Lauren Moreno knew for years that she needed to go back to school.
After obtaining her bachelor’s in fine arts, the would-be entrepreneur was working in sales and marketing for a small Philadelphia-area jewelry manufacturer, learning the ropes of running a business.
But Moreno still felt she needed a business school education to back up her work experience. Switching tracks mid-career, she found, isn’t exactly easy. She hadn’t been to school in nearly a decade, and hours spent commuting to a campus would be cutting into her already-packed schedule.
It wasn’t until Moreno discovered Temple University’s MS-Digital Innovation in Marketing (MS-DIM) master’s program, which is run entirely online, that she found the right fit.
The program is designed to teach both sides of the digital marketing spectrum: the creativity of marketing a product in a digital world and the technological skills to make it happen. Conducted over the course of 16 months, online classes for the program occur once a week and are capped at 40 students to encourage participation and engagement.
The program is how Moreno, a fine arts major, discovered her passion for digital marketing — and went on to cofound digital marketing agency Team 624 Communications. It’s not uncommon for MS-DIM students like her to carry strong humanities backgrounds.
“Our goal is to provide today’s digital marketer with both the marketing and technology skills they need to innovate in digital space,” said Amy Lavin, program director of DIM. “Our students will not only understand how to build a marketing campaign, but also how to design the user experience. We introduce them to many aspects of digital marketing. Instead of those areas being siloed, they are all together in one place.”
Weekly synchronous classes and guest speakers help to dissolve the typical barriers of a virtual classroom. Students from across the country take two courses at one time, taking courses like business intelligence and digital brand management, and collaborate on a capstone project that encompasses all facets of the coursework.
“In today’s world, we are all pressed for time and budget,” Lavin said. “The framework is so efficient, students can join from anywhere. What I say to my students is, ‘Give me your Wednesday nights for the next 16 months.’ We’ve built the framework so all the course delivery happens in that time window each semester.”
During her first semester, Moreno worked with a team of students from Harrisburg, Allentown, Colorado and Georgia to design and market wearables by focusing on the the target market and environmental specifications for women’s handbags, then taking charge of the marketing side and developing the actual product.
That kind of collaboration carried through to the team’s capstone project, where students work in teams to fill a gap in the marketplace by using data to inform the design of a brand, creating a social media plan, company website and an app prototype.
Moreno’s team worked to create an omni-channel experience for independent retailers and manufacturers that’s more common for large chain stores.
The Team 624 Communications cofounder credits her graduate studies for the change in her career and for getting her in the habit of staying engaged with changes in the digital marketing space.
She also notes that the program only works for students ready to engage with the material.
“You get out of it what you put in,” she said. “That’s how you’re actually going to get ahead in the industry, by being as much of an expert in this piece of digital marketing. It’s changing so fast we can’t be an expert in everything, but we can make an effort to learn about what’s going on in our industry.”