold substantial work experience in marketing or project administration.
Adult learners who want to accommodate work and family obligations can take minimal classes each term. Colleges and universities typically allow graduate students six years to earn their degree. However, part-time enrollment comes with limited financial support and potentially higher tuition. All students may hasten degree progress and save money by applying for transfer credits. Through prior learning assessments, schools allow learners to earn graduate credits for previous academic work, career experience, professional training, and even volunteer positions.
How Much Is a Master's in Digital Marketing?
According to a 2017 report by Urban Institute, the average graduate student pays $11,110 when attending an in-state public school and $22,596 when enrolling as an out-of-state student. Private colleges and universities charge the highest rates, averaging $25,160. However, tuition differs by institution and format.
Online master's in digital marketing programs are typically one of the most affordable master's degrees. For example, Concordia University of Chicago offers a per-credit tuition of $690 to all distance learners, regardless of residency status. The school also guarantees that this rate will not increase as long as students make uninterrupted progress toward the digital marketing degree. Similarly, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota charges $650 for every online credit.
Higher education requires substantial investments of time and money. Students can apply for government aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. They should also seek support from their chosen school. The aforementioned schools provide scholarships for distance learners and discounts for active military and veterans. Local businesses and national organizations also facilitate award opportunities.
In addition to tuition, students should consider living expenses and costs associated with technology, books, and professional certification. Students planning to move for school can use websites like Payscale to calculate cost of living by state and city.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Digital Marketing Prepares For
- DMA Certified Marketing Professional
The Data and Marketing Association offers a comprehensive course and exam package. Students can pursue the in-person seminar or opt for online learning through 90-minute, self-paced modules. Topics include creative copywriting, email marketing, data governance, and mobile marketing. To maintain their certificate, professionals must complete 10 continuing education units within the first year.
- AMA Professional Certified Marketer
The American Marketing Association provides certification programs in digital marketing, content marketing, and marketing management. The programs are not sequential. The digital marketing track covers such areas as online advertising, SEO, metrics/conversions, and user interface and experience. The exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions, and candidates must score at least 80% to earn credentials.
- IIMP Certified Marketing Management Professional
The International Institute of Marketing Professionals operates four certification levels: associate, manager, executive, and chartered. To earn the Associate CMMP, candidates must complete a training program, pass an examination, and demonstrate proficiencies through at least one year of paid work experience. Proficiency areas include integrated marketing communications and corporate social responsibility.
- PMI Certified Associate in Project Management
The Project Management Institute facilitates two certification levels. Through the associate program, candidates demonstrate their ability to work in project teams. The three-hour exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. Experienced project managers can opt for the professional program, which covers general supervision, cross-functional operations, and strategic methodologies. Candidates take a four-hour exam with 200 multiple-choice questions.
- Google AdWords Certification
To earn this free certification, professionals must complete online training through Google's Academy for Ads. They also need to pass one fundamental assessment and one additional advertising product assessment. The latter includes mobile advertising, video advertising, search advertising, shopping advertising, and display advertising. These credentials last until the respective product area assessment expires, at which point professionals must retake the exam. Google also offers analytics certifications.
Resources for Graduate Digital Marketing Students
Founded in 2006, SMC promotes digital media literacy and connects professionals across diverse fields. The organization facilitates national conferences and chapter meetings. Professionals also benefit from job listings and an institution-wide book club.
IAB supports digital marketers through standards and best practices in such areas as native advertising, compliance, and digital video. Professionals can also take advantage of webinars, corporate training, and certification programs.
AMA is a preeminent marketing professional organization advocating for its constituents through legal and public policy initiatives. The association also provides regional workshops, online training, and a vast digital library.
A volunteer organization founded in 1997, WMA facilitates award contests in areas like internet advertising and social media branding. Membership is free and comes with access to research literature and conferences.
The BCMA helps digital marketers share knowledge through worldwide conferences, training programs, and weekly digests. The association also promotes industry best practice through market reports and case studies.
Professional Organizations in Digital Marketing
To strengthen career prospects that come with a digital marketing master's degree, students should join professional organizations. Members enjoy leadership training, continuing education, and certification programs. These organizations also provide networking opportunities through national and international conferences, as well as job assistance. Some organizations offer discount memberships to students.