Graduate Certificate Programs in Digital Marketing
Many colleges and universities now offer graduate certificate programs that provide professional training and instruction in the principles and practices of digital marketing (also sometimes referred to as online marketing or Internet marketing). These programs are designed for college graduates and mid-career professionals who hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and who are interested in cultivating specialized skills in online marketing strategies, digital audience analytics, social media marketing tools, digital storytelling, and other areas relevant to managing brand and business marketing operations in the digital sphere.
While digital marketing graduate certificate programs do not culminate in the conferral of a degree, they are commonly offered by schools that have master’s programs in marketing, strategic marketing, strategic communication, and/or digital marketing. In fact, digital marketing graduate certificate programs commonly consist of four or five graduate courses drawn from a larger master’s program curriculum, and students may be eligible to receive transfer credit for some or all of the coursework completed in a graduate certificate program if and when they opt to pursue a master’s degree in a marketing field.
Digital Marketing Explained
Digital marketing is a relatively new and evolving field that draws on established theories of marketing, corporate communication, public relations, and consumer behavior, and leverages the analytics capacity of digital technologies and multi-media capabilities of the internet to further the strategic objectives of brands, products, businesses, organizations, and individuals. The reach of digital marketing extends to a range of digital communication platforms, including email, text, websites, podcasts, social media, video, and mobile applications (including mobile games), and digital marketing professionals commonly have responsibility for creating digital advertising and marketing content, collecting and analyzing relevant product and consumer data, developing digital marketing campaigns, managing the digital marketing operations of an organization, and integrating those operations with larger strategic marketing objectives.
Thus, working in the field of digital marketing requires familiarity with digital technologies, understanding the principles of marketing, and the ability to coordinate various forms of digital marketing with organizational goals. The types of organizations that rely on digital marketing expertise are numerous and include small businesses, non-profit groups, government agencies, large corporations, healthcare and hospital groups, academic institutions, and technology companies.
Identifying and Classifying Digital Marketing Graduate Certificate Programs
Digital marketing graduate certificate programs have several important defining characteristics. They are non-degree academic programs that nonetheless consist of a cluster of graduate-level courses offered by an accredited college or university, often through a school of business, management, and/or communication. This cluster of courses – four or five courses is common – is generally designed to provide practical training and instruction in the creation, coordination, and management of marketing materials for digital distribution and the analysis of consumer behavior and product performance data mined from digital sources. And, because graduate certificate programs do not lead to the conferral of a degree, they represent a more direct, less costly alternative to master’s degree programs. This means that qualified students can typically earn a graduate certificate in digital marketing in under a year, as opposed to the year or more that most master’s programs require.
Graduate certificate programs can also be identified by another significant feature: they are designed for students who have already completed their bachelor’s degree and are thus comprised of advanced, graduate-level courses. In fact, some digital marketing graduate certificate programs may be formally designated as post-baccalaureate or post-bachelor’s certificate programs in strategic digital marketing, digital and social media marketing, digital marketing and analytics, digital audience strategy, and so forth. Most graduate certificate programs in digital marketing are designed for a range of students, including recent graduates from bachelor’s degree programs and mid-career professionals who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.
Digital Marketing Graduate Certificate Coursework
The courses required in order to earn a graduate certificate in digital marketing vary by school and by program, as do course descriptions and the specific topics and proficiencies addressed in each course. However, general inferences about the core elements of a digital marketing graduate certificate curriculum can be made through an examination of program requirements, which typically include courses in the following areas:
- Digital Marketing Management and IMC – The elements of digital marketing campaigns and their management, including campaign development, audience targeting, digital advertising, content creation, search engine optimization (SEO), and the principles of integrated marketing communications (IMC).
- Digital and Social Media Marketing Analytics – The use of data analytics tools and techniques to define, target, retain, and engage desired demographic groups in digital marketing.
- Search Engine Strategy and Digital Audience Acquisition – Understanding the role search engines, search algorithms, and search engine optimization (SEO) play in the relative effectiveness of digital marketing efforts.
- Digital Storytelling and Audience Engagement – Crafting narratives and telling compelling stories through multi-media content as an integral part of internet-based, multi-media marketing strategies.
While curricula vary, most digital marketing graduate certificate programs consist of just four or five courses or the equivalent of a minor or specialization in digital marketing in, for example, a master’s in marketing or business administration program that offers a concentration in digital marketing. These courses can typically be completed in less than a year, which is significantly less time than is generally required to complete a full master’s program. Moreover, the credits students earn in a certificate program may be transferrable to a master’s degree in digital marketing, business administration, or a related field for students who think they might be interested in pursuing a master’s degree in the future. While transferring credits from one institution to another is not guaranteed, schools that offer both a certificate program and a master’s program in the same field are more likely to apply credits earned towards a master’s degree.
Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Digital Marketing
Online digital marketing graduate certificate programs provide students with the same type of training and instruction as traditional, campus-based programs, but do so using distance learning technologies. Students in an online program receive all or most of their coursework via a program’s learning management system (LMS), which is a general term for online platforms that facilitate the delivery of live and pre-recorded lectures, virtual class sessions, and other course materials. Programs that live-stream lectures and class meetings are using what is formally termed synchronous instruction, a mode of online instruction that requires students to be logged on to a program’s LMS at specific times. Programs that do not incorporate real-time instruction and instead allow students to access pre-recorded lectures and instructional modules at their convenience through the program’s LMS are said to be utilizing asynchronous instruction.
While both are effective means of delivering online instruction, synchronous instruction sacrifices scheduling flexibility in order to provide more structure, as well as real-time peer and instructor interactions and discussions. Asynchronous instruction offers maximum flexibility but is generally better suited to students who have the self-motivation and self-discipline to keep with class assignments in the absence of set meeting times.
Most online digital marketing graduate certificate programs do not require any campus visits and are thus 100% online. However, some schools require students who are enrolled in online graduate certificate programs to attend a limited number of campus-based instructional sessions. These campus visits are generally short in duration (three to seven days is common) and often include in-person workshops and networking events designed to enhance an online program. With that said, these intensive sessions do require students who do not live within commuting distance of a school’s campus to travel, and may lead to additional expenses separate from tuitions costs and university fees.
There are also schools that offer blended or hybrid online graduate certificate programs in digital marketing. These programs can require students to attend anywhere from four or five campus-based sessions per year to weekly or bi-weekly class meetings that take place on campus (typically in the evenings or on weekends). Students in a hybrid online graduate certificate program receive some portion of the program’s required coursework online via an LMS, which affords more convenience and flexibility than a fully campus-based program. However, hybrid online programs may not be a practical option for students who do not live within commuting range of the school offering the program.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Digital Marketing
Below is a list of online graduate certificate programs in digital marketing offered by accredited, non-profit institutions of higher education. This list is meant to serve as an example list of the types of programs that are currently available.
Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT offers an online Digital Marketing Graduate Certificate program through its Jack Welch College of Business & Technology. The 12-credit program consists of four courses that can be applied to a campus-based Master of Science (MS) in Digital Marketing program that Sacred Heart offers, provided a student opts to pursue a master’s degree after completing the certificate program. The Sacred Heart program, which is designed for students who hold a bachelor’s degree regardless of their major, is offered 100% online and does not require any campus visits. Students can complete the program in two semesters. For more information on the program, visit Sacred Heart University at www.sacredheart.edu.
Arizona State University (ASU), a state-funded school located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, has an online Digital Audience Strategy Graduate Certificate program with a digital marketing curriculum that includes coursework in marketing research, marketing analytics, and search engine optimization (SEO) for digital marketers. The program, which is open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, consists of five courses for 15 graduate credits, and does not require students to attend any campus visits. The program’s coursework draws from a Master of Science (MS) in Digital Audience Strategy program that is also offered by ASU through its Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more information about the certificate program, visit ASU Online at asuonline.asu.edu.
Colorado State University (CSU) offers an online Graduate Certificate in Strategic Digital Information Marketing program through CSU Global. The 21-credit program consists of seven courses that can be completed in as few as eight months. The program’s curriculum includes coursework in marketing management, global economics, data analytics and integrated marketing communication (IMC). The CSU Global program does not require any campus visits and is open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any field or discipline. For more information on the program, visit CSU Global at csuglobal.edu.
More Graduate Certificates in Digital Marketing
Additional Graduate Certificates in Business
- Graduate Certificate in Construction Management
- Graduate Certificate in Engineering Management
- Graduate Certificate in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management
- Graduate Certificate in Marketing
- Graduate Certificate in Project Management
- Graduate Certificate in Six Sigma
- Graduate Certificate in Social Media Marketing
- Graduate Certificate in Supply Chain Management
- Graduate Certificate in Sustainability
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