Online Digital Marketing Degree Programs
There are many different degree options for online digital marketing programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Find out more about each degree option, common courses, and potential careers in digital marketing.
Overview of Online Digital Marketing Degree Programs
Digital marketing programs help train students to sell products and engage audiences through a wide range of online interactions. Students in these programs study digital marketing strategies and are prepared for diverse careers in the field.
Online digital marketing degree programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels and can usually be completed fully online. Although these programs are available at the certificate level, here we focus on the three main degree levels that offer programs specifically in digital marketing. At the doctoral level, programs are usually offered in marketing in general. Compare and contrast the different digital marketing degree programs below.
Online associate's degree programs in digital marketing are usually available as Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees. These programs may require around 63 credits and can typically be completed in 2 years, but some may be completed in as little as 18 months. Students in the program may learn through case studies and/or be prepared for professional certification exams, like the Google Ads Search Certification, upon graduation. Graduates with their associate's degree in the field are usually qualified for entry-level positions in digital marketing.
Online bachelor's degree programs are available as a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Digital Marketing, a BS in Marketing, or a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in digital marketing. Typically, these programs require around 120 to 180 credits and may require a capstone course. Bachelor's degree programs usually take 4 years to complete, but some of these programs may be completed in as little as 29 months. Degree programs may be self-paced and/or offer 8-week course terms.
Online master's degree programs in digital marketing are most commonly available as a Master of Science (MS) in Digital Marketing or an MS in Marketing with a concentration in digital marketing. However, there are also online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs with a concentration in digital marketing available. Some online master's programs in the field may align with standards set for professional certification programs, like the American Marketing Association's Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) Program.
Most of these online master's degree programs in digital marketing require between 30 and 39 credits. Traditionally, master's degree programs take 2 years to complete, but some of these programs may be completed in as little as 15 to 18 months. Programs may offer 5- to 8-week long courses and/or require a capstone course. Some online master's programs in digital marketing may help prepare students for professional certifications in the field, such as the HubSpot Content Marketing Certification and Exam or Hootsuite Platform Certification Exam.
At the undergraduate level, students in online digital marketing programs usually take general education courses and then core courses in digital marketing, or they could take core marketing/business administration courses with concentration courses in digital marketing. At the master's level, students typically take core courses in digital marketing, marketing, business administration, and/or elective courses in digital marketing, depending on the degree.
Some online bachelor's and master's degree programs in digital marketing may require a capstone course that allows students to apply the skills they have learned throughout the program to a project of some sort. Common course topics for digital marketing online programs include:
- SEO and SEM- Search engine optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) courses are typically offered at the undergraduate level and may discuss the differences between these two concepts and the strategies involved. Students may also discuss topics in acquisition marketing, web analytics, and keyword development.
- Social Media Marketing- Undergraduate courses in social media marketing may give students an introduction to foundational concepts and strategies in the field, while graduate courses in the subject provide an advanced study in the tools and techniques used in the field. Specific topics that these courses may cover include social media platforms, evaluation of social media content, implementing social media marketing strategy, and public relations.
- Brand Management- Brand management courses are also usually available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These courses help train students in how to build a brand, successful brand management strategies, and salvaging a brand. Students may also explore how brand management fits into the larger marketing strategy and affects the decision-making process.
- Consumer Behavior- Courses in consumer behavior are found at the undergraduate and graduate levels and explore how consumers act when purchasing products. These courses try to provide insight into how consumers think as they search for a product, purchase, and use the product. At the graduate level, these courses may focus on research in the field and how to apply findings to predicting consumer demands.
- Integrated Marketing/Advertising- Introductory courses in integrated marketing are available at the undergraduate level, while more advanced courses are available at the graduate level. Introductory courses train students in the principles of media in corporate communication, public relations, and advertising. More advanced courses explore the development and implementation of integrated marketing strategies to provide consumers with unified experiences across devices and mediums.
Admissions Requirements and Prerequisites
When applying to online degree programs in digital marketing, students should be sure to check the deadlines and/or admissions procedures specific to their school of choice. Some schools may offer multiple start dates, and therefore, have multiple admissions deadlines, while other schools may require students to contact an admissions officer prior to applying.
In general, applicants to undergraduate programs in digital marketing need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, while those applying to a master's degree program generally need to have a bachelor's degree. Some schools may require applicants to meet a minimum GPA requirement. Many schools offering online programs do not require students to take the GRE or GMAT, but some may encourage students to submit GMAT scores if their GPA does not meet the minimum requirement. Also at the master's level, undergraduate coursework in business is not necessarily required, but students with significant coursework in the field may be able to waive some foundational business courses, depending on the program.
Most schools with online degree programs in digital marketing require applicants to submit the proper applications (and any fees) along with their official transcripts. Some schools may also like to see references for applicants. International students typically need to submit proof of English proficiency through test scores.
How to Choose an Online Digital Marketing Degree Program
Choosing an online digital marketing degree program can prove challenging, and students must make many different decisions when searching for the right program. One of the first decisions students need to make is which degree level to pursue. Often this involves examining career goals, time commitments, and other factors. Students who ultimately want to earn their master's in the field and work in more leadership-oriented positions, will need to start with a bachelor's in the field, while those wishing to stay in entry-level positions may only need to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field.
After the level of degree is chosen, students need to consider what type of degree to earn. This also usually needs to align with career goals and interests. For example, students wanting more flexibility for jobs in the field of business may pursue a bachelor's or master's in business administration with a concentration in digital marketing. Business administration programs provide a broader overview of business, while degree programs specifically in digital marketing focus more exclusively on the subject.
Students should also consider personal needs and requirements in the formatting of a program. While most of these programs are fully online, students may need to consider the length of the program, the online learning format of courses, and/or any final capstone requirements. Some students who have attended other institutions may also need to find a program with a beneficial transfer credit policy. For example, some online digital marketing programs may allow students to transfer in up to 50% of the credits towards their degree. Below are a couple of other important considerations for choosing a digital marketing program.
Accreditation is how schools indicate to students that the institution has met academic standards put in place to ensure a quality education. There are generally two different levels of accreditation with one being at the institutional level and the other at the program level. Most online digital marketing degree programs are available from institutions that hold regional accreditation. These schools may be accredited by groups like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Program-specific accreditation is not available for degree programs in all subjects, but indicates that programs have met standards set specifically for that subject area. Several online degree programs in digital marketing at the undergraduate and graduate levels are accredited by business-related organizations like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Students may also want to consider attending one of the graduate programs in the field that aligns curriculum with standards for the PCM program.
Cost of Program
The cost of a degree program varies greatly by institution, degree level, residency status, and other factors, but is typically an important consideration for a student when choosing an online degree program. In general, online undergraduate tuition may be less per credit hour than online graduate programs in the field. For example, one online BS in Marketing with a concentration in digital marketing costs $320 per credit hour, while an online MS in Marketing with a concentration in digital marketing costs $627 per credit hour at the same school. Another MS in Digital Marketing costs $895.72 per credit hour.
Students should always check for any additional fees and/or ways to save when trying to calculate the cost of a program for comparison. For example, some programs may charge additional fees for course materials and/or a graduation fee. There may also be costs for books and/or technology that a student needs to complete their coursework.
Many schools provide financial aid, scholarships and discounts to help offset these costs. There are several schools that provide military discounts towards tuition, as well as grants and/or scholarships for students. Students may also save some money by utilizing transfer credit policies, and some schools may also provide unique fast track courses. Some working professionals may also qualify for tuition reimbursement from various schools.
Job Options for Graduates in Digital Marketing
Graduates in digital marketing are usually qualified for a wide range of positions in marketing and/or other areas of business, depending on the type of degree that they earned. Education requirements may vary by position, but some job options for those with a background in digital marketing include:
- Marketing specialist
- Social media manager
- SEO analyst
- Mobile marketing coordinator
- Digital marketing manager
- Digital media promotional writer
- Advertising account manager
- Content manager
- Ecommerce coordinator
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), marketing managers usually need to have at least a bachelor's degree and some experience in the field. As of 2018, the BLS reported that these managers had a median annual salary of $134,290 and a job outlook of 8% from 2018 to 2028. This job outlook is faster than average.
Marketing managers are in charge of finding markets for their organization's service and/or product and predicting how much demand there will be for these services or products. These managers usually need to work with public relations, sales, and other related staff members as they determine prices and ways to guarantee customer satisfaction.
Market Research Analysts
Market research analysts usually need at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, math, market research, or other related areas that require analytical skills. Some advanced positions in the field require a master's degree, such as an MBA. The BLS reported a median annual salary for market research analysts of $63,120, as of 2018, and a job outlook of 20% from 2018 to 2028. This job outlook is much faster than average.
Market research analysts examine marketing and sales trends to help organizations predict the sales and price point of a particular service or product. They may need to develop ways to gather data, such as surveys, analyze the data with statistical software, and report their findings to management.
Advertising Sales Agents
Some advertising sales agents may need to have a bachelor's degree, yet a high school diploma and training could be sufficient for these agents. As of 2018, advertising sales agents made a median annual salary of $51,740; jobs are expected to decline 2% from 2018 to 2028, per the BLS. This decline reflects all industries, like newspaper publishing, but advertising specifically in digital media is expected to increase.
Advertising sales agents are responsible for selling advertising space and overseeing their clients' accounts. They may give cost estimates to clients, explain different advertising options to clients, handle account paperwork, and help make recommendations for advertising formats.