Marketing is an essential part of business strategy. Business operations rely on marketing efforts to move products and services into the hands of their consumers. Marketers use advertising and promotional strategies to attract, serve and keep customers by building relationships with them. Accordingly, this field combines elements of related subjects like business, sales and public relations. Companies need marketing to make a profit, so students with marketing skills should have excellent job prospects after graduation. Students who succeed in marketing typically are self-confident, creative and able to quickly understand numbers and data. If you are interested in this field, you can study marketing at every degree level, from associates to doctoral. And if you just want to learn the fundamentals of marketing, you can earn both undergraduate and graduate certificates.
Marketing vs. Advertising
Marketing is the entire system of business activities that are intended to attract customers and sell products, while advertising is simply a piece of that system. Specifically, advertising is a public and impersonal means of drawing attention to a product or service. Common advertising spaces are newspapers, billboards and television and radio ads. Even though marketing encompasses advertising, it also includes customer service, public relations and market research, which determines whether markets can support certain products.
Check the Guide to Accreditation in Higher Education to learn more about accreditation and how to determine if the program you select meets the necessary standards.
Certificate in Marketing
An undergraduate certificate in marketing teaches the basic principles of the field. The undergraduate certificate is the best option if you want an introduction to marketing for personal reasons or to supplement a business curriculum.
- Credit hours/length of study: 6 months – 1 year (12-18 credit hours)
- Coursework: once or two sentences
- Employment prospects: one or two sentences
In most cases, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject to be admitted into a graduate certificate program in marketing. However, a few schools admit students into graduate certificate programs without a degree if they have 10 or more years of related work experience
A graduate certificate in marketing has graduate classes that teach advanced marketing principles. The graduate certificate is preferable if you want to increase your education to get a promotion or to build your resume.
- Credit hours/length of study: 1 year (15-18 credit hours)
- Coursework: once or two sentences
- Employment prospects: one or two sentences
Associate Degree in Marketing
Many schools have associate degree programs in marketing, which will introduce you to the basic principles of the field. However, it will not prepare you for many jobs. The primary reason to earn an associate degree in marketing is so that you can transfer your credits into a bachelor’s degree program.
An Associate of Arts (AA) in Marketing has more classes in the humanities in addition to basic business courses. The AA degree is the best choice if you want to transfer your credits into a bachelor’s degree program.
An Associate of Science (AS) in Marketing has many science and math classes, so you will have a technical background. The AS is also a good choice if you want to transfer your credits into a bachelor’s degree program.
An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Marketing has technical courses that are meant to prepare students for a career. The AAS is the best option if you want to enter the workforce as soon as you graduate.
- Credit hours/length of study: 2 years (60-65 credit hours)
- Coursework: You will take introductory marketing and business classes. Some of the classes will take sales techniques, advertising principles and finance accounting. You will also take classes in business law, ethics and business communication.
- Employment prospects: The best reason to get a marketing degree at the associates level is so that you can transfer your credits to a bachelors program. However, you may be able to work as an advertising sales agent who sells ad space to businesses and individuals.
Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing
A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Marketing has many humanities and liberal arts classes to give you a broad educational background. The BA degree is a good choice if you want to go on to graduate school and earn an MBA.
A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Marketing has more science, math and computer classes to give you a technical background. The BS is best if you want to perform market research analysis or find a job directly after you graduate.
A Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing has a core business curriculum that teaches management concepts along with marketing. The BBA is the best option if you want to be a marketing manager.
- Credit hours/length of study: 4 years (120-130 credit hours)
- Coursework: You will take a core business curriculum that you supplement with specific marketing classes. Some of the business classes that you will take include economics, finance, business communications and public relations. Some of the marketing courses that you will take are consumer behavior, marketing research and international marketing. You may also take advanced classes in specific types of marketing, like sports marketing and Internet marketing.
- Employment prospects: A bachelors degree in marketing will prepare you for many entry-level marketing jobs. For instance, you could work as an advertising sales agent, a copywriter or a public relations specialist. After you gain 3 to 5 years of work experience, you may be qualified to work as a market research analyst or marketing manager.
Master’s Degree in Marketing
A Master of Arts (MA) in Marketing focuses on understanding consumer behavior to create strategic marketing plans. The MA is the best option if you want to continue your education and earn a doctorate.
A Master of Science (MS) in Marketing emphasizes research methods and statistical analysis. The MS is the best choice if you want to work as a market research analyst or start your marketing career after graduation.
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) offers a broad business curriculum where you can specialize in marketing. The MBA is the best option if you want to work in marketing management.
- Credit hours/length of study: 1-3 years (30-45 credit hours)
- Coursework: You will take courses in marketing research and marketing management. If you get an MA, you will also take classes like consumer behavior, promotions and e-commerce marketing. On the other hand, an MS curriculum is likely to have classes in statistical analysis, financial analysis and business law. Finally, an MBA will have many business classes like financial accounting, organizational management and information systems.
- Employment prospects: A masters degree in marketing prepares you for any job in the marketing field. A handful of the jobs that you will be qualified for include market research analyst, marketing manager and public relations specialist.
Doctoral Degree in Marketing
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Marketing has advanced business and marketing classes that focus on theoretical research. The PhD is the best option if you want to pursue an academic research career at a college or university.
A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Marketing technically has more applied research, but this degree is very similar to the PhD. The DBA is also a good option if you want to teach and conduct research at a university.
- Credit hours/length of study: 5-7 years (60-72 hours)
- Coursework: Most of your curriculum will be determined by the particular research that you choose to pursue. However, you will be required to take a selection of advanced courses like consumer behavior, research methods and product planning.
- Employment prospects: A doctorate in marketing is intended to prepare you for an academic teaching and research career at a college or university. If you want a professional marketing job, you should not earn a doctorate.
You can earn professional marketing certifications through the American Certification Institute (ACI). These certifications may enhance your resume since they demonstrate your knowledge of marketing fundamentals. However, you should keep in mind that these certifications are not mandatory and you can find a marketing job without them. If you decide to pursue these certifications, you will need to pass an exam and pay a fee. The 3 successive levels of ACI marketing certifications are:
- Certified Marketing Professional
- Certified Marketing Manager
- Certified Marketing Executive
Careers in Marketing
The job outlook for marketing professionals is expected to be strong. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research analysts can look forward to a job growth of 41%, which is much higher than the national average for all occupations. In 2010, the United States employed approximately 282,700 market research analysts, but that number is expected to jump to nearly 400,000 by 2020. Job prospects will be best for people who have a masters degree and a strong background in statistics and data analysis.
- Advertising Sales Agent
- Advertising Copywriter
- Public Relations Specialist
- Market Research Analyst
- Marketing Manager
- American Certification Institute
- BPA Worldwide
- Business Civic Leadership Center
- Business Marketing Association
- BtoB – The Magazine for Marketing Strategists
- Chief Marketing Officer Council
- eMetrics – Marketing Optimization Summit
- Institute for the Study of Business Marketing
- The Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice
- Marketing Power – American Marketing Association
- Smeal College of Business Webinars