Over the past decade, social media has grown to become a central part of integrated marketing strategy for companies, organizations, and even individuals interested in building a personal brand and connecting with consumers, potential and current customers, investors, and collaborators in meaningful ways. For some companies and organizations, social media can be just as if not more important than print media or other online marketing channels such as email or display advertising. The rise of social media as a field of professional marketing practice has led to a substantial increase in job positions and careers that focus on social media management and marketing, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in social media designed to prepare individuals for such positions.
Social media professionals leverage knowledge and skills in areas such as social media community building, consumer engagement, social media content development, social media data analytics, and branding to design and implement social media campaigns, and maintain a strong, cross-platform social media presence for a company or organization. In addition to working in social media-specific roles, individuals who receive training in this field may also qualify for jobs in marketing, branding, public relations, and digital media production, due to how integral social media is across these areas. Bachelor’s degree programs in social media marketing provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills to be successful in this field.
Classification of Bachelor’s in Social Media Programs
Bachelor’s in social media degree programs tend to be housed in communication or business-related departments within universities and colleges. For example, a university’s school of journalism and media might offer a social media undergraduate major, while another university might offer a social media bachelor’s degree through their school of business. Students should also keep in mind that some schools may not offer a formal social media major, but they may allow students to pursue a minor or concentration in social media within a larger digital marketing or marketing communication major.
Examples of undergraduate majors in social media include but are not limited to:
- Bachelor of Arts in Social Media Management
- Bachelor of Science in Social Media Marketing
- Bachelor of Science in Digital Marketing & Social Media
- Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a Concentration in Social Media
- Bachelor of Science in Strategic Communication with a Focus in Social Media Management
- Bachelor’s in Digital Media
Bachelor’s in social media programs tend be highly focused on social media tactics, writing and multimedia development for social media platforms, and social media analytics and how they can be leveraged to help a business succeed. The curriculum for bachelor’s of social media programs will generally include core courses common in other marketing and media-related majors to ensure that students have a thorough understanding of the media and marketing landscape, strong writing skills, and a familiarity with analyzing consumer behavior and media engagement data to arrive at insights to inform social media initiatives. They also typically include courses that give students an overview of strategic communication principles so that students can understand the strategic context in which social media content operates.
Schools may offer their programs as Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and/or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees, depending on the university. In general, B.A. and B.S. programs typically have similar core curricula and elective options. Whether an undergraduate program in social media is designated a B.A. or a B.S. may depend on whether it is housed in a humanities-related school or department (which is more likely to offer a B.A.), or in a business or science/technology related school or department (which may be more likely to offer a B.S.).
In addition, B.S. programs in social media might have a stronger emphasis on technical training (i.e. courses in social media data analytics, social media campaign development and assessment), while B.A. programs in this field may focus more on humanities-oriented training (i.e. writing for social media, the ethics of social media, etc.). However, this is not a hard and fast rule, and as the field of social media is interdisciplinary, involving both content development and assessment of audience engagement, there is often significant overlap between the course offerings for certain B.A. and B.S. programs in social media. Students should thoroughly research the bachelor’s programs in social media that interest them, to see what core course and elective options they provide, and to ensure that their program of choice includes the precise training they desire from their degree program.
Curriculum Details for Bachelor’s in Social Media Programs
In general, universities and colleges in the U.S. require undergraduate students to complete 120 to 130 course credits in order to earn their bachelor’s degree. The curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in social media will generally be divided into several areas, including:
- General Education Requirements (30 credits): Classes that students take across different disciplines that are not related to their major, but which the university has determined are important for students to take for a well-rounded education, such as courses in language arts and rhetoric, the sciences, quantitative and qualitative reasoning, foreign languages, ethics, and critical thinking.
- Core Major Courses (30 to 36 credits): Classes that cover the fundamentals of marketing, digital advertising, branding, public relations, and effective communication strategy for organizations.
- Social Media-Specific Courses (24 to 30 credits): Classes that cover the specifics of social media platforms and how to optimize content for them to engage audiences.
- Electives (24 to 30 credits): Classes that students can take both within their chosen major and outside of it–for example, to get training in more advanced social media tactics, or to explore a personal interest unrelated to media and marketing.
The first year of students’ undergraduate studies tends to focus on completion of general education requirements, after which students may begin working on their major coursework as early as their sophomore year (though some students may begin their major requirements at the beginning of their junior year). After students’ freshman year, their course selections are typically divided between courses that fulfill general education requirements and those that fulfill their major requirements.
When working on their social media major, students typically embark on the core courses first, before enrolling in more advanced or specialized social media courses and electives. Some bachelor’s programs in social media may require students to complete an internship and/or a capstone project. Programs that require an internship may provide students with support and guidance in locating a suitable internship site and supervisor, while others might require students to seek internship positions independently and apply for program approval. For programs that require a capstone project, students typically complete an industry-focused project such as a social media campaign for a real or hypothetical organization.
Below is a list of example courses that students may find in an undergraduate program in social media. Note: The courses below are included for example purposes only, as individual courses vary by school and program.
- Foundations of Integrated Marketing Communication: This course provides an overview of all the essential components of a comprehensive, ongoing, integrated marketing strategy for an organization, including marketing and advertising content, public relations, sales and promotions, and social media.
- Social Media in Marketing and Public Relations: This course delves into the role of social media in the marketing and public relations fields. Students examine case studies and discuss the use of social media to connect with consumers, respond to consumer queries and feedback, and establish a trustworthy company image.
- Strategic Marketing Communication: This course covers the principles of strategic internal and external-facing communication for an organization. Students learn about and discuss the core tenets of strategic communication, and also engage in projects that involve designing and refining strategic communication plans for a variety of professional contexts.
- Social Media Data Analytics: In this course, students learn how to measure and analyze consumer and stakeholder engagement in social media content. Students work with different data analytics platforms/applications, and learn how to analyze key information in order to assess and improve social media campaigns and initiatives.
- Writing for New and Mobile Media: Students in this course discuss how the written form for social and mobile media differs from long-form and mid-length marketing and public relations content. Students learn about and implement writing and editing tactics designed to engage consumers across the latest social media platforms.
- Social Media Community Building: This course explores the phenomenon of online community building and its history, starting with the advent of social media as a form of communication and connection. Students learn how to evaluate and cater to the character, interests, and needs of different social media communities through targeted content development.
- Capstone Project in Social Media Campaigns: In this course, students synthesize all that they have learned in their previous coursework to design, develop, implement, and evaluate a social media campaign for a real or hypothetical client.
Below is a sample course map that outlines the core major and specialization courses that an undergraduate student majoring in social media might take. Prospective students should note that this course map is meant for general, informational purposes only, and that course requirements for bachelor’s degrees in social media vary by school, program, and students’ elective choices within the program they select. The sample curriculum below also does not contain general education requirements.
Online Bachelor’s in Social Media Programs
With the advent of new online learning technologies, more undergraduate and graduate programs are being offered online. Online bachelor’s in social media programs have the advantage of being more flexible compared to campus-based programs, as students are able to complete their coursework from anywhere they have access to an Internet connection. As a result, students are able to save time that they would otherwise spend on commuting to and from campus for lectures and discussions. In addition, for students who live in states without many media-related degree options, online bachelor’s programs in social media, marketing, and related fields allow students to major in their desired field without relocating.
Online undergraduate programs in social media use learning management systems (LMS) to provide students with course content and to enable students to interact with program faculty and classmates. Online programs typically utilize two forms of instruction–asynchronous and synchronous. Understanding the differences between these two forms of instruction can be helpful when researching online degree programs.
Asynchronous instruction is defined as any course content that students can view or complete on their own time, as long as they abide by deadlines outlined by the instructor. Examples of asynchronous instruction include self-paced course modules and discussion boards where students can write feedback or comments on their own time (again, as long as they abide by a weekly posting deadline). Synchronous instruction, on the other hand, emulates in-person instruction in that it involves students and instructors meeting and interacting in real-time, often using video communication technologies. Examples of synchronous instruction include live lectures and discussion seminars, or class presentations that require all students to attend.
While all online programs have asynchronous elements, not all programs incorporate live synchronous sessions. For online programs, synchronous sessions are often held in the evening, so students across different time zones can attend. Live sessions are typically recorded as well, just in case a student needs to miss a live session for personal or professional reasons.
Admissions requirements for online bachelor’s in social media programs are typically equivalent to their on-campus counterparts. Applicants are expected to submit a personal statement (and in some cases supplemental essays), letters of recommendation, transcripts of all secondary academic work, and maybe required to submit standardized test scores (either SAT or ACT). Some bachelor’s in social media degree programs also accept transfer students who meet particular academic standards and prerequisites. There are also bachelor’s degree completion programs, which require an associate’s degree (or an equivalent amount of undergraduate credits) for admission.
Schools vary in terms of their admission requirements, and the best way for prospective students to learn how they can put forth a competitive application to their programs of interest is to speak with admissions officials at these programs to get the latest information about admissions expectations.
Career Paths for Graduates with a Bachelor’s in Social Media
Due to the ever-increasing importance of social media in areas such as marketing, public relations, branding, journalism, and even politics, graduates of social media programs may find that they have a variety of career options available to them. With training in creating compelling content for the latest social media platforms, graduates may be able to select from positions such as:
- Social Media Specialist: This role involves creating content for an organization’s social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and others. Social media specialists evaluate consumer needs and expectations and develop social media campaigns to meet these demands. They also use data analytics platforms to assess the impact of campaigns to inform strategy.
- Multimedia and Video Production Designer: This role involves designing multimedia and video content for a company’s online presence, including its website and social media profiles. The multimedia and video production designer tailors each project to the target audiences of different social media platforms and web publications to maximize impact.
- Social Media Manager: Social media managers typically oversee several social media campaigns at once, and are often the direct supervisors of social media specialists. They ensure that a company’s social media content is consistent across all of its profiles, and that all social media campaigns are united in furthering an organization’s mission within the context of consumers’ needs.
- SEO Strategist: SEO strategists optimize web traffic and site reputability for all of an organization’s web properties, a responsibility that requires a strong understanding of digital marketing principles, including keyword research, content relevance, link building, social media engagement, and more.
- Brand and Product Manager: This role involves designing multimedia campaigns to promote an organization’s product, service, and/or brand identity; addressing issues or challenges that may affect this brand identity; and collaborating with marketing, public relations, and social media professionals to identify or clarify the organization’s core mission so that it can be clearly conveyed to stakeholders.
Directory of Online Bachelor’s in Social Media Programs
The following schools offer online bachelor’s programs in social media and related fields (e.g., digital media, digital audiences). Students who are interested in studying social media during their undergraduate careers should also refer to our Online Bachelor’s in Marketing and Online Bachelor’s in Digital Media program pages, as these programs may also include courses in social media strategy and management.