A doctorate in marketing is the terminal degree in one of the fastest growing areas of business. Some careers that the degree leads to are growing two to three times faster than the country's average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for postsecondary educators to grow 15% by 2026 and marketing research analyst positions to grow 23% in the same period.
Today's marketing students can apply new technologies to shape marketing strategies for future generations. As consumers become more socially conscious and demanding of brands, tomorrow's marketing leaders face exciting challenges. Learners who love emerging technology and an evolving landscape thrive in this field.
Should I Get a Doctorate in Marketing?
The accessibility and flexibility of a doctorate in marketing often appeals to professionals who want to continue working through graduate school. However, on-campus programs offer additional benefits to students who can fit them into their schedules. On-campus doctoral students form relationships with their professors and mentors that may lead to employment upon graduation. On-campus degree candidates may also have access to better research tools.
There are two essential tracks that a doctoral marketing student can follow. The first is the Ph.D. track, which focuses on the research and theories of marketing. These graduates cultivate excellent research and analysis skills. The doctorate of business administration (DBA) plan offers the opportunity to put theory into practice. The DBA in marketing focuses on the practical applications of marketing research and allows learners to hone their managerial skills.
While in an on-campus program, students connect with one another, work as teacher assistants in lower-level marketing classes, and gain internship experience. Those conducting research can recruit peer participants on campus and use school facilities to perform experiments. As graduation nears, learners may take advantage of institutional job placement assistance programs and resume workshops. Students finishing thesis projects can access university libraries and computers. Graduates from these programs qualify for professor positions or enjoy increased marketability in business management roles.
What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Marketing?
A doctorate in marketing opens doors in academia and the corporate world. A graduate with a Ph.D. in marketing is suited to become a postsecondary teacher. Many of these professors also conduct research for their universities. DBA graduates are prepared to become marketing executives and managers. Some graduates may find work as top executives for major corporations, such as chief marketing officers.
- Postsecondary Teachers
Many colleges and universities require educators to have doctoral degrees related to the subjects they teach. With a Ph.D. in marketing, a graduate can stay in academia as a researcher and professor. This position is ideal for those who are passionate about their craft with excellent presentation skills.
Median Annual Salary: $76,000*
- Marketing Managers
These business professionals oversee daily operations within a marketing department. Managers may work for in-house teams or dedicated marketing agencies. While employers don't always require a doctorate in marketing, this degree makes candidates highly competitive in the job market.
Median Annual Salary: $129,380*
- Public Relations Managers
Much like marketing managers, these public relations professionals can work for one company or several clients at an agency. Public relations managers help brands connect with consumers on the grassroots level and manage company images when crises arise.
Median Annual Salary: $111,280*
- Top Executives
Chief marketing officers are the primary marketing decision-makers for an organization. They are responsible for budgets and returns on investments. These top executives can work for small, local businesses or global enterprises.
Median Annual Salary: $104,700*
- Market Research Analysts
Marketing professionals rely on research data. With ample research experience and a deep understanding of marketing theory, graduates with doctorates in marketing are ideal candidates for these positions.
Median Annual Salary: $63,230*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose a Doctoral Program in Marketing
Doctoral programs vary by degree type, credit requirements, curricula, and cost. Applicants should consider each of these factors before choosing an institution. Learners should first sort programs by whether they lead to a Ph.D. or a DBA and choose the track that's aligned with their career goals.
Degree candidates should also consider how long it takes to complete a program. Most schools require doctorate students to complete between 50 and 60 credits before graduation. For many full-time students, this may take three or four years to complete. However, many factors can alter this plan. Some learners may take classes part time, which can add years to a degree. On the other hand, some schools offer credit for professional experience, which can shorten the time to graduation. Students may also need to complete thesis projects in addition to other coursework, which can lengthen the time to completion.
Students should consider a program's cost before applying. Generally, public universities local to the student charge the lowest tuition rates, and private schools charge the most. Online programs are typically cheaper than on-campus alternatives. Degree candidates should also consider commuting, housing, technology, and book costs.
What's the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a DBA?
A Ph.D. is universally recognized and more traditional than the DBA. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is the primary accrediting body for business schools, found that 94% of doctoral degrees in marketing come from Ph.D. programs. These students tend to focus on research and theory. Ph.D. graduates often stay in academia as teachers and researchers.
While most doctoral programs in marketing are Ph.D. focused now, that is starting to change. The DBA fills a growing need for high-level marketing practitioners. These graduates go on to lead marketing firms, work as C-level executives, and start their own businesses. DBA programs typically require applicants to have several years of high-level marketing experience, while Ph.D. schools may accept recent master's graduates with no business experience.
Programmatic Accreditation for Doctoral Programs in Marketing
Accreditation is one of the most critical factors for applicants to consider before attending a school. Learners should choose schools with institutional accreditation. This credential can come in two forms: regional and national. Employers and academics generally regard regional accreditation as the better of these two. Accrediting organizations typically reserve this status for nonprofit institutions that must undergo more scrutiny than their nationally accredited counterparts.
Programmatic accreditation applies to programs within an accredited university. Graduates from these programs may have an easier time getting certifications, and employers often hold these programs in high regard. The AACSB is the leading accrediting body for marketing and business programs. Other organizations, like the Digital Marketing Institute, may also offer accreditation for marketing programs. Applicants can usually find accreditation information on university websites or by calling the admissions offices.
Doctorate in Marketing Program Admissions
Because it can take up to seven years to earn a doctorate in marketing, students should be selective about the programs to which they apply. Once applicants narrow the pool of potential schools, they can rank them according to which they most want to attend. Candidates should then find the application fees for each school and decide how many they can afford to apply to. They should also note admissions deadlines for each university.
Once it is time to apply, learners should gather all required application documents. Although the admissions process varies by school, candidates can expect to submit a completed application, prior learning transcripts, letters of recommendation, entrance exam scores, and application fees.
- Degree: Most universities require doctoral applicants to hold master's degrees, usually in marketing or a related field. Many schools also require degrees with programmatic accreditation.
- Professional Experience: Typically, Ph.D. programs do not require professional business experience. However, many DBA programs require a few years at the managerial level, either in a marketing agency or the marketing department within a corporation.
- Minimum GPA: Many schools do not post a minimum GPA for applicants because it is only one component of admission consideration. However, applicants are more successful if they have at least a 3.0 GPA, or a 3.5 for more prestigious institutions.
- License: Doctoral programs in marketing do not require students to have licenses. However, professional certifications make applicants more competitive for DBA programs, especially those that require work experience.
- Application: The official application includes the candidate's name, personal information, and statement of purpose. It can take an hour or more to complete, particularly if it includes an essay.
- Transcripts: Learners should submit all postsecondary transcripts. Some schools also require high school transcripts. Many institutions accept unofficial transcripts during the application process but require official documents from issuing schools before classes begin.
- Letters of Recommendation: Applicants should obtain three letters of recommendation from current or former professors, managers, or colleagues. Students should give writers at least two weeks to complete the letter.
- Test Scores: Because candidates must have master's degrees in most cases, universities do not typically require GMAT or GRE scores for doctoral programs.
- Application Fee: Applicants typically pay universities an application fee between $25 - $50. Some schools waive this fee for students with demonstrable financial need.
What Else Can I Expect From a Doctoral Program in Marketing?
While the curricula, costs, and length of a doctorate in marketing varies by school, there are several commonalities that most students face. Some courses are common for both DBA and Ph.D. students, for example. Also, many institutions offer marketing as a concentration within their business school doctoral programs.
Courses in a Doctoral Program in Marketing
Because schools offer unique curricula and students take electives based on their interests, few doctoral learners take the same set of courses. However, most programs have common core courses. Below is a sampling of common courses degree candidates take.
- Conceptual Foundations of Buyer Behavior
Marketing is designed to drive consumers to buy products and services. As such, the most effective marketing professionals understand buyer behavior. They must also know how economic and social factors change this behavior. This course gives students a fundamental understanding of these concepts.
- Advanced Quantitative Research Methods
Research is the driving force behind Ph.D. and DBA programs. These courses teach students how to design and implement studies, and interpret the data. Since many students took similar courses in pursuit of a master's degree, doctoral-level courses delve deeper into the material.
- Multinational Marketing
Many graduates go on to work for international organizations. These classes teach students to look for important cultural and language differences before designing marketing strategies for global corporations.
- Organizational Behavior
Because students often go on to work at management and executive levels, it's vital for them to learn how businesses of all sizes are organized. This course teaches learners best practices for managing teams and creating effective workflows.
- Special Topics in Marketing
As cultural and technological shifts happen, universities offer classes in relevant special topics. These topics may include current social conversations, how to use emerging technologies, or subjects that the professor researched.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Marketing?
Students who dedicate themselves to their studies full time and have few work or family commitments can earn a doctorate in marketing in three years. However, this is not a realistic timeline for many learners. Even full-time students may struggle to complete their thesis projects in three years. Furthermore, doctoral classes are difficult and require more time than lower-level courses. As such, students who used to take large course loads may have to take on fewer hours than they are used to.
Generally, universities do not allow doctoral students to take more than nine hours at a time. However, students can accelerate their plans by taking summer courses. Part-time students may take just one course per semester and finish in five to seven years.
How Much Is a Doctorate in Marketing?
The price of a doctorate varies by university and depends on time to completion and available financial aid. On average, public, four-year universities charge full-time doctoral degree candidates $10,830 in tuition and fees per year, according to College Board. For private universities, that number soars to $42,920 annually.
Students must also consider the local cost of living if they are attending an on-campus program. Many universities are in high-cost cities, which learners must factor into their decision-making process. Housing prices can make some plans unaffordable, while living far away from campus means students must pay more for commuting. Degree candidates should also budget for books and any technology they may need. On-campus learners often have access to the software they need through school libraries.
Many universities hire doctoral students to teach lower-level classes while they study. These students not only get salaries, but schools also waive their tuition and fees. Degree candidates can also receive standard financial aid, including scholarships and loans.
Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in Marketing Prepares For
- American Marketing Association PCM Marketing Management
The American Marketing Association (AMA) awards this credential to marketing professionals who pass a 150-question exam. The organization provides free practice tests to AMA members. Candidates must also have either a bachelor's degree and four years of experience, or a master's and two years of experience in marketing. People with this certification can become high-level marketing managers.
- Interactive Advertising Bureau Digital Ad Operations Certification
Marketing and advertising professionals can seek this certification from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The credential allows marketing managers to distinguish themselves as leaders in emerging trends. Applicants can take online or in-person courses through the IAB to prepare for the exam.
- Google AdWords Certification
With a Google AdWords certification, marketing professionals can get their clients' websites in front of the right customers. Candidates must pass a fundamentals exam and a specialization test. Learners can add additional specialization exams for a more robust resume.
Resources for Marketing Doctorate Students
The American Marketing Association has a student organization that offers scholarships, newsletters, and local networking events to members.
This free, professional journal from the AMA offers the latest research on marketing worldwide. This is particularly helpful for students who want to work with international organizations.
Degree candidates can learn about industry news and influencers in this professional journal from the AMA.
Adweek provides marketing and advertising news, such as trending marketing techniques and influencer stories.
Established in 1930, this website publishes white papers, studies, and news stories daily.
Professional Organizations in Marketing
Professional organizations and associations offer many benefits to marketing students and graduates, such as networking, recruiting, and continuing education. Some also have members-only job boards for recruiters and job seekers. Organizations also offer certifications for career advancement.