Marketing has been a big part of business operations for decades, and it may be more important now than ever. With the rise of Big Data and social media as elements of business strategy, marketing personnel with the right set of tools to take advantage of today's high-tech environment can add value to a wide range of commercial and non-profit organizations.
Programs that lead to a master's degree in marketing include education in a range of academic disciplines, from business and the social sciences to digital media and mass communication. Different degree plans in marketing may train you in different aspects of the field: programs designed for marketing managers and specialists focus on consumer behavior and group psychology, and those that cover market research and analysis provide more education in business technology and statistics.
Jobs for marketers are on the rise, as well. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a nationwide 8 percent increase in the employment of marketing managers, representing slightly faster than average growth, while market research analysts are poised to see a whopping 20 percent increase in available positions over the next several years.
Read on to learn about online marketing master's programs, including the popular MBA in marketing, and find out how those degrees can help you land a range of careers after graduation.
Marketers typically work in teams, collaborating to create strategies to attract customers and raise awareness about their products. Good teams need good managers, and that's where master's degrees in marketing management come in. It takes a set of skills that goes beyond standard marketing education to effectively allocate resources and keep a tight focus on the mission of a project, and those who study to become marketing managers learn about applied management principles, conflict resolution and other important elements of administrative and supervisory positions.
In much the same way as the marketing industry itself thrives in the digital environment, marketing education has found a home in the virtual classroom. Some of the best marketing master's programs on the market today can be completed entirely online, offering the type of flexibility in your day-to-day school schedule that can allow you to stay in your current job while you earn your advanced degree. Some programs may also offer a hybrid schedule, which combines online study with in-person instruction.
Education and experience are the twin pillars of career advancement, and earning a master's degree in marketing online can rank you among the most highly educated members of your field. The advanced techniques and enhanced perspectives that you learn in marketing graduate programs may give you an advantage over other candidates for high-demand positions, and the connections you can make while earning a marketing MBA or other master's degree may inspire you to take your career in directions you hadn't previously considered.
It's important to make sure that the college or university where you earn your master's degree in marketing is accredited. Accreditation shows that the instruction and student services provided by an institution have been analyzed by an independent group and meet or exceed a national standard of quality. Colleges and universities as a whole earn accreditation from a regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), while individual marketing programs may be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Marketing degrees at the graduate level are typically offered in one of three forms: a Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Each one of these three common formats tends to take its own unique academic approach to the field.
M.S. plans typically concentrate on the numbers, teaching students about data-driven strategies and methodologies for effective statistical analysis. M.A. programs often focus more on communication, image and other qualitative aspects of marketing, providing insight into the relationships and other human elements that drive the connection between brands and consumers.
MBA programs feature business administration courses alongside their marketing core — there's more detail on these degrees further down the page. If you're not sure of the specific direction you want to take your marketing education, it can be a good idea to sit down with an advisor and discuss your options.
How long does an online master's in marketing program take?
Each individual institution that offers a master's degree in marketing sets its own curriculum and program schedule, and the length of time you're expected to spend in school between enrollment and graduation can fluctuate from one institution to another. Many programs that lead to a master's degree in marketing take roughly 36 credit hours to complete, which typically works out to two or three years of full-time study.
Some schools also offer accelerated options for students hoping to get to the end of their program as quickly as possible. By packing your summer and winter breaks with credit courses, it may be possible to earn your marketing master's degree in a year or less.
What are the requirements to start an online master's degree in marketing?
Students planning to earn a graduate degree in marketing should first complete a bachelor's degree program in a related subject. Marketing master's programs don't typically require that your undergraduate education be in marketing, business, or another similar field of knowledge, but your chosen school may ask you to backfill any business prerequisites before beginning the marketing core of the plan.
Most programs also look for a satisfactory GPA in your undergraduate transcripts — over 3.0 is usually good — and require submission of your official scores on the GRE or GMAT exam. Letters of recommendation are also a common request.
Why earn a master's in marketing online?
Attending school full time while trying to balance career and family responsibilities can be an intense task. Online marketing programs allow you to move toward your degree at your own pace, attending lecture sessions, seminars and workshops from the comfort of your home or office and completing assignments and other work as the time becomes available.
Some master's in marketing programs use synchronous online delivery, meaning that you may have to attend courses at set times during the week, while others allow you to follow an entirely self-designed schedule. Chat with a distance education advisor at your school to learn more.
Your first semester or two in a master's in marketing program usually consists of advanced foundational learning, introducing you to the more complex concepts studied at the master's level and familiarizing you with the paradigms of graduate study.
Choose a specialization and take elective courses
If your program features specializations, you may be able to choose one after spending some time studying as a generalist. You can likely need to declare a specialization before the halfway point of your studies.
Marketing graduate students generally must complete a substantial final project before they can be awarded their degree. This project can be a well-researched thesis or a capstone project that applies the knowledge and skills you've learned.
Some programs may offer an internship section, either in place of or in addition to your thesis or capstone project. Internships allow you to gain real-world experience that provides valuable context for your studies.
Marketing degrees are themselves sometimes offered as concentrations within business or management programs, but you may also be able to concentrate your marketing education in a specific area of the field. Here are a few concentration subjects you may be able to choose:
The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is often held up as the gold standard for students who are serious about working to succeed in business after graduation. Most MBA programs consist of a core set of business courses, typically including subjects like leadership, decision making and business ethics, as well as a deep dive into a chosen specialty.
Earning an MBA in marketing online can teach you advanced marketing concepts as well as valuable business and management skills that can help you move into managerial or supervisory positions. Not every MBA program offers a marketing specialty, so make sure the specialty is offered before you enroll.
Here's a short list of careers that you can qualify for with a master's degree in marketing:
Market research analyst. Research analysts in the marketing field study market conditions, trends in consumer behavior and the movements of their competitors to develop conclusions that can be useful to the promotional efforts of a brand or company. They use statistical software to make their calculations and prepare reports and presentations on their results.
Media coordinator. With so many different available channels of information for businesses to get their message out, a well-coordinated media strategy can mean the difference between a successful campaign and one that falls flat. Media coordinators use their knowledge of mass communications in its many forms to ensure a consistent approach across platforms.
Marketing manager. Particularly when a big project comes down the pipeline, a skilled marketing manager is an essential part of keeping the team on target and running smoothly. Marketing managers typically have project management skills, negotiation skills, high-level organization and planning abilities and the design sense necessary to effectively evaluate their team's work.
Sales manager. Marketing and sales go hand in hand, and a sales manager with marketing experience can be a game changer. The additional education in human psychology, sociology and consumer behavior that can be gained in marketing graduate programs can give aspiring sales managers more tools to work with when education salespeople and acquiring customers.
Public relations specialist. Public relations and marketing have a lot in common, in that they both rely heavily on data and make calculated attempts to sway public opinion. The main difference between the two is that marketers typically use their energies to sell products, while public relations specialists work to sell a positive image for a company, brand or individual.
|State Name||Average Salary||Annual Job Openings||Projected Job Growth Potential|
|District of Columbia||$166,280||130||10.1%|
If the cost of marketing graduate programs seems like a little more than your finances can handle, there's still hope. Take a look at these financial aid programs available for students in traditional or online marketing master's programs:
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 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 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 U.S. citizen with demonstrated academic excellence and financial need.
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 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.
Applicant must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be working in a college-sponsored work-study program. Applicant must have a major within the School of Business.
Offered by the Pragmatic Institute, this certification can help you develop a confident plan for marketing, pricing, launching and promoting a range of different products that might come into your portfolio.
Requirements: Candidates must complete the Market course offered by Pragmatic Institute, which covers multiple topics in product marketing.
Exam Format: Progress assessments may be conducted as part of the course, but no official capstone exam is mentioned.
How long does the certification last?: Pragmatic Institute lists no formal date of expiration for this credential.
Inbound marketing aims to attract customers by creating content and experiences that speak to them on a personal level, building valuable rapport between the brand and the consumer.
Requirements: The certification process lists no formal education or experience requirements.
Exam Format: Four quizzes are given during the HubSpot Inbound Certification course, which lasts roughly two hours.
How long does the certification last?: No official expiration date is listed for this certification.
Reaching out to potential customers at trade shows, industry conferences and corporate events is a tried-and-true method of growing your marketing network, and the CTSM certification teaches you how to make the best of it.
Requirements: No formal requirements are listed for enrollment, but candidates with five or more years of experience in marketing may be able to replace certain core segments with approved electives.
Exam Format: The certification process is structured like a college course, featuring 23 required sections and five electives. Quizzes must be passed at the end of each section to receive credit.
How long does the certification last?: CTSM certification does not expire.
Offered by the American Marketing Association (AMA), this credential that focuses on soft skills can help you learn to work more fluidly with teammates and better understand the motivations behind consumer decisions.
Requirements: No formal requirements are listed; anyone who pays the course fee may attend.
Exam Format: Occasional assessments may be performed throughout the certificate courses, but no high-stakes exam is required.
How long does the certification last?: AMA certificates don't officially expire, but continued learning can keep you at the top of your game.
If you're hoping to grow your professional network and get access to career development tools and other valuable resources, you might want to think about joining a professional association of marketers. Here are a few such associations to look into:
Members of this longstanding marketing association gain access to local chapters and special interest communities, as well as micro-internship programs and reduced cost on the AMA's proprietary certification.
Three levels of membership are available from this worldwide organization, which extends a vast library of templates and training courses to its premium members.
Members of this national association can receive a subscription to Advertising Age magazine, access to an online job bank and discounts on professional marketing tools.
Marketers focused on social can get free admission to SMA's quarterly meetups, access to private groups on social media sites and early access to job postings if they join.