Is this the future of marketing education?

While reading MapMyFollowers is a Great Twitter Data Visualization on ReadWriteWeb this morning, I saw this ad for a new graduate program offered by Columbia University:

Ad for Columbia's Journalism and Computer Science Program

I know, the fact that someone paid attention to an ad is almost newsworthy unto itself these days.

But what a fascinating program! I’ve remarked before that journalism is one of the few professions that’s suffering more disruption than marketing (for many of the same reasons). Here’s an attempt by one of the world’s leading journalism schools — now partnered with a top computer science department, if I may stroke my alma mater — to tackle this challenge head on with deep integration between journalism and hard-core software engineering.

If you visit the school’s page on Dual-Degree: Journalism & Computer Science, their program brochure starts with this call to arms:

Columbia University’s innovative dual-degree program, accepting its first students in 2011, will offer a Master of Science in computer science and journalism. Students will receive highly specialized training in the digital environment, enabling them to develop technical and editorial skills in all aspects of computer-supported news gathering and digital media production. The goal of the program is for its graduates to refine and create new news gathering and digital media technologies that will redefine journalism as we know it.

If you substitute “journalism” with “marketing,” and replace “news” with “customer,” this would sound like a killer program for fostering a new generation of marketing technology leaders. Instead of two semesters in the journalism school and three semesters in the engineering school, simply swap those two semesters in the journalism school with two semesters in the business school on a marketing concentration track.

Columbia University: Engineering and Business Schools

Wired wrote a terrific article on this program earlier this year, Will Columbia-Trained, Code-Savvy Jouranlists Bridge the Media/Tech Divide? The heart of their vision is not merely aligning IT and journalism, but fusing the two disciplines together:

The Columbia program … seeks to attack the barrier between journalists and the increasingly important IT professionals whose web and digital savvy are crucial to any form of news gathering, reporting and delivery. The problem: users really don’t know what to ask developers for (or how), and developers have no real idea what their software will need to do in the hands of the users.

“The IT Department [at a news organization] comes up with software programs that the journalists don’t use; the journalists ask for software that is computationally unrealistic,” said Julia Hirschberg, professor of computer science at the Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. “We aim to produce a new generation of journalists who will understand both fields.”

Again, substitute “journalists” with “marketers.” The list of technologies that Wired reports these new graduates are hoped to contribute include:

  • Automated journalism modules
  • Data visualization
  • Deep data mining and analysis
  • Device-driven journalism
  • Digital trust
  • Identifying under-reported events
  • Next-generation narrative

Who will create the marketing/computer science version of this? A master’s degree in computational marketing?

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4 thoughts on “Is this the future of marketing education?”

  1. I received my MBA degree from Kogod School of Business, American University on International Marketing & Technology management; the closest combination you can get to “marketing technology” 7 years ago.

  2. I will have a B.S. in Marketing with an emphasis in Interactive marketing from Northern Illinois University. I plan on enrolling in the Stanford Data Mining certificate for some knowledge in R. I love web programming and I’m always looking for a stronger understanding of the javascript, PHP, and SQL. From there I’ll work on Python next.
    I would love to find a degree that combines marketing and technology. I saw Medill’s Integrated Marketing communications masters but it doesn’t dive into the technology enough (i.e. no programming, only a high level view). Would a masters in computer science be the right course?
    What should a young marketer be focusing in? Should it be 60% marketing, 40% technology? I’d love to hear back from you on this!

  3. I actually work for an online marketing company called University Bound. We specialize in online education and I can say-without a doubt- that from my experience(and I, myself, am an Eng. lit major and Spanish minor with little marketing or tech experience before this job) technology is an integral part of the marketing profession and will only become more so.
    The global workplace has immersed itself in technology and not only do I see the marketing field becoming more reliant on technology, I see marketing as an increasingly if not FULLY digital experience. (perhaps this will be “many years down the road,” but it seems like a logical next step.)
    Again, my experience in the field is based only on my year and few months of working within the marketing realm, but to me, it seems like creating/ mandating marketing technology classes for marketing students would be not only a useful endeavor, but also an essential one.

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