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Digital Media at the Master’s level – a European outlook

The following post was written by Ana Adi

Several years ago when Birmigham City University launched their Social Media MA many asked, including myself, whether such a specialization would be necessary. However, since then we witnessed the emergence of jobs such as “social media manager”, “user experience designer” or “marked research data miner” so it seems only fit that higher education tries to address digital and social media more in depth dedicating it entire master’s programs.

A simple search on mastersportal.eu, a portal that lists and presents master programs from all over Europe, reveals an astonishing number of programs dedicated to digital media many of them in the fields of communication, journalism, marketing or computer science. While the UK is leading the board (perhaps that’s also due to my searching for terms in English), the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Germany and Austria also offer such programs. Not only do these programs reflect recent changes in the job market but they also show the pressure under which higher education finds itself to deliver and prepare specialists in emerging fields.

While digital media is more and more included in the classroom or in the universities’ and departments’ communication strategies  – either as an alternative source or means of sharing information and gathering feedback -, the offering of specialized programs focused on digital media raises questions about the training that academics themselves need in order to develop and deliver such courses and the increasing need for academia to enter in lucrative partnerships with the industry.

Here are some that I find interesting:

This also brings questions, to a degree, about the format of delivery and the type of assignments such programs use. Moreover, the variety of programs available in Europe shows that it is both the technical and communication (whether media studies, cultural studies or marketing-communications) aspects of the field that are being addressed. While they promote and support an emerging job market, which shows creativity, proactivity and entrepreneurship, they also promote an overspecialization. Will they help graduates find jobs or make it more difficult?  

Are you teaching or taking courses in a digital media/social media specialized program? How is it organized?

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