Social media degree programs have been popping up at a number of colleges over the last year. And their creators say that the interdisciplinary skills required for this field can be taught best in a degree or certificate program.
Many job postings request applicants who have social media capabilities or can incorporate social media into strategic planning, said Carie Statz, marketing and sales instructor at Dakota County Technical College in Minnesota. These postings include social media specialist positions in large marketing departments.
In response, the college launched a Social Media Marketing certificate and degree program in fall 2012 that includes online, blended and face-to-face learning options.
"We noticed in the marketplace that the industry was calling for the skills in social media," Statz said. "We also noticed that besides the capability of having an individual who was looking to get into marketing, they also either needed to be well-versed in the social media area or they at least needed to know the baseline or foundation of it."
And that social media foundation cannot be established as easily within a traditional marketing program, Statz said. If students want to go into a career in social media, they need to understand more about the actual social media platforms and keep up on the trends.
Social media skills have been in high demand for the last number of years in Fortune 500 companies, news agencies and nonprofits, and is growing in the public sector. The entertainment, sports and travel industries have also been hiring in social media, said Tania Sosiak, associate professor of graphic design and social media at Newberry College in South Carolina.
While many colleges include social media in courses, most don't devote a full degree program to it. But Newberry College decided to make it a separate major starting in fall 2013 because it can be used within many areas. The degree program includes four new social media courses along with courses in graphic design, information studies, business, communication, social psychology and statistics.
It would work well as a double major with other fields such as sports management, communication, graphic design and political science, said Sosiak, who founded the social media major.
"This is more than just the communication industry or marketing," Sosiak said. "This needs to be a truly interdisciplinary blend within our college."