Though marketing in 2018 differs greatly from the lively work environment depicted in Mad Men, careers in the field still provide both high salaries and the potential for growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities for market research analysts will grow 23% by 2026, more than twice as high as the economy as a whole. This position offers a median salary of $63,230, and many other marketing jobs pay even more. Marketing managers, for instance, earn an average of $129,380 each year.
An MBA in marketing can position you for a successful career in a creative, business-oriented field. Furthermore, students can choose from a diverse array of options, including several online marketing MBA programs. This guide can help you determine if you should get an MBA in marketing or pursue one of the many career paths in the field.
Should I Get an MBA in Marketing?
Individuals with strong interpersonal skills, a charming personality, and a business mindset should consider an MBA in marketing. These programs also suit professionals who thrive in a fast-paced, team-oriented work environment. A typical MBA in marketing curriculum features courses in pricing, campaign creation, evaluation, sales, public relations, general business strategy, finance, branding, and digital marketing.
Students seeking a marketing MBA degree often have two delivery options: online or on campus. The best online MBA programs are perfect for working professionals who want to either advance or change their careers. Students can access top programs from around the country without having to move. These programs also tend to cost less than on-campus options.
Students fresh out of an undergraduate program often choose an on-campus MBA. On-campus courses also benefit students who prefer direct peer interaction and support. On-campus programs also provide more networking opportunities, which are especially valuable at schools in major cities.
No matter which delivery method they choose, students in marketing MBA programs can benefit from career support and networking events. Many programs maintain relationships with local employers and internship sites. Additionally, the best business schools offer job placement assistance and lifetime career counseling even after graduates have entered the workforce.
What Can I Do With an MBA in Marketing?
Though it may seem like an MBA in marketing prepares graduates for one specific career, the skills that students learn can apply to numerous business fields. While many graduates do ultimately work in positions with "marketing" in the title, they can also pursue careers in adjacent fields such as public relations, advertising, market research, and sales. The list below describes five career paths for individuals who hold a marketing MBA degree.
- Public Relations Specialist
Public relations specialists help shape a company's public image, brand, and message. They usually work under the direction of a PR manager. While these specialists typically only need a bachelor's degree, a master's degree can often help candidates advance to the managerial level.
Median Annual Salary: $59,300*
- Public Relations and Fundraising Manager
PR managers oversee a company's public relations strategy, including campaigns and messaging. They may also work to improve branding and interaction with customers. Many positions require a master's degree.
Median Annual Salary: $111,280*
- Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager
Marketing managers craft a company's strategy for creating consumer interest in their goods or services. These professionals must manage other employees and plan successful campaigns and programs. An MBA in marketing can help candidates find a managerial position.
Median Annual Salary: $129,380*
- Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts forecast market trends for a specific good or service. These employees study what consumers want and if consumers will buy the products that the company sells. They also help set pricing. Many market research analyst positions require an advanced degree that demonstrates exceptional math and data capabilities.
Median Annual Salary: $63,230*
- Sales Manager
Sales managers oversee all of a company's sales staff. They train new and existing employees, analyze data in order to make decisions, and set sales benchmarks. Sales managers often travel frequently. While work experience and a strong sales record matter most when pursuing these jobs, an MBA in marketing may also help.
Median Annual Salary: $121,060*
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How to Choose an MBA in Marketing Program
Many different schools offer MBA programs, especially in standard fields such as marketing. As such, students may face difficulties determining which marketing MBA program to attend. Many prospective students make their decision based on factors such as cost, location, and program ranking. However, many other factors are important as well.
- Program Length
Students should determine how much time they want to spend on their chosen program. Full-time students typically take two years, while part-time students take three years or more. However, full-time students must invest more time each semester, which can prove challenging for working professionals. Not all programs allow students to study part time, and some programs require a higher than average number of credits. Part-time students should also ensure that they enroll in a program that charges tuition per credit instead of per semester.
Students should investigate several aspects of the curriculum before committing to a program.
- Capstone Experience: Most programs conclude in a project, a thesis, or a seminar. Students should consider which type of capstone experience they prefer and determine whether or not their program offers a suitable option.
- Field Experience: Internship and practicums can make a big difference when students begin to apply for jobs. In fact, students often find work at the company where they interned. The best programs offer students the chance to earn some kind of hands-on experience in the field.
- Concentrations/Specializations: Applicants should make sure that their chosen MBA program offers a concentration in marketing. Some MBA marketing programs also offer sub-concentrations or complementary courses.
Students should not enroll in programs that they cannot afford. However, some expensive schools offer large financial aid packages that can lower tuition to a reasonable rate.
On-campus students may have to relocate in order to attend an MBA program in a different region or state. Some students may simply prefer the closest school. Strategic learners may attend a school located in an area where they would like to work, since most business colleges maintain connections with local employers.
- Delivery Method
As discussed above, busy students and working professionals often prefer the flexibility of an online program. Other learners may face difficulties learning in a virtual environment, and decide to take courses on campus instead.
Students should enroll in marketing programs that have earned both regional and programmatic accreditation.
Programmatic Accreditation for MBA in Marketing Programs
Regardless of major, students should only attend schools that have regional accreditation. Accreditation means that a college has undergone thorough vetting -- including a site visit -- from one of six geographical organizations. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education oversee this process. Most employers do not recognize degrees from unaccredited schools.
Programmatic accreditation can also help prospective students learn about individual programs. Business students should make sure that their chosen program has received accreditation from at least one of three main organizations: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.
MBA in Marketing Program Admissions
Most MBA in marketing programs follow a similar admissions process. All programs require at least an undergraduate transcript, letters of recommendation, and an application form. Some programs also require a minimum undergraduate GPA, professional experience, and standardized test scores. Some programs admit students on a rolling basis, while others maintain predefined application and admission dates. Online programs can sometimes require more involvement. Applicants may have to complete a course or fill out a survey proving their suitability for distance education.
No matter which delivery method they choose, all prospective students should apply to at least three programs. Graduate applicants often face stiffer competition than undergraduate applicants, so prospective students should thoroughly review their application materials. Learners should make sure that they apply to enough schools to earn admission to at least program.
- Bachelor's Degree: All MBA programs require a bachelor's degree. Some programs may require students to have a degree in business or marketing, while others may just require certain prerequisite courses. Most programs admit students from many different backgrounds.
- Professional Experience: Some MBA programs -- particularly online options -- require applicants to have at least one or two years of work experience. This requirement ensures that each cohort has a similar knowledge base. Professors can also skip over some basic topics.
- Minimum GPA: Typical MBA programs require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. More competitive schools require a higher GPA, but other programs admit students with lower grades.
- Application: Applications often consist of two components: personal information and personal essays. Students should allocate an hour to fill out the personal information and six to eight hours to plan, write, and edit their essays.
- Transcripts: Students should get in touch with their college registrar to request official copies of their transcripts. Learners must send these documents to every school where they apply. Many schools charge a small fee for this service.
- Letters of Recommendation: Students should seek out at least two letters of recommendation from former professors or employers. Applicants should give their references at least two to three months of advance notice.
- Test Scores: While the vast majority of MBA programs require the GMAT, a few also accept the GRE. Some programs don't require any standardized tests at all. Minimum scores vary from program to program.
- Application Fee: Most graduate application fees range from $20 to $100. Applicants can receive a fee waiver at some schools.
What Else Can I Expect From an MBA in Marketing Program?
This section outlines what you can expect from an MBA in marketing program. Though most schools share commonalities, details vary from school to school and program to program.
Courses in an MBA in Marketing Program
Most MBA programs maintain a relatively standardized curriculum, since all business students must master the same core competencies. However, marketing courses may focus on different topics, fields, industries, and skills. Students should make sure their chosen school offers a curriculum that lines up with their interests and goals.
- Business Strategy
This survey course touches on foundational topics in business, including finance, sales, marketing, and operations. It prepares graduates to work in management positions across the spectrum.
- Marketing Strategy, Analysis, and Development
In this class, students learn about creating and evaluating marketing campaigns. Topics include best marketing practices, public relations, and messaging. This course prepares graduates for managerial marketing roles.
- Global Brand Strategy
Students learn about planning, curating, creating, and maintaining both international and domestic brands. Students who take this class can work in-house as branding specialists for companies. Graduates can also find work with independent branding or public relations agencies.
Pricing courses teach students how to use supply and demand to set optimal prices for a company's products. Graduates can work as pricing specialists for companies or consulting agencies.
- Digital Marketing
Marketing departments increasingly use the internet -- keyword research, search engine optimization, and social media -- to get a message across. Students can apply lessons from this course to manage public relations or create social media campaigns. Learn more about digital marketing master's programs.
How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA in Marketing?
Like most master's degrees, an MBA in marketing generally takes one to two years of full-time study to complete. Most MBA programs consist of 36-54 credits. However, several factors can affect your completion time. For example, full-time students finish their degrees much more quickly than part-time students.
Additionally, some programs offer accelerated tracks that allow students to graduate even more quickly. Students in these programs take additional credits each semester, enroll in summer semesters, or test out of certain requirements. Some online schools offer competency-based programs that allow students to progress through material at their own pace.
How Much Is an MBA in Marketing?
Marketing MBAs cost about the same rate as most other master's degrees. The typical sticker price for an MBA in marketing falls between $15,000 and $74,000 for a two-year program. Nevertheless, several factors can affect how much each student actually pays.
- Per-Semester or Per-Credit
Schools either charge tuition per credit or per semester. Part-time students should enroll in programs that charge tuition per credit, while full-time students should look for programs that charge per semester.
- On-Campus Fees
Students who choose to study on campus have to pay additional fees, including housing costs, parking, facility maintenance fees, and activity fees. Additionally, some schools require students to purchase a meal plan during their first year.
- Online Discounts
Several schools allow online students to pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live. Other schools charge online students a discounted tuition rate. Distance learners also avoid costs related to campus housing, childcare, and transportation. However, online students may have to pay an additional technology fee.
- Merit Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students can often earn scholarships based on financial need or exceptional undergraduate academic performance.
MBA in Marketing Certifications and Licenses
- Google Ads Certification
This certificate indicates that professionals have mastered Google AdWords and search engine optimization. Applicants take a course through Google's Academy for Ads. This certificate can add value to a digital marketer, copywriter, or advertising manager's resume.
- AMA Professional Certified Marketer
Offered by the industry's leading professional organization, this certificate demonstrates that a professional has mastered a wide variety of marketing-related skills. Applicants must pass a qualifying exam. The certificate program includes several different tracks for specialization.
- HubSpot Inbound Certification
HubSpot offers a simple, quick, and free certificate that demonstrates mastery of inbound marketing. Copywriters and inbound marketing specialists can especially benefit from this certification.
Resources for Marketing Graduate Students
HubSpot hosts an extensive, searchable library of marketing resources on a wide variety of topics, including social media and infographics.
This page provides students with information on networking events, professional development opportunities, awards, honor societies, and other activities at the American Marketing Association.
A good resource for hands-on learners, AMA's case studies library features relevant case studies from the past few years.
Free for AMA members, these toolkits provide comprehensive guidance in areas such as lead generation, branding, social media, and website development.
The University of Arizona's marketing department maintains this webpage. Students can learn about different career opportunities and fields of marketing.
Professional Organizations in Marketing
Business deals with people first and foremost. As such, professional organizations can greatly benefit aspiring marketers and businesspersons. These associations offer opportunities to interact with fellow professionals through annual conferences, professional development workshops, and networking events. Several of these organizations also host job boards, continuing education courses, and the latest research in the field.
The AMA maintains a job board, networking events, and professional development courses. These resources primarily focus on service leadership.
The AMCP's awards program recognizes outstanding marketing contributions from its members. The association has also donated over $250,000 to industry and charitable causes.
Founded more than 45 years ago, the SMPS focuses on providing access to research, networking opportunities, and advocacy.
The IMA focuses primarily on digital marketing professionals. Members can access conferences, membership groups, and professional certifications.
The SMEI provides easy access to webinars, forums, and other networking opportunities. Members can connect with sales and marketing professionals from around the world. The organization also offers professional certifications.