May 4, 2017

Degrees Needed for Marketing Careers

Individuals may pursue several different types of degrees to prepare for marketing careers, from an associate’s degree at the lowest level to a doctorate at the highest. Schools range from community colleges or technical schools to four-year universities. Some institutions offer graduate degrees, including both the master’s and doctorate. Associate’s degrees are most often offered by community colleges. One advantage to a community college is that class sizes are usually smaller and it is easier for students to ask questions. Online only schools also offer various degrees and have become popular because of the ready access that most people have to broadband internet services.

Those seeking marketing degrees must understand the quality of the education offered no matter what the source. Most people recognize that large universities provide a good quality education, however, class sizes may be very large and personalized instruction may be difficult to obtain. People may study at home using online schools and do so at times that they find most convenient for themselves and their families. Contacting online college instructors may be difficult when a student needs to ask questions or clarify instructions for assignments or tests.

Those studying marketing will take some general business courses like economics, finance, accounting, business management, and information systems. Marketing courses will include those like the art of selling, consumer behavior, marketing, and advertising.

Associate’s Degree

Universities and community colleges often offer a two-year program providing an associate’s degree in marketing. Students who need to work in order to pay for their education and find ways to provide for themselves and their families may find an associate’s degree to be a good starting point. Courses may include marketing, advertising, selling, sales management, internet marketing, international marketing, consumer behavior, and general business courses like management. Various basic classes like English composition, oral communication, history, and science must also be completed by all students.

Online education leading to the completion of an associate’s degree is also offered by some universities. Prospective students should research each school to determine the quality of the education. Find out if the school is accredited by a recognized accreditation organization. Credits earned at schools that aren’t accredited are unlikely to transfer to a college or university and be accepted as part of an ongoing or additional online college degree program. Employment may be more difficult to obtain when students have degrees from schools that lack quality accreditation. Employers look not only at the type of degree but the quality of the school that conferred it as they select people to interview.

An associate’s degree allows students to get started in marketing careers while they build skills and continue their educations. The jobs they will qualify for will often be retail in nature, such as sales clerk or catalog telephone sales.

Bachelor’s Degree

Most students complete a bachelor’s degree program in four years. Basic academics like English, oral communication, science, a foreign language, and history are needed to complete a bachelor’s degree. Most universities also require other core curriculum courses like mathematics, humanities, and social science. A high school degree or passing the general educational development (GED) test is required by most colleges and universities before a student will be admitted. Scores on the SAT or ACT test must also be high enough for admission. For those choosing to major in marketing, some standard business classes will be required. All students will be required to take some economics, finance, business management, accounting, and information systems.

Marketing courses will generally include advertising, marketing behavior, marketing research, and integrated marketing. Students may also take classes such as internet marketing, e-commerce, persuasive strategies, a marketing internship, relationship marketing, global marketing, public relations, media and crisis communication, public relations, and promotional strategies.

For those who wish to work in marketing careers, a variety of specialties are possible and students may tailor their programs using electives to prepare for various careers. All students will benefit from learning how to use the software in an office suite on a personal computer and also from gaining a basic understanding of mainframe computing.

A bachelor’s degree in marketing will be an advantage to those seeking marketing careers. Many employers require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. A bachelor’s degree indicates professional qualifications at a level that improve the likelihood of being hired. Those with a bachelor’s in marketing are not necessarily limited to working only in advertising or public relations firms. The Career Services page of the Rutgers website states: “Marketing includes all activities that occur from the conception to the delivery of products or services. Students, who major in marketing, may learn about the six functional areas related to the marketing process—brand marketing, advertising, sales promotion, market research, sales, and retailing. In some cases, students might learn about product development, pricing, consumer decision making, legal aspects of marketing, and global marketing as well. Employers include large business and industrial firms but also smaller companies, private research organizations, and advertising agencies. Retail and wholesale trade, insurance, travel, and real estate are other areas where your training can open up job opportunities.”

According to Graham Snowdon in an article published January 30, 2010 in the Guardian entitled “What to Do with a Degree in Marketing,” graduates have developed many important skills. These include: “A talent for clear expression, both oral and written; the ability to plan in advance and think strategically; research, analysis, teamworking and presentation skills; the ability to think independently.” Snowdon states that these may lead to careers in marketing, retail, fashion, manufacturing, financial and public services, leisure and tourism, consumer goods, music, electronics and other fields. “Knowledge of international markets may also be of interest to multinational organizations.” He cites Margaret Hobrough, a careers adviser at Graduate Prospects, who says: “Public relations, sales, brand management, advertising, and general management are all careers where the analytical and problem-solving skills of marketing graduates will be welcomed.”

Master’s Degree

Some universities offer a master’s degree in marketing. It may take about two years or more to complete a master’s degree. Some schools also offer a program to allow someone to complete the bachelor’s and the master’s in a total of five years. Generally, a bachelor’s degree is required before admission to graduate school. Students applying for admission may also need to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the GRE test and obtain acceptable scores before being admitted.

The master’s of business administration (MBA) degree provides a more general education across many business fields. Although graduates develop a broad understanding of many areas, they do not have as much technical expertise as those with more specific degrees like marketing. Typically, MBAs seek management positions straight out of college; however, companies may prefer to hire those with first- line supervisory experience for management jobs. As part of the master’s degree program, most candidates will be required to write a professional paper or thesis and may have to make an oral presentation of the thesis to their graduate committee.

An example of the courses needed for a master’s degree in integrated marketing is found on website for the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at New York University. These courses include finance, campaign management, strategic planning, digital marketing, management, brand management, and marketing analytics. These topics are integrated into the final project—writing a business plan and entrepreneurship. This program is designed to prepare candidates for leadership positions in marketing careers.

Much of the classwork in master’s degree programs requires a great deal study and research by each individual student. Master’s degree classes are less oriented to multiple-choice questions and facts and more to problem solving and theory. Many classes require team-based projects, where the teams solve various problems and report on their solutions.

Northwestern University also has an integrated marketing communications master’s degree program at its Medill University. On the Medill website the university states: “Here, you’ll learn to create marketing strategies that engage customers. As a student, you’ll gain a global perspective—by working in client-sponsored team projects or becoming a member of IMC’s geographically diverse student population. You’ll experience the challenges of real-world marketing environments and have the opportunity to solve problems using measurable strategies and tactics.

“In addition to core classes such as consumer insight, marketing finance, and statistics and market research, you’ll choose electives from one of five concentrations: brand and advertising strategy, corporate communications and public relations, direct and interactive marketing, marketing analytics, and media management.

“During the fourth quarter, students are divided into teams to tackle real marketing and communications challenges for global brands in the U.S. and abroad. Draftfcb, Best Buy, SC Johnson, Leap Wireless, and Condé Nast are just a few examples of recent companies that have partnered with Medill IMC.”

A master’s degree in marketing may help students to acquire positions that lead to senior– management-level opportunities. The analytical skills developed during the master’s degree program may help graduates to analyze problems in order to develop and implement effective strategies that add value to the company’s “bottom line.”


Completion of both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree is required in most cases for candidates for doctoral degrees. Doctorates may take at least three years to complete after the master’s degree is awarded. Some accelerated programs allow students to earn a doctorate and a master’s more quickly. Most often those who earn doctoral degrees are qualified to be teachers at the university, college, or community college levels.

Generally, doctoral candidates do a significant amount of original research and prepare a dissertation to thoroughly describe the research and their findings. Doctoral students must present their dissertation to their doctoral committee for approval. The degree will be granted once the doctoral committee has approved the dissertation.

In some cases, companies or the government will hire people with doctoral degrees for specific types of marketing careers. For example, marketing research experts may be hired by companies for positions that try to forecast the effect of marketing campaigns on sales or when designing new products.

The Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business for the University of Missouri website suggests that a doctorate in marketing may be the right choice for those who are seeking “intellectual stimulation, the freedom to use their creativity, an opportunity to impact marketing strategy in exploring a vast array of topics, and a collegiate environment.” The site goes on to say, “The PhD program in Marketing emphasizes university level research and teaching skills. The program is flexible to meet individual needs and interests. Students are admitted on a full-time basis and normally work as research or teaching assistants.”

Continuing Education in Marketing Careers

Continuing education can help marketing professionals to advance in many different types of marketing careers. Continuing education helps people to develop new skills and to understand new developments in their field, to maintain a high level of competency. As the New York University; School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU SCPS) says on its website: “As our society becomes increasingly global, marketing initiatives must address the issues that come with doing business within the United States and with neighboring countries.”

Continuing education is any type of formal class that, in this case, relates to marketing. These classes may be online, self-study, on-campus, or seminars during the week or on weekends. There are benefits to each type of education depending on several factors. Online classes are convenient and may be accomplished during off-work hours, such as evenings and weekends. In some of these classes, students can set their own pace. Self-study classes also offer these benefits. Online and self-study classes do have some disadvantages. Students in these classes have little or no contact with the instructors and may not be able to ask questions to clarify issues. Also, students who take these types of courses must be self-motivated to study on their own.

Both on-campus classes and seminars provide an opportunity for students to interact with each other and professors or seminar leaders. For some students, this type of learning is more effective, especially since they may ask for clarification of topics that may be confusing. These classes may also provide networking opportunities with others in marketing fields that could lead to career options that otherwise would not be available. These types of classes may be more expensive and time-consuming than others.

Continuing education classes may be found at many universities and also through consulting firms and associations like the American Management Association (AMA) and the American Marketing Association (also AMA). The American Management Association offers courses such as Fundamentals of Marketing; Leveraging Social Media; Advanced Course in Strategic Marketing; How to Write a Killer Marketing Plan; Market Research; Measuring and Maximizing Marketing ROI; Planning and Developing New Projects. These types of classes are often expensive, for example, Planning and Developing New Products costs $2,095 for a three-day seminar if you are not an AMA member.

Another example is the NYU SPCS, which offers courses like these: Advertising; Career Resources; Corporate Finance; Data Mining for Marketers; Database Management; Digital Media Marketing; Entertainment Marketing; Event Marketing; Interactive Marketing; Investor Relations; Marketing; Marketing Management; Marketing Research; Meeting, Conference, and Event Management; Mobile Technologies; Public Relations and Corporate Communications; Public Speaking, Sales and Promotions; Small-business Management; ; Writing; and Writing for Business.

It is obvious that this university offers a very broad spectrum of continuing education classes. The online courses at NYU SCPS cost about $805 and intensive 12-week courses cost about $1,900. If you are employed, check to see what your employer’s policy is for reimbursing continuing education costs.