Guide To An Online Marketing Degree
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Online marketing degrees provide students with in-demand skills that many professions and industries value. This degree offers insight into the promotions and sales processes that take place between consumers and providers of goods and services. These programs attract learners with an interest in communications and creative problem-solving.
Depending on their career goals, marketing students can choose from various educational pathways, including different degrees and specializations. Common career options include marketing specialist, market research analyst, and marketing manager. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), each of these professions features higher than average salaries and projected job growth rates.
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A degree in marketing can also lead to various other careers in business and finance, a field which tends to pay higher wages and grow faster than average, according to the BLS.
Read on to learn more about marketing degrees and career options.
Related Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Why Earn Your Marketing Degree Online?
Earning a marketing degree online can provide various benefits, as many of the top schools across the country offer these programs. Compared to their on-campus counterparts, online degrees often feature increased accessibility, flexibility, diversity, school options, and technological applications.
Online marketing degrees improve program accessibility by limiting the need to travel and delivering coursework through a virtual platform. Without the need to sit in class, learners can complete programs from the comfort of their own home during free hours.
Online marketing degrees provide a more flexible learning experience than on-campus programs. In addition to offering more start dates, online programs may also feature asynchronous study or class times that accommodate working professionals, such as evenings and weekends.
Students pursuing a marketing degree online enjoy many more options than most students because school location does not play as big of a role. Moreover, many online programs offer in-state tuition rates for out-of-state students.
Online programs enroll students with diverse life experiences from all over the world. Classroom diversity leads to more enriching discussions, stronger networks, and greater globalized perspectives within the program.
Improvements in online learning technology have made online programs comparable to and competitive with on-campus programs. Learners can easily connect with classmates across the world in real time, communicate with instructors as they would in a classroom, and access all course materials whenever they want.
Types of Online Marketing Degrees
Online marketing programs award associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees. Associate degrees build a foundation for more advanced study. These degrees cover the fundamentals of the field and outline different educational and career paths graduates might pursue. Bachelor's programs typically prepare graduates for entry or mid-level positions in the field, with some potential for advancement.
Higher-level degrees confer more advanced skills in specialized topics. They also lead to higher pay and greater potential for career advancement. Graduate programs teach skills that lead to management positions. Since marketing is a diverse field, there are several different degrees available at all levels.
|Associate Degree in Marketing||Advertising Sales Representative||$38,480|
|Bachelor's Degree in Marketing||Marketing Associate||$47,200|
|Graduate Certificate in Marketing||Marketing Manager||$65,760|
|Master's Degree in Marketing||Senior Marketing Manager||$99,470|
|Doctoral Degree in Marketing||Vice President, Marketing||$148,310|
Associate Degree in Marketing
During an associate program in marketing, students learn the fundamentals of the business world. Most of the top online marketing degrees provide learners with a foundational understanding of the marketing process and the field's role within the overall business ecosystem. Associate degrees require approximately 60 credits and take around two years to complete.
Associate degrees in marketing equip learners with the skills and qualifications needed for entry-level jobs, including sales positions. These degrees also prepare graduates for further education after graduation, as the credits often transfer into bachelor's programs. Since most marketing positions require a bachelor's degree at minimum, many graduates pursue this path.
Introduction to Marketing
This course teaches students the principles, core concepts, and terminology of marketing. Learners study how different products and services are marketed and how marketing professionals build price strategies, work within distribution chains, and create promotional materials.
Business communication courses help students develop professional oral and written skills to thrive in a business environment. They look at the various forms of communication in a technological world and consider the influence of different situations and settings.
Integrated marketing teaches students how to incorporate an organization's strategic plan into advertising, promotions, and sales campaigns. Covered topics include campaign strategizing, brand messaging, social and ethical issues, and program evaluation.
Business law courses cover the major components of the legalities surrounding businesses, including torts, contracts, labor, management, and sales. Students learn about terminology and the basic framework within which businesses operate.
Microeconomics courses cover the terminology, theories, major concepts, and methodologies within the field. Students learn how individuals and organizations consume goods and services and how various forces affect the economy. Covered topics include production and consumption, goods and services exchange, and theories of decision-making.
Bachelor's Degree in Marketing
A bachelor's degree in marketing typically requires 120 credits and takes four years to complete. Most of the top online marketing bachelor's degrees cover foundational topics in early courses and move on to more advanced material and practical training in later courses.
With a bachelor's degree in marketing, graduates can pursue most marketing professions, including marketing management and market research positions. Graduates can also pursue advanced training through an online graduate certificate in marketing or a master's degree.
Consumer behavior courses examine the purchasing process from the consumer point of view, looking at how and why people buy goods and services. Students also examine how different situations and markets influence buying behaviors and responses.
Brand messaging courses explore how organizations develop branding and improve brand strength. Learners evaluate ways of creating communication materials to help meet campaign and organizational goals.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing courses teach students how to develop and roll out social media campaigns. Coursework covers major digital platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, examining how different forms of media change the messaging approach.
Marketing analytics courses look at the different analytical methods, applications, software, and programs used by marketing professionals. Students may explore how the field uses information to improve decision-making, market assessments, campaign evaluation, and risk management.
In business decision-making courses, students learn how organizations make better and more informed decisions. They look at the different technologies and strategies available and how unique situations influence choices. Some courses focus on how marketing in particular can affect decision-making within organizations.
Graduate Certificate in Marketing
Through a graduate certificate in marketing, students can pursue advanced training in a specific area of the field without having to complete an entire graduate degree. Many of the top online graduate certificates in marketing provide learners with advanced and applicable strategic, technical, and analytical skills. While the scope of these certificates varies, students usually can complete the required 12-18 credits within a year.
Online graduate certificates in marketing give students access to on-demand training and qualifications. Many programs emphasize a specific area or subfield of marketing, which allows learners to focus on only the training they need. Graduate certificate credits may also count toward a master's degree if students wish to take their education further.
Marketing management courses evaluate the role of marketing in the overall scope of an organization. Students explore management techniques, leadership principles, decision-making strategies, and training and development programs.
Brand management courses teach students how organizations strategize, develop, and manage their brands. Coursework covers how marketing campaigns interconnect with branding and core values across the entire business.
Market research courses focus on the collection, analysis, and interpretation of information from various markets. Learners explore ways of gathering information from consumers, assessing what the information says about the market. Students then consider how to employ that knowledge to make better marketing decisions.
In digital strategy courses, students learn to develop digital marketing strategies on an array of platforms and media. Coursework emphasizes using technology to improve goods and services, marketing campaigns, and consumer experiences.
New Product Development
New product development courses explore the processes that inform product design, development, and rollout. For marketing professionals, this course focuses on researching, improving, and promoting new products.
Master's Degree in Marketing
Students can pursue several different master's degrees in marketing, such as an MS in marketing and an MBA in marketing. These programs differ in that marketing degrees tend to focus more on the theoretical elements of marketing, giving students a deep understanding of the complex processes and stages involved in the discipline, whereas the top online MBA in marketing programs offer more broad and business-focused training.
Most master's programs require 36-45 credits and take under two years to complete. MBA programs attract both experienced professionals and recent graduates who wish to pursue a variety of management or advisory roles within a business. Master's degrees in marketing often lead to more traditional marketing roles.
In this course, students learn how marketing professionals develop pricing strategies for goods and services. They evaluate how market research, consumer group analysis, value creation, and internal organizational inputs all contribute to creating effective and dynamic pricing.
Global Brand Strategy
Global brand strategy courses examine how international and multinational brands manage marketing campaigns. Students learn about social, cultural, legal, and political differences and how they impact campaign decisions and processes. Learners also analyze the influence of taxes and international trade agreements on branding.
Project management courses provide students with the skills needed to oversee large projects and teams within an organization. Covered topics include training and development, work delegation, risk management, budgeting, performance evaluation, and quality assurance.
Marketing for Social Impact
This course explores the role of marketing in advancing social initiatives within various communities. Coursework covers major contemporary social issues, such as racial equality, health improvement, and environmental sustainability. Students learn how to incorporate social issues into marketing campaigns and how these campaigns alter consumer behaviors.
Visual marketing courses cover the entire planning process for creating a visual experience for consumers. Coursework covers packaging, advertisements, retail displays, and other promotional materials. Students learn how to connect graphic designs with brand strategies, organizational messaging, and target markets.
Doctoral Degree in Marketing
A doctoral degree in marketing provides students with control and personalization, allowing them to customize their research to fit their interests and career goals. In general, these programs cover advanced theories in economics, consumer and organizational behavior, and administration.
Typically, doctoral degrees in marketing require 60-90 credits and take 4-7 years to complete. Although many graduates pursue careers as postsecondary teachers, they can also pursue business-related careers in management or as economists. Graduates can also enroll in another graduate program in a complementary discipline, but a doctorate should qualify them for most positions in the field.
Marketing Strategy for Technology
This course focuses on the technology industry, teaching students how marketing professionals create campaigns for technology companies and products. Coursework explores ways of integrating technology into the campaign and how to create value in this field.
In this course, students analyze the psychology behind viral marketing and the nature of how information spreads throughout a community or across a medium. Coursework pays particular attention to social media and the increasing usage of viral marketing campaigns.
Marketing Model Building
This course examines the current state of marketing models and research on these developments. Students also develop their own marketing models in areas like consumer predictions, market analysis, pricing strategies, and purchasing trends.
Probability and Statistics
In this course, students examine probability theories and statistical methods and models used in marketing. They discuss how to plan, control, and observe experiments and solve problems with statistics.
Multidisciplinary Approach to Decision-Making
Students in this course explore decision-making processes from various perspectives, evaluating how marketing decision-making differs from and can benefit from other fields. Learners explore research from many industries and disciplines to try to find new applications, theories, and insight into marketing problem-solving and decision-making.
Marketing Concentrations and Specialities
By choosing a concentration within their online marketing degree, students can strengthen their knowledge in a subfield and increase their chances of employment in that area. Options vary by school and program, but the following section highlights some of the most common marketing specializations.
This specialization delves into the processes used by market research specialists to gather information on consumer groups, such as survey development, canvassing strategies, social media, and data analysis. Learners also discuss methods for interpreting data and applying data to campaign strategies.
Median Annual salary: $63,790
Marketing management specializations provide learners with the leadership skills needed to run a marketing project, team, or department. Students learn to work within an organizational structure, develop campaigns, and create competitive advantages. They also study how to train and develop staff, build a company brand, and incorporate diversity.
Median Annual salary: $135,900
Public relations specializations teach students to handle public relations tasks and teams. They learn how to develop communication plans, materials, and strategies. Other skills include organizing events, performing quality control, and managing crises. Some courses delve into specific industries, such as politics, nonprofits, and public affairs.
Median Annual salary: $61,150
Fundraising management specializations teach learners how to connect with donors, develop fundraising campaigns, and create promotional materials. Coursework covers how social initiatives can pair with an organization or a branding strategy to generate interest and increase donations.
Median Annual salary: $116,180
Advertising specializations focus on creating effective advertising pieces and campaigns that fit an overall brand strategy or organizational culture. Students learn the principles and major practices in the field. Topics include communications planning, digital advertising, and interactive messaging.
Median Annual salary: $53,310
While most marketing jobs do not require professional certifications, they can make a huge difference in terms of salary prospects and advancement potential. These certifications stress both general competencies and specific skills sets. Certifications demonstrate specialized knowledge and show employers what you bring to the company.
Professional Certified Marketer
The American Marketing Association offers PCS tracks in digital marketing, content marketing, and marketing management. There are handbooks available that cover key test topics. Exam costs vary between members and non-members, but range from $99-$349. These exams are all available online and take 2-3 hours to complete.
Google Analytics Individual Qualification
Ideal for marketing analytics professionals, this certification indicates knowledge of Google Analytics, which examines web traffic. Google offers preparation for the 90-minute exam through the online Analytics Academy. The test is free to take. Certification remains valid for 18 months after the date of completion.
This certification demonstrates mastery of the marketing and sales platform Inbound. Topics include website optimization and other digital marketing strategies to attract consumers. HubSpot offers free online exam preparation, which includes 12 courses and takes about four and a half hours to complete. The exam lasts 90 minutes and includes 60 multiple choice questions.
This certification demonstrates both basic and advanced knowledge of the Google Ads marketing toolkit. Google Ads certification requires candidates to pass the fundamentals exam and one additional exam, with several different options available. These exams are free, and Google offers free test preparation materials online.
Hootsuite Social Marketing
This certification demonstrates in-depth knowledge of social media marketing. All recipients are listed in the Hootsuite Certified Professionals Directory. Hootsuite offers free preparation materials online. The 60-question exam costs $199. Hootsuite certification is permanent, and recipients are not required to renew their credentials.
Career and Salary Outlook for Marketing Graduates
The career landscape looks promising for marketing graduates at all levels. There are many marketing careers and business-related professions that rely on marketing skills, providing graduates with plenty of opportunities.
Some management professions, like public relations managers and marketing managers, receive median annual salaries that more than triple the national average. The following table outlines some of the best career options available.
Marketing managers oversee marketing teams and departments within organizations. They plan and develop campaigns, handle advertising contracts, and establish market research strategies. These professionals also identify target markets, assess opportunities and risks, and work with other departments to ensure consistent messaging.
Marketing managers need a bachelor's degree and relevant experience. Employers may prefer candidates with a master's.
Market Research Analyst
Market research analysts study market conditions and consumer groups to identify opportunities for product and service launches. They research what consumers want, how much they will pay, and how they might respond to a marketing campaign.
Marketing research analysts typically need a bachelor's or master's degree.
Public Relations Specialist
Public relations specialists oversee various components of an organization's public image. They create communications, handle social media accounts, and respond to questions from the media. They may also work with investors and consumer groups.
Public relations specialists typically need a bachelor's degree.
Public Relations Manager
Public relations managers take charge of developing and maintaining an organization's public image. They help establish brand messaging, target audiences, and corporate communications. They oversee PR teams and delegate tasks.
Public relations managers typically need a bachelor's degree, although some employers may look for candidates with a master's degree.
Advertising Sales Agent
Advertising sales agents sell advertising space and handle advertising client accounts. They work with organizations to explain how advertising can improve revenues and operations and discuss promotional design and materials.
Advertising sales agents typically need some higher education, such as an associate degree, although some employers seek out candidates with a bachelor's degree.
Marketing Manager Careers by Location
Location plays a large role in job availability and salary potential for marketing professionals. According to the BLS, marketing managers enjoy the most opportunities and the most money in major metropolitan city centers and heavily populated areas, along with the coastal states like New York and California.
Interview With A Marketing Professional
Lead Generation Strategist
Isha Edwards is an idea catalyst and lead generation strategist who has a global perspective on economic development. Through EPiC Measures, Isha provides brand-driven marketing consulting services for individuals and organizations across 12 industries, including music, media, fashion, film, aviation, academia, professional services, and STEM.
Why did you choose to go into marketing?
According to one of my mentors, I have been marketing all my life. When I reached a career crossroad, I took inventory of the things that piqued my interest and found that, since third grade, I had sampled every aspect of marketing, from graphic design, advertising, communications, sponsored events, and freelance journalism to guerrilla tactics, PR/crisis management, sales, and customer experience.
At that point, it made sense to pursue my passion. I have not looked back since.
Describe the range of services you provide to your clients.
- Marketing strategy
- Brand management
- Marketing communications (includes social media and PR)
- Business and marketing seminars and workshops
What is your marketing philosophy?
The purpose of marketing is to make an exchange of value for goods/services. Given the increasingly crowded, noisy marketplace, differentiation is vital. Therefore, work to align marketing strategy with business objectives.
Also, focus on marketing tools that track and measure targeted marketing strategies versus implementing marketing tactics simply because big name company X or subject matter expert Y say so. This is especially true for social media marketing.
What skills are essential to marketing?
There are four types of marketers: technical, analytical, creative, and project managers. However, according to Scott Brinker, as of 2017, there are over 5,000 marketing technology tools that focus on skills in advertising and promotions, content and customer experience, social and relationship marketing, commerce and sales, marketing data, and marketing management.
I encourage aspiring marketers to review Brinker's Martech 5000 Supergraphic and determine what type of marketer they aspire to be and which of the six skill categories they are passionate about.
For example, a career marketer may decide social and relationship marketing is their forte and work to be an analytical social media, CX, or CRM marketer, versus a creative social media marketer. The former focus is on campaign metrics and optimization, while the latter focus is on audio-visual copy that commands attention.
Industry or sector will help narrow focus. By default, aviation marketers use martech tools that entertainment and STEM marketers are not as likely to need or use.
How much contact do you have with your clients?
All clients have regular access when they have an active project. Otherwise, a benefit of service includes cross-promotional leads that create new business for the client and, subsequently, EPiC Measures.
For the record, "regular access" does not translate to a weekly flurry of emails or being on call. Agreeing on a scope of work ensures contact is within budget and timeline and that client contact outside of a project creates win-win value.
Is it important to choose a marketing specialty?
Yes! There is a shortage of nurses, teachers, air traffic controllers, and STEM pros -- especially technical and analytical pros -- but there is no shortage of marketers! There are over 5,000 martech tools and over 200,000 marketing professionals. Same as the crowded, noisy goods and services marketplace, marketing pros must differentiate.
What tips do you have for students who aren't sure which focus they would like best?
Intern, practice, or try your hand at all four types of marketing: technical, analytical, creative, and project management. You will default to your strength and passion. If you find that you are a marketing generalist, your career path will be ordered by opportunities.
For example, if you start off in PR/communications in media, the nearest opportunity may be media advertising and promotions. However, if you start off as a product manager in aviation, it will be difficult to switch to entertainment event promotions without garnering essential skills and experience that prove you are capable of meeting set goals.
What makes marketing an exciting career opportunity right now?
All things technology makes marketing an exciting, even lucrative, career opportunity right now. Augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, IoT, big data, data analytics, business intelligence, customer experience, and customization are all disruptive trends that drive demand for a new type of marketer who commands a starting salary of $75,000-$125,000.
What does continuing education look like for you?
I am an analytical marketer, so I am focused on learning data-related tools like Tableau. My continuing education will continue to align with advancements in business technology.
What software do you think every marketer should learn?
Consider this: once upon a time, knowing WordPerfect was a special skill until Microsoft Word came along. In 2005, Apple introduced Numbers, Pages and Keynote, but pricing (accessibility) stifled growth. Today, Google Docs is that special skill, and so is being fluent in Apple, Microsoft, and Google software.
Marketers no longer have to know Adobe to create branded graphics for social media or blogs, for example. Although it's ideal to hire a graphic designer, or learn Adobe, for print ads and logos, Canva is an inexpensive, DIY SaaS tool.
Will Salesforce, Pardot, or HubSpot be around in 5-10 years, or will they be bought by another, robust sales/CRM company? Learn the software that will help you do your job plus two others. Learn software within a given marketing skill category, but remain agile.
Since career choice is tied to livelihood, master the software that will keep you famous or in high demand (employable in five-year increments).
How important is networking and what are some easy ways to stay connected to other marketers in your community?
Network = net worth! Network with marketers for professional development and to discover trends or best practices. Groups like Creative Morning are highly social and informative. Networking through the American Marketing Association is formal as well as business and marketing research-driven. It is always great to stay ahead of marketing trends, tools, and tactics.
However, the best way to network is by sector. If you plan to be in entertainment marketing, a CPG conference is not the best place to network unless the demographic includes branded entertainment CPG pros. Healthcare marketing is not the same as aviation marketing. Strike a balance between networking by discipline and by sector.
How do you stay up to date with the latest advancements and technology in the marketing world?
I join SaaS, startup, and STEM groups. I also subscribe to what I call "reference resources," which are usually publications or subject matter experts whose primary purpose is to track martech news. Media Post, Clarity, Techcrunch.com, and Inbound.org are examples.
What are some practical tips to prepare for an interview?
Cut and paste the job description into a Word or Google Doc then cut and paste the sections of your resume that prove that you meet or exceed job requirements. Doing so will help you remember your talking points during the interview, iterating to hiring officials that you have what they want.
Leave room for psychological, emotional intelligence, personality, and character questions, which you should answer with integrity. Otherwise, simplify the process and try to get to the point of the interview very quickly: why and how are you the best fit?
PR/communications and advertising marketers are really good at redirecting, so practice interviewing with a marketer who is used to drilling down, creating spin, or accentuating the positive. Lastly, smile a lot.
Scholarships for Marketing Majors
Marketing thrives on innovation, and organizations of all types are always looking for the next generation of marketers who will move the industry forward. Accordingly, businesses and other professional organizations offer a wide selection of scholarships for business and marketing students of all levels, some of which are detailed below.
Marketing Scholarships for Associate Degree Students
FormSwift Startup Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This unique scholarship rewards students who create a compelling business plan infographic for a startup, restaurant, nonprofit, transportation, or clothing company. Marketing majors are encouraged to apply. The scholarship is open to students of all academic levels.
Lawrence G. Foster Award
Who Can Apply: Open to members of the Public Relations Student Society of America, this scholarship requires students to submit a faculty letter of recommendation and an essay on the concept of excellence in public relations.
Marketing Scholarships for Bachelor's Degree Students
Axia Public Relations Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The public relations firm Axia offers this scholarship for qualified juniors and seniors. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and dedication to a PR career. Applicants should also have PR experience through internships, volunteerism, employment, or other opportunities.
Ofield Dukes Multicultural Student Award
Who Can Apply: Intended for marketing and public relations students of African American, Alaskan Native, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander ancestry, this undergraduate scholarship is available to applicants entering their junior year with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Michael A. Burgess Marketing Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity are eligible to apply for this scholarship, intended specifically for marketing students. Applicants must be marketing majors with at least junior standing and a GPA of at least 3.0.
Marketing Scholarships for Master's Degree Students
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation Advancement of Women in Sports & Entertainment Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to female students in their first year of graduate school who plan to pursue a career in the sports or the entertainment industry. Both marketing and public relations students with a minimum GPA of 2.75 are eligible to apply.
Neumeier Family Leadership Award
Who Can Apply: Intended for members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), this scholarship rewards graduate students who have demonstrated leadership within PRSSA or other organizations.
WPP Graduate Fellowship
Who Can Apply: Advertising and public relations giant WPP offers this elite fellowship, which places students with marketing agencies all over the world. Open to marketing and MBA graduate students, this highly competitive fellowship requires significant academic achievement and demonstration of marketing aptitude.
Marketing Scholarships for Doctoral Degree Students
Valuing Diversity Ph.D Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Founded to support underrepresented groups in the marketing industry, this doctoral scholarship is open to applicants of African American, Hispanic, and Native American descent. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited doctoral marketing program and have completed at least one year of study.