Over the past week, the University of Florida has been targeting me on Facebook as part of a lead-generation campaign to drive enrollment for its journalism and communications school’s Master’s in Social Media. The copy reads, “UF is now offering the first of its kind Master’s in Social Media - 100% Online.” I didn’t believe it was real, at first. But I clicked through and, sure enough, it was. If people will buy it, why not sell it?
But seriously! As one colleague commented, everything you learn in the first semester will be obsolete by the time you graduate, if not sooner. How can you get a degree on a moving target?
While social media is a very real, disruptive force in business, I’m skeptical of turning it into a degree, particularly an advanced degree. Social media is a broad subject, highly dynamic and just moving out of the early, experimental stages. It continues to evolve into something even bigger, as we’re only in the second inning. Social media -- if you can even refer to it as a singular entity -- is more like a layer of connective tissue that permeates lots of other things, including relationships, media and commerce.
Instead of majoring in social media, I would recommend specializing in classical disciplines like writing, math and statistics, computer science, and physics -- even specialized business subjects like marketing, finance, accounting and strategy. You then apply that to the world of social media -- just as the most successful professionals having anything to do with social media have already done.
Similar to the journalism trade (which is also a moving target these days), I’m sure there will be ongoing debates about the merits of higher education for social media.
Would you consider an advanced degree in social media?