A master's degree program in retail merchandising, which often teaches trend-spotting, purchasing prediction and the role of ethic and social responsibility within the industry, can usually be completed in two years. Students are usually offered the option to specialize in areas like product development, retail merchandise or merchandising. A thesis is often required to graduate.
Master's Degree in Retail Merchandising
An undergraduate degree is required for admission into most master's degree programs in retail merchandising. No specific subject area requirements exist for a prospective student's bachelor's degree, but an applicant must have at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) during the last two years of enrollment. Additionally, a university may request scores for either the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Some schools may also request letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.
The first year is composed of classes that address key topics in retail merchandising. Most of the second year is focused on the completion of a thesis and the elective courses that support research interests. However, there are some programs that offer a non-thesis track in which students take an extended problem-solving course instead of writing a thesis. Over the course of a master's degree program, students may take courses in some of the following subjects:
- Methods of research in retail merchandising
- Consumer behavior
- Merchandising and promotional strategies
- Implications of financial merchandising
- Product design and development
- Retail theory
Job Outlook and Salary Information
A master's degree program in retail merchandising can prepare graduates for a variety of jobs within multiple industries. They may be hired by contract firms, fashion branding companies, advertising agencies, buying offices or major retailers. Possible job titles include:
- Retail Manager
- Product Developer
- Promotions Manager
- Merchandising Manager
- License Manager
- Product Manager
- Customer Relations Manager
- Visual Merchandiser
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for advertising, promotions and marketing managers was $124,850 as of May 2015, and employment is expected to increase 9% from 2014 to 2024. For buyers and purchasing agents, the median annual salary was $59,620 and the predicted job growth from 2014 to 2024 is 2%. Employment for industrial production managers is expected to decline by 4% during the same time period; professionals in this field made $93,940 as of May 2015.
A Masters of Science in Retail Merchandising program offers students a focused study in the field while allowing them to also take courses in multiple areas of specialization. This 2-year degree program usually culminates in a thesis, although some schools also offer a non-thesis option.