Best Online Master's Degrees in Marketing

Mar 04, 2021

What Is an Online Master's in Marketing Degree?

Distance learning master of marketing university degree programs are designed to teach individuals advanced skills in the marketing industry that can be applied to many positions, including upper level and management careers. Marketing goes hand-in-hand with business and advertising; a company uses advertising to reach its ideal customer, but they use marketing first to determine who that ideal customer is. Master's level marketing programs integrate all aspects of marketing into the curriculum, from new digital marketing techniques to tried and true research methods. Many online programs require a residency, capstone course, internship, or capstone project that demonstrates the knowledge and skills students have learned. Most of these programs are titled as Master of Science (MS) in Marketing.

Why Should I Get an Online Marketing Master's Degree?

A distance learning master of marketing university degree program can be useful for working adults or busy individuals who want to enter or advance in the marketing industry. Marketing and business as a whole is fast-paced, and new technology is being developed on a regular basis. Many master's programs teach updated marketing techniques and are current with industry practices. For example, digital marketing is relatively new, but growing fast. Companies may be looking for a social media marketing manager instead of or in addition to a regular marketing manager. A master's program can teach the skills needed for those new digital marketing careers.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Online Master's in Marketing?

An online master's degree in marketing can take up to 2 years to complete. Most programs require around 30 to 33 credits or credit hours and consist of about 10 classes in total. Additionally, students may participate in an internship, project, or residency. Online programs are able to condense course schedules because students do not need to meet in a physical classroom. This way, some colleges will have courses that last only 7 or 8 weeks of intensive study. Some online programs can be completed in as few as 10 to 15 months.

Curriculum for Online Master's Degree Programs in Marketing

The curriculum for online master's degree programs in marketing combines new and traditional marketing techniques and methods. Students get a broad overview of the marketing field with a couple of general business courses as well. Topics covered in these programs can include content management, product development strategies, communications, and brand management, among others. Students not only learn about market research, but also about how to find and attract the ideal customer that fits the company's or brand's image. The curriculum usually culminates in a capstone course or project.

Marketing Foundational Courses

Marketing foundational courses cover general and niche marketing concepts such as digital and social media marketing, research, analysis, and marketing communications. Students learn how to research and analyze potential markets, as well as competitor's markets, the psychology of consumer behavior, and how to use this information to develop their own marketing and brand strategies. Additionally, students learn about the collaborative environment of marketing and how other departments contribute to an end goal or product. Courses may also cover marketing from a global perspective. A few of these courses can include:

  • Digital marketing
  • Relationship communications
  • Market research
  • Brand and product management
  • Consumer behavior
  • Social media marketing
  • Global marketing management

Marketing Specialist and Elective Courses

Online master's programs in marketing are robust but short, so sometimes there may not be many specialist or elective courses to choose from. Some programs may have one course or seminar that teaches special topics in marketing that may not be covered in general courses, such as the integration of different marketing channels that make up the industry and ultimately all work together. Other programs may have electives that cover general business topics, such as global business or business policy, or more marketing and management courses such as product design, eMarketing, quality management, and leadership and ethics.

Licensure and Certification in Marketing

There are many certificate programs out there that teach entry-level marketing skills, but these are not the same as a marketing certification. Marketing certification demonstrates an individual's knowledge and skills in a specific marketing area. For example, market research analysts can demonstrate their marketing research competency with a Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) from the Marketing Research Association.

Candidates for this certification must have at least 3 years of market research experience, pass an exam, and complete 12 hours of industry courses. Certification must be renewed by taking 20 hours of continuing education courses every 2 years. While certification is not required to be a market research analyst, it can give one's career a boost.

Admissions Requirements for Online Marketing Master's Programs

All online marketing master's programs require at least a bachelor's degree for entry, but it does not have to be in marketing or a related field, although, that may help. Many programs, as long as you have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, will accept any accredited bachelor's degree. However, some programs do want applicants to have a minimum amount of professional experience with marketing exposure-this does not mean a marketing job or marketing experience, but a job that interacts with marketing professionals, whether it be an in-house marketing team or a contracted marketing agency.

Other requirements can include:

  • College transcripts
  • GRE or GMAT test scores-some colleges require a minimum score
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal essay or statement of purpose
  • Resume

Choosing an Online Marketing Master's Program

Marketing is a common major at many graduate schools, so there are a lot of online marketing master's programs to choose from. The first step is to go to the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator. You can search for programs by state, program major, program level, physical or distance learning, and other criteria. The site also has helpful statistics such as tuition rates, graduation rates, student-to-faculty ratio, and admissions rates.

When choosing an online marketing master's program, it may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I adapt to an online learning platform/will they teach me how?
  • Are online courses the same/taught by the same faculty as on-campus courses?
  • Are there any electives to specialize my education to fit my personal, academic, or professional goals?
  • Are there in-person requirements like residencies or internships?
  • What clubs/organizations can I join as an online student?
  • Is the program accredited, and if so, by what organization?

Any additional questions or information you need can usually be answered by contacting an advisor or representative from the school. Many schools now have academic advisors assigned to students to help them matriculate. In fact, some are even exclusively for online students.

What Can I Do with a Marketing Master's Degree?

Market research is not the only career available in the marketing industry. There are plenty of jobs for a marketing master's degree graduate. Since marketing is integrated with sales, advertising, and public relations, the skills learned in a marketing program can translate to careers as public relations specialists, sales representatives, and buyers or purchasing agents. Other careers can include working at a consulting firm, becoming an account executive, a social media or digital media planner, or a marketing communications manager. Marketing graduates can even focus on a specific industry, such as tech, beauty, or fashion, where they work exclusively with brands or companies in these fields.

Job Outlook for a Master's in Marketing

The job outlook for a master's in marketing can vary depending on the type of job an individual has, as well as the type of field their work is in, such as fashion. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for market research analysts and marketing specialists is expected to increase by 18 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is due to the increasing use of data across all industries to determine what consumers respond to when looking for products and services. The BLS states that marketing managers have a job outlook that is projected to grow by 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than average. Companies are continuing to use marketing managers to create campaigns and expand their market share.

How to Become a Market Research Analyst

A market research analyst helps companies find their ideal consumer market based on products, prices, and market conditions. The data they collect, usually through research, focus groups, and interviews, examines consumer behaviors such as preferences, buying habits, needs, and consumer demographics. It is then used to help companies understand what works about their products, who will buy their products, and at what price. They also help companies by researching competitor's markets to see product demand and price. Analysts may also have a hand in advertising or product development.

A few typical job duties include performing research by devising surveys, forming focus groups, creating public opinion polls, monitoring marketing and sales trends, meeting with clients to determine their needs, and creating reports and presentations for clients on their findings. Market research analysts need at least a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field, but many positions require a master's degree, usually in marketing, statistics, or business administration. Market research analysts can earn a Professional Researcher Certification, but it is not required. According to the BLS, market research analysts and marketing specialists have an annual median wage of $63,790 as of 2019.

How to Become a Marketing Manager

Marketing managers identify potential markets for a company's products. Their job duties are similar to market research analysts in that they estimate demand for products and services, but their role is more administrative. They perform more managerial tasks such as directing the hiring of marketing staff, initiating market research strategies, and developing pricing strategies. They may also be involved in product development and create a marketing plan. They can work closely with product development, sales, and public relations staff. They may also meet with clients. Some job listings may look for marketing directors, but this position is different from marketing managers because they typically oversee the marketing operations of an entire company while marketing managers are assigned to one specific campaign. This is more common in larger companies.

Marketing managers need at minimum a bachelor's degree in marketing or a related field, but more importantly, they need significant work experience in areas such as sales, advertising, marketing, public relations, or buying and purchasing. The BLS states that marketing managers have an annual median wage of $136,850 as of 2019.

Marketing Professional Organizations

There are several professional organizations dedicated to the advancement of the marketing industry and the advocacy of marketing professionals. A few of them include:

  • The American Marketing Association (AMA). With membership available to professionals, academics, and students, the AMA offers membership benefits such as discounts on training, conferences, and bootcamps, 30% off marketing certifications, help with tasks through the micro-internship program, and numerous resources, tools, and other benefits that can advance members' professional lives.
  • The Data and Marketing Association (DMA). Recently combined with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the DMA and ANA mix advertising and marketing to influence the industry's growth. Through membership with the ANA, marketing professionals can access peer collaboration, attend national conferences, and gain certification through training and workshops, among other benefits.
  • The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). With several types of membership available, the SMPS is for marketing professionals to support, connect, and network with each other to move the industry forward. Members have educational, leadership, and research opportunities, as well as professional development and resources to advance their careers.

Common Undergraduate Degrees for Marketing

While master's degree programs in marketing do not have specific degree prerequisites, the best undergraduate degree that can prepare you for a master's program is a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Business or Business Administration. Business programs teach core business skills and give students a robust overview of the business field, which is vital to the marketing industry. These undergraduate programs even have marketing concentrations and certificates available, or students can take marketing classes. Additionally, undergraduate business programs can qualify you for entry-level positions that can give you marketing experience that may prove beneficial for entry into a master's program.

Post-Graduate Options After Completing a Master's in Marketing

After completing a master's degree in marketing, students can continue their education with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Marketing or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Marketing. These programs prepare students for postsecondary teaching and research as well as top-level positions with companies and brands, respectively. Although, some DBA programs do prepare students for research and tenure at schools that do not require a PhD. PhD students study new and emerging research that can change the way the marketing world operates, while DBA students learn advanced marketing concepts, leadership skills, and hands-on training. PhD students are required to conduct original research and write a dissertation, and DBA students are required to complete a research project. Program length varies, but it can take around 3-5 years to complete.

Financial Aid, Scholarships and Grants for Online Master's in Marketing Programs

Obtaining financial aid to help pay for school starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form determines what types of federal aid students qualify for and includes loans, grants, and scholarships. Universities also use this form to determine what loans and scholarships they can give to students. In order to apply for and receive federal financial aid, students must be enrolled or planning to enroll in an accredited postsecondary institution, maintain satisfactory academic progress, demonstrate financial need, and be legal citizens or noncitizens of the U.S.

Scholarships and grants do not exclusively come from federal agencies. Plenty of universities and independent organizations offer aid to those who apply. Requirements can vary from simply being a student to majoring in a specific area, or identifying as part of a certain population, such as the Indiginous or LGBTQ+ communities. A few examples of these are:

  • Niche, a college information website, offers a monthly No Essay Scholarship of $2,000 for anyone who has a Niche account and is a college student or college bound high school student.
  • The Business Forum Scholarship Program annually awards 5 to 6 female college students ranging from $500-$3,500. Applicants must be residents of Dane County, Wisconsin and attending a college in Wisconsin, including online colleges that have a physical campus in the area. Recipients are invited to attend a luncheon where they will accept the reward.
  • The Semify Internet Marketing Scholarship of $1,000 is open to students with at least 1 year of college experience with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a demonstrated passion for internet marketing.
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