Online Master's Programs in Digital Marketing

Updated on: 12/13/2018

As online businesses and social networking continue to grow, the demand for digital marketing also increases. Digital marketing includes both marketing and advertising through social media sites, websites, and search engines, and can even involve email blasts or pop-ups in mobile apps. If developing advertising strategies within these diverse channels sounds appealing, consider earning your master's in digital marketing online.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earn an average salary of $129,380 annually in a field projected to grow 10% by 2026. The following guide covers sample coursework, potential career paths, professional organizations in the field, and funding opportunities for those interested in a digital marketing career.

What to Know About Online Master's in Digital Marketing Coursework

Earning a master's in digital marketing online can help both students and working professionals enhance their knowledge and advance in their careers. Learners in digital marketing programs gain extensive knowledge of advertising methods and theory, then move on to applying these theories to marketing strategy design. Students also develop their skills in SEO optimization, mobile and email marketing, copywriting, analytics, content marketing, social media marketing, and web design.

Learners can typically earn degrees in 2-3 years, though some accelerated programs may allow students to finish coursework in twelve months. Most programs require 30-36 credits for completion in addition to a final capstone project. Distance learners can complete programs at their own pace with the flexibility to set their own schedule.

What Common Courses are Offered in a Master's in Digital Marketing Program?

Each master's in digital marketing online program offers unique courses and concentrations. Despite their differences, most programs cover the same core coursework relevant to anyone hoping to pursue a career in the field. Students should examine each school's course catalogue for specific program offerings.

Marketing Analytics

An important part of successful digital marketing involves understanding an audience's reaction to advertisements. In this class on marketing analytics, learners examine how to effectively use data. Coursework covers online communications, gathering and analyzing data, and how to make product and services decisions based on accumulated data.

Social Media Marketing

This class focuses on digital marketing through social media channels, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. Students learn digital storytelling skills and explore how to build a brand voice and an associated online audience. Coursework also covers social marketing ethics and strategy development and implementation.

Global Business and Economic Development

This course covers how to use marketing and promotions to grow a business in a global marketplace. Implementing a heavy focus on economics, students look at business strategy, macroeconomics, global markets and their fluctuations, and international finance. Learners prepare to work with large global brands across various international marketplaces.

Digital Marketing

The introductory course takes students through the basics of digital marketing, including online communications, market research, development of digital strategies, and implementing online advertising. Learners practice and study topics like keywords and search engine optimization, email marketing, web development, copywriting, and mobile app marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This class covers the details of SEO, which affects a business's or website's online visibility and determines how much free traffic a website gets through search engines. Students practice increasing web visibility through research and analysis of keyword searches, copywriting, image tags, links, link-baiting, and landing pages.

What Elective Courses are Available in a Master's in Digital Marketing Program?

Many of the available master's in digital marketing programs require student to complete a business degree while specializing in digital or internet marketing. As such, programs vary in terms of concentration areas and elective options. The following lists includes three potential elective courses for digital marketing programs.

User Experience Design

User experience design focuses on enhancing the accessibility of web pages and improving user interaction with products. Learners examine human-computer interaction and practice developing clear, user-friendly, and visually appealing web designs. Students analyze information architecture, visual design, and user research to help deliver the best digital experience.

Mobile Marketing Strategy

This course focuses specifically on marketing and promotions for smartphones and tablets through websites, emails, apps, and text messaging. Learners examine how to influence customers based on accessible promotions and clever copywriting.

Psychology of Marketing

Students taking this class on the psychology of marketing study the role of psychology, culture, and environment on advertising and marketing reactions. Specifically, learners focus on generational differences and how to tailor marketing to different populations.

What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?

After completing required coursework, most master's in digital marketing programs require students to complete a final capstone project. The capstone highlights the student's focus areas and provides practical experience applicable in their future job setting. Depending on the program, the final project may focus on a concentration, such as strategic management or social media strategy. In other cases, students may work with a local organization to demonstrate skills in a practical setting.

How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master's in Digital Marketing Program?

When selecting an online master's program, students should look for proper accreditation, prioritizing schools with accreditation from an agency approved by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation ensures a learner's ability to sit for future certification examinations and to transfer credits between programs. No specific programmatic accreditation currently exists for digital marketing. Additionally, students should be wary of programs that do not make their accreditation status clear.

Other hallmarks of a quality program include high graduation and retention rates. Schools should also demonstrate faculty expertise and curriculum relevance in today's market. Coursework should cover multi-channel marketing and the different technologies currently used in the field.

Career Opportunities With a Master's in Digital Marketing Degree

Earning a master's in digital marketing online prepares students for several lucrative career paths. The following list details five possible occupations that graduates often pursue. While this degree does not guarantee eligibility for all of these positions, some require additional training or certification, learners can use this list as a resource to develop their professional goals and the education necessary to achieve them.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers develop marketing strategies for different types of businesses. They may create budgets, plan advertising campaigns, initiate promotions, or develop websites and product launches. Marketing managers also conduct market research and examine data to reach the correct audience with the intended effect. This industry requires a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree demonstrates advanced knowledge, functions as professional experience, and may help students secure a managerial role.

Median Salary: $129,380 per year

Currently Employed: 249,600

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +10%

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts take responsibility for monitoring market conditions in relation to the demand for certain products. Specifically, they try to determine who buys what product and the price points consumers are willing to pay. Analysts also collect specific user data to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Most analysts need to earn their bachelor's degree, though companies often prefer employees with a master's degree.

Median Salary: $63,230 per year

Currently Employed: 595,400

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +23%

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites for their clients. They determine the website's performance, from the traffic capabilities to the speed of advanced applications functioning. Many web developers also work with clients to determine the website's visual layout and develop site content. Earning a master's degree in digital marketing prepares web developers to take a more active role in content development, potentially allowing them to earn higher salaries and work with a specialized client base.

Median Salary: $67,990 per year

Currently Employed: 162,900

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +15%

Public Relations Specialists

Public relations specialists work to maintain a company's public image. They develop social media programs and press releases, respond to media requests, draft speeches for executive employees, and evaluate marketing and advertising for the company that aligns with the company's brand. A master's in digital marketing helps public relations specialists market a company and use proper tools for developing promotions and advertising campaigns.

Median Salary: $59,300 per year

Currently Employed: 259,600

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +9%

Writers

Writers who earn their master's in digital marketing often develop web page content, campaigns, blogs, headlines, and newspapers to help inform the public about certain places, products, services, or events. Copywriters work on creating advertising to help sell products, while bloggers and content writers shape a company's brand or provide information to the public about its services. A master's degree may help writers earn higher salaries and increase job prospects.

Median Salary: $61,820 per year

Currently Employed: 131,200

Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: +8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018

What's the Expected Job Growth for Digital Marketing Careers?

According to the BLS, the average projected growth for all occupations by 2026 is 7%. Market research analyst roles, for example, may see an increase of 23%. This increase creates a high demand for graduates of master's programs in this digital marketing arena.

Professional Organizations for Careers in Digital Marketing

Professional organizations in digital marketing can provide extensive benefits to students and recent graduates. Organizations typically give students access to educational resources, networking opportunities, career services, and job boards.

  • Internet Marketing Association

    IMA connects professionals in marketing, business, sales, and programming to help define best internet practices. In addition to networking, it provides members with learning opportunities, access to events and professional certifications, and further resources for professional success.

  • The Digital Marketing Association

    The Digital Marketing Association aims to support and connect professionals, and provide continuing education courses and industry updates. Members also receive a profile page to showcase their abilities online through the association’s website.

  • Digital Analytics Association

    The Digital Analytics Association uses data to help create a better world. Members receive professional development resources, career assistance, and access to a large professional network of peers.

  • American Marketing Association

    The AMA focuses on marketing excellence and field advancement. AMA connects marketers with research, updates, and marketing insights.

  • Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization

    SEMPO is a nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the understanding and usage of search engines for marketing purposes. Its primary activities relate to education and awareness, offering extensive educational resources and learning events for members.

How to Pay for a Master's in Digital Marketing Degree

Undertaking a graduate degree can necessitate a significant financial investment; however, students can find many ways to help supplement tuition and related expenses. Federal student aid is available through grants, loans, and work-study programs. Learners can also apply for scholarships and fellowships, including the four major sources of funding below.

Federal Financial Aid

Students pursuing higher education should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to check their eligibility for federal funding. Federal aid is available to most students and may consist of loans, grants, or work-study programs. Students should keep in mind that federal student loans need to be repaid after graduation.

Minority Scholarships

Many subject-specific scholarships are geared toward certain demographics, such as minority groups, women, or single parents. For example, the LAGRANT Foundation offers 20 scholarships of $3,750 to ethnic minority graduate students studying advertising, marketing, or public relations. Applicants must be of African-American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander, Hispanic, or of Native American descent.

School Scholarships

Most schools offer scholarship options for incoming and continuing education students. Many of these focus on academic excellence or contributions to a field of study, while others are program specific. For example, Florida International University's school of business offers two different scholarships for graduate students pursuing a marketing degree.

Marketing Agency Scholarships

Marketing agencies commonly offer scholarships to digital marketing students to encourage education and recruit new talent. For example, WPROMOTE offers its Digital Marketing Scholarship to three students who show "marketing zeal." Learners must develop a social media campaign strategy to apply, with first place winning $3,000 and a new laptop.