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Majoring in Social Media

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 @ 03:35 PM

Social Media and EducationLiberal Arts College Creates Social Media Major

Newberry College, a small liberal arts college located in South Carolina, recently announced an exciting new major to begin in Fall 2013. Next academic year, Social Media will join their curriculum as a concentration combining courses in Graphic Design, Communications, Marketing, Business, Psychology, and Statistics as well as original courses outlining the role of social media in today’s world. While many schools have begun offering courses in social media over the past few years, and some schools have designed Social Media Certificate programs, Newberry will be the first to university to offer this topic as a major.  

Social media has begun to shape society, news, education, business, technology, politics, and culture around the world. According to Netpop Research, social media usage in the United States has increased by 356% since 2006. With new and diverse social networks being launched every year, industries across the board rely at least partially on social media to advance their business or mission. With that expectation, an extensive knowledge of the ins and outs of social media could prepare students for careers, the non-profit sector, Fortune 500 companies, and beyond.  

Newberry’s approach, which is combining classes from previously existing majors with original courses in social media, is meant to not only provide students with technical skills, but also engage and enhance critical thinking, research, and innovation. Tania Sosiak, Associate Professor of Graphic Design and Social Media and founder of the new program argues, “I feel that a graduate from our program will be more competitive in the marketplace. Students will be able to do many things both analytically and creatively. Collect and study data, market, create, design, broadcast and develop are just some of the skills a graduate will have as a part of their social media toolbox.”  

Advocates for establishing more classes, programs, and certificates related to coursework in social media studies argue the skills needed for expertise in this field go beyond updating a Facebook status or taking a picture with Instagram. Social media sites have become project forums for professors in a variety of ways, like creating a Twitter or Facebook account for a famous figure from their coursework, or having students Live Tweet a lecture. A social media concentration is meant to challenge and flex student’s creativity and ingenuity, attributes that will set them apart from the field in the job hunt.  

Educators like Professor Sosiak at Newberry integrate a variety of other specialties into their courses and programs so that students are gaining a well-rounded and job-applicable curriculum.  Students with an interest in digital photography, video production, social psychology, business, and advertising may all want to check out a social media course (or maybe even major) in college. While it is still uncertain how many other schools may follow in the footsteps of Newberry, it is improbable they will be that last institution to offer a degree in Social Media. 

Here are some schools for students interested in social media: 

Drury University – Springfield, MO: Drury is one of the few schools in the US that offers a Social Media Certificate program.

Emerson UniversityBoston, MA: Emerson’s social media course fills-up quick, and when former President Jackie Liebergott resigned, students initiated a #jackiessecret trend on twitter.

Harvard University – Cambridge, MA: Not only was this campus the scene where Facebook was created, they boast Professor Mikolai Jan Piskorski, one of the first social media researchers in the world who teaches in their business school.

University of Kentucky Lexington, KY: UK’s new English and Composition course includes information on social media, as the university believes students need “to have the social media skills necessary to function in today’s workplace.”

Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, MD: Hopkins’ website is linked to every major social media site, and includes blogs written by admissions officers and students.

Boston University – Boston, MA: BU created their own social media world called BUniverse where students share videos of students activities, lectures, and events.

Stanford University – Stanford, CA: To prep students in the computed industry and beyond, Stanford offers courses in Digital Media in Society, Virtual Communities and Social Media, and the Psychology of Social Media.

American University – Washington, D.C.: American has a Center for Social Media on Campus which “showcases and analyzes media for public knowledge and action.”

Carnegie Mellon University – Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon not only offers social media classes, but it also has a dashboard that displays its Twitter, YouTube and Facebook feeds, as well as campus information.

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