What Is a Marketing Degree?

| Genevieve Carlton


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With its emphasis on critical thinking and clear, effective communication, a marketing degree can lead to rewarding, well-paying careers.

Marketing majors learn to persuade potential consumers, analyze complicated data, and develop new products. With a marketing degree, graduates can work as market research analysts and marketing managers. These growing fields offer above-average salaries and the potential for career advancement. For example, marketing managers earn a median salary of over $136,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This guide explores marketing degrees, career paths in marketing, and the earning potential for marketing jobs.

What Kinds of Marketing Degrees Are There?

Marketing degrees prepare students for careers as market research analysts, marketing managers, and marketing professors. However, marketing careers require different degrees depending on the job responsibilities. For example, market research analysts typically hold a bachelor's degree in marketing, while many marketing managers hold a master's degree. Academic roles like marketing professor require a doctorate.

As marketing majors advance their education, they specialize in areas like digital marketing, event marketing, and product marketing. Majors also enhance their classroom experience with internships, real-world case studies, and capstone projects. At the graduate level, students analyze datasets and complete research projects as part of a master's thesis or dissertation.

Certificate Program in Marketing

Certificate programs in marketing offer courses in basic marketing principles, consumer behavior, and marketing research. Learners also study topics like integrated marketing communications.

A certificate in marketing offers focused training in a specific area. For example, students might study digital marketing, advertising, nonprofit marketing, and small business marketing during a specialized certificate. These programs prepare graduates for focused career paths.

Most certificate programs require 15-20 credits and take around one year to complete. Graduates can work as digital content coordinators, marketing associates, and research analysts.

Associate Degree in Marketing

An associate degree in marketing introduces students to core concepts like statistics for marketing, integrated marketing communications, and internet marketing. These courses emphasize analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Many programs also incorporate courses in business, financial accounting, and communication to complement marketing coursework.

Completing an associate degree generally takes two years for full-time students. After earning a degree, graduates can work in customer service, sales, or direct marketing. Graduates can also transfer into a bachelor's program to advance their education and career opportunities.

Bachelor's Degree in Marketing

A bachelor's degree in marketing, including online marketing programs, trains students in the fundamentals of marketing. Undergraduates strengthen their creative, analytical, and problem-solving skills through courses in marketing research, consumer behavior, and marketing communications. Majors often also take business courses in finance, management, and accounting to strengthen their business training.

Earning a bachelor's in marketing typically takes four years for full-time students. During that time, degree-seekers complete courses in their major, general education requirements, and electives. Many marketing programs offer an internship or capstone project.

What Is the Difference Between a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS)?

Many programs offer a BA or a BS in marketing. Both degrees take around four years and prepare graduates for careers in marketing. However, the degrees emphasize different areas of marketing and require different general education requirements.

A BA typically includes more humanities and social science courses, including a foreign language. BS students, in contrast, complete more math and science courses. As a result, a BA leads to careers on the creative and strategic side of marketing, while a BS often trains students for more research-focused roles.

Master's Degree in Marketing

A master's degree in marketing provides focused, graduate-level education in core areas like marketing research, strategic marketing, and brand development. During a master's program, graduate students study marketing communications, pricing strategies, and marketing management. Learners create marketing plans and analyze data from real-world cases. The degree also strengthens qualitative analysis skills and leadership abilities.

Earning a master's degree in marketing typically takes two years, though some programs offer an accelerated one-year path to the degree or online options. Graduates work as brand managers, marketing managers, and advertising managers.

What Is the Difference Between a Master's Degree in Marketing and an MBA in Marketing?

Both a master's degree in marketing and an MBA in marketing offer advanced training in customer research, brand strategy, and product development. Both degrees take around two years to complete.

A master's in marketing focuses exclusively on graduate-level courses in marketing, while an MBA includes courses in management, organizational leadership, finance, and accounting. As a result, the MBA in marketing prepares graduates for a wider variety of job opportunities.

Doctoral Degree in Marketing

A doctorate in marketing prepares graduates for the highest positions in the field, including careers in research and academia. During a doctoral program, marketing students specialize in one area, such as promotional strategies, transnational marketing, or consumer behavior.

At the doctoral level, marketing degree-seekers can earn a doctor of business administration (DBA) or a Ph.D. A DBA in marketing emphasizes practice and professional careers, while a Ph.D. focuses on research and academia. Ph.D. graduates in marketing work as marketing professors, while DBA in marketing graduates work in roles like marketing director or corporate communications director.

What Additional Courses Should I Take for a Marketing Career?

Marketing majors often pursue classes outside of their field to enhance their training and prepare for specific career paths. For example, taking communication courses, particularly in public relations or advertising, helps marketing majors strengthen their communication skills. Media or journalism courses can also build these abilities.

Since many marketing careers require strong data analysis skills, courses in data science, statistics, and analytics can also benefit graduates. Many marketing majors also take business classes, including courses in finance and courses in accounting, to strengthen their managerial and financial skills. Some marketing programs are housed within the business school, so they require graduates to take business courses.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Marketing?

Many marketing majors work in marketing, pursuing careers in marketing agencies or in-house marketing departments. A marketing degree also prepares graduates for careers in advertising, sales, customer service, and other fields that require strong analytical and creative skills. For example, marketing majors work in consulting and corporate communications. They can also pursue careers in copywriting, brand management, content strategy, and data science.

This section explores common industries for marketing majors. These industries value strong communication skills, data analysis skills, and creative thinking.

Advertising

Advertising and marketing overlap in key ways. Both fields analyze customer interest and develop strategies to promote a product, service, or brand. In advertising, marketing majors can work as copywriters, advertising specialists, and client strategists. A bachelor's degree in marketing meets the requirements for these entry-level roles.

At the management level, advertising careers include brand managers, advertising directors, and advertising managers. Supervisory and managerial roles typically require professional experience or a master's degree.

Sales

Marketing majors often study sales as part of their undergraduate coursework. Careers in sales require strong analytical and communication skills, which a marketing degree fosters. Sales professionals also benefit from a deep understanding of their product or service, including customer demand and competitors. A marketing background helps sales professionals develop these skills.

Within sales, marketing majors can work as sales associates, account managers, and sales consultants. Other common titles include sales or marketing coordinator or sales engineer.

Customer Service

Customer service professionals act as a bridge between companies and their customers. Marketing training, particularly in focused areas like customer communication and brand management, prepare graduates for customer service careers. For example, marketing majors can end up with job titles like customer success manager, customer experience manager, or engagement manager.

A bachelor's degree in marketing meets the requirements for these customer service careers. With experience, customer service professionals can move into supervisory and decision-making roles.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With a Marketing Degree?

Marketing professionals can pursue careers in market research, public relations, and marketing. These career paths offer above-average salaries and strong projected job growth. With a marketing degree, graduates can also work in data analytics, fundraising, and sales.

Marketing salaries vary by title, professional experience, and degree level. The following data includes the median annual salary and projected job growth for several top marketing careers.

Marketing Career Outlooks
Career Median Annual Salary (2019) Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)
Marketing Managers $136,850 7%
Sales Managers $126,640 4%
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $116,180 9%
Market Research Analysts $63,790 18%
Public Relations Specialists $61,150 7%
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations

AMA members have access to exclusive content and discounts designed to expand their knowledge. The association's professional development programs include virtual trainings, webinars, and virtual conferences. AMA hosts 70 local chapters in North America, which provide networking opportunities through events. Members can also pursue professional certifications to demonstrate specialized skills. ANA brings together influential brands with client-side marketing solutions. The ANA content library offers resources for agencies, brand development strategies, consumer research, and marketing data analysis. Members can also access the Marketing Knowledge Center and expert advice through ANA, which hosts podcasts and publishes playbooks and blogs. Other ANA events include webinars, trainings, and conferences, including virtual conferences. IMA represents professionals working in sales, creative development, and marketing. Members have access to monthly news videos, insights into internet marketing trends, and press releases. The association also hosts events with networking opportunities and provides members-only access to a LinkedIn group and the IMA app.

Accreditation for Marketing Programs

Prospective marketing majors should always choose a regionally accredited school. Independent accrediting agencies award accreditation based on a school's student learning outcomes, faculty qualifications, and graduation requirements. Accredited colleges and universities follow the best practices for educating students.

Marketing programs may also hold programmatic accreditation from an agency like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which evaluates marketing programs on their degree requirements and outcomes. You can learn more about the accreditation process in our accreditation guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Marketing Majors in Demand?

Yes, many career paths for marketing majors report above-average job growth projections, including market research analystsand public relations specialists.

What Kind of Jobs Can You Get With a Marketing Degree?

A marketing degree builds strong analytical and research skills, which graduates use in marketing, advertising, public relations, and fundraising careers. Marketing majors can also work in sales, content creation, analytics, and event planning.

Is Marketing a Good Degree?

Marketing programs blend analytical and business training with creative thinking and problem-solving skills. As a result, marketing degrees prepare graduates for roles in business, marketing, advertising, and public relations.

Is a Marketing Degree Hard?

Marketing majors study topics like product development, consumer demand, and market research. These courses strengthen analytical and decision-making skills, helping majors learn to analyze data and communicate effectively.

What Degree Is a Marketing Degree?

Degrees in marketing typically fall into the business school at most colleges and universities. Marketing majors take core business courses like finance, strategic thinking, and business communications while also studying consumer needs and pricing strategies.

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

Header Image Credit: ferrentraite | Getty Images

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