May 30, 2024

What’s the Difference Between Online vs. On-Campus Digital Marketing Master’s Programs?

Companies across industries rely on digital marketing to drive brand awareness, generate high-quality leads and boost revenue. 

That’s why digital marketers with in-depth knowledge and advanced skills are in demand - especially with the wide adoption of advanced technology like artificial intelligence for digital marketing activities. 

A Digital Marketing Master’s is an important investment for anyone looking to carve out a successful and lucrative career in digital marketing. It provides marketers with the ability to think strategically, use a data-driven approach and develop the management and planning skills required to take on a senior or C-level role. 

But what’s the best way to learn and study for a Master’s program? Is online a better option or is on-campus the way to go? 

In this blog, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of both learning methods to help you decide which route is best for you and your career. 

What will you learn in a Digital Marketing Master’s?

Before we look at learning options, let’s just have a brief look at what should be covered in a Digital Marketing Master’s program.

Core curriculum: 

  • Professional and digital skills (CX, marketing models, content marketing, etc.)
  • Search marketing (SEO & SEM) and demand generation
  • Social media marketing
  • Business strategy and management
  • Analytics and planning
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Digital business strategy and management
  • Brand building

Practical experience:

  • Module Assessments (e.g. SEO optimization proposals, content strategy, digital marketing usage)
  • Business project or thesis
  • Case studies
  • Internships

The elements will differ by Master’s program, but these are key areas that should be included to give you the skills and knowledge required for a senior position. 

Top tip: Check out the details of our Master’s in Digital Marketing to get an idea of what’s included and involved.  

What’s the difference between an MBA and a MSc?

When looking at Master’s in Digital Marketing, there will be an option to complete an MSc or an MBA or MA, so it’s important to know the difference. 

An MBA is a Master in Business Administration. Common subjects in this area are marketing, finance, accounting, contemporary management, human resources, business and international law, and statistics. An MBA might allow you to specialize through electives or project work, but it won’t focus on one domain. The aim is to master the links between the different business departments at a broader level with a clear focus on leadership. 

An MSc is a Masters of Science so it is more focused on the science behind the subject. So, doing an MSc in Digital Marketing allows you to delve into marketing science and its theoretical underpinnings. This naturally makes the degree more academic-focused, championing analysis and research as integral skills. Common subjects for an MSc are accounting, economics, business, and finance. 

In the context of digital marketing, an MBA or MA is usually more general in the topics it covers and useful for executive applications. While an MSc is typically more focused on digital marketing and more academic - allowing you to master the analytical and research skills needed to become a marketing executive - and what DMI offers as a Master’s program.

Digital Marketing Master’s: Online learning

The number of people studying online has risen dramatically over the past few years. This is because online degrees have a wide reach and include microcredentials, MOOCs (massive open online courses), and traditional college degrees.  

Best College’s ‘Online Education Trends Report 2023’ found that 96% of students said their online degree program has had or will have a positive return on investment while the same number would recommend online education to others.  

So let’s look at the pros and cons of online learning

Advantages of online learning

  • Flexibility: You can balance study with work and personal commitments. According to an EY study, 60% of students are managing work or caring commitments alongside their studies so flexibility is essential. 
  • On-demand: With online learning, you’re not tied to instructor or classroom hours so you can access it 24/7. 
  • Accessibility: You can study from anywhere in the world and so there’s no need to relocate.
  • Up-to-date and relevant: The advancement of technology has made it much easier to update the content of online courses meaning that what you learn is up-to-date and relevant. 
  • Affordability: Online learning is often cheaper than on-campus programs and there are also no commuting or accommodation costs.
  • Self-Paced Learning: You get the opportunity to learn at your own speed and at a time that suits, which makes it ideal for working professionals or those juggling personal commitments and family.
  • Personalization: Some institutions use adaptive learning technologies to provide personalized learning experiences with tailored content and assessments based on individual progress and needs. 
  • Experience of technologies: You learn to use the latest digital tools and platforms such as online platforms, AI tools, collaboration tools, and digital communication techniques. 

“An online part-time program is for students who are in work or have other commitments. Students can study from anywhere in the world as long as they have access to a computer and internet connectivity,” says Felicia Tick, Associate Dean (Academic Development) & Pro-Proctor at BPP University School of Business.

Disadvantages of online learning

  • Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction: Due to the online nature of the course, there can be limited opportunities to work with peers and professors.
  • Reduced Social and Networking Opportunities: While you can engage and build a community online, there may be less opportunity to socialize and build relationships with peers and faculty members. 
  • Technical Issues: Being online requires a stable and reliable internet connection so any glitches or issues can be disruptive.  
  • Lack of Motivation: As online is self-directed, you need, you need to have self-discipline and good time management skills.
  • Limited Access to Resources: You won’t have access to campus libraries, labs or other facilities.
  • Perception and Credibility: Some employers may prefer traditional degrees and credentials over online ones. However, employers are recognizing the value of online education as a way to enhance productivity and develop employees' skills.

Digital Marketing Master’s: On-campus learning

Studying on campus used to be the norm for university and college students. In fact, it was the only way to learn several years ago. 

Advancements in technology and the rise in online education have meant that there are other choices or even a combination of online and on-campus as hybrid learning becomes more popular in higher education.

While more than half of students in the U.K said they prefer learning on campus, 36% said they like a mix of in-person and online learning (hybrid), according to ‘The Student Digital Experience Insights Survey 2022/23’. 

As a learning option, on-campus offers a face-to-face experience with access to faculty and peers. But is it the right choice for you? 

Let’s look at the pros and cons of on-campus learning.  

Advantages of on-campus learning

  • Structured environment: A fixed schedule and physical presence can help with discipline and focus.
  • Access to campus resources: You have access to libraries, career services, and extracurricular activities.
  • Direct interaction: You can get face-to-face time with faculty, peers, and industry professionals.
  • Increased engagement: You are able to get involved with in-person discussions, group projects, and real-time feedback.
  • Build a community: You can build a peer network and develop a community on campus with staff and students.
  • Support and feedback: You can access support services such as tutoring or counseling and get face-to-face feedback. 
  • Develop social skills and reduce isolation: You can take advantage of social events or clubs to socialize and network.

Disadvantages of on-campus learning

  • Lack of flexibility: An on-campus program requires a full-time commitment and can limit other activities such as part-time work or meeting professional obligations such as family.
  • Higher costs: The tuition fees can be higher and there are also travel and accommodation expenses to consider.
  • Geographical limitations: You may need to relocate or travel to get to the campus.
  • Reduced autonomy: There’s less opportunity to learn at your own pace and decide on your learning schedule.  

What Should You Consider When Choosing Online vs. On-Campus?

  • How do you like to learn? Are you more suited to a self-paced learning environment with flexibility or a structured classroom setting with face-to-face engagement?
  • What are your career goals? Which format do you think aligns with your professional aspirations and will help achieve your career goals? For example, are you working while you learn or looking to move into a new field?
  • What budget do you have? Think about the total cost which includes expenses like travel, accommodation and learning materials.
  • What are your lifestyle and commitments? How do you think a program will fit into your existing responsibilities? Are you able to commute or can you study without working? 
  • What’s the credibility or reputation of the program? Carefully research the credibility and recognition of online and on-campus programs. Are they informed by industry experts? Are they aligned with the needs of industry? Is there practical and hands-on experience or an apprenticeship on offer?


There are many things you need to consider when choosing the learning format for a Digital Marketing Master’s. After all, it is a big investment in your future. 

So, the route you take should help meet your needs - whether that’s transitioning into a more senior role or changing career - but it should also fit in with your lifestyle and personal commitments.

Whichever learning method you decide on, make sure the course hones the skills you need and has a good reputation. That could be ties to industry or positive testimonials from graduates who have completed the course. 

Good luck! 

Become a Digital Marketing Master

If you want to advance your career and become a Digital Marketing Manager or even a CMO, you need advanced skills, credentials, and experience. Our Master’s in Digital Marketing, informed by leading industry experts (Coca-Cola, Google, Microsoft IBM), is an advanced program that provides you with key digital marketing skills and provides you with strategic, management, planning, and analytics know-how expected by employers across industries. Download a brochure today to see what you can achieve.  

Ali Gamaleldin
Ali Gamaleldin

Ali is a Learning Specialist at DMI and has broad experience in management and marketing in the Middle East and experience in teaching International Marketing in Denmark and Asia.

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