Do you think graduates of online marketing degree programs have an advantage in the job market? I’ve seen a number of internet marketing related degree programs pop up in the past few years – some better than others. The newest one – and from what I can tell the one with the curriculum that appears to best prepare students for the real world – is the Online Marketing Program offered by the University of San Francisco . Also, as an honorable mention, Full Sail University offers a degree in Internet marketing that seems to be fairly well designed. I’m not endorsing any of these programs – just offering an opinion.
I think it’s time for career-minded internet marketers to distinguish themselves by their academic credentials from those who “just do internet marketing”. This is not to say that someone who studied traditional marketing in college isn’t prepared for a career in online marketing. Let’s be clear – I don’t mean that at all. However, I do believe establishing online marketing as a rigorous academic program that prepares students for real world conditions is a necessary step toward greater solidification of the legitimacy of our industry. The online marketing industry has matured passed the point where being “self-taught” is acceptable and on-the-job training is sufficient. Every other business discipline has its own recognized academic major – accountants earn degrees in accounting, human resources professionals study human resource management, operation managers study business logistics.
Of course, some areas in Internet marketing simply aren’t mature enough or don’t warrant a full degree program. For example, the masters degree in social media marketing offered by Birmingham City University makes me scratch my head… hard. What this university is calling a degree program could simply be condensed to a semester long course. But if executed correctly, I think it’s a start in the right direction toward achieving greater independence and recognition for our industry.
Not demanding our own sphere of academia after a certain period of time is dangerous. It unnecessarily exposes the online marketing field to hacks and frauds which in turn gives us all a bad name. This is already a huge problem in the field of search engine optimization and one beginning to emerge in social media marketing where anyone can just declare themselves an expert and potential clients can’t distinguish the the good from the bad. Practicing web marketers should not resist the “schooling of online marketing” – this is what needs to happen and it will be better for us all in the long run.