Creative Director Training and Degree Program Options

Oct 20, 2019

Essential Information

Creative directors work in the advertising and marketing industries, where they oversee a team that could include copywriters, graphic designers, and account managers. They typically work on the creative portions of advertisements and marketing materials. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in advertising can prepare students for this career. Students that would like to take classes that focus on artistic development may want to enroll in graphic design or visual communications programs instead. Bachelor's degree programs in advertising and related fields often require students to have completed an internship before graduating.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Creative Direction

A bachelor's degree in advertising (or marketing or mass communications) lasts four years and covers a vast array of creative, managerial, and statistical subjects. Students learn how to create ad materials, write copy, manage ad accounts, and deduce how to reach a wide range of consumers. Programs are highly competitive and rigorous. A high school diploma is required.

Students must take general education classes, as well as business, marketing, media, and advertising courses. The following are examples of courses students in an advertising program take:

  • Creative concepts and thinking
  • Media technology
  • Branding and advertising
  • Campaigns
  • Consumer behavior
  • Portfolio development

Master's Degree Programs in Creative Direction

Master's degree programs in advertising require students to think creatively and critically. In these two-year programs, students gain an understanding of marketing and advertising methodologies, learn research techniques, and develop the skills they need to execute, complete and even direct research projects and case studies.

The minimum admission requirement is a bachelor's degree. Master's degree programs may also require incoming students who don't have a bachelor's degree in advertising to take prerequisite courses in media, management, marketing, and statistics. Applicants also need to submit GRE scores.

Students are required to take general graduate-level education courses as well as deciding if they'll pursue a graduate thesis, or a professional project or report. Students usually can choose a research track in advertising, copywriting, branding, management, art direction, or creative technology. Courses in a master's degree program could include:

  • Brand engagement
  • Creative thinking
  • Brand interaction
  • Persuasion

Popular Career Options

Creative directors should be versed in leading creative people and be prepared to guide a business, organization or media entity's creative department. After getting an advertising degree, students could get one of the following jobs:

  • Advertising and promotions manager
  • Marketing manager
  • Public relations and fundraising manager
  • Sales manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't have salary information for creative directors, it mentions that as of May of 2018, advertising and promotions managers made a mean annual wage of $133,090 ( For the same period, marketing managers made a significantly higher mean annual wage of $147,240. The BLS also reported mean annual wages for related careers, including public relations and fundraising managers ($131,570) and sales managers ($140,320).

Job growth for these positions varied. According to the BLS, between the years 2018 and 2028, advertising and promotions managers as well as marketing managers will see a 8% rise in employment opportunities, which is faster than average. For the same period, public relations and fundraising managers will see a 8% growth rate in jobs, which is faster than average, and sale managers about a 5% rise, which is as fast as average.

If you wish to become a creative director, you can develop the business, communications and leadership skills you need by earning a bachelor's or a master's degree in advertising.

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