Marketing & Advertising

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Digital Marketing and Media?

What Can You Do With a Master’s in Digital Marketing and Media?
Digital marketing and media involve both science and creativity. Image from Unsplash
Elen Turner profile
Elen Turner January 6, 2020

Digital has taken over our lives in countless ways. With an MS in Digital Marketing and Media, you have a strategic say in how others experience the world.

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Not so very long ago, marketing was primarily about glossy magazine advertisements and network television endorsements. In that era—depicted so compellingly in Mad Men—you didn’t even need an undergraduate degree to advance in the industry. You just had to be the most ambitious secretary in the office, or steal the identity of a fallen fellow soldier. Spoiler alert!

Today (and even back then, to be fair), a master’s degree is probably the more-certain road to marketing success. In part, that’s because the media landscape has broadened and changed so radically, and continues to do so. Traditional media, like books and television, are being replaced by digital apps and digital messaging. Digital developments have transformed the way we:

  • Consume news
  • Communicate with our friends and relatives
  • Shop
  • Seek information on products and services
  • Receive advertising

Digital marketing requires creativity and the ability to think analytically. It also requires receptivity to new developments and the training to anticipate and understand them quickly. New developments and services emerge constantly, and many businesses, companies, and traditional media outlets need digital marketing and media experts to help them navigate, interpret, and optimize marketing strategy, and to make the most of developments. Many of those experts hold master’s degrees.

A Master of Science (MS) in Digital Marketing and Media is a graduate degree that teaches how to operate in this dynamic media, communications, and marketing field as an expert. In this article, we’ll discuss how a master’s in digital marketing and media can advance your career by covering:

  • What can you do with a Master’s in Digital Marketing and Media?
  • Prerequisites for a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media
  • Top schools for a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media
  • Commitment required for a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media
  • Exams and certifications to complete a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media
  • Should you get a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media?

What can you do with a Master’s in Digital Marketing and Media?

E-commerce revenue has increased consistently throughout the 2010s. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an average or higher-than-average growth rate for jobs in digital marketing and media. There should be plenty of jobs for qualified job seekers in the next few years.

Graduates of an MS in Digital Marketing and Media program are qualified to work in:

  • Copywriting: This role involves creating compelling and persuasive written content for various digital marketing channels, including websites, email campaigns, social media posts, and online advertisements. Copywriters aim to engage the audience and motivate them to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
  • Internet marketing: Professionals in this field focus on promoting products, services, and brands through the internet. This broad category includes search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, and content marketing. Internet marketers develop and execute strategies to increase online visibility and drive traffic to a website or landing page.
  • Marketing strategy: This career involves planning and executing long-term marketing approaches to achieve business objectives. Strategists analyze market trends, identify target audiences, and develop comprehensive plans that encompass various digital marketing channels. They work to ensure all marketing efforts are cohesive and aligned with the company’s goals.
  • Online advertising: Specialists in online advertising create and manage ads on digital platforms, such as search engines, social media, and websites. They use tools like Google Ads and Facebook Ads Manager to design campaigns, set budgets, and target specific demographics. Their goal is to maximize ROI by reaching potential customers effectively.
  • Project and marketing management: This role combines project management skills with marketing expertise. Professionals manage digital marketing projects from conception to completion, ensuring they meet deadlines, stay within budget, and achieve desired outcomes. They coordinate with other team members, such as designers, developers, and marketers, to execute the project plan.
  • Public relations: In the digital space, public relations (PR) professionals focus on managing and enhancing a brand’s reputation online. They create and distribute press releases, manage crisis communication, engage with media outlets, and use social media to shape public perception of the brand.
  • Social media marketing: This career is centered on using social media platforms to promote brands, products, and services. Social media marketers develop content strategies, engage with followers, analyze engagement data, and run social media advertising campaigns. Their goal is to increase brand awareness and foster community around the brand.
  • Web development jobs: While technically focused, web development is crucial for digital marketing. Web developers design, create, and maintain websites, ensuring they are visually appealing, user-friendly, and optimized for search engines. They work closely with marketing teams to implement features that support digital marketing efforts, such as landing pages, e-commerce capabilities, and analytics tracking.

These jobs are available in a broad range of industries, including:

  • Athletics
  • Business development
  • Consulting
  • Fashion
  • News and entertainment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Retail
  • Travel and tourism

So many businesses and organizations need individuals who understand the digital marketing and media field, digital communications and marketing strategies, and integrated marketing communications. Whatever your personal, professional, or academic interests, you are likely to be able to work in that general area.

What is the average salary of someone with a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media?

The pay scale for graduates of an MS in Digital Marketing in Media is generally high, but incomes can vary greatly depending on the specific job and level of experience required, as well as what your degree program prepared you for. On the lower end of the scale, the median annual income of a public relations specialist was $67,448 in 2022. At the higher end, the median annual income of an advertising, promotions, and marketing manager was $138,730. Other jobs like market research analysts and copywriters fall somewhere between these extremes, skewing toward the lower end.

Employees with a master’s degree in marketing typically earn almost 20 percent more than their colleagues with just a bachelor’s degree. Although this figure isn’t specific to an MS in Digital Marketing and Media, it does demonstrate that a master’s degree pays off, quite literally, in the world of marketing. Working toward an MS in Digital Marketing and Media may make good financial sense in the long run, whether you can pay for your studies now or require financial aid.


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Prerequisites for a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media

Some master’s programs accept applicants with any bachelor’s degree major so long as they earned a reasonable GPA. Such programs often require applicants to have completed specific prerequisite undergraduate courses in marketing, business studies, or media and communications.

Along with the academic prerequisites, some MS marketing programs may ask you to demonstrate real-world, hands-on experience in the field for entry into the degree program, such as a paid job or an internship. Relevant experience to highlight when applying for an MS in Digital Marketing and Media includes (but is not limited to):

  • Internet marketing
  • Jobs in public relations
  • Market research jobs in consumer behavior
  • Social media or marketing management
  • Work at a college or mainstream newspaper/magazine/radio station

Because of the multidisciplinary nature of this degree, a wide variety of jobs and internships could be considered relevant experience in helping you develop your digital marketing skills. If you learned something about digital marketing from a professional or volunteer experience, make sure to mention it in your application.

Top schools for a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media

The exact name of the degree varies from school to school, with common variants including:

  • MS in Marketing and Digital Media
  • MS in Digital Communication
  • MS in Digital and Social Marketing
  • MS in Digital Business
  • MS in Digital Marketing Communications

What should you look for in a digital marketing and media master’s degree program?

The MS in Digital Marketing and Media degree should include knowledge and experience in:

  • Accounting: This course teaches the fundamentals of accounting, focusing on interpreting financial statements, budgeting, and financial analysis. It equips digital marketers with the ability to understand and manage the financial aspects of marketing campaigns and strategies, ensuring profitability and efficient resource allocation.
  • Advertising: Focuses on the principles and practices of online advertising. It covers various digital advertising models, including pay-per-click (PPC), display ads, and video advertising. Students learn how to create effective advertising campaigns that target specific audiences and achieve business objectives.
  • Analytics: Teaches the use of data analytics tools and techniques to measure, analyze, and improve the performance of digital marketing campaigns. It includes training on web analytics, conversion optimization, and the use of metrics to inform marketing strategies and decisions.
  • Aspects of design: This course covers the principles of design as they apply to digital marketing, including web design, graphic design, and user experience (UX) design. Understanding design principles helps marketers create more engaging and effective marketing materials and digital experiences.
  • Consumer behavior: Explores the psychological, social, and cultural factors that influence consumer decisions in the digital age. It helps marketers understand how consumers interact with brands online and how to tailor marketing strategies to meet consumer needs and preferences.
  • Content management systems (CMS): Focuses on the use of CMS platforms to create, manage, and optimize digital content. It covers popular CMS tools like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, and teaches students how to leverage these platforms for effective content marketing and website management.
  • Digital engineering: This course introduces the technical aspects of building and maintaining digital marketing platforms and tools. It may cover topics such as website development, app development, and the integration of marketing technologies to support digital marketing efforts.
  • Entrepreneurship: Teaches the skills and mindset needed to launch and manage startups or new ventures within a digital marketing context. It covers innovation, business planning, funding, and scaling, with a focus on leveraging digital channels for business growth.
  • Marketing strategy: Provides a comprehensive overview of developing and implementing digital marketing strategies that align with business goals. It includes market research, segmentation, positioning, and the strategic use of various digital marketing channels.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Focuses on optimizing websites and content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). It covers keyword research, on-page and off-page SEO, link building, and the technical aspects of SEO to improve organic search visibility.
  • Social media: Covers the strategic use of social media platforms to build brand awareness, engage with audiences, and drive marketing objectives. It includes content creation, social media advertising, influencer marketing, and analytics.
  • Strategic marketing: This course explores the role of marketing in strategic planning and decision-making. It emphasizes the development of long-term marketing strategies that support the organization’s overall objectives and the dynamic nature of the digital marketing landscape.

What are the most respected digital marketing and media schools?

Top universities offering an online master’s in marketing with a focus on digital media include:

  • Brandeis University: Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Design
  • Emerson College: Master of Arts in Digital Marketing and Data Analytics
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University – Metropolitan Campus: Master of Science in Digital Marketing
  • Gonzaga University: Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership, digital media strategies concentration
  • Northwestern University: Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Pennsylvania State University – World Campus: Master of Marketing Analytics and Insights
  • Temple University: Master of Science in Digital Innovation in Marketing
  • University of Florida – Online: Master of Arts in Mass Communication, Digital Strategy specialization
  • West Virginia University: Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications

When deciding where to study, consider whether an MS or an MBA is the best option for you. A Master of Art (MA) is an option, too. An MS stresses the data and analytics side of the field, while the MA focuses more on creativity and communications. An MBA program will likely emphasize the ways digital marketing and media integrate with other business objectives.

Whether you go for the MS, the MA, or the MBA will depend on your interests and career goals as well as on your educational and work experience. You should also consider whether an online program would suit your lifestyle better. As a rule of thumb, it is easier to continue working and meeting other extracurricular obligations (e.g., family) as an online student.

What is the average cost of completing a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media?

Depending on where you decide to pursue your Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media, the cost can run anywhere from “that’s surprisingly affordable” to “OMG OMG OMG.” Only you can decide where on that continuum to set the limit.

Programs at state universities are typically less costly than those at private institutions, although not all state schools offer discounted rates, or in-state discounts, at the graduate level. We’ve listed a few programs with the cost of attending in 2019-20 to give you an idea of the range of possibilities:

  • American University, Master of Science in Marketing Analytics, 33 credits at $1,759 per credit, or $58,707 total
  • Arizona State University – Downtown Phoenix, Master of Science in Digital Audience Strategy, 30 credits at app. $632 per credit, or app. $20,000 total
  • Brandeis University, MS in Digital Marketing and Design, 30 credits at $1,179 per credit, or $35,370 total
  • Southern New Hampshire University, Master of Science in Digital Marketing, 36 credits at $627 per credit, or $22,572 total
  • Temple University, Master of Science in Digital Innovation in Marketing, 30 credits at $1,114 per credit, or $33,420
  • University of Denver, Master of Science in Marketing, base tuition of $65,700

Given the expanding future of digital marketing, the likelihood of seeing good returns on your educational investment in this field are high.

Commitment required for a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media

An MS in Digital Marketing and Media can vary in length from one to two years, depending on the school and the program, and whether you undertake a full-time or part-time program. Most programs of this type can be completed in nine months to one year of full-time study. The degree is available through full-time and part-time programs, on-campus or online, or in a hybrid format.

Exams and certifications to complete a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media

You don’t need to pass any specific exams or certifications to work as a digital marketer or in other digital media jobs after the completion of an MS. There are, however, a number of valuable job- and industry-specific certifications and licenses available in this field. These can strengthen your job prospects and lead to greater pay, promotion, or professional development opportunities. They include:

Should you get a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media?

Digital marketing and media involve both science and creativity. The field covers a lot of ground, much of it complicated and data-driven. In short, it’s a field in which expert training and intensive study can reap dividends. You’ll get both in a master’s program. If you hope to excel in this challenging, competitive field, a Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Media should provide an edge in both your job search and your job performance.

(Updated on February 7, 2024)

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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