It's 2:23 a.m. You are mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. Suddenly you see an ad for a hat that has your name on it. Literally. Your. Name. Even your unconventionally spelled middle name. You are amazed and terrified in equal measure.
This kind of highly targeted advertisement is digital marketing in a nutshell. Today, 60 percent of marketers are investing more resources in digital approaches. The expected annual growth of digital commerce is nearly nine percent, with some experts predicting spending on digital marketing will surpass $145 billion by 2023. Without question, online marketing job opportunities are increasing.
The downside is that the field is still developing; digital strategies change constantly, and not every job in the field commands a six-figure salary. Tack on the fact that the average tuition for an online master's in digital marketing runs between $14,000 and $32,000, and the decision to earn this degree is no slam dunk.
Fortunately, there are affordable online master's degree programs in digital marketing that prepare you for a high-paying job without killing your wallet. Many reputable schools even offer online degree programs to part-time students, allowing enrollees to work while they study. Doing so helps mitigate, or eliminate, the amount of educational debt you take on while providing an opportunity to apply new marketing techniques as you learn them.
Find out how completing an affordable online master's in digital marketing is a smart way to take advantage of a growing field. This article covers:
The master's in digital marketing degree is relatively new, and parity among programs can be hard to find. Some may focus heavily on the creative aspect of digital marketing (the work of creating effective online marketing campaigns), while others concentrate on technical skills (programming and data analytics).
An online master's in digital marketing has a much higher focus on multimedia than a traditional advertising degree, which can include some coursework on digital marketing strategy.
One of the biggest differences between these two degrees is their scope. All advertising involves promoting products and ideas to a mass audience. It's the commercial you see on television.
Marketing goes deeper. It deals with pricing a product or determining the channel a TV commercial should air. Advertising programs do generally touch on marketing in some capacity.
Just about every program teaches basic marketing strategy and brand management skills. From there, the scope varies.
A traditional—if you can call such a new field traditional— Master of Science in Digital Marketing, like the one at Fairleigh Dickinson University - Florham Campus, gives a comprehensive education of the field. It includes courses on:
The Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy at Arizona State University - Tempe focuses more on the customer relationship side, teaching how to grow engagement through data analysis and strategic marketing. The degree focuses on:
Again, there is some overlap between these two degrees. Both cover SEO, SEM, and analytics, for example. Still, the programs' focuses are different. Arizona State concentrates more on analytics, and Fairleigh Dickinson prepares students for both creative and production roles. Fairleigh Dickinson also requires students to complete a capstone project to graduate, which Arizona State does not.
When researching programs, it's a good idea to look at a school's course catalog. If you're going back to school to sharpen your skills as a creative, a program with data science and marketing analytics-heavy core courses may not be your first choice and vice versa.
The varying scope of each program means that there are a few different names for a master's in digital marketing. Your program might be called:
A program specializing in digital strategy will be a little different from one that focuses on design. Additionally, enrolling in an MBA program with a digital marketing concentration yields a different experience from a traditional MS or MA program. MBAs are usually offered through a university's school of business, which means you'll likely complete marketing management courses. You'll also receive a more general business education covering economics, financial accounting, finance, and operations.
Identifying the difference between a Master of Arts and a Master of Science in Marketing is a little more complicated.Still it mostly boils down to the way a school organizes its degree program (for instance, whether there is a thesis requirement or not) and the school/department conferring the degree.
The actual content of an online master's in digital marketing will likely be identical to an in-person program at the same school. The most significant difference is that you will not be in a classroom. This is huge, and not just for students who rely on a professor's icy glare to avoid looking at their phones.
Online programs are often synonymous with part-time, making them attractive to working professionals and those with family commitments. Some offer pre-recorded lectures, so you can work studying into your schedule instead of working your schedule around classes. In a part-time setting, some students can even take five years to complete a program.
There are full-time online programs and part-time on-campus programs as well. You may end up deciding that it's best to attend a traditional brick and mortar school—either because you can't trust yourself to focus at home or believe having face-time with professors and other students might lead to better connections. However, for self-starters with numerous responsibilities, an online degree might be the best course of action.
In many cases, anyone with a bachelor's degree, good Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores, glowing recommendation letters, and excellent personal statements can get into a master's in digital marketing program. That's all to say you do not usually need previous work experience in marketing, though many programs request a professional resume.
That said, getting professional experience in marketing before applying to a program can be beneficial. Digital marketing is continually changing, and so are the skills that you need for success. Experienced professionals looking to specialize and apply new concepts to their work are the ones who stand to benefit the most from this degree.
Some programs might have work experience requirements. For example, the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign MBA program, which offers a digital marketing focus, requires that all applicants "have at least three or more years of rich, valuable operational or managerial experience," which the program uses to further each students' education. The Saint Mary's University of Minnesota MBA, which also has a digital marketing track, requires at least five years of relevant work experience.
Of course, none of this information is useful if you cannot find a program that fits your budget. According to US News & World Report, the average cost for an online master's in digital marketing is anywhere from $460 to $900 per credit—with some schools charging more than $1,000.
Keep in mind, the actual tuition rate for online programs is usually identical to that of in-person ones—right down to the fact that some state schools charge out-of-state students more. You may save money on specific expenses, such as transportation, but generally, the real savings come if you're able to offset some costs by working.
Here are some well-known, affordable—defined as anything under $700 per credit—and accredited online master's in digital marketing programs. Tuition for any state school on this list is calculated for in-state students—if there is a discount.
The most affordable Master of Science in digital marketing degrees available online include:
Nearly every industry needs qualified marketing professionals. Fields you might work in include:
You might even be tempted to move to an adjacent career in public relations, copywriting, or project management since a marketing degree can help improve your communication strategies and build strong consumer relationships.
Jobs that you can get with an MS in marketing include:
Marketing managers create and implement strategies and ensure their marketing team meets performance goals. Managers earn a median income of more than $130,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—although some earn much less.
Not all jobs in marketing are this well-paying. You may earn around $75,000 as an SEO manager, but the average salary for someone with a master's in internet marketing is slightly under $64,000.
Still, a master's in digital marketing can lead to a great career. According to Kimberly Devitt, a 2016 graduate of the University of Florida's program, "if it weren't for the foundation I received from the University of Florida, I wouldn't have my dream job today." Long-term success should be your goal going into any master's program. Completing an affordable program is an excellent start.
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