Get Your Master's Degree In Social Media (No Joke)

Apparently, I’m lacking a degree in social media.

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?

6 comments about "Get Your Master's Degree In Social Media (No Joke) ".
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  1. Betsy Kent from Be Visible Associates, June 11, 2013 at 1:05 p.m.

    I agree with you, but it will sell like hotcakes! It would make more sense to have courses in Social Marketing as part of a marketing degree...where the students would be entrenched in the mindset social media as learn from the wins and mistakes of the past 5 years.

  2. Max Kalehoff from MAK, June 11, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.

    @Betsy Kent: I agree with you 100%. Social media is highly valid as an elective course within a larger marketing or management degree. Similarly, social media specialization would be highly relevant with law, or HR, or even public administration degrees. These are specific, sanctioned disciplines that most certainly are being shaped by social media.

  3. Bruce May from Bizperity, June 11, 2013 at 1:39 p.m.

    Social marketing is so broad and poorly defined it will be a struggle for colleges and universities to even develop a meaningful ontology around it. Already, best practices in online media are integrating traditional and emerging practices in unexpected ways and whole new categories of services are being created in response. Content marketing is on the rise as the focus moves from promotions to content and from traditional to “media like” strategies. We are teaching our clients whole new ways of thinking about how they market and this impacts the entire product and sales cycle. We are also reaching out to regional colleges and universities to help them incorporate emerging best practices into their curriculum. This has been a daunting challenge as academia often fails to appreciate the full scope of the revolution we are seeing in both media and marketing unfold all around us.

  4. Susan Breidenbach from Broadbrook Associates, June 11, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.

    Never saw the point of a degree in journalism, either (and I have an M.A. in journalism). People who want to go into journalism should major in what they want to cover as a journalist. And studies show that journalism majors tend to come from the dregs of the academic community, although that is a different issue. (Or maybe it's not....) Social media changes too fast to have a formal university curriculum, anyway. By the time something gets approved and implemented, it would be obsolete. Social media is a medium and a huge disruption, not a university discipline.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 11, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.

    It is about the money, not the degree, on line yet.

  6. Mary Zeinieh from TMP, September 11, 2013 at 11:11 a.m.

    Pace University's Lubin School of Business offers a MS in Social Media and Mobile Marketing. They are positioning it as another tool for IT professionals

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