Earning a Master's in Digital Marketing Online

Social media has powerful influence in the world of marketing. Wielding social media to effectively market a brand requires a specific skill set evident in a digital marketer. Equipping yourself with this skill set through an advanced degree can lead to exciting professional advancement and salary increase opportunities, both for newcomers and professionals in marketing and advertising. Consider pursuing a master's in digital marketing online, an area of study that is quickly expanding with the support of partnerships with corporate brands, such as Facebook. Read on for topics like how to fund your online degree, degree requirements, and organizations and resources for digital marketers.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Digital Marketing?

Earning an online master's in digital marketing appeals to a wide range of learners. Sometimes working professionals take an interest in the flexibility of online learning and the prospect of gaining skills for a career change. Undergraduate students already in a bachelor's program in digital marketing benefit from an advanced degree because of the increased networking opportunities and potential for salary increases.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Digital Marketing?

Pursuing Specialization

Some learners are interested in pursuing specializations available to digital marketing majors, such as social media communications or digital branding. Choosing to specialize a degree can lead to an equally specialized position, such as social media marketer. Others may pursue an online master's in digital marketing in order to pursue other specializations, such as public relations and advertising, to gain positions like digital advertising specialist.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Getting an online master's in digital marketing instead of a certificate offers many advantages, most notably the greater prestige of a master's. Higher degree attainment leads to more skilled, specialized work post graduation. Graduates with advanced degrees received an education that qualifies them for higher salaried positions. With a master's and experience, students can more easily work their way up to, or directly enter into, leadership positions.

Online Learning Technology

Pursuing a master's in digital marketing in an online format presents unique advantages. Coursework in digital marketing requires constant interaction with media and online course materials can easily accommodate new technological advancements. Additionally, many employers look to online platforms as a venue through which to recruit new employees, so fluency in digital media benefits graduates entering the job force. An online master's in digital marketing can also lead to professional development opportunities as students may network with fellow students and professionals through their program.

Prerequisites for Online Digital Marketing Programs

While looking for a master's in digital marketing online, carefully consider the following prerequisites for an advanced degree. Prerequisites vary across different schools.

  • Work Experience: The majority of digital marketing programs do not require work experience; however, some of them require one to two years of work experience. The benefits of entering a program with prior work experience include the option to earn prior work credit and opportunities for professional development.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Some digital marketing programs may require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) test scores. Schools requiring GRE or GMAT scores generally prefer a test score within the 50th percentile. GRE and GMAT test scores are valid for five years before students must retake the exam.
  • Coursework: Depending on the program, some digital marketing master's degrees require classes in statistics, marketing, and management taken as prerequisites. Most programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA, but some may waive this requirement based on the student's professional experience or other achievements, such as GRE test scores.
  • Recommendations: An application to a master's in digital marketing online degree may require professional recommendations from former professors or employers. If applying for a program established through corporate partnership, consider getting a letter of recommendation from a former employer related to digital marketing or digital marketing skills.
  • Essays: An application to a master's in digital marketing online degree may require a personal essay. Typically ranging in length from 500 to 1000 words, the personal essay may ask students to describe how they plan on adapting to technological innovations in digital marketing or how technological innovations affect marketing.
  • Interviews: Some programs may require an interview. For an applicant to an online program, the interview may take the form of an online conference call. If the program entails an in-person residency, it may involve an in-person interview. The interviewer may ask you about your academic plans and reason for interest in the program.
  • International Students: International students may need to show Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores to demonstrate adequate proficiency in English. Test scores are valid for two years.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Digital Marketing?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the management industry, where holders of a master's in digital marketing usually work, 10th percentile earnings come out to $48,220 annually, and 90th percentile earnings are over $200,000 annually. Due to the transferable set of skills in this advanced degree, holders of this degree can consider diverse prospective careers in the arts, business and financial operations, and computer and information technology industries.

Traditional Careers for Digital Marketers

Career Stats Description

Senior Marketing Manager

Median Pay: $129,380

Job Growth: 10.1%

These managers work with department heads to plan and implement promotional and advertising campaigns. They may also negotiate advertising contracts, evaluate company websites and campaigns, and provide marketing advice.

Ideal for: Critical thinkers who enjoy problem-solving and researching client interest.

SEO Director

Median Pay: $88,550

Job Growth: 5.4%

An SEO director works for an organization to ensure that the organization's products and websites stay in the top results of different queries sent through internet search engines.

Ideal for: Detail oriented, creative thinkers who enjoy working with data and enthusiastically embrace new technologies.

Purchasing Manager

Median Pay: $66,610

Job Growth: -5.8%

A purchasing manager oversees buyers of goods for use or resale at an organization, as well as evaluating the goods for quality.

Ideal for: Detail oriented, outgoing thinkers who like working in a fast-paced environment and can adjust plans to new information quickly.

Sales Managers

Median Pay: $121,060

Job Growth: 7.5%

A sales manager oversees the sales team at an organization. They organize and analyze data, as well as set goals related to their organization's sales department.

Ideal for: Those who can adjust plans to new information quickly and possess good conflict de-escalation skills, mathematically minded thinkers who enjoy interpreting data.

Non-Traditional Careers for Digital Marketers

Career Stats Description

Editorial Director

Median Pay: $88,442

Job Growth: 5.4%

Editorial directors work at publishing companies, overseeing the work of editors to create the overall layout of the finished publication.

Ideal for: Creative thinkers with an eye for visual design and patterns with an interest in developing branding strategies

Art Director

Median Pay: $92,500

Job Growth: 5.4%

Art directors work in a variety of publications designing the general look and feel of different products, publications, and forms of visual media, proposing designs and managing artists.

Ideal for: Creative-minded, assertive thinkers and artists who enjoy coming up with ways to convey concepts visually and possess good leadership skills.

Operations Research Analyst

Median Pay: $81,390

Job Growth: 27.5%

Operations analysts use analytical and mathematical skills to help organizations solve problems and create new operational strategies.

Ideal for: Math-oriented thinkers fascinated with data and figuring out how to use it to solve problems.

Software Developer

Median Pay: $103,560

Job Growth: 24%

Marketing software developers develop applications and systems software, such as conveying a brand visually on the internet through video ads, or automating the selling of ad space.

Ideal for: An abstract thinker proficient in coding to fulfill the complex needs of a marketing organization.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Digital Marketing

Planning a master's in digital marketing online requires close attention to several important factors related to the overall cost of a graduate degree. To begin, online education offers the benefit of lower tuition rates than on-campus programs. Enrolling in an accelerated program where the degree program concludes in one year instead of two, can also decrease the overall cost of a degree. Many subject specific scholarships, grants, and financial aid packages for digital marketing master's degrees are also available.

Tuition Timelines

The following list details possible timelines for a master's in digital marketing online depending on whether students pursue full- or part-time enrollment.

Part-Time Path

Taking classes part-time might work best for a working professional or other nontraditional learners with a busy schedule. A part-time course load increases the length of a degree program. For the typical 30-40 credit master's in digital marketing online, expect to spend 2-3 years, or 5-7 semesters completing coursework part time.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Montclair State University
Total Credits Required: 39
Summary: At a part-time pace, it can take up to three years to graduate from Montclair's 39-credit digital marketing program, which is available as an MBA concentration. Montclair boasts a cheap tuition rate and does not require a minimum number of credit hours per semester, making the program ideal for busy working professionals.

Full-Time Path

Most students take a traditional full-time course load, provided they can make the time commitment. Students typically take three classes or 9 credits per semester; for most 30-40 credit master's in digital marketing online programs, degree completion takes between 16 months and two years of study.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Total Credits Required: 72
Summary: With a full-time course load, around two to three years earn students an online master's in digital marketing from the University of Illinois. UI offers a competitive rate for tuition, with the entire degree costing around $20,000.

Accelerated Path

Many schools offer an accelerated pace that allows students to complete their studies in as little as a year. This path may appeal strongly to learners who can make the commitment to a larger credit load each semester and want to transition quickly to a position requiring the degree.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Temple University
Total Credits Required: 30
Summary: Temple University's master's in digital marketing requires just 16 months of part-time study, blending synchronous and asynchronous coursework in their streamlined program.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

The following list details some of the subject specific scholarship opportunities available to those pursuing a master's in digital marketing or marketing-related postgraduate degrees.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Digital Marketing Program

The typical digital marketing online program takes 30-40 credits and 1-2 years to complete. Sometimes the program takes the form of a concentration in digital marketing or social media marketing nested in an MBA program. Students often take courses in subjects such as media development and brand strategy, culminating in a capstone project where they implement principles learned in class.

Major Milestones

  1. Thesis preparation and defense - Final two semesters

    An online business master's in digital marketing may culminate in a thesis. You should begin working on your thesis about two semesters ahead of graduation.

  2. Job shadowing and internship opportunities - Final two semesters

    A program developed with a corporate partner could culminate in job shadowing or internship opportunities. Networking opportunities are also often available to members of professional organizations.

  3. Intent to graduate confirmation - Final two semesters

    Most universities require completion of an intent to graduate form, often available online, at least two semesters before graduating. Not fulfilling this requirement could defer degree completion.

  4. Capstone - Final semester

    Many digital marketing programs culminate in a capstone project implementing digital marketing concepts on a real business problem, wherein students may work independently or in groups.

  5. Certification completion - Final semester

    Digital marketing master's degrees may also include certification with organizations, such as the American Marketing Association, boosting students' resumes and allowing for potential networking with the organization.


While different programs vary in coursework depending on the school, the following list represents typical courses for a master's in digital marketing online.

Data analytics

Students look critically at data sets related to site traffic, sales, and leads. Students also work with the software and content management systems that assist with collecting data.

Social media innovation

Students learn about the role social media plays in the success of businesses and how businesses effectively utilize these resources. The course may culminate in a mock social media campaign group project.

User experience design

The fundamentals of effectively implemented user experience design and front end development are discussed in this course. Effective user experience design influences the success of applications and websites. The course may culminate in developing an application or website.

Mobile marketing design

Creation of marketing campaigns specifically tailored to mobile users includes learning about the technologies through which prominent campaigns reach users, such as image recognition, applications, and messaging.

Digital branding

This class imparts the complexities of marketing a brand in a hyper-connected world. Students learn the difference between paid, owned, and earned media, and the role of all three in the dialogue between consumers and media.

Requirements to Practice

Digital marketing does not entail any mandatory licenses or certifications; however, many working in the field choose to pursue certification to bolster their resumes. Certifications test your conceptual knowledge of digital branding and marketing and sometimes also require attendance at networking events, such as conferences.

  • Professional Certified Marketer, Digital Marketing: The American Marketing Association (AMA) offers this certification, which consists of 120 multiple choice questions over two hours, with an optional fifteen minute break. The AMA offers an in-person bootcamp to help study for the exam in addition to online tutorials.
  • Online Marketing Certified Professional: Online Marketing Certified Professionals (OMCP) provides a digital marketing certification. The remotely proctored exam takes 135 minutes to complete and covers topics, such as SEO, web analytics, and mobile marketing.
  • Internet Marketing Association Certified Internet Marketer: CIM certification enrollment consists of exam registration, two practice tests, and a pass to IMA's Impact conference. The remotely proctored exam consists of 72 multiple choice questions and allots 75 minutes for completion.
  • Data & Marketing Association Certified Marketing Professional: This certification consists of 20-30 hours of study available either through online modules or a three day seminar, followed by an exam. The certification remains valid for a year, with renewal offered through DMA continuing education.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Both recent graduates and seasoned professionals benefit from joining a professional organization for those working in digital marketing. Organizations, such as the American Marketing Association, can offer access to resources such as certifications, annual conferences with continuing education and networking opportunities, and job placement services. Ultimately, these organizations not only assist in professional development but also in fostering a sense of community and keeping those within that community updated on crucial trends and innovations.

  • Internet Marketing Association: The IMA represents internet marketing professionals around the globe. The association offers professional certification and access to its impact conference. Basic membership is free but can be upgraded to a premium membership.
  • Data & Marketing Association: Advocating for data analysts and digital marketers, DMA hosts educational seminars, webinars, and both in-person and online courses for members.
  • Online Marketing Certified Professionals: OMCP promotes excellence among online marketing professionals, including a digital marketing best practices podcast. The organization also has a digital marketer certification, continuing education opportunities, and multiple conferences.
  • American Marketing Association: AMA promotes marketing professionals and publishes several peer-reviewed research journals, including the Journal of Marketing Research. The association also offers job placement services, PCM certification, and continuing education.
  • Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization: SEMPO represents SEO directors and other search engine specialists nationally and provides webinars, job listings, and sponsorship opportunities.
  • Tutor the People: The personalized tutoring service Tutor the People can help you with test preparation, as well as provide a $1,000 scholarship for future MBA candidates.
  • Directive Consulting:Along with career opportunities for search marketers in its open positions listings, this marketing consulting company offers a $1,000 scholarship for all students interested in digital marketing.
  • Business 2 Community: This community of bloggers comments on emerging trends, technology, and branding strategies in a website organized by topic that also features free webcasts.
  • eMarketer: eMarketer provides members clean charts and reports on current industry data and trends. Members can search past charts and reports easily on the website.
  • Sales and Marketing Executives, International: SMEI represents the only truly global association for sales and marketing professionals. The organization offers many professional certifications, online courses, and an online job listings page.