Marketing is an evolving field where organizations, companies, and entrepreneurs connect with their customers. With changes in technology resulting in a more interconnected world, marketing has had to change. One key place where that change has occurred is through the specializations offered in marketing degree programs. Often these specializations are available at both undergraduate and graduate degree levels, and allow for students to gain more specific experience in the type of marketing they wish to enter.
We’ve compiled a list of six of the most common degree specializations that reflect the influence of technology and online platforms (i.e., digital marketing and social media marketing) on longstanding marketing careers (i.e., public relations, marketing research, and marketing management), as well as a new combined specialization that focuses on the confluence of the traditional fields of communication and marketing (i.e. integrated marketing communications). The six specializations appear below in the order of their search frequency, according to Google Trends.
Digital Marketing covers all aspects of a company’s online marketing strategy, including market research, social media outreach, search engine optimization, email newsletters, brand management, and conversion. Students in digital marketing programs and courses learn how to craft marketing campaigns for email, social media, and mobile devices, as well as SEO, paid searches, and digital marketing analytics. Often, digital marketing students also gain knowledge, and sometimes even certification in, digital marketing tools like Google AdWords, Google Analytics, Facebook Advertising, Video Marketing, and Twitter Advertising. While there is a lot of crossover with curriculum in social media marketing, digital marketing degrees and certificates cover a broad range of online platforms.
Because of that broad range, digital marketing students have a lot of options after graduation. They can go into social media marketing, or can go into more general marketing roles. With more experience and additional education, perhaps through one of several bootcamps for digital marketers, these graduates can enter roles as Digital Marketing Managers. Digital Marketing Managers have a median salary of $64K per year, digital marketing managers, like other marketing managers have an expected 9% growth rate between now and 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Public Relations is the practice of managing the spread of information about an organization or individual to the public. It differs from advertising and marketing in that public relations gains or creates exposure for their chosen audience through cultivating public interest and disseminating information through avenues that don’t require payment. Common responsibilities include writing news releases, working with the press, arranging interviews, writing speeches, acting as a spokesperson, and managing many forms of an organization’s communications, including crisis management and internal communications. Most public relations degree programs include a curriculum with courses on public affairs, communication, media relations, writing for interactive media, strategic communications, investor relations, and crisis management.
Every company, or even many powerful individuals, need a public relations team. Because of the wide variety of companies that have public relations branches, graduates have a lot of options to enter industries the best meet their interests and needs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Public Relations Specialist has a median salary of $58K per year. Many Public Relations Specialist go on to become marketing managers, communications managers, or public relations directors. To move up into those upper management degrees, many people turn to online masters degrees in public relations so that they can gain more education while still working full time in their field.
Marketing Researchers analyze data to determine the best marketing strategies in order to funnel consumers towards a company’s product. Often this includes gathering information about target markets or customers, identifying marketing opportunities, and monitoring marketing performance. To gain these skills, people often enroll in a degree program that offers a marketing research specialization. These degree programs include curriculum in business research methods, market research methods, strategic marketing, opportunity assessment, user behavior, as well as financial reporting and analysis.
Marketing Research Analysts have a median salary of $62K per year. Most market analysis go on to become marketing managers and marketing directors, which can have large increases in media salaries depending on location and size of organization. Through more experience and additional graduate degrees, like an online masters in marketing research, people with this marketing specialization can increase their skill set while still working full time.
A marketing management degree specialization is the study of practical applications marketing, including marketing techniques, methods, and organizational management. Marketing managers often engage in brand audits, develop marketing strategies, implementation planning, and various evaluation and revision of projects or campaigns. Many marketing management specializations exist primarily at the graduate level, but some undergraduate level courses in general business degrees cover similar topics. Curriculum often covers marketing and advertising trends, buyer behavior, marketing strategy, brand management, and market research.
Most graduates from marketing management specializations look towards becoming a marketing manager. Advertising and marketing managers have a median salary of $63K per year, significant variations depending upon location. With an estimated growth rate of 9% between now and 2026, marketing management is certainly a field in demand. Because many industries need quality marketers and marketing managers, there are a lot of degree options out there. At the undergraduate level, students might consider some of the most affordable online bachelors degrees in marketing so they can complete their degree without a lot of student debt. Even those who already have a career in marketing, but need a graduate degree to move up could take advantage of the many online Marketing MBAs out there.
A degree in Social Media Marketing teaches you marketing communication techniques specific to social media. More specifically, social media marketing includes the process of gaining traffic and online attention to an organization or company through its social media sites, regardless of the different social actions embodied by the platform. Most of these specialized degree options cover how to implement and assess social media strategies and to create effective digital and social media marketing campaigns across platforms. For instance, social media specialists will need to know to implement consistent marketing strategies in a shortened-text dominant platform like Twitter versus a primarily visual platform like Instagram. Many degree programs offer additional certifications in social media specific analytical platforms like Google Analytics and Hootsuite, as well as curriculum on topics like search engine optimization (SEO), web analytics, mobile technologies, viral marketing in addition to general marketing classes.
Social Media Marketing degree specializations offer a lot of options after graduation. At the entry level, most start their career as social media specialist or a social media coordinator. Both of those positions have a median salary of $41K per year. After some experience and potentially taking advantage of the increasing numbers of online master’s programs, like these Social Media Marketing programs, many specialists and coordinators move up to social media managers with median salaries ranging from $50K to $100K per year depending on location and size of company.
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is a degree specialization that combines the study of marketing strategies with consistent messaging communication platforms. As a holistic approach to marketing and communication, IMC coursework covers advertising, public relations, direct marketing, social media, and sales promotion. IMC approaches to each of these subject areas emphasizes how to maintain consistent messaging in each marketing area in cost-effective ways. For instance, in addition to core courses on market research and analysis, audience insight, and brand management, IMC students would take special courses like creative strategy and execution, public relations concepts, direct marketing, and multicultural marketing.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers jobs are expected to grow 9% between not and 2026, with a median salary of $100K a year. As technology and digital media continues to grow rapidly and effect change on all industries, marketing managers will also be expected to know how to maintain consistent messaging across all marketing platforms. Perhaps the best way for managers to prepare for that is through an Integrated Marketing Communications specialty. Most often IMC specialties or coursework can be found in master’s in marketing or master’s in communications degree programs.