Marketing Degrees and Programs: What You'll Study
Marketing degrees prepare you to enter the creative, fast-paced business of promoting, developing and selling products to unique customer markets.
Depending on your goals and the time and financial commitment you are able to undertake, you can pursue either undergraduate or graduate degrees in marketing.
What marketing degrees are available?
Associate's Degree Programs
Associate's degrees in marketing are available, though generally, this degree level won't do more than help you land an entry-level job, such as a marketing office assistant or media assistant. That said there are associate's degree programs available both in traditional schools as well as online in such areas as Internet marketing, marketing and sales, and fashion marketing. However, most careers in marketing will require at least a bachelor's degree to competitively enter the field.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Graduates who earn a bachelor degree in marketing typically come away with an understanding of the relationship between agencies and their customers as well as trends within the field itself. BA in marketing programs typically includes comprehensive classes about core marketing principles, business communication and the general business landscape.
As an example of a typical course load, Post University offers the following program of undergraduate courses for Bachelor of Science in Business with a concentration in Marketing:
Examples of Core Courses
- Managerial Communications: This course provides instruction in organization and construction of the written, technological, and oral communication used in modern business.
- Macroeconomics: Students will examine the fundamental analytical structure of a macro economy and become familiarized with the problems of employment, inflation, interest rates and business cycles.
- Principles of Marketing: This course examines the basic marketing principles practiced by modern organizations including product development, distribution, promotion and pricing.
- Principles of Management: Students will be introduced to the principles of management examining their application in public and private, profit and non-profit organizations.
- Principles of Finance: This course examines the role of finance in relation to other business operations and within the financial community.
- Principles of International Business: This course familiarizes students with the multidimensional macro-environment of international business and teaches them the tools necessary for the analysis and evaluation of diverse problems within that environment.
- Business to Business Marketing: This course will include an overview of raw materials suppliers, manufacturers and middlemen as well as the basics of industrial demand, marketing intelligence systems and analysis, product and service best practices.
- Marketing Research: Students will learn basic statistical analysis of research findings and about the various tools and techniques used by managers of marketing research.
- Consumer Behavior: This course will discuss best practices and practical marketing applications with a customer focus. It will also analyze motivation, personality and perception, learning, attitude formation, and the importance of group dynamics, social class and culture on behavior in the marketplace.
Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master's Degree Programs
Both an MBA with a concentration in marketing and a marketing master's degree will prepare you for marketing leadership positions across any number of business industries. While each track offers advanced training in marketing and managerial concepts and practices, they each have a distinct objective:
- A marketing MBA trains you to develop a broad set of business skills that you will be able to apply and transfer to other business arenas.
- The highly specialized marketing master's takes a less general path by offering students the opportunity to focus almost exclusively on marketing-related issues.
Your marketing MBA or master's in marketing will be instrumental in helping you achieve a position of leadership in your career. Many people with these advanced degrees become market research analysts, sales/territory managers, public relations managers, advertising managers and product managers.
What certification will I need?
In general, you are not required to be certified in marketing management positions; however, there are some professional certifications available. Earning certification shows potential employers that you are a professional in the field.
- The Public Relations Society of America offers professional certification based on years' experience and passing an exam
- The Marketing Research Association/Insights Association offers the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) for market research analysts
- The American Marketing Association recommends the Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) credential, which demonstrates that you have mastered essential marketing practices and stay current in your professional knowledge, as well as follow high professional standards on the job
What will I learn in my courses?
Course work for a marketing bachelor's degree covers such specialized subjects as these:
- Current trends and practices in marketing products and services
- Applied marketing research
- Sales and sales management issues
- Marketing communication
Students are also usually required to take a number of core business classes, in such subjects as economics, finance and general management. Additionally, most programs allow room for electives and require an array of general education courses, such as literature, math and psychology.
Coursework for a marketing master's is typically comprised of the detailed study of marketing research and strategy, advertising, consumer behavior and psychology, communication, and sales research and management. Master's in marketing classes also cover entrepreneurial marketing, multinational management and nonprofit marketing.
The curriculum for an MBA marketing degree generally involves corporate management and business strategy, organizational behavior and design, leadership training, and in-depth discussions of marketing methods and research as they relate to general management.
The American Marketing Association stresses five basic ethical values that should be adhered to by all professionals entering the field of marketing, and which should be instilled during your program training:
- Honesty—be forthright in dealing with customers and stakeholders
- Responsibility—accept the consequences of marketing decisions and strategies
- Fairness—balance the needs of the buyer with the interests of the seller
- Respect—acknowledge the basic human dignity of all stakeholders
- Transparency—create a spirit of openness in marketing operations
- Citizenship—fulfill the economic, philanthropic and societal responsibilities that serve stakeholders
How long will it take?
Depending upon your level of dedication, marketing majors can take the following time to complete:
- Associate's degree programs, which provide entry-level opportunity, usually take two years
- A bachelor's degree program takes four years
- Master's degree programs and MBAs generally require one to two years
Are online programs available?
Yes, online bachelor's degree programs in business with a specialization in marketing are readily available. Online program curriculum includes general business classes as well as marketing-specific courses which will culminate in your earning your bachelor's degree online. Online MBA and Master's programs with a specialization in Marketing are also widely available.
How much will my education cost?
The cost of bachelor's degree programs varies depending upon the type of institution you attend. According to College Board's Trends in College Pricing 2017-2018, the average annual cost* for a four-year, public institution runs around $9,970 for in-state tuition and $25,620 for out-of-state tuition.
The average annual cost for a four-year private non-profit school is $34,740 and $16,000 for a private for-profit school.
Attending an accredited school may allow you to apply for financial aid, whether the school you select is a traditional classroom or an online program.
*Cost of tuition only. Prices do not reflect other fees, books, room and board
Are there prerequisites?
Undergraduate: A strong college preparatory high school education is a good start for any business degree program. Courses in English, writing, communications, business and social sciences are recommended, but to get a jump on the competition, Marketicity.com suggests taking classes in the following subjects if you're interested in pursuing a career in marketing, advertising or PR:
- Take courses in social media
- Practice blogging
- Learn about content management systems and digital media software
- Learn the AP style guide
Graduate: A completed, four-year bachelor's degree in business administration with a specialization in marketing or a related field will prepare you for graduate school.
GRE and GMAT: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is not required for admission to degree programs in the U.S. However, you may submit a score for review with your admission materials.
What accreditation is there for my program?
Accreditation shows that an institution or program meets standards of quality set forth by an accrediting agency and that it is committed not only to meet those standards but to continuously seek ways in which to improve the quality of education and training provided. There are two types of educational accreditation: institutional and specialized.
The three main specialized accreditors for marketing degree programs include:
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB): AACSB International accredits degree programs in business administration and accounting at bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP): ACBSP accredits business, accounting and business-related programs at the associate, bachelors, masters and doctorate degree levels worldwide
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE): The IACBE accredits business programs that lead to associate, bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. It does not accredit institutions that only offer associate degrees in business
Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges, such as The Higher Learning Commission. Institutional accreditation is provided by regional and national associations of schools and colleges. There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western). Learn more about accreditation.