What to Look for in Online Marketing Programs: Advice for Finding Your Fit
You’ve gone from eagerly watching Mad Men episodes to learning about different roles in the marketing world. You’re feeling about as sure as possible that marketing is the right subject to study for your professional goals. That’s nothing to breeze over. Narrowing it down isn’t easy and you’ve already made a big step toward pursuing higher education. Your next important step in this process is to find the perfect marketing degree program for your needs.
Let’s say you’re drawn to online programs, but you still have some questions about how to choose a good program. What are the benefits of completing a Marketing program online? How do you know what to look for in a high-quality program?
We enlisted help from Dr. Jenny Ekern, Marketing program department chair at Rasmussen College, to find out the answers to your burning questions. Read on if you’re ready to join the enjoyable, fast-paced marketing field!
The benefits of an online Marketing degree program
Why should you choose to earn a marketing degree in an online program rather than going the traditional in-person route? While much of it may come down to personal preference, there are a few compelling reasons to consider a fully online marketing degree program.
Flexibility: This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but an online marketing program can provide you with a greater degree of flexibility for fitting education into your life. If you’re a working student, you don’t have to worry about commuting to class and the headaches it can cause with your employer—this can be particularly challenging if you’re on a part-time shift schedule that may change from week to week. You can keep a consistent work schedule and complete your coursework from the comfort of home.
You’re not bound by location: Not everyone lives a convenient distance from a college campus, and the options near you might not be a great fit for what you’re looking for. By pursuing an online education, you have a greater variety of potential options to pursue so you can ensure you’re in the right place for what you need.
Real-world experience: Remote work has expanded rapidly in recent years, and many marketing roles are a great fit for this. By completing an online marketing program, you’ll be refining the skills needed to thrive in an online environment. You’ll learn to navigate relevant tools and technology, maintain strong communication in a remote environment and how to manage your time effectively to ensure deadlines are met.
What you should consider when evaluating an online marketing program
Not all online degree programs are created equal. It’s important to do your research to make sure you’re choosing a reputable program that will prepare you for a real-world marketing career. We rounded up the signs of a high-quality online marketing program so you know what to look for as you research your options.
1. The college is accredited
“Accreditation” is a term that gets thrown around a lot, but you might not know what it means. Accreditation “ensures that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The accreditation process helps provide third-party validation of the academic quality of a program or overall institution. This process happens regularly to ensure schools are sticking to the standards as agreed.
“Do your research to make sure the college has been accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education,” Ekern says. “This shows that the college has met certain educational standards and that the degree will likely be recognized by employers and professional associations.”
2. The program provides a balance of broadly applicable skills and specialized knowledge
“Look for the ability to specialize in an area you are really interested in, such as market research, digital marketing, social media and marketing, public relations, sales management, or social media and reputation management,” Ekern says.
Marketing is a big field that can take you in a lot of directions—whether that’s developing digital advertising campaigns, conducting market research or securing serious financial commitments as a member of a sales team. A strong online Marketing program will prepare you with a solid foundation of broadly useful marketing skills as well as the ability to focus your studies on a specialized area of interest.
For example, the online Marketing Bachelor’s degree program at Rasmussen College offers specializations in Digital Marketing and Sales Management. Having courses devoted to developing specialized knowledge can help you enter the job market with confidence, knowing that you have the focused training you need to pursue the job titles you’re most interested in.
3. The program focuses on real-world skills
Page through your potential program’s course catalogue before enrolling. You want to look for courses that emphasize the real-world skills and tools that are used in the marketing field. Lacking experience using common marketing technology can put you at a disadvantage when searching for a job.
“You want to be challenged and learn skills that are in demand and immediately useable in the workplace,” Ekern says. “The marketing programs at Rasmussen College give students real-world scenarios and case studies with opportunities to develop and grow their marketing knowledge and skills.”
It also doesn’t hurt to look for a program that supports its students in pursuing marketing internships. Although internships aren’t always required in this field, it’s the mark of a good school if advisors or career counselors are available to help connect you with an internship opportunity.
4. The program prepares you for industry certifications
Certifications aren’t typically a “must-have” in the marketing field, but they can show employers at a glance that you’re qualified and experienced in your area of specialty. Certifications can be helpful in landing your first job after graduation, and they can be useful for advancing your career down the road.
However, obtaining professional certifications can be challenging. Not all online marketing programs are aligned with certification requirements. Do your research to find a program that aligns with any professional certifications you’re interested in pursuing.
For example, Rasmussen College’s online Marketing Bachelor’s degree prepares students to be eligible to pursue the American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) certification, as well as others, depending on your specialty.
5. The program offers support for its students
Every high-quality degree program should have programs in place to support its students, but this is especially true for online programs, where it can be easy to feel like you’re on your own if you run into challenges.
“Make sure that there is tutoring and other support available for you,” Ekern says. In addition to tutoring, high-quality programs should offer one-on-one advisors to guide you in your education journey, career services to help you determine and achieve career goals and financial services to inform you of any loan or scholarship opportunities.
Don’t forget about tech support, either! This often-overlooked factor can be the difference between smoothly progressing through your courses and a lot of unexpected frustration—no one wants to be locked out of their course materials due to a technical hiccup when it’s crunch time. Look for a program that offers 24/7 tech support to its online students so you know you’ll have somewhere to turn to any time technical issues do arise.
Put your future marketing career in motion
There are plenty of online marketing programs to choose from—but not all of them are worth your time and money. Take the time to evaluate your options and find what best fits your career goals and needs as a student. You can start that process by visiting the Rasmussen College Marketing program page or by requesting more information to contact an Admissions Advisor.
American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer is a registered trademark of the American Marketing Association.
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Rasmussen College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, a regional accreditation agency recognized the by the U.S. Department of Education.