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By now, companies that don’t have a social media presence yet are simply behind the times.

Harnessing the potential of social media requires much more than a tweet here or status update there, so businesses are investing serious resources to stay on top of this ever-evolving field.

BIA Kelsey’s US Social Local Media Forecast predicts that by 2016, companies will funnel up to $9.2 billion into social media advertising, for branding, products, and jobs, up from an estimated $4.6 billion in 2012.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in social media are expected to increase up to 23% in 2013. Social media manager with professional experience with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can expect an average annual salary of $57,550.

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In turn, universities are offering courses and online graduate specializations to prepare students to manage the influx of social media employees. Universities offering online MBA programs in social media and online marketing include:

  • New England College New England College, a private university located in Henniker, New Hampshire, is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. The 40-credit hour online MBA in social media is divided into 10, four-credit hour courses, that can be completed in about 18 months. Curriculum includes courses in psychology of social media, organizational change and leadership, strategic planning and policy for digital and social media, digital marketing and brand development, digital media law and ethics, and professional writing and design for new media. Tuition is $512 per credit hour, and the GMAT is not required for admission.
  • Excelsior College Based in Albany, NY, Excelsior launched an online MBA in Social Media Management in March. As one of a handful of online MBA programs in New York, Excelsior is regionally accredited by the Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The program teaches students skills to build web communities, create and market online brands, provide customer service, and craft web content, develop online campaigns and monitor and measure social media engagement. The MBA program requires between 33 and 48 credits, depending on student’s prior transfer credit. Students may transfer up to 24 approved credits. The program has five foundation courses that may be waived. Per credit tuition for all graduate courses: $515, though there are discounts available for military and through particular corporate partnerships. The GMAT is not required for admission.
  • Southern New Hampshire University Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit university based in Manchester, New Hampshire accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). SNHU’s online MBA in Social Media Management requires 39 credit hours, and can be completed in 18 months when students take two courses per 11-week term. Students will learn how to integrate trends in social media into business marketing plans, create more effective social media campaigns, improve and optimize products, and generate leads.The base program cost is $24,453. The GMAT is not required for admission.
  • Florida Tech University Online Based in Melbourne, Fla., Florida Tech is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Florida Tech offers an entirely online MBA in Internet Marketing that teaches students how to apply social media to marketing and promotional tactics; track and measure online marketing campaigns; and integrate analytics and consumer browsing behavior. The program requires 36 credit hours and typically can be completed in 24 months. The base program tuition is $32,256, and the GMAT is required for admission.

Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion on Twitter @elisermarrion.