Newberry College Provides A Major In Social Media

Posted by Selchia Cain 

It seems as if the social media master minds and fathers of Internet innovation found an education as an obsolete tool to success.

Bill Gates left Harvard to start Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg, Co-founder of Facebook, who started his business while at Harvard, also left Harvard to run it. Founder Jack Dorsey dropped out to focus full time on creating Twitter. Even the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs had no use for a college degree.

With Twitter recently celebrating its 7th birthday, you might wonder would things have been a little different if social media was a major?

Photo via Ivywise

Photo via Ivywise

Newberry College, in Newberry, South Carolina announced that fall of 2013 will mark the launch of social media being added to their curriculum. Students will have the opportunity to both major and minor in the interdisciplinary media study.

 Ivywise, a college admissions blog, describes the major as “combining courses in graphic design, communication, marketing, business, psychology and statistics.” The curriculum was designed by Tania Sosiak, an associate professor of graphic design and social media at Newberry.  While over the past few years, schools have offered social media certificate and concentration programs, but never a major making Newberry College the first school to do so.

Social media skills are imperative in today’s professional world. And graduating with a healthy knowledge of how to navigate the world wide web as a social marketing tool is important. According to Netpop research, social networking has grown 93% since 2006. With diverse social networks joining the web every year, industries across the board are starting to rely heavily on social media to advance their business. In doing so companies will build their cliental, expand their band and interact with consumers. DigitalBuzzBlog released an info graphic that showed  30% of B2B (business to business) marketers are spending millions of dollars each year on social media marketing alone.

 Some companies such as Elite Daily and WACH, a local South Carolina Fox, affiliate have endorsed the major. Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic Wire wrote, “The skyrocketing number of jobs in the social media field is a bubble that surely won’t pop by the time any of said kids graduate.” Others  just can’t take such a major seriously. Total Frat Move called it, “A blatant waste of time and money.” Blogger and marketing manager of Red Hat in North Carolina Chris Moody, has 5 reasons this is really bad saying, “Marketing is already watered down. Social media is a marketing tactic. You can’t only do social media. A social media strategy without a solid marketing strategy around it is doomed to fail. It’s like ordering salad dressing without the salad.”

What do you think? Would you or your parents be proud to tell people that you are paying college tuition to get a degree in social media? 

10 responses to “Newberry College Provides A Major In Social Media

  1. To be honest, I’m not sure my parents know what social media is, so they would most likely give me a smile and a nod. However, I think this is a great idea. My internship has me working with social media every day, and I learn so much, but I’m a little jealous of Newberry College students. I feel like if I would have came into the job with full knowledge of social media I would have wowed my supervisor.

    With so many companies spending so much money on social media I don’t feel like it’s crazy to get a degree in the field. However, I would be worried about the longevity of the study. Today we would be learning in-depth about Facebook, Twitter and WordPress, which someday (I’m assuming) will be in the same social media grave plot as Myspace. This would concern me a bit if I was considering the major. However, much of the material we learn in classes today will be obsolete in a few years. New knowledge surfaces and curriculum changes, so maybe being afraid of that in the social media field is irrational.

  2. My parents probably don’t know what social media is either, but when you really think about it, social media is the future of our industry. Our generation knows how to use different social media platforms and we use them on a daily basis. If a new one pops up we can usually master using it pretty quickly. I think it’s a smart idea to create a social media major because people who are my parent’s age working in the journalism field may have trouble catching on as quickly as we do. Some might not use social media or know it can help them when reporting. Yes, things will be completely different from what we know now in five years, but we are more willing to still learn new things especially if it is our job to keep up with social media trends and changes. Often times college grads are being hired to run publication’s social media because we are very knowledgable in it. Just think about how we use social media for j70! Imagine how valuable someone with a social media degree would look to a future employer.

  3. To be honest, some of my family members scorn at the fact that I’m getting a journalism degree. I shudder to think what they would say if I got a degree in social media. I don’t see the point in actually getting a degree in social media, especially in today’s age. Perhaps when Myspace and Facebook were first gaining steam, this would be a useful major. Today, everybody seems proficient in knowing how to brand yourself on Twitter or how to function Linkedin. We as a generation have been programmed to adapt to each new social media outlet, and understand how to use them quite well. Taking a few courses on social media or even integrating it into daily lessons like here at Drake, but I don’t see the benefits of actually majoring in it. What sort of job can you obtain with just having skills in social media and nothing else?

  4. I think businesses can benefit a lot from social media majors, but personally, I wouldn’t want to get a degree in social media because it seems limiting. I also think Taylor is right. At Drake we learn about social media, and I think the lessons offered are useful enough. I’m sure that Newberry has put a lot of thought into the social media curriculum, but I wonder if it’s compelling enough to prepare students for the professional world. I’m also interested to see if other schools will start adding the social media major, and how they will compete for the “Best Social Media Program in the Country” title.

  5. It is interesting to see how it seems like we are divided on this issue. As a blog post I had to report a non-biased, informative piece. But in my personal opinion I wouldn’t major in social media. I believe that our generation is already naturally knowledgable on the subject, so paying tuition for such limited knowledge at that doesn’t make sense to me. I agree with Taylor, I too would also question my chances of employment with a degree in social media. What happens if Facebook becomes a social media grave like Myspace? Or LinkedIn becomes obsolete? Maybe a concentration in social media would be ok or a minor. I too am interested to see if other universities add social media to their curriculum. But I’m glad to see that most of us value the fact that Drake JMC uses social media as threads that tie our majors together.

  6. I really love this post, and I think it has some wide-ranging implications. You bring up a good dichotomy between the tech tradition of shirking formal education and the structured social media major. It’ll be interesting to see if these tensions are resolved or if students begin to feel they’re not getting enough out of their education. Personally, I agree that a major shouldn’t limit you to such a specified field. I think the general trend in journalism has been to expand into a broad base of skills rather than narrow focus on one skill set. Being a social media major would limit your employment opportunities if you didn’t have other writing, marketing, or public relations skills to back you up. While it’s important not to ignore social media’s impact, I agree with what a lot of you are saying in that we probably shouldn’t go overboard.

  7. When I think about a college offering a degree in social media, I am left to wonder how enough courses for a major can be offered on such a small area of knowledge. I would not recommend that someone try and get this degree. My parents would tell me to pay for my own school.

    Social media does play a huge role in modern day branding. I think it could be an area of emphasis rather than a major for public relations, journalism or marketing majors.

    I find social media to be overwhelming and exhausting at times. The constant updates and changes in social media etiquette leave me feeling like a hamster on a wheel. I think this feeling might make me a bit biased against a major that would require me to rely on social media more than I already do.

  8. Abbey makes a great point that the major may limit your employment opportunity. I would also have to agree with Monica, my parents are my biggest supporters but, I too think they would stop funding my college education if I majored in tweeting. I love how she states that,”social media should be an area of emphasis.”

  9. A degree in social media… I don’t know about that. I, at times, feel a little embarrassed to tell people I am a magazines-journalism major because most people believe magazines is a dying field. Having just a degree in social media seems very limiting to me. Just like Carolina said- it’s like ordering salad dressing without the salad. There is no meat to this major. Sure these kids will be dipping their toes into some parts of business/ marketing but not diving deep into those subjects as they should.
    I agree social media plays a HUGE part in almost every company but people are going to want to hire people that are diverse and can work in other aspects of the company, for example writing. You may be a great blogger, but will those kids be able to write in other types of styles and voice?
    I think if social media was offered as a minor that would be awesome! Graduating with a degree in journalism opens up so many more doors in all sorts of fields that a major in just social media won’t do.

  10. Pingback: Degrees in Social Media: Useful or useless? | The Media Review on WHRW 90.5 FM Binghamton

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