What is marketing, exactly? It's probably best described as a blend of science, art and psychology, combining creative work with hard data and social science innovations to develop smart strategies for raising awareness of a brand, product or organization.
Experts in marketing must think creatively to plan ad campaigns and marketing messages, and they also must think critically when analyzing marketing data, negotiating contracts, developing pricing strategies and creating budgets. Some marketing professionals conduct their own research to better understand their customers and what drives their purchasing decisions.
If a marketing career path seems like the right fit for you, earning a degree in marketing from an accredited college or university is a great way to get started. We've created a rundown of what to expect from your marketing courses and some information on professional marketing certifications for graduates.
Whether you're ready to enroll tomorrow or just curious about how well an online program would suit you, read on to learn more about marketing careers, degrees and more.
The functions of marketing can be taught just as well in the virtual classroom as in a face-to-face environment, and as such it's not difficult to find marketing programs available entirely online. Hybrid programs, which combine online and in-person instruction, may also be offered at certain institutions.
Each individual college and university sets out its own specific marketing curriculum, but there are some concepts you can expect to learn in most programs. Study of the discipline typically begins with marketing basics, featuring courses in business statistics, economics and marketing communication, and moves into more advanced concepts like consumer behavior and marketing analytics in later semesters.
You also may be able to specialize your marketing study to focus on a specific area in the field, such as digital or social media marketing. Read on to learn more about what's taught in these programs and the types of marketing skills you can develop on the path to your degree.
How long does a bachelor's marketing degree program online take?
If you start your bachelor's program without any previous college experience, the average length of time you spend from enrollment to graduation is around four years. Part-time students usually take longer to finish their degrees, and some institutions may offer accelerated plans that allow you to take a heavier schedule per semester in exchange for a shorter time to completion.
What are the requirements to start a bachelor's marketing degree program online?
Admission to a Bachelor of Marketing program typically requires the submission of your high school diploma or equivalency certificate (GED, TASC, etc.) and official documentation of any credits you're hoping to transfer from prior college work. Scores on the SAT, ACT or other standardized tests may be required as well.
Why earn a bachelor's marketing degree online?
The move toward online communication has kicked off a marketing evolution, and the powerful tools offered by the internet can also take some of the stress out of earning a marketing degree. Online marketing courses can give you the freedom to view lectures and complete assignments at your own pace, communicating with professors and classmates through chats and message boards.
The first two years of a bachelor's in marketing program often feature a substantial portion of the general education courses required for your degree, in subjects like English composition and the social sciences. Introductory marketing study, such as overview courses on the field as a whole, typically take place in the lower division as well.
Upper division (years three and four)
The latter semesters of your marketing program feature more advanced courses from your program's business core, including principles of finance and operations management, as well as training in consumer decision-making, marketing analytics and more. This part of the program is also where you'll usually learn about marketing research and strategic planning for marketing campaigns.
Concentrating your degree in a specific area of the field can help you learn high-value marketing skills that cater to a specialized marketing career path. Here are a few possible concentrations to consider:
The online space is fertile ground for marketing campaigns, and a digital marketing concentration can help you make the most of it.
This concentration can teach you to make use of the extensive opportunities to harvest data and micro-target your message that social media apps provide.
Learn to manage marketing teams and bring projects and campaigns to fruition on time and under budget.
Job opportunities in marketing are expected to increase substantially over the next several years, particularly in the areas of market research and analysis. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 20 percent rise in employment for market research analysts between 2018 and 2028, indicating that nearly 140,000 new jobs are expected to emerge in that period.
We'll answer a few questions about marketing careers — What's the difference between marketing and market research? How can you land the job you want? What is marketing management? — in the section below.
What do marketing specialists do?
As perhaps the most common marketing career at the entry level, marketing specialists make up a large portion of the marketing workforce. They typically work in teams and may be employed by independent marketing agencies or in-house at large businesses and other organizations.
Here are some of the duties you might perform in a marketing specialist position:
How to become a marketing specialist
An undergraduate degree is the most common level of education for marketing specialists, according to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Nearly 60 percent of professional marketers active in 2020 reported having a bachelor's degree.
Skill-based certifications can also help you find a desirable marketing job. Here's a quick list of some common credentials:
Continuing education isn't typically required in marketing specialist careers, but staying up-to-date with occasional online marketing courses can keep you at the top of your game.
What does a market research analyst do?
Whereas marketing specialists tend to focus on the creative, public-facing elements of marketing campaigns, market research analysts work on hard data behind the scenes to help companies better understand potential customers and their buying habits. Here's a quick list of the type of responsibilities that market research analysts face on the job:
How to become a market research analyst
A bachelor's degree is required for nearly all market research analyst positions. Some senior positions may require a master's degree or another form of advanced training. If you're aiming for this career after graduation, focusing on the statistical and mathematical aspects of marketing while pursuing your degree can set you on the right track.
Some institutions may offer dedicated bachelor's degrees in market research, while others feature training in the data-oriented side of the field as a concentration within the standard bachelor of marketing curriculum. If no formal pathway to a market research degree exists at your school, taking courses in statistics and advanced math can provide some necessary skills.
What does a marketing manager do?
Marketing agencies and companies with internal marketing departments all require skilled managers to ensure that the two main elements of the profession — data and creative — can work together at their best. Marketing managers need to have a strong knowledge of marketing fundamentals as well as the skills it takes to manage projects and supervise personnel.
Here are a few of the duties that marketing managers perform on the job:
How to become a marketing manager?
Although most employers don't typically require more advanced degree than the bachelor's, education isn't the only prerequisite for these top-tier jobs. Work experience in the field is also a big factor in hiring decisions for these positions, so it's a good idea to spend a few years as a marketing specialist or research analyst before attempting to make the jump to management.
Aspiring marketing managers can also earn professional credentials that demonstrate to potential employers that they can handle the challenges of a management role. We'll go into one such credential in the next section.
This credential, offered by the American Marketing Association (AMA), covers topics like email marketing, social media marketing, Google Ads marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).
Requirements: Anyone can sign up for the certification plan, but a degree or professional background in marketing is encouraged.
Exam Format: Consists of three sections with a total of three hours to complete.
How long does the certification last?: Three years.
The International Institute of Market Research and Analytics (IIMRA) offers this certification, which covers market research basics, research project design, market factor analysis and accurate communication of results.
Requirements: Candidates must either hold a bachelor's degree or be in the final year of their bachelor's program. No previous work experience in market research is required.
Exam Format: 90 multiple-choice questions with a 90-minute time limit.
How long does the certification last?: The IIMRA lists no expiration date for this credential.
This credential was the flagship certification offered by the AMA and is known throughout the industry as a trusted indication that you possess the specialized set of skills necessary to be an effective marketing manager.
Requirements: Four years of marketing experience with a bachelor's degree, two years of experience with a master's degree or seven years of experience without a college degree.
Exam Format: 150 multiple-choice questions with a three-hour time limit.
How long does the certification last?: Three years
Earning a bachelor's degree in marketing can be an expensive proposition, but there's help out there for those who need it. Check out some select options below, and take a look at our guide to scholarships for more info.
Applicants must be women of any age pursuing a business or business-related program who demonstrate outstanding potential. Applicants must also have an outstanding academic record in their college career, and they must show intent to complete a business program.
Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, AB-540 student or DACA recipient who is member of one of the following ethnic groups: African American/Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American/Alaska Native. Must be a full-time graduate student who has a minimum of two academic semesters or one year left to complete master's degree majoring in public relations, marketing, advertising, graphic design, marketing or public relations. Minimum 3.2 GPA, reference letter, resume, and unofficial transcript required.
Applicant must be a high school senior or college freshman, sophomore, or junior who will graduate or have graduated from high school in Middle Tennessee and will be enrolling in a four-year not-for-profit college or university. Applicant must be a business major or STEM major and be able to demonstrate financial need. Minimum 2.5 GPA required.
Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, AB-540 student or DACA recipient who is member of one of the following ethnic groups: African American/Black, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, or Native American/Alaska Native. Must be a full-time undergraduate student majoring in public relations, marketing, advertising, graphic design, marketing or public relations. Minimum 3.0 GPA, reference letter, resume, and unofficial transcript OR acceptance letter required.
Applicant must be a graduating high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student who intends to pursue or further a career in communications. Students must be residents of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Connecticut and must attend a New York university. Applicants must have a minimum grade point average of 3.2.
Applicants must be current FFA members and high school seniors or college students planning to enroll or currently enrolled full-time. They must have one of the following undergraduate majors: agronomy, crop science, general agriculture, agricultural communications, education, journalism, extension, public relations, business management, economics, sales and marketing, engineering, mechanization, agriculture power and equipment or welding. Students only need to complete the online application one time to be considered for all FFA-administered scholarships. The application requires information about the student's activities and a 1,000-word essay. Awards may be used for books, supplies, tuition, fees and room and board. Students must show financial need and evidence of community service participation.
Applicants must be Connecticut residents and be pursuing a degree in a broadcast related field such as: journalism, marketing, production, broadcast engineering or communications. Selection is based on financial need and/or merit.
Applicant must be involved in broadcasting, broadcast technology, marketing, or journalism courses. Applicants must be of non-white origin and must be at least a sophomore (by fall term of scholarship year) enrolled in the following: a broadcast, broadcast technology, marketing, or journalism curriculum leading to a baccalaureate degree at an accredited four-year college or university. A broadcast curriculum at an accredited community college, transferable to such a four-year baccalaureate degree program. A broadcast curriculum at an accredited vocational-technical school. If you are a permanent resident of the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, or Montana tuition may be applied to an in-state or out-of-state school. If you are not a permanent resident of the above-mentioned states, tuition must be applied to a school in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, or Montana.
Applicant must be a U.S. citizen with demonstrated academic excellence and financial need.
Applicant must be a full-time female undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited college in Nevada. Applicant must be majoring in communication studies, marketing, public relations, media studies, or journalism. Minimum 2.75 GPA required.
Applicant must be a student working toward a bachelor's or master's degree with an interest in a career in sales or marketing. Minimum 3.0 GPA, good standing in program, and personal statement required. Applicant must complete their profile which will be the criteria (with specific emphasis on the personal statement) used to determine the recipient of the award. The personal statement should reflect the applicant's interest in the field and the characteristics that will make them a successful salesperson or marketer.
Applicant must be attending Washington State University who has the intent of going to or is currently in the business school. Preference will be given to finance and marketing majors.
Applicant must have completed at least one year of post-secondary education who is on the path to a business or marketing career that will involve online marketing. Minimum 3.0 GPA required.
Applicants must have declared a marketing-related major or minor at a U.S. university, college, technical or online school and demonstrate ambition and desire for marketing and digital marketing. Students must be U.S. citizens or legal residents. Applicants must submit an essay discussing small business marketing principles.
Applicant must be a junior or senior full-time undergraduate student majoring in communication or marketing.
Applicant must be a minority student with demonstrated financial need and academic merit.
Applicant must be of minority decent, attended high school in the Metro Detroit area or Southeastern Michigan region. Financial need is a consideration, a minimum 2.5 GPA and an acceptable SAT score. Interview is required.
Applicants must be working toward a degree in one of the following fields: animal science, animal nutrition, dairy science, poultry science, equine/equestrian science, agriculture, agricultural science, agricultural business management, economics, finance or marketing and sales. Applicants must attend college in and be residents of one of the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia or West Virginia. Selection is based on the overall strength of the application.
Applicant must be a U.S. citizen with a minimum 2.5 GPA, demonstrate financial need and academic merit.
Applicant must be a junior or senior college student at the time of award who is majoring in business or a business related field. Financial need is required.
Becoming a member of a professional organization can boost your career prospects, provide access to exclusive resources and connect you to like-minded marketers across the country. Here are a few of the organizations available for marketing school graduates: