As social media expands, so does its reach and application. Opportunities to learn about social media have reached beyond self-teaching and have moved into the classroom, as universities begin to adapt to the demand for experience in the digital realm. In South Carolina, for instance, Newberry College has created a program allowing undergrad students to choose a social media major.
"It's one of the first interdisciplinary majors in social media," said Tania Sosiak, associate professor of graphic design and social media at Newberry College told Columbia, South Carolina television station WACH FOX 57. "It's a blended major of graphic design, communications, business and marketing, psychology and statistics."
Set to launch in August 2013, Newberry College professor Tania Sosiak created this program after seeing the demand in social media marketing increase. Business owner Keely Saye says of social media tactics, "If there are students that are already coming out of school that have a degree in this, I've got a job for them."
Universities aim to prepare students for the workforce, and in a world where that workforce is increasingly online, developing the skills necessary to navigate social media could be a valuable investment for college students.
According to the Census Bureau's analysis, 53.6% of bachelor's degree holders under the age of 25 were underemployed in 2011, 6.8% of them completely unemployed. With underemployment a pertinent issue facing college graduates, evolving curriculum to coincide with advancements in society may be instrumental in spurring employment among this demographic.
Programs dedicated to social media, however, will not be effective if done with a trade school emphasis, argues Darren Schreiber, Political Science professor at UCSD. Rather than question if social media can be taught as a subject, Schreiber told IVN, success of such a program rests in the quality of the education:
"If the curriculum is a true liberal arts major where learning joyfully, thinking clearly, reading carefully, and writing well are the focus, then it will payoff."
If such programs also enable students to master skills in graphic design, communications, business and marketing, psychology and statistics, he continues, "then this combination of skills will provide lasting value and a particular comparative advantage in the market place of the future."
For Schreiber, it's more about developing a skill set rather than teaching students how to use specific platforms. The vast array of social networks online makes is difficult to predict what will be used in the future, and as the modes of communication continually evolve, social media will continue to change.
Would you major in social media? Why or why not?