Social Media Marketing

Spring 2011 will mark the official launch of the Internet Marketing Certificate program, offered by UC Irvine Extension. The program is already attracting a lot of public attention.

The program features tactics and strategies across growing areas such as social media, mobile marketing, online analytics and search engine marketing. It is aimed at using the Internet to achieve various business goals, including acquiring, converting and retaining online customers.

“The Internet Marketing Certificate program provides the necessary component of marketing in an era of constantly changing and emerging technologies,” wrote Melanie Mitchell, assistant director of the business, management and legal programs at UCI Extension, in an e-mail.

Consisting of six required courses and a minimum of five units of elective courses, the working student can complete the certificate program in about a year and a half if they only take two classes per quarter. This schedule makes it very easy to adapt to a working lifestyle.

“These programs give students the opportunity to continue to get a UC-level education after graduation,” said Gary Matkin, who is dean of continuing education, distance learning and summer sessions at UCI.

Indeed, all courses of the online Internet Marketing Certificate program are approved by UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business. Members of the Advisory Committee are top business leaders, including CEOs, presidents, founders, chief marketing officers, social media consultants and media psychologists of various corporations, like Adobe Systems and Internet Marketing Association.

The courses combine theoretical concepts with practical knowledge and are led by practicing real-world experts, who are equipped with insider tips and techniques to further scholastic aid. The online format also consists of “Voice-over-PowerPoint” lectures, case studies, forum discussions and live lecture sections conducted through WebEx.

The certificate program was designed to provide professionals already in traditional or interactive marketing agencies or corporate marketing departments with successful, cost-effective Internet marketing strategies to advance their education and careers.

Even though students all have their bachelor’s degree, adding certificates to their resumes have numerous benefits. While it is not a degree, certificates represent a new, specific set of skills.

“We feel that, when you graduate, you have simply earned a permanent incomplete,” Matkin said. “Education is never complete and the main function of the extension programs is to provide continuing education in ways that are convenient and accepted.”

In fact, UC Extension is so fundamental that the first course to be offered under the UCI name started in 1962 at a Garden Grove High School. In actuality, the extension program existed years before the UCI campus was founded in 1965 and even before the city of Irvine was established in 1975.

Now, nearly 50 years later, there are about 70 certificates that cover a variety of fields. According to Matkin, project management, personal financial planning and business analysis are high in demand, and the business, management and legal area offers the most certificates.

Another popular program is education, which also recently launched a new program in virtual teaching at the beginning of this winter quarter, adding to its already dense repertoire of G.A.T.E. programs, reading certificates and teaching English as a foreign or second language.

“After just six months, students can teach English as a foreign language anywhere they want. We can essentially put you anywhere in the world you want to be,” Matkin said.

In addition, there are programs for engineering, information technology, life sciences, environment and facilities, sustainability studies and arts and culture, including connoisseurship and wine studies.

“The advent of online education has really changed everything in my field,” said Matkin, who has worked for UC Extension since 1973. “It’s been a real transformation and now we can offer more certificates online so students can complete them at any place and at any time.”

With more people wanting to boost up their resumes in this job market, UC Extension has seen enrollment steadily increase to the point where about 38,000 students are projected to be enrolled this upcoming school year.

UCI Extension is making sure they do not fall behind, redesigning certificate programs already in place and constantly updating courses and curriculum to incorporate the latest technologies.

“We are currently building articulation agreements with partner universities to allow our students the opportunity to transfer academic credit toward advanced degrees,” Mitchell said.

It is growing at a staggering pace; in the last six months alone, they have launched certificate programs for E-Learning Instructional Design, Search Engine Optimization, Optical Engineering and Optical Instrument Design and Sustainable Community Planning and Development.

UCI Extension is in the process of starting even more certificate programs, particularly in relation to health sciences.

“We are working on a certificate in clinical research, which would allow people who are in the health-related fields to complete the required research for their jobs and licenses, as well as one in medical product development,” Matkin said. “We need to follow market trends and we hope to continue to build the UC Extension program accordingly.”