Marketing Degree Requirements: Your 2022 Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 23, 2021

There are four academic degrees in marketing you can earn—associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate—and each has different requirements.

[Featured image] A marketing degree student with a backpack and an orange folder walks through a college campus with a female professor wearing a jacket.

If you’re interested in a career in marketing, a marketing degree can provide a versatile education that incorporates strategy, creativity, analysis, psychology, research, and more.

Marketing itself is a high-growth field, especially in areas like digital marketing and social media marketing. But earning your marketing degree can also prepare you to forge careers in business, sales, advertising, and more.  

There are four academic degrees in marketing you can earn—associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate—and each has different requirements. In this article, we’ll cover what it takes to get each kind of marketing degree, what you can expect to learn at each level, and what you can do with your degree once you’ve graduated. 

Marketing degree requirements

Marketers connect goods and services with people’s needs, so marketing students typically study subjects that help them better understand and achieve that goal. They need to know about business, management, sales, finance, and data, as well as psychology, market research, and communications. Let’s look at the general subject differences between an undergraduate and graduate degree in marketing. 

Associate degree in marketing

Prepare to study marketing in a bachelor’s degree program or begin a number of entry-level jobs in marketing or related fields by earning a two-year associate degree in marketing. 

Academic requirements: Typically 60 credits (with a portion in your major)

Average annual cost: $3,372 for public two-year institutions and $17,294 for private two-year non-profit institutions [1].

What you’ll learn: Associate degree students are typically required to take several general education courses to fulfill a portion of the degree’s requirements. Expect to take introductory classes in composition, mathematics, and science. You’ll also take classes in your marketing major, which introduce you to the principles of marketing and likely touch on aspects of business, sales, finance or economics, consumer behavior, and advertising. 

What you can do with an associate in marketing: You can continue your education and apply to bachelor’s degree programs, either in marketing or another subject, or you can pursue entry-level roles in marketing or a related field. But it’s worth noting that even though you may qualify for several entry-level jobs without a bachelor’s degree, it may be a necessary credential to obtain more associate- and senior-level roles.  

Jobs you can get with an associate degree in marketing: 

Job titleAnnual US salary*
Marketing assistant$43,817
Social media specialist$47,727
Event marketing specialist$52,221
Assistant merchandiser$53,595

*All salary data from Glassdoor (December 2021)

Bachelor’s degree in marketing

There are a number of marketing and marketing-related majors you can explore if you’re interested in earning your four-year bachelor’s degree. For example, you can major in business with a concentration in marketing, or you can earn your Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Learn more about the differences between those two bachelor’s degrees

Academic requirements: 120 credits, with one third to one half going toward your major (depending on your program)  

Average annual cost: $10,740 for in-state tuition at public four-year institutions and $38,070 for private nonprofit four-year institutions for the 2021-2022 school year [2]

What you’ll learn: As with the associate degree, you’ll need to complete your institution’s general education requirements first before you can apply to and begin working on your major. Beyond the foundation in marketing, you receive by taking classes in topics like business, sales, economics or finance, advertising, and communications, you may have the option to take a more nuanced marketing subject. You can expect to devote at least 30 credits to your major, which may give you the option to take classes in global marketing, digital marketing, social media marketing, brand strategy, customer analytics, and more.  

What you can do with a bachelor’s degree in marketing: You can pursue entry-level roles in numerous marketing or marketing-related fields, or you can continue your education and apply to master’s programs in marketing, business, sales, management, or another related subject. 

Jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree: 

Job titleAnnual US salary*
Public relations assistant$46,569
Assistant media planner$46,980
Junior business analyst$61,674
Digital marketing strategist$66,668

*All salary data from Glassdoor (December 2021)

Master’s degree in marketing

At the graduate level, you’ll spend the entirety of your coursework diving into more advanced marketing courses that deepen your knowledge of key marketing areas. You have several options for studying marketing as a graduate student. You can get your Master of Science in Marketing, Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in marketing, or Master of Science in Management with a marketing specialization. If you’re interested in marketing but want to broaden your options, many communications and public relations programs also offer master’s students the option to specialize in marketing.

Academic requirements: 30 to 36 credit hours, as well as a capstone, thesis, or research project 

Average total cost: $66,340 for master’s degrees [3], and as much as $200,000 for MBAs 

What you’ll learn: Requirements vary by program, but most programs typically combine theory with practice. The advanced marketing courses you’ll take (consumer research, price setting, marketing campaigns, data collection and analysis) require some amount of prior knowledge because they’re designed to build on your previous education, while concentrating in one or two areas, such as digital marketing, brand management, or market research.   

What you can do with a master’s degree in marketing: If you’re interested in teaching at the university level or going into academic research, you can apply to doctoral programs in marketing. Otherwise, you can pursue more advanced marketing or marketing-related roles. 

Jobs you can get with a master’s degree in marketing: 

Job titleAnnual US salary*
Market research analyst$60,280
Digital marketing account manager$71,164
Senior copywriter$92,105
Marketing manager$104,295

*All salary data from Glassdoor (December 2021)

Learn more: MBA vs. MS: Choosing Which is Better for You

PhD/doctorate in marketing

At the doctorate level, you’ll learn about highly advanced practices, strategies, and methodologies related to business, consumers, and research. As a terminal degree, the highest achievable degree you can get, a PhD in marketing prepares you to teach at the university level or conduct academic research. You may also earn a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), which can prepare you for executive leadership roles. 

Academic requirements: 12-15 courses, a comprehensive exam, and a dissertation or research project. The comprehensive exam, sometimes called “comps,” is an intensive exam where students prove their knowledge of the field. 

Average total cost: $114,300 for a doctoral degree [4

What you’ll learn: Doctorate-level courses are extremely specialized and require a good deal of prior knowledge. You’ll likely take courses in research methodology, such as probability theory or advanced modeling, as well as more in-depth psychological courses that examine customers’ behavior from both theoretical and practical perspectives. 

What you can do with a doctorate degree in marketing: If you’re interested in teaching at the university level or going into academic research, you can apply to doctoral programs in marketing. Otherwise, you can pursue more advanced marketing or marketing-related roles, typically at the executive level. 

Jobs you can get with a doctorate degree in marketing: 

Job titleAnnual US salary*
Assistant professor$95,551
Chief marketing officer$176,984
Chief executive officer$178,268

*All salary data from Glassdoor (December 2021)

Marketing degree benefits

Marketing is a lucrative field. Not only are higher-level roles like marketing manager and market research analyst poised to grow as fast or much faster than average, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, but a marketing degree can help you refine transferable skills such as communication, collaboration, time management, research, planning and more [5, 6]. And thanks to the variety of subjects you study to earn your marketing degree, you can pursue work in fields outside marketing as well. 

Earning any academic degree over a high school diploma also has an effect on your earnings, and salaries tend to rise with each level of degree you earn. 

DegreeMedian yearly earnings*
High school diploma$40,612
Associate degree$48,776
Bachelor’s degree$67,860
Master’s degree$80,340
PhD$98,020

*Adapted from BLS

Explore further 

No matter which level of marketing degree you choose to pursue, each one has the potential to help you succeed in a marketing career and earn more than you would with a high school diploma. You can earn your Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of London, and enjoy the flexibility of taking classes remotely and on your own schedule. 

If you’re unsure about committing to a full bachelor’s degree program, explore Facebook Professional Certificates in high-demand marketing areas such as social media marketing or marketing analytics. In six classes, you can gain fundamental, industry-approved knowledge that you can apply toward a career. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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Article sources

1. Education Data Initiative. "Average Cost of College & Tuition, https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college." Accessed December 23, 2021.

2. CollegeBoard. "Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2021, https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-college-pricing-student-aid-2021.pdf." Accessed December 23, 2021.

3. Education Data Initiative. "Average Cost of a Master’s Degree, https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-a-masters-degree." Accessed December 23, 2021.

4. Education Data Initiative. "Average Cost of a Doctorate Degree, https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-a-doctorate-degree." Accessed December 23, 2021.

5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm." Accessed December 23, 2021.

6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Market Research Analysts, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm." Accessed December 23, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 23, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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