Should You Do a Digital Marketing Degree or a Digital Marketing Bootcamp?

Rosie Allabarton, contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

So you want to work in digital marketing, and you’re figuring out the best way to break into the field. What skills do you need to acquire? And, perhaps most importantly, how should you acquire them? Should you do a digital marketing degree or a digital marketing bootcamp? Fear not: We’re here to help you weigh up your options and find the right path for you. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the difference between a digital marketing degree and a digital marketing bootcamp, together with the pros and cons of each. We’ll also show you how to decide between the two options; you’ll need to consider what you’re hoping to get out of the course, as well as other factors like your budget, timeline, location, and other commitments. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. What skills do you need to work in digital marketing?
  2. What exactly is a digital marketing degree, and what can you expect from one? (Including pros and cons)
  3. What is a digital marketing bootcamp, and what can you expect from one? (Including pros and cons)
  4. What are some of the best digital marketing degrees?
  5. What are some of the best digital marketing bootcamps?
  6. Digital marketing degree vs. digital marketing bootcamp: How to choose
  7. In a nutshell: Digital marketing degrees vs. digital marketing bootcamps (a side-by-side comparison)
  8. Next steps

So, let’s weigh up two of the most popular routes into the digital marketing field! But, first things, first…

1. What skills do you need to work in digital marketing?

To launch your career in digital marketing, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate a mixture of hard and soft skills. Employers will be looking for specific knowledge and experience related to the field, as well as more generalized workplace skills to ensure you are a productive and efficient member of your team. 

Regardless of the route you choose to go down to build this new skillset, be it a digital marketing degree or a digital marketing bootcamp, it’s important to make sure the curriculum of the course you choose has a firm focus on the following skills and know-how: 

Top digital marketing hard skills

  • Knowledge of social media platforms and trends
  • Experience with marketing and web analytics tools such as Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Taboola, Outbrain and similar web advertising platforms
  • Familiarity with and knowledge of email marketing tools like HubSpot, Sendinblue, Omnisend, MailChimp, and Mailjet
  • Good understanding of pay-per-click advertising
  • Knowledge of keyword research and SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Skilled in marketing campaign strategy and execution 
  • Understanding of multivariate experiments and A/B testing and email marketing
  • Knowledge of user experience and the optimization of customer experience funnels and landing pages

Top digital marketing soft skills

  • Excellent time management and the ability to prioritize tasks
  • Strong analytical skillset combined with genuine interest in learning new tools, gathering data, and studying trends 
  • Project management skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills 
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently to complete tasks
  • Strong team player 

You can learn more about the main skills a digital marketer should be able to demonstrate here. For now, let’s explore the first possible option for learning those skills: A digital marketing degree. 

A digital marketing student wearing headphones, smiling, working on a laptop

2. What is a digital marketing degree, and what can you expect from one?

A digital marketing degree is perhaps considered the more traditional route to learning about digital marketing and picking up the necessary skills. Traditionally, digital marketing degrees have been offered on campus with a fixed lesson timetable. But, as the work (and educational) landscape evolves, more colleges and universities are offering remote degrees.

During a digital marketing degree, students will typically learn about marketing principles, digital marketing strategies, and business communication. Depending on the institution, course, and teaching staff, many programs also seek to emphasize the knowledge and skills that entry-level marketing professionals need to apply on a daily basis, including more transferable organizational, team management, and general communication skills. 

Specialization is often an option for aspiring digital marketers during their degree programs, enabling preparation for specific career choices. In a digital marketing degree program, specializations might include subjects such as digital technology or digital marketing applications. 

Most courses offer a mixture of teaching and classroom styles to ensure accessibility for as many students as possible. Options including on campus programs, fully online courses, or a blended approach of on and offline learning are becoming the norm for most universities and higher education establishments. For those with additional responsibilities outside of their degree program, such as paid employment or family commitments, these different course styles offer an element of flexibility to a busy study schedule. 

Now we know what a digital marketing degree is, let’s answer some FAQs. 

How long does it take to do a digital marketing degree?

A bachelor’s degree in digital marketing is a longer term commitment, with full-time students typically finishing in four years, while a master’s degree is usually between one year and eighteen months. Those who opt to study for a part-time digital marketing degree can expect to complete their studies over a longer period of time. 

How much does a digital marketing degree cost?

The cost of your digital marketing degree will vary significantly depending on where in the world you choose to study. Here’s a quick breakdown of average costs in different countries. 

  • UK: £9,000 per year 
  • Germany: €7,000 per year 
  • US: $7,850 per year 
  • Australia: AU$32,300 per year 
  • Mexico: Mex$103.509,75 per year 
  • China: ¥28.851,53 per year 

How much time will you have to commit to a digital marketing degree? 

If you are a full-time student of a bachelor degree program in digital marketing, you are typically expected to commit to your studies on a full-time basis. Irrespective of whether the course you have chosen is online, offline, or a hybrid of the two, or how many hours you spend attending lectures or workshops, you should still expect to devote the same amount of time to full-time study as you would to a full-time job (i.e. approximately 40 hours per week).

For those studying part-time, the time commitment can be cut in half, enabling you to work, or balance family commitments alongside your studies. 

What kinds of learning models are available with a digital marketing degree?

Increasingly, universities and higher education establishments are offering students different learning models by which to complete their bachelor degrees in digital marketing. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular ones. 

In-person learning

In-person learning is when students can immerse themselves in full or part-time courses in a physical classroom under the guidance of a lecturer and in the company of other students. It is perhaps the learning model we are all most familiar with, and comes with numerous benefits for those whose learning styles work well in a hands-on environment.  

Online learning 

Online learning has seen a boom in recent years and, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, studying online has become very much the norm for undergraduate students all over the world. 

Thanks to the high volume of in-person classroom closures, many courses which were previously only available offline are now available remotely, and can offer a level of flexibility and convenience that a traditional classroom setting is unable to. 

Blended learning 

Blended learning combines aspects of both online and in-person methodologies, ensuring students have the flexibility of online courses without missing out on the student camaraderie and face-to-face interactions that power a successful course outcome. 

What are the pros of a digital marketing degree?

There are numerous benefits of embarking on a four year digital marketing degree at an established or prestigious institution. Here’s a handful of reasons why you might wish to consider it: 

  • Instruction from industry professionals 
  • In-depth, long term learning experience
  • Collaboration opportunities with other students
  • Structured learning, formal reviews, and direct feedback from tutors
  • An accredited credential to boost your marketing resume
  • Thorough grounding in digital marketing theory and its practical application
  • Teaching in marketing as a whole (not just digital marketing)
  • Customization opportunities to fit your learning style and schedule 

What are the cons of a digital marketing degree?

The downsides of pursuing a digital marketing degree depend somewhat on what you as an individual need from your specific learning experience, and what you hope to get out of the course. Here are some cons of a digital marketing degree to think about:

  • The price. Bachelor degrees tend to be considerably more expensive than other learning methods.
  • Hidden costs. There are often additional expenses to think about that may not be immediately obvious when you apply for a place on a digital marketing degree course. These might include administrative fees, books, software, materials, and travel to and from campus (if you’re taking an in-person degree).
  • No guarantee of admission—most universities require you to submit a formal application which will then be reviewed and either accepted or declined by your chosen institution.
  • Where you live can play a significant role in the price of your tuition, with home students (those who live in the country of the university) typically offered much lower fees than those hailing from abroad.
  • Not all degree programs are available online.
  • It’s a long term commitment. With most degrees averaging around four years, there’s a long time to wait before graduation and getting your foot on the first rung of the career ladder.
  • Teaching styles will vary by professor/instructor, so your experience of the course will depend heavily on the teaching staff your course is assigned.
  • Although degrees tend to be thorough, they sometimes run the risk of not always being up to date. In a field like digital marketing, which is changing all the time, there is a chance that the learning materials or teaching lags behind current methodologies in the field.

Now for our second option: A digital marketing bootcamp. 

A digital marketing degree student talking to their mentor via video call on a laptop

3. What is a digital marketing bootcamp, and what can you expect from one?

A digital marketing bootcamp offers an alternative route the traditional university degree. Bootcamps come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging from intensive, immersive, in-person bootcamps to flexible, part-time, online courses—and everything else in between. In this section, you’ll find a comprehensive overview of what you can and should expect from a digital marketing bootcamp so that you’re in a great position to make an informed decision about the best educational route for you to launch your digital marketing career. 

How long does it take to do a digital marketing bootcamp?

The length of a digital marketing bootcamp is typically anywhere between four to twelve weeks, although some more extensive programs can take longer. Generally, study time is punctuated by meetings with a mentor or tutor for feedback and progress updates. However, the length of your course will depend on if you choose to study part-time or full-time, and if you choose an in-person or online study model. 

The length of the course will also be determined by the institution where you choose to study. While some intensive in-person bootcamps might take place over the course of a single weekend, other courses will run up to a year with the students themselves largely responsible for how they manage their projects and learning schedule. 

To give you an idea of course lengths, here are some popular ones: 

  • The Digital Marketing Institute’s Digital Marketing Diploma: 8-10 weeks. 
  • BrainStation’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp: 12 weeks, full-time.
  • Thinkful’s Digital Marketing Flex Course: 12 weeks, part-time.

How much does a digital marketing bootcamp cost?

Like the length of a bootcamp, costs vary from school to school. However, the price of a digital marketing bootcamp typically ranges from a few hundred dollars to $10k for a high-end certification program. Some providers will offer scholarships and discounts for women, PoC, the unemployed, veterans, and others, so it’s always worth reading the small print to see what savings you might be entitled to. 

Here, we’ve outlined the cost of some popular digital marketing bootcamps: 

  • The Digital Marketing Institute’s Digital Marketing Diploma: €1,700 
  • BrainStation’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp: $15,000
  • Thinkful’s Digital Marketing Flex Course: $4,600

How much time will you have to commit to a digital marketing bootcamp?

The amount of time you’ll need to commit to a digital marketing bootcamp will depend on the bootcamp itself, though most offer part-time, full-time, and flexible study options. This self-led approach to learning enables students to work through materials and projects at the speed which works best with their schedule and lifestyle. 

Let’s consider the number of recommended study hours per week for a handful of popular digital marketing bootcamps: 

  • The Digital Marketing Institute’s Digital Marketing Diploma: 3 hours per week 
  • BrainStation’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp: 40 hours per week, full-time
  • Thinkful’s Digital Marketing Flex Course: 20 hours per week. part-time

What kinds of learning models are available with a digital marketing bootcamp?

In a similar vein to the learning models offered by digital marketing degree programs, digital marketing bootcamps are generally available via in-person, online, and hybrid learning models. However, the majority of bootcamps are undertaken by students looking for a flexible learning option that fits around their work and other commitments. For this reason, the majority of students of digital marketing bootcamps tend to opt for an online learning model. This gives them the freedom to choose how many hours per week they wish to study, when they want to complete the course, to have 24/7 access to their course materials, and complete assignments and projects at their own pace.   

What are the pros of a digital marketing bootcamp?

If you’re hoping to launch a new career in digital marketing, there are a host of advantages to pursuing the bootcamp route. Here’s a list of some of them: 

  • The cost of a bootcamp is generally considerably lower than a traditional degree.
  • Students can complete a bootcamp in less than year, and, in most cases, in just a few months.
  • Transparent pricing structures with fewer hidden costs are common, compared with a university or higher education facility.
  • Typically a bootcamp is conducted either intensively over a very short period of time, or with a lot of schedule flexibility over a longer period of time, allowing students the space they need to study alongside other commitments.
  • Online or remote learning is almost always an option for bootcamp students.
  • Many digital marketing bootcamps have a sharp focus on the skills students will need for the workplace, as well as currently sought-after skills.
  • Students learn from professionals with considerable experience and expertise in the field.
  • Bootcamps lean strongly towards hands-on projects and portfolio-building that students can demonstrate to employers or recruiters.

What are the cons of a digital marketing bootcamp?

Now let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of studying digital marketing via a bootcamp.

  • Bootcamps which take place over just a few days can feel very intense and will require concentration and energy to onboard all the information you’ll need and get the desired results.
  • In comparison to in-person study programs, online bootcamps can sometimes lack the same level of collaboration or conversation with fellow students.
  • The quality of study materials and teaching can vary widely from bootcamp to bootcamp, so it’s important to do your research!
  • Although many bootcamps offer certificates of completion to successful students, some more traditional employers may value these less highly than a degree qualification from a recognized institution. However, in an increasingly remote world, it’s becoming less and less common for employers to favor traditional degrees over alternative learning routes.
  • Bootcamps which do not offer hands-on mentorship or one-to-one teaching may require more work from students in order to learn everything they’ll need to launch a career in the field.
  • Some bootcamps may not offer customization of courses, or opportunities to specialize in one area. 

We’ve weighed up both sides of the coin. Now let’s consider some of the best options on the market for both digital marketing degrees and bootcamps. 

A digital marketing bootcamp student working at a laptop

4. What are some of the best digital marketing degrees?

Here’s a rundown of some of our favorite digital marketing degrees and institutions. 

Digital marketing at Suffolk University

The digital marketing program at Suffolk University teaches students how to create effective integrated business strategies that include marketing, publicity, research, and advertising.

  • Mode of study: On campus
  • Duration: Full-time, 48 months
  • Price: $38,436 per year
  • Ideal for: Those who are interested in specializing in other areas of digital marketing including entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, international business, or human resource management

Digital marketing at Midland University

The digital marketing bachelor degree at Midland University places emphasis on practical knowledge, industry-relevant certifications, and projects with real businesses, having been developed in partnership with employers such as Salesforce and Google. The course also incorporates current research on what skills are needed on a national level in digital marketing teams.

  • Mode of study: On campus
  • Duration: Full-time, 48 months
  • Price: $36,005 per year
  • Ideal for: Those seeking hands-on skills and the opportunity to gain work experience and digital marketing practice at local organizations

MSc Digital Marketing at King’s College London 

The Digital Marketing MSc program at King’s College London is a theory-driven course that additionally seeks to provide students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to analyze, evaluate, and manage market opportunities in the context of Web 2.0.

  • Mode of study: On campus
  • Duration: Full-time, 12 months
  • Price: £16,890 per year 
  • Ideal for: Those looking for a deep dive into the theory, strategy, tactics, and psychology behind digital marketing, as well those wishing to understand the relevance and applicability of current research in the field 

MSc in Digital Marketing at Berlin School of Business & Innovation

The Berlin School of Business & Innovation’s Digital Marketing MSc is an 18-month program covering fundamental topics such as marketing communications, consumer behavior and research, and strategic marketing management.

  • Mode of study: On campus (also available online)
  • Duration: Full-time 18 months
  • Price: €8,000 
  • Ideal for: English speakers living in Germany with a passion for marketing who are looking to take advantage of the explosion in marketing jobs on the German startup scene

Master of Digital Marketing at University of Melbourne

The Master of Digital Marketing course at the University of Melbourne equips graduates for a digital marketing career via specialized modules in customer experience design, digital marketing metrics, content marketing, and thought leadership in digital marketing.

  • Mode of study: On campus
  • Duration: 18 months full-time / 3 years part-time
  • Price: AUS$34,816 per year  
  • Ideal for: Students looking for a course that is academically rigorous, yet hands-on and globally relevant

A digital marketing degree student sitting on a sofa, wearing headphones, working on a laptop

5. What are some of the best digital marketing bootcamps?

With so many different digital marketing bootcamps out there, it can be hard to know where to start finding the right course for you. That’s why we’ve put together a shortlist of some of the bootcamps we think really stand out from the crowd. For a more comprehensive comparison, check out our round-up of the best digital marketing bootcamps available right now

Thinkful Digital Marketing Bootcamp

This bootcamp is a great option for those who are looking to balance work, life, and study commitments, with a firm eye on launching a digital marketing career.

  • Mode of study: Online 
  • Duration: 15-20 hours per week for 3 months 
  • Price: $4,900 which can be paid upfront, monthly, or after landing a job 
  • Ideal for: Those who need to fit their study around other commitments 
  • USP: Flexible, high-quality learning from expert online education providers

BrainStation Online Digital Marketing Bootcamp 

BrainStation’s Online Digital Marketing Course is the full bootcamp experience in a part-time package that works best for those who already have some experience in the field. 

  • Mode of study: Online and in-person courses 
  • Duration: 5 x 8 hour classes, or 10 x 4 hour classes 
  • Price: $3,250
  • Ideal for: Upskillers with some experience
  • USP: Graduates of the course receive an industry-recognized professional certificate

Harvard’s Digital Marketing Strategy Course

This bootcamp offers part of the Harvard experience at a fraction of the on-campus price and is the perfect solution for those who are short on time.

  • Mode of study: Online (there is also a longer, on-campus version) 
  • Duration: 7 days 
  • Price: $3,250
  • Ideal for: Junior digital marketers who are looking to get more senior digital marketing strategy positions
  • USP: Ivy League university 

Udacity Digital Marketing Nanodegree

Udacity’s digital marketing bootcamp is a custom learning program designed for those who want to learn the foundational skills needed for an eventual career in tech. 

  • Mode of study: Online
  • Duration: 3 months 
  • Price: €359 per month, or €927 upfront 
  • Ideal for: Those seeking an all-round education in digital marketing 
  • USP: Co-created with Facebook 

General Assembly Digital Marketing On Demand

GA’s digital marketing bootcamp offers students a thorough grounding in digital marketing that will most likely suit those who can power through the extensive course content largely unsupervised. 

  • Mode of study: Online
  • Duration: Up to 12 months access to course materials 
  • Price: $950
  • Ideal for: Self-motivated, independent learners who need flexibility 
  • USP: Expertly crafted grounding in digital marketing

For more study options, consider these digital marketing certification programs

Two aspiring digital marketers sitting at a desk, smiling and talking

6. Digital marketing degree vs. digital marketing bootcamp: How to choose the right option for you

As you stand on the precipice of a new career in digital marketing, deciding on the right educational environment for you can be a tough call to make. To get a good understanding of which learning style suits you and your lifestyle best, it’s worth considering your budget, location, other time commitments, and the speed at which you want to make your career change. 

So, when weighing it up between a digital marketing degree and a digital marketing bootcamp, we encourage you to consider the following factors. 

Budget 

As we’ve seen, there’s a stark contrast between the cost of a university degree and a bootcamp in digital marketing. When considering your options, it’s important to calculate how much you can afford to invest in your career change, research the payment options available for each type of study program, and look into whether or not you might be eligible for funding. You may also work for a company that is willing to invest in your skills training if you can prove you’re willing to stay at the organization once you’ve completed your course. When you have a clear idea of what your budget is, it’ll make it much easier to narrow down your options.  

Location 

Location will play a major role when you’re choosing where and how to study. If you don’t live close to an institution offering a digital marketing course that fits your needs, and relocation is not an option, you’ll want to explore remote learning via online courses and bootcamps. While most bootcamps are available online, not all degrees are. However, over time, more and more universities are moving their degree programs online to enable access to a wider selection of students. 

If learning online does not fit your learning style, you’ll need to look closely at institutions in your area teaching digital marketing and consider whether a fixed-location education fits your schedule and other commitments. 

Work, family, and lifestyle commitments 

How much time can you dedicate to a program of study in digital marketing? If you have other responsibilities such as caring for family members, a part-time or full-time job, or educational commitments, you’ll need to find a course that either fits well with your current schedule, or that is flexible enough for you to choose when you study. 

While universities tend to have more rigid timetables, many do offer evening classes and weekend seminars, while a good number of bootcamps rely on a self-led learning approach which allows students to choose as and when they work on projects or have consultations with teaching staff or mentors.  

Ultimately, it’s about considering what’s possible—and preferable—based on your personal situation. Weigh up those factors and you’ll likely have a clear winner!

A digital marketing degree student sitting at a desk, working on a laptop

7. Digital marketing degree vs. digital marketing bootcamp: An overview

As we’ve seen, there are a number of pros and cons to both digital marketing degrees and digital marketing bootcamps, and making a choice between the two options can be tricky. 

If your priorities include finding a lower cost program, a flexible or remote learning environment, and a course that you can complete within six months, then an online bootcamp is probably the right track for you to pursue. A bootcamp is also likely to contain the most up to date study materials and be geared towards helping you find your first job in the field. 

However, if your budget and timeline are relatively flexible, and getting certification from a recognized university or institution is important to you or the career you’re hoping to launch, then a degree might be better suited to your needs. A degree is also a good choice for those who wish to study in a traditional classroom setting, as the majority of bootcamps (though not all) take place remotely.  

8. Next steps

We hope we’ve given you some food for thought while you make the decision between a digital marketing degree and a digital marketing bootcamp. 

Now that you’ve got a grounding in some of the options out there, it’s a great time to make a list of your priorities.

  • Is the cost of study the most important or critical factor for you? 
  • The timeline or flexibility of the course?
  • Is the reputation of the institution where you study a high priority? 
  • Is the outcome of the course, access to industry experts, or the guarantee of a job at the top of your list? 

When you know the study elements that you’re not willing to compromise on, finding a course that matches your needs will be a good deal easier. 

Finally, if you’d like to find out more about how to start your career in digital marketing, we can recommend the following:

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