Education Social Media
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July 18, 2017

Local university among the first to offer bachelor's degree in social media

Starting this fall, Kutztown students can Tweet their way to graduation.

For most college students, squandering hours on social media is a method of procrastination to avoid studying, finishing a paper, or paying attention during a stuffy lecture. For students this fall at Kutztown University, though, social media is school work.

Kutztown will begin offering a bachelor’s degree in Social Media Theory and Strategy, in line with a lot of the new types of jobs students can expect if they go on to work in communications, marketing or a number of other fields.

“Graduates of the program will be equipped with the skills needed for success in careers rooted in social media content development, management, administration, marketing, and analysis,” the university said in a statement.

“Students will be able to apply social media knowledge to endeavors such as lead generation, public advocacy, digital marketing management, concept promotion, e-commerce, digital content marketing, pay per click (PPC) ad construction and evaluation and content marketing.”

The curriculum was designed by professors in Kutztown’s business, English, and communication studies departments. The major is officially part of the department of communication studies.

Kutztown, located about 50 miles northeast of Philadelphia, isn’t the first university to offer specialized education in social media, but it is one of the only to offer a dedicated major. The University of Florida offers an online master’s program in social media, and the University of Southern California offers a similar master’s program in digital social media within the school’s high-ranking journalism program.

“Social media is intricately woven into our economic, civic, and social lives, and those who don’t become adept at producing and analyzing it are increasingly at risk,” said Dr. Moe Folk, associate professor of English, in a statement.

“We are excited to offer a cutting-edge program that will prepare students for a variety of careers in the corporate and nonprofit sectors and also allow them to take charge of their own content for any entrepreneurial hopes they have in mind.”

Though Kutztown pushes the benefits of having a résumé brimmed with digital experience, claiming it can boost perspective salaries by $27,000, there have been mixed opinions on the need for social media studies as the field has grown in the last few years.

Marketing expert Katie Butler told Huffington Post in 2014 that a degree in social media is fruitless in light of the subject’s natural state of change. It could poise students to have an antiquated degree in just a few years. Butler did say, however, that learning social media methods is still a marketable skill for employers, so some courses could be beneficial.

The National Institute of Social Media, which offers education and certificate programs, reported a 37 percent increase in job listings that have “social media” in the description since February 2013. Michael Werch, a spokesman for Indeed.com, also noted that social media can be useful across different professional sectors.