What Is a Marketing Degree?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn what a marketing degree is, the different types of marketing degrees, what they require, the careers they can lead to, and the steps for getting a degree in marketing.

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You may be wondering if getting a degree in marketing is the right path for you. A marketing degree may not always be necessary to get a marketing job, but by earning one, you could find new career opportunities. 

With companies and organizations prioritizing their marketing efforts in a digital world, skilled marketing professionals are increasingly in demand. By majoring in marketing and pursuing a career in this field, you can engage your creativity and strategic thinking, learn marketing foundations and principles, and explore new technologies and platforms, while taking on the ever-evolving business world in 2022 and beyond. 

Continue reading to learn what a marketing degree is, the different types of marketing degrees, what they require, the careers they can lead to, and the steps for getting a degree in marketing.

What is a marketing degree? 

A marketing degree is an academic course of study on how to promote products and services to a target audience. Marketing majors learn how to find out what people want, understand the needs of different customer segments, communicate how a product or service fills those needs, and guide potential customers to take action. 

Marketing degree coursework combines theory and practice, so that graduates can enter careers equipped to help companies increase their profitability and brand recognition. 

Marketing degrees share some similarities with business administration, advertising, and public relations, but there are some key differences you’ll need to know as you consider majoring in marketing:

  • Business administration is broader in scope than marketing, and covers topics such as management, accounting, and corporate leadership, as well as marketing.  

  • Advertising is part of marketing, but more narrow in scope. Advertising focuses on promoting a brand and its products through paid channels.  

  • While marketing focuses on generating leads and promoting products to a target audience, public relations focuses on maintaining a positive reputation for a company.

Types of marketing degrees

You can get a marketing degree at different levels of education, each with its own requirements and areas of emphasis. Understanding these different types can help you make the best decision for your education and career as a whole.  

Associate degree in marketing 

Typical required course credits: 60 

Online cost: $130 to $270 per credit; total tuition $8000 to $19,000 [1]

This degree can provide a path to earning a bachelor’s degree or higher and may qualify you for an entry-level position in marketing. In an associate degree program, you’ll learn about the foundations of market research, how to select a target market, consumer behavior, and product promotion. 

An associate degree in marketing might be the best path for you if you want to enroll in a post-secondary program and gain a firm understanding of this field, but aren’t yet sure that a four-year degree is your goal.  

Bachelor’s degree in marketing

Typical required course credits: 120

Online cost: $215 to $555 per credit; total tuition $26,000 to $69,000 [2]

A bachelor’s degree, also called a four-year degree or undergraduate degree, prepares marketing majors for entry-level positions, as well as those with more responsibilities and advancement opportunities. 

A bachelor’s degree in marketing may be the best path for you if you want to obtain the level of education that many employers require of marketing job applicants. 

There are generally two types of bachelor’s degrees in marketing: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and a Bachelor of Science (BS). In both, you'll typically learn the foundations of market research and strategies. The main difference between these two four-year programs is their focus:

  • A BA in marketing entails a broad study of the marketing industry. Some BA in marketing programs may focus more on the humanities components of this major, such as communications and brand management, as well as allow you to choose your courses and electives with more flexibility. This path would be ideal for you if the creative aspects of marketing appeal to you.

  • A BS in marketing can also cover a broad survey of marketing while focusing more on the economics, finance, and business side of this field. This path would be ideal for you if the scientific and technological aspects of marketing appeal to you.

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Master’s degree in marketing 

Typical required course credits: 30 to 36 

Online cost: $230 to $1,000 per credit; total tuition $7,000 to $36,000 [3]

A master’s degree in marketing is a graduate course of study. This might be a good path for you if you have a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a related field and want to pursue more advanced or managerial job opportunities. 

There are two types of master’s degrees in marketing: a Master of Science in Marketing (MSM) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a marketing concentration. In both programs, you’ll build upon the concepts, theories, and strategies you’d learn in a four-year program, and you’ll likely complete a capstone project, such a thesis or a comprehensive marketing plan, that could apply to today’s business world.  

Here are some core differences between these two programs: 

  • The MSM is considered the “traditional” graduate degree track and focuses specifically on advanced marketing topics, theories, and strategies, rather than business management or leadership. This degree path would be a good option for you if you want to study a specific area of marketing, such as analytics or digital media, and focus your career specifically on marketing. 

  • An MBA with a marketing concentration offers a broader business education than the MSM. It might include such topics as leadership, economics, and finance, while also offering coursework in marketing. An MBA is a good option if you want to pursue marketing positions as well as other leadership positions, while applying your advanced skills to a variety of areas in the business world. 

  • Some MBA programs may be more “hands-on” than MS programs, in that in an MBA you’d explore marketing case-studies to prepare you for real-life business challenges.  

  • Generally, MBA candidates enter degree programs with several years of professional experience. 

If you’re ready to begin a graduate program in business, consider an online program, like the Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois. You can gain leadership skills in innovation, globalization or digitalization, and earn a degree in two to three years.

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Doctoral degree in marketing

A doctorate in marketing is the most advanced degree you can get in this field and represents the highest level of academic achievement. There are two types of doctorate degrees in marketing: a PhD and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Both programs build on concepts, theories, and strategies you’d learn in a bachelor’s or master’s degree program, but there are some core differences:

  • A PhD in marketing is a course of study for developing the skills to conduct original research on topics in marketing. As an academic degree, the coursework intersects with research methods in psychology, economics, statistics, and management science. This degree path might be a good fit if you want to teach at a college or university and publish scholarly research.

  • A DBA, like an MBA, focuses more on real-world application in business than on theory. The DBA in marketing could lead to a marketing leadership role within a company. Some DBA graduates go on to become marketing executives or even CEOs. 

What jobs can you get with a marketing degree?  

As you’re thinking about getting a degree in marketing, consider the career opportunities that may be available to you, from entry level to managerial positions, as well as average salaries and job outlooks. The great news is that marketing professionals, especially those with strong digital marketing skills, will continue to be in demand as companies and their consumers shift online [4]. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 10-percent job growth for marketing managers between 2020 and 2030 [5], and 22 percent for market research analysts [6].

Other in-demand marketing jobs include:

*All salary data represents average base pay in the US from Glassdoor (May 2022).

Take a closer look at jobs you can get with a marketing degree.

How to get a marketing degree 

Every degree program, from an associates to a doctorate, is an investment of time and money. Take time to consider how a program might fit your professional and personal goals. For each degree program you’re considering, look at its flexibility, location, cost, application process and requirements, coursework, and graduate job placement information. 

To get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in marketing, you’ll need:

  • High school diploma or equivalent

  • SAT and/or ACT scores

Graduate degree programs may require:

  • GRE or GMAT scores 

  • Professional experience 

For all programs, you’ll likely need to gather:

Some programs may ask for:

  • Resume

  • Personal essay  

  • Samples of your work or writing

Get started in marketing

Still not sure if you should get a marketing degree? Taking an online course is a great way to build job-ready marketing skills and decide if a degree path is right for you. Check out the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate to learn how to create ad campaigns and navigate Facebook’s Ads Manager, or the Meta Marketing Analytics Professional Certificate to explore marketing analytics methods and how to evaluate the effectiveness of ads. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Related articles

Article sources

1. US News. “Online Associate Degree in Marketing, https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/marketing-associate-degree.” Accessed May 23, 2022. 

2. US News. “Online Marketing Bachelor’s Degree, https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/marketing-bachelors-degree.” Accessed May 23, 2022.

3. US News. “Online Marketing Master’s Degree, https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/marketing-masters-degree.” Accessed May 23, 2022.

4. LinkedIn. “Marketing’s Evolution: A Look at the Jobs and Training Skills in Highest Demand, https://www.linkedin.com/business/marketing/blog/linkedin-ads/top-in-demand-marketing-jobs-training-skills.” Accessed May 23, 2022.

5. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm.” Accessed May 23, 2022.

6. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Market Research Analysts, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm.” Accessed May 23, 2022.

7. US News. “Best Undergraduate Business Marketing Programs, https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-marketing.” Accessed May 23, 2022.

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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.