Where to Get Master’s Degrees in Social Media

In 2009, a school in the Birmingham in the U.K. began offering a Master’s degree in Social Media. Today, a number of schools are offering Master’s degrees in Social Media including Northeastern  University. Originally, the name used for this type of degree was Masters in Social Media. Today, the are a range of names for the same thing. Washington State University calls their degree a Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM). This program emphasizes not just Social Media ala Facebook, but all the modalities from video through audio. It looks upon Facebook and the other venues for staging content of various types as “distribution channels.”

This degree focuses upon digital media and social networks much like a traditional communications or public relations course would. It analyzes the various media types and channels to determine how best to deploy them to influence and persuade specific audiences. It shows students how to create standards to measure the success or failure of a particular Social Media campaign. Masters candidates graduate with the skills to analyze Social Media to locate target constituencies, deliver messages and measure effectiveness across all the modalities. This means that students will learn not just how to send out a message, but how to obtain and circulate the desired responses and build new images for companies, fix misperceptions and correct bad images.

There are other colleges and universities offer the Social Media degrees as a subspecialization within a degree program such as marketing, web design, information architecture, communications or information technology. Other institutions offer standalone Masters in Social Media degrees.

With the availability of online Master’s in this field, where the student is located is not as important as whether the school’s curriculum provides the skills being sought by the student. Some degree plan focus on the Social part of Social Media. Those degree plans focus on message delivery via a number of channels such as Facebook, Twitter etc. The digital media degrees are a bit more strategic. Digital Media degrees include training in statistics and metrics for effectiveness of campaigns. Still other degrees including digital film and audio production. Each student needs to identify their own goals for their degree. If they have a particular job in mind, students need to choose that program that best prepares them for that opportunity.

Job environments create a yardstick for course content analyses. Students assess the curriculum for its applicability to the skills required by the kind of job that they want. For example, a curriculum that emphasizes Linked-in won’t be as applicable to an environment in which most target customers use Facebook. An employer that is very interested in creating online Youtube commercials might not value Twitter expertise. The actual job defines the skills required. The student’s task is to find courses that impart those skills by looking through the course catalogs of the relevant Master degree programs currently available.

Among the issues that a good Master’s degree program in Social Media should concern itself are: is the audience internal or external, setting appropriate measurements for the success or failure of a Social Media project, how to create a strategic vision for Social Media as a standalone activity as well as within the context of a larger communications, marketing and sales strategy. The key with Social Media and Master’s degrees is to go where the society is and to “Master” that new terrain.

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