Pace University’s Lubin School of Business last year launch a masters degree in social media and mobile marketing with the goal of helping to bridge the gap between academia and employer demands in the digital age.
Going a step further, the school on Tuesday announced a novel partnership with independent media agency Media Storm in which the agency will provide internships, classroom instruction linked to “real world” projects and other educational resources. In return, the program will be co-branded as the Media Storm Masters in Social Media and Mobile Marketing at the Lubin School of Business.
“This is the first time I can see a co-branded degree program from an accredited school that really has a structured approach to integrating both the structural and the practical," said Neil Braun, dean of the Lubin School.
Braun, formerly president of the NBC Network and CEO of Viacom Entertainment, said the partnership with Media Storm grew out of discussions with former Viacom colleague Jon Cropper, who holds the title of “resident futurist” at the agency. Both share the idea of creating a degree program closely combining academic coursework with hands-on experience with marketing professionals.
Under their alliance, Media Storm, whose clients including media MTV, Fox and the Food Network, won’t provide direct financial support to the Lubin School. But starting next year, the agency has agreed to provide at least 10 internships to students in the 18-month program and project work in two of the 10 courses. It will also contribute at least 20 hours of guest lectures from agency executives as well as those from client companies.
Other features of the program include custom content and weekly “insider” social media briefings, access to Pace’s Job Center and Media Storm’s human resources department, and what the Lubin School calls the world’s first “Apple Watch Research Course.” Students learn to build an iOS app and explore how wearable technology will affect social and mobile marketing.
Besides attaching its name to the masters program, which carries a price tag of about $40,000, Media Storm hopes to gain a steady supply of future employees. “This partnership will give us access to top talent, immerse people in our culture, and let them jump into an entrepreneurial environment,” said Craig Woerz, co-founder and managing partner of the agency, with $600 million in annualized billings.
Braun expects the program to appeal to recent college graduates as well as business professionals looking to capitalize on new opportunities emerging in the increasingly overlapping spheres of social media and mobile marketing. Still, having an agency officially sponsor the masters degree might also raise questions about the program’s academic legitimacy.
But Braun stressed that Pace was in charge of the curriculum. “The academic program remains within the control of the Lubin School of Business,” he said. “That was agreed to in our first meeting. That has to be a bright line.”
Indeed, Braun added that he’s already considering corporate partners for other masters-level programs the school offers, though he wouldn’t indicate which specifically yet. While enrollment for the co-branded social media and mobile marketing degree starts in January, the full participation of Media Storm in the program isn’t expected until the term starting next fall, Braun said.