marketiconTraced back in time, the English word ‘marketing’ has its roots in the town markets of 16th century Europe. In bustling city centers of the renaissance, vendors curried for position to catch the eye (and wallets) of curious passers-by.

Over the years, marketing has progressed as a sort of art (and in recent history a science).

In today’s information-rich world, marketing is everywhere. Embedded in sporting events, items placed in films, and your favorite news sources and commentary.

If you’ve ever watched the show Mad Men, you’ve caught a glimpse of the heights to which “ad men” went in pre-internet America. Today, billboards still work, but an entirely new form of marketing is all the rage.

Inbound marketing involves the creation of content and resources such that your brand is of use or interest to consumers. Instead of placing your brand’s imagery out into the world (outbound marketing), you create value that consumers seek out.

Of course a huge portion of marketing today rides on the back of the internet. And the influx of opportunities to collect and utilize data to drive marketing campaigns has ushered in a whole new era of marketing opportunity. Where marketers of old were “creatives” and “people persons,” there are more options than ever for data-driven and “analyst” types in marketing.
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All-in-all, marketing is a relatively new academic discipline. And the internet has brought about drastic changes in this space as well. While individuals would need to move to the location of a business school a mere 20 years ago, today there are more options than ever for learning about marketing online.

In this guide we’ll cover some of the many ways in which you can get your “foot in the door” or advance in your marketing career. While marketing is a huge field today, there are some standard degrees with proven track records of gaining graduates employment. We’ll cover these degree types as well as what you can do with these degrees when you graduate, below.

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What Marketing Degrees Are Available?

Marketing degrees are available at the associates through doctoral levels. With that said, the degree levels utilized most often for common marketing jobs are at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Many companies generally require a bachelor’s degree or above for business-related jobs (including marketing). While you may be able to find employment with an associates in marketing and a portfolio of previous work, many marketing associates students use an associates degree as a stepping stone towards a bachelor’s.

Associates in marketing degrees are available as associate of art or science degree. With the primary difference that associate of science degrees provide a few more quantitatively rigorous courses.

As with nearly all associates-level degrees, students in a marketing degree are required to complete general education requirements as well as major requirements. General (Gen) education (Ed) requirements include college level courses in social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, literature, writing, computer skills, and the humanities.
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Upon completion of GenEd requirements, students will often take close to 10 major courses. At the associates level, there are seldom any concentrations or focus areas offered within a degree. With that said, most programs to allow students to tailor their program somewhat through the choice of electives.

Common courses that may be taken within an associates in marketing degree include:

  • Microeconomics
  • Business Communications
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Retailing
  • Sales
  • Digital Marketing
  • Buyer Behavior
  • Marketing Analysis
  • Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Among Others

Associates degrees can be some of the most affordable ways to gain your first two years of higher education. As long as you attend a regionally accredited institution for an associates degree (and make decent grades), you should be able to transfer in to a bachelor’s degree in the subject.

Bachelor’s degrees in marketing are the standard entry-level degree within marketing. While you don’t need a degree specifically in marketing to land a marketing job, gaining an undergraduate degree in the discipline may preclude the need to return to school to gain discipline-specific skills.

As with associates degrees, bachelor’s in marketing are available as art of science degrees with the primary difference being a greater focus on quantitative courses in the science track. Bachelor’s degrees commonly require 120 credit hours for completion, which is traditionally completed in 4 years.

After general education courses, bachelor’s in marketing degree seekers will begin with survey courses in marketing. In some bachelor’s-level programs, concentration or focus areas are available. Some of the most common include public relations, communications, digital marketing, marketing analytics, and marketing management.

Within a bachelor’s in marketing degree, courses vary widely. Some degree programs even allow undergraduate students to begin taking graduate courses in their discipline as part of bridge programs. Some of the most common course topics within a bachelor’s degree in marketing program include the following:

  • Microeconomics
  • Business Communications
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Retailing
  • Sales
  • Digital Marketing
  • Buyer Behavior
  • Marketing Analysis
  • Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Marketing Management
  • Marketing Research
  • Strategic Brand Management
  • International Marketing
  • Data Science and Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing

For students looking to get ahead in their current job, enter into a more competitive job title, or simply to advance their skills, a wide range of graduate degrees and certificate programs in marketing are available.

Graduate certificates often require 3-6 courses for completion. And are often offered entirely online. Common graduate certifications in marketing include certificates on data science, marketing management, and digital marketing. Whereas a master’s in marketing will often provide some general background courses on marketing, certificate programs typically offer a cluster of topically grouped courses with very little general topic backdrop.
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Masters in marketing degrees are typically master’s of science degrees that allow students to deep dive into one marketing area. The range and depth of concentrations offered in master’s level degrees is typically much greater than at the bachelor’s level. And on top of a cluster of related courses — as is offered in a graduate certificate — students typical take a group of core courses on general principles behind marketing, general business, and data literacy.

Some of the most common concentrations offered with master’s in marketing degrees include:

  • Retail Management
  • Marketing Management
  • Project Management
  • Branding
  • Strategic Communications
  • PRofessional Sales
  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Outbound Marketing
  • Among Others

Another common graduate-level degree in marketing is a marketing MBA. Marketing MBAs are masters in business administration degrees that provide a general background on a wide range of business disciplines, as well as a cluster of graduate courses that focus on marketing.

MBAs are great degrees for students who may want to focus on marketing, but also want courses in general business and management. These degrees are some of the most widely known and accepted within large employers, and can serve as a sort of hybrid degree that can both prepare you for marketing roles, and for tangentially related roles. Additionally, MBA degree programs have some of the most well-established histories when it comes to catering to adult learners.

Finally, doctoral degrees in marketing typically take the form of a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in marketing, or a doctor of business administration (DBA) in marketing. The primary difference between these two degree types is that Ph.D. programs are research doctorates. This means that a primary goal of the program is both to prepare students to be able to teach at the university level, as well as to contribute original research to peer-reviewed journals. This research takes the form of a dissertation, or original research document of several hundred pages.
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DBA degrees are professional doctorates. They’re meant to allow students access to the highest level of courses, perform some research, but re-enter the workforce. While gaining a PH.D. doesn’t mean you have to work in academia, DBA degrees are shorter and more directly centered around courses that can be immediately applied in the workforce.

Can I Pursue a Marketing Degree Online?

Yes, as with most business disciplines a wide variety of marketing degrees are available as hybrid or fully online degrees. With that said, the amount of offerings varies depending on degree level. Below we’ve listed how common — in general terms — online marketing degrees are.

  • Associates Degree Programs – Can be found but not common
  • Bachelor’s Degree Programs – Commonly found in online universities
  • Master’s in Marketing Programs – Some Available
  • MBA in Marketing Programs – Widely Available

If you would like to pursue a marketing degree online, there are options at every degree level. With that said, some degree levels offer a wider range of institutions to choose from.

While online degrees are a great option for many students, potential applicants should be aware that there are some distinct trade offs between online and in-person degrees.

Online degrees typically offer greater flexibility and lower fees. They’re great for working professionals or those that must balance other commitments.

In-person degrees typically offer a greater range of support services, and more of a collegiate (or graduate school) “experience.” You may have more access to networking events, and these programs may be better for students that don’t consider themselves to be “self starters.”

How Do I Gain Admission to a Marketing Degree Program?

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Marketing programs typically follow the same admissions process for other degrees of the same level within a university.

At the associates and bachelor’s levels, students gain admission to the overarching college or university at which they want to study. Upon completion of some general education courses, students may then elect to pursue marketing as a major.

Common entry requirements and documentation for undergraduate degrees include:

  • Transcripts
  • Standardized Test Scores (sometimes)
  • Application Essays
  • Interviews (sometimes)
  • Letters of Recommendation

Students seeking a master’s in marketing must often supply proof of interest in marketing. These students gain admission directly to the marketing program. Applications will be more centered on marketing, and depending on the level of competitiveness in the program, students may be expected to have worked in marketing or taken courses in marketing.

For MBA programs, students typically seek admission to the MBA program generally, and then may elect to pursue a marketing specialization at some point within their course of study.

Typically both MBAs and master’s in marketing require standardized test scores including the GRE and/or GMAT. Additional requirements include resumes, statements of purpose, letters of recommendation, and transcripts.

Within doctoral degrees, students are often required to have found a mentor within the program in which they would like to study. This is particularly the case among research doctorates. Students should seek out a program that not only aids them in their goals, but that has a faculty member studying what they wish to be studying and willing to oversee their research.

What Can I Do With a Degree in Marketing?

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Jobs in marketing range from entry-level all the way up to the “C-Suite.” With that said, most degrees in marketing lead directly to entry level through lower management positions. While the true answer to what you can do with a marketing degree depends on the field you’re in, your skills and dedication, AND the degree level you choose, we can definitely describe some trends around some of the most common marketing positions available.

With an associates in marketing, you’re likelier to get into a sales representative position than a straight up marketing role. While there’s a good deal of overlap in these positions, marketing typically focuses to a greater extent on discerning the higher level strategy for how an organization should present themselves and reach out to the world.

Sales, on the other hand, is directly marketing and trying to close deals with individual clients.

Typical sales representative tasks may include cold calling, cold emailing, or otherwise soliciting potential clients, managing the accounts of existing clients and trying to “upsell” them with additional products, meeting with clients and running sales meetings, and generally evangelizing the products or services of your organization.

Many sales positions are commission based. Meaning that while you may have a certain level of guaranteed salary, the rest of your pay comes from hitting certain sales milestones.

The average salary with commission for a sales representative is $67,960, though this number varies widely by industry and results.

For those graduating with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, many graduates start in positions like that of a marketing analyst. Marketing analysts are tasked with tracking elements of a marketing effort and providing analysis through a suite of engagement and analysis tools.
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Additional job tasks may include, leading meetings regarding your area of expertise within a marketing effort, pitching new ideas to higher-ups, gathering data on buying habits, consumers, demographics, and aiding in information-related issues within a marketing effort.

While salaries may vary a great deal within this role, the average salary nationwide is presently, $54,235. In competitive markets, this number is often over $80,000 a year.

Among digital marketing jobs, social media managers are among the most common positions. Nearly every organization needs a robust social media presence, and some businesses use social media as their primary form of marketing.

Key responsibilities of a social media manager include developing relevant content to be shared on social media channels, the managing of posting schedules, the management of response to social media posts, reporting on engagement through analytics, and management of advertising campaigns on social media channels.

While numbers vary for precise earnings levels, the average salary for social media managers in the United States is presently $50,489.

Marketing managers work within a variety of channels within marketing. In cases where marketing needs require an entire team to meet requirements, marketing managers are typically present.

Marketing managers help to provide the overall direction of marketing efforts. They hire, fire, and train employees. They also help to align larger business goals with individual marketing efforts. When it comes to final responsibility for individual projects, this typically falls on marketing managers.
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While you can work your way into a marketing manager position, many marketing managers also hold master’s degrees in marketing or MBA degrees with marketing concentrations. Marketing managers are generally quite well paid compared to some other types of managers, and make an average of $124,850.

Brand managers are in charge of discerning how others perceive a brand, as well as enacting strategies to change how consumers see the brand. This analysis-heavy role often looks at demographic data, enacts polling measures, discerns a proper way to interpret data, and employs testable measures to change brand perception. While some brand managers are in charge of brand perception for an entire business, many work in larger corporations and are in charge of a single brand (product or service).

Brand manager earnings can start off relatively low at $44,000 a year. But by the time brand managers have experience, they often make over $100,000 a year. The largest locations for employment of brand managers include New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.