The University of Maryland Global Campus is launching a certificate program this fall to prepare students to work in the hottest segment of the marketing industry—digital marketing.
“It’s the fastest-growing area of marketing, and where the jobs are,” said Sandeep Patnaik, UMGC’s marketing program director.
Just since 2018, the number of job postings in Maryland for social media marketing specialists has jumped by 57% and marketing communication associate positions have gone up by 47%.
“Digital marketing is growing because businesses are rapidly switching much of their campaign spends to online formats,” Patnaik said. “There’s a clear need in the marketplace for applicants with digital and social media skills.”
UMGC is partnering in the effort with Pathstream, a private company that works with universities and leading technology companies and has the tools to provide hands-on experience that will be applicable in the workplace.
“You have to have a hands-on experience,” Patnaik said. “It’s a bit like cooking. You can have the best recipes, but unless you know how to actually apply them in the kitchen, you don’t know how to do it.”
It is a balanced combination of project-based learning grounded in a theoretical understanding of marketing principles that makes UMGC’s program a standout, he explained.
“Most schools struggle with this. Everyone has a digital marketing course, but it’s usually only a lot of theoretical explanations, lectures and notes,” Patnaik said. “In the end, the students still don’t know how to go out and do a digital ad or improve a search engine. This is a good marriage of both.”
The certificate program is designed not only for younger people just starting out in marketing but also for marketing veterans as well as executives and entrepreneurs who need to keep up with what their employees are doing.
“This [program] provides a good overview for managers and business owners as well as good hands-on experience to the average employee,” Patnaik said.
The certificate program is six, three-credit courses. Students work with Facebook ads, Google ads, Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Google Slides, and Google Sheets.
Enrolling in the program has several advantages Patnaik said. It helps prepare students for success in the Facebook Blueprint certification exam, offered separately by Facebook. Also, students who complete the UMGC Digital Marketing Certificate and take an additional six courses, along with the requisite minor and general education credits, can earn a full Bachelor of Science in marketing.
The Pathstream courses are well developed and tightly knit, Patnaik said. They provide competencies in digital analysis, in using Google Analytics and search and display marketing tools, in how to launch an email marketing campaign, or how to use keywords in any kind of Google or online advertisement.
But more than that, he said, the students are learning the theory of marketing, so they will know how to use these tools to the best advantage.
“Without holistic understanding,” Patnaik said, “just knowing how to use the tools will not be enough to be a successful digital marketer.”