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Your Guide to an MBA in Marketing

A woman explains information on a white board to her staff
A woman explains information on a white board to her staff

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) in marketing is a management degree with a focus on how to position a brand in the market and promote and sell its products. Marketing professionals with an MBA typically work at the highest levels of an organization, where they may create marketing plans and measure their effectiveness.

In this Article

An MBA can be a generalist degree that focuses on business administration, but many programs offer MBA concentrations in areas such as marketing, finance, and entrepreneurship. An MBA with a focus on marketing can give you the knowledge and experience to rise to the top of a marketing specialty, or more generally prepare you to manage a marketing department or team for an organization or company. These roles may come with higher salaries.

Prerequisites

The prerequisites for an MBA vary by school and program. There are several marketing degrees, including an associate degree, but you'll need a bachelor's degree to apply to a master's program. Some programs will require candidates to have a bachelor's specifically in marketing or a related field.

In addition, some programs may require:

  • Two or more years of work experience
  • A specific GPA; at more competitive schools it could be 3.0 or higher
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores

Some MBA programs will require a candidate to have an undergraduate degree in a business field and work experience.

Curriculum

MBA candidates will learn about marketing from a variety of angles. You'll not only learn about the complexities of promoting and selling products but you'll also develop a foundation in general business concepts.

Your studies could include coursework such as:

  • Consumer insights
  • Strategic decision-making
  • Pricing strategies
  • Business administration
  • Accounting
  • Data analysis and visualization
  • Developing a marketing plan
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Quantitative analysis for marketing
  • Finance
  • Search engine marketing
  • Business forecasting
  • Project management

Internship/Capstone Project

Most MBA programs include an internship or a capstone project in which students work for a firm to gain experience or conduct independent research and present their findings. In other cases, students may be paired with a company to solve a real-world marketing problem or help create and launch a marketing campaign.

This experience can not only help you hone your professional skills but also help you find new professional interests, network, and make connections that will help with career prospects when you graduate.

Program Length

MBA programs generally take two years to complete. Whether you work while going to school could be a deciding factor in how long it takes.

Laurie Ehrlich, founder and chief strategist at Elevate Marketing Strategy, says she worked for several years before deciding to earn a graduate degree. "That took me three years alongside working," she says.

Whether you work while going to school could be a deciding factor in how long it takes to earn your master's.

Online Programs

There are quite a few MBA programs online, and they can provide the flexibility that working students or those who have family responsibilities need. These programs generally allow students to attend seminars and lectures online.

Be sure to thoroughly check online programs, however, because some might require students to attend occasional events in person, and an internship or capstone project might require in-person work with a company.

Why Get an MBA in Marketing?

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An MBA in marketing can give you the deep knowledge you may need to rise to the top of a specialty like digital marketing, or the broad knowledge you need to become a director or chief marketing officer (CMO) at a larger company or organization.

"I think that if you're looking to either a run a small organization or want to be able to function in a matrix-type environment, it's helpful to have that generalized business skill," she says. "And that's what you're going to get in an MBA. You have to take the finance classes, and you have to take the math classes, and you have to take the supply chain classes to really understand how all of these pieces of an organization fit together."

An MBA in marketing also could be a good choice for someone who has an undergraduate degree in another business field but has decided to pivot to a marketing career.


Written and reported by:

Emily Price
Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

Laurie Ehrlich
Founder of Elevate Marketing Strategy