Digital marketing in general, and social media marketing in particular, have become ubiquitous.
But if you aspire to become a social media marketer, is a social media marketing degree absolutely necessary? And, if so, how does it help your career?
In this guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of a social media marketing degree and highlight four ways you can receive a social media marketing education. To wrap up, we’ll assess whether you can become a social media marketer without a degree.
What is a Social Media Marketing Degree?
A social media marketing degree prepares you for a career as a social media specialist in various industries like entertainment, journalism, politics, and business.
Courses typically cover topics such as business, marketing, strategic communications, social media measurement, public relations, interactive advertising, and might also include third-party certifications like Google Analytics.
For bachelor’s degrees, social media marketing is often a specialization within general marketing degrees. The advantage of these degrees is that you have a more comprehensive range of career options, such as marketing analyst or digital marketer.
Typically these degrees include core topics like marketing research, strategic marketing planning, brand management, and consumer behavior. Students can then specialize in social media marketing with modules in social media marketing strategy and social media management.
The same scenario applies to digital marketing degrees, except the core focus shifts to digital branding, digital advertising, and digital promotions, plus the option for social media marketing.
Whether you opt for a social media marketing, digital marketing, or generic marketing degree, bachelor’s degree programs take four years. And, if you want to study further, master’s degree programs and MBAs generally require one to two years.
Manage all your social media accounts in one place.
Craft, schedule, & auto-post content to all your social channels, then track analytics and manage interactions from a single, easy-to-use dashboard.
The Pros and Cons of a Social Media Marketing Degree
As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to a social media marketing degree.
On the one hand, a social media marketing degree will give you a strong foundation so that you can:
- Develop strategic plans, measure performance metrics, and write reports.
- Conduct independent research (online).
- Comprehend and write copy (at the college level).
- Demonstrate endurance and “staying power” (since you’ve already been doing it for four years).
- Prove you completed an internship.
On the other hand, a social media marketing degree might not:
- Stay abreast of the fast-paced technological changes – i.e. new platforms, features, trends, and memes.
- Provide enough in-the-field experience.
Ideally, you want a mix of both – a social media marketing degree plus “real-life” experience with the latest technology.
4 Ways to Receive a Social Media Marketing Education
Here are four ways you can get some form of social media marketing education, from completing courses to getting platform-certified or obtaining a degree.
A social media marketing degree from a university
Graduating with a social media marketing degree from a university is the highest recognized academic achievement. Many universities now offer online and/or on-campus courses so that you can tailor studies to your requirements.
Bachelor’s degree courses
For undergraduates, you could study for a bachelor’s degree in either Social Media Marketing or (Digital) Marketing with an emphasis or specialization in social media marketing:
- Bachelor of Science in Marketing: Social Media Marketing | Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) (Online)
- Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies: Internet & Social Media | Regent University (Online or On-Campus, Virginia Beach, Virginia)
- Bachelor of Science in Digital Marketing and Social Media | Johnson & Wales University (Online or On-Campus, Providence, Rhode Island)
- Bachelor of Science in Social Media Marketing | Point University (Online)
- Bachelor of Science in Social Media Management | Arkansas State University (Online)
- Bachelor of Science in Digital Marketing and Social Media | Appalachian State University (Online)
- Bachelor of Science in Social Media and Digital Content Strategy | Lindenwood University (Online)
Master’s degree courses
For graduates, you could study further for a masters degree in Social Media Marketing or a more generic subject, such as Communication, that focuses on social media marketing:
- Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a concentration in Social Media | University of Florida (Online)
- Master of Arts in Communication Management: Marketing Communication | University College, University of Denver (Online)
A social media marketing certificate from a university
For those individuals who have a degree in another field or wish to gain a specialist qualification, many universities offer online courses leading to a social media marketing certificate.
- Social Media Marketing Certificate | Cornell University
- Certificate in Social Media Marketing | California State University, East Bay
- Certificate in Social Media Management | Georgetown University
- Social Media Strategy | MIT, Sloan School
- Fundamentals of Digital Marketing, Social Media, and E-Commerce | The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
- Mini-MBA: Social Media Marketing | Rutgers University-New Brunswick
- Social Media Professional Certificate | University of Miami
- Social Media Strategist Certificate | University of Miami
A social media marketing certificate prepares you for various roles, including social media manager, social media strategist, community manager, social media marketing coordinator, and social media consultant.
A social media marketing course from an online education platform
Aside from universities, various online education platforms offer social media marketing courses and certificates. These courses are ideal if you want to add a social media qualification to your resume without investing four years in a bachelor’s program.
- Professional Diploma in Social Media Marketing | DMI (Digital Marketing Institute)
- Professional Certificate in Social Media Marketing | IDM (Institute of Digital and Direct Marketing)
- Social Media Strategy Certification Course | HubSpot
- Social Media Marketing Specialization | Coursera (Offered by Northwestern University)
- Facebook Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate | Coursera (Offered by Facebook)
- Social Media Marketing Masterclass | Udemy
A professional certificate from a social media platform
Most social media networks have their own online training and professional certification programs for their platform. These courses are handy if you want to get up to speed on a particular platform or add a niche specialization to your resume.
- Facebook Blueprint
- Learn about Instagram (Facebook Blueprint)
- Twitter Flight School
- Social Media Marketing on LinkedIn Learning
- Pinterest Academy
- Snap Focus
- TikTok Business Learning Center
- Google Analytics Academy
- YouTube Certified
Bottom line: There’s a course and qualification to fit everyone’s career.
Can You Become a Social Media Marketer Without a Degree?
In short: Yes, you can.
It’s fair to assume that you could apply similar figures to social media marketers in particular.
It’s a known fact that many people find themselves in jobs that are totally unrelated to their university education, and social media marketers are no different.
You can become a social media marketer with no degree, a non-related degree, or a related degree in business administration, PR, communications, or journalism.
If you don’t have a degree, you’ll need to offer relevant “digital marketing skills” plus “soft skills” to a social media marketing role.
For example, here’s our take on the 18 most in-demand marketing skills that brands want in their teams:
Soft Marketing Skills
- Verbal, written communication, and presentation skills
- Organizational and time management skills
- Data-driven and passionately analytical
Hard Marketing Skills
- Strategy development
- Editorial planning/editing/proofreading
- Content creation
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Paid advertising
- Web design/development/management
- Data analysis
- Marketing technology
Organizational Best Practices
Finally, if you don’t have a degree, the best way to demonstrate your social media skills is by promoting your personal brand. A living, breathing online portfolio will showcase your desire and experience to become a social media marketer.
Social Media Marketing Degrees, in a Nutshell
As social media marketing has grown over the years, so too has the number of social media marketing degrees. Many universities now offer social media marketing degrees or marketing degrees with an emphasis on social media.
Having a social media marketing degree is undoubtedly a big plus, but it’s not the only way to become a social media marketer. You can gain relevant marketing certificates from online learning portals and social media platforms.
Even without a degree, all is not lost, as long as you can prove your worth as a social media marketer.