Master’s in marketing
With a master’s degree in marketing you can level up your skills and take another step up the career ladder. Many people who enroll in a master’s in marketing already work in the industry and use the qualification to move into a managerial role.
The marketing sector offers stimulating work and ample opportunity to unleash your creative side. Demand for managerial-level marketers is expected to grow by 10% over the next decade, similar to the national average for other careers. This is a stable sector with plenty of opportunities, so, depending on your circumstances, increasing your credentials and earning a top master’s in marketing degree may be a worthwhile investment.
What is a master’s in marketing?
A master’s in marketing is a 1-2 year postgraduate qualification. The curriculum differs between schools, but the overarching aim is to teach strategy and leadership expertise, as well as more specific marketing skills.
The master’s in marketing curriculum may include courses in:
Covers how cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors affect a consumer’s decision on what and whether to buy. Understanding how consumers think is at the heart of everything marketers do.
Focuses on the skills needed to examine a potential market. The course teaches its students how to isolate gaps in the market and make recommendations to bridge the demand.
Statistics and data analysis
Students learn how to use and analyze data, both to research the market and study the metrics of current campaigns.
Knowledge of digital marketing has become an integral part of the modern marketer’s toolbox. This course covers aspects such as social media marketing, SEO techniques, and harnessing influencers to sell products.
Establishing a brand is vital to the success of a product or service. Students learn the fundamentals of building and maintaining a brand so that they can increase the value and awareness of products.
Master’s in marketing degree basics
The finer details of master’s in marketing programs vary between schools, but the answers below are true for many of them.
How long does it take to get a master’s in marketing?
The typical program length is 1 –2 years.
What are the admission requirements?
A bachelor’s degree is necessary to be accepted onto a program. While you needn’t necessarily have majored in business-related degrees, those with unrelated majors may need to complete additional business coursework upon acceptance.
Admission requirements are also likely to include:
- a minimum GPA requirement
- a GRE score set by the school
Is an internship part of the program?
An internship might be included to provide real-world marketing experience and the opportunity to network. Students are typically placed in large marketing firms, agencies, or the marketing departments of smaller companies.
Do students need to complete a capstone project?
Some programs require students to complete a capstone project. This is usually a consulting engagement with a local business, during which a student may be asked to conduct consumer behavior analysis, or for strategic input in the planning of a marketing campaign.
What can you do with a master’s in marketing?
Marketing is a goliath of an industry with a huge range of careers available. The path you take depends on your personality type and where your main interest lies.
Analytical types might be suited to the analysis and research branch of marketing, investigating whether a product is viable or why it isn’t selling. These analysts are the hidden heroes behind many successful advertising campaigns.
Those who want to get involved with the creative side tend to become art directors or content specialists, creating eye-catching words and visuals to sell product and build brands.
Some marketing in master’s graduates choose the digital path, focusing on the world of online marketing that continues to expand at pace. Others prefer to work offline, perhaps in TV advertising, product placement, or print media.
As well as opening avenues to multiple marketing areas, a master’s in marketing can also put you on the management track. From there, you may even find yourself moving into executive roles, such as director of marketing or chief marketing officer.
Is a master’s in marketing worth it?
A master’s in marketing can lead to a range of career options. For some, this alone makes the degree worth it. However, if we approach the question based solely on the projected increase in earnings, the answer becomes less clear.
The figures below indicate that while graduates receive higher pay than candidates with a bachelor’s in marketing, the additional debt means the difference in overall income becomes negative.
Debt and earnings
Graduate degree premium
Earning over bachelors
Annual debt repayment
The figures above give an indication of the debt incurred by graduates, and their salaries 3 years after graduation. The table on the left compares median debt and median earnings. The right-hand table compares how much a master graduate earns over a bachelor graduate 3 years after graduation, after deducting median debt repayments.
Before you decide a master’s in marketing isn’t worth it, note that the above earnings are skewed by the large number of for-profit institutions offering this degree. Study a master’s of marketing at a private school and you can expect to earn an average salary of $77,214, which is $24,743 higher than a bachelor in marketing graduate can expect. Similarly, the average public college graduate earns $66,854, with the average bachelor salary coming in at $15,200 less.
When considering these figures, bear in mind that a lot of marketing skills are learned on the job rather than in the classroom. There are cases where more work experience leads to a better financial outcome than additional qualifications. This means it is more important than ever to have a solid reason to enroll, rather than just signing up because it seems like the logical next step.
An example of when a master’s in marketing might make sense is if a candidate works for a company that expects its senior-level management to have a graduate degree. These companies may even cover tuition costs. For example, Intel offers staff up to $50,000 in tuition reimbursement for graduate study, providing the employee’s performance level is deemed ‘successful’ or better. Taking advantage of tuition reimbursement benefits can make the master’s in marketing instantly worth it, from both a financial and career progression perspective.
Generally speaking, an MBA with a concentration in marketing might be a better choice than the master’s in marketing. Although it requires more work experience, the MBA provides broader business opportunities and emphasizes leadership skills. It is generally seen as a more prestigious credential and the traditional track to senior positions in the corporate world.
Types of marketing graduate programs
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Marketing typically takes 1-2 years to complete. The M.A. in marketing teaches core skills such as communications, critical thinking, and the principles of consumer behavior. The curriculum leans toward the humanities and social sciences.
The Master of Science (M.S.) in Marketing is like the M.A. in both length and the foundational courses it provides. The main difference is that the content tends to focus on technical topics, such as how marketers can analyze and harness data.
An MBA with a concentration in marketing offers broader business courses such as finance, operations, and accounting. The aim is to prepare students for a range of roles in the business field. MBAs usually require at least 2 years of work experience, so unlike the master’s option you cannot complete an MBA directly after your undergraduate degree.
Master’s in marketing
Takes 1-2 years
The focus is on marketing, with opportunities to specialize further through electives. Some courses may be more theoretical than the MBA.
Earnings * 3 years after graduation: $54,133
MBA with marketing
Takes 2 years
Students learn a broad range of business skills, with an emphasis on how these relate to the marketing field. MBAs aim to be practical and applied.
Earnings * 3 years after graduation: $68,748
Above you can see the best master’s in marketing programs. Our rankings are based on how new debt compares to new earnings, as well as comparative earnings between programs after graduating.
Can you get an online master’s in marketing?
Online marketing master’s degree programs provide greater flexibility for students. They are a solid option for students who work full time or who have children. Some schools offer hybrid programs with an in-person component. For example, you could take the majority of your studies online, but complete an in-person internship.
» Read: Online vs on-campus courses
Currently, the percentage of online master’s in marketing programs available is similar to the market-wide average for all master’s programs. Much of today’s marketing happens online, and a distance program can help students further hone their digital skills.
Master’s in marketing
The above table shows the percentage of programs available either completely in person or fully online. Figures that do not add up to 100% indicate the existence of hybrid programs.
How to pay for marketing graduate programs – cost, financial aid, and scholarships
The table below shows that marketing master’s programs at for-profit schools are more expensive than at public or private colleges. Three years after graduation, the earnings of for-profit school graduates are also significantly less. As a result, the more affordable public and private colleges have a superior debt-to-earnings ratio.
Debt to earnings
Debt to earnings
Debt to earnings
Median earnings and median debt of graduates of this degree program. The debt-to-earnings ratio compares student debt to annual earnings. The lower the debt-to-earnings ratio the better, and total debt should never exceed annual earnings (a debt-to-earnings ratio of 1.0).
Graduate degrees can be expensive, but financial aid is available to cover costs.
- When applying for funding, the free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the best place to start. After completing the application, you receive information of the loans and grants you are eligible for.
- Scholarships are also available from both schools and private entities to cover tuition and study expenses.
- If you are already working, your employer may pay for you to get a master’s degree in marketing, or at least contribute to tuition fees.
» Read: How to budget as a student
Final thoughts on master’s in marketing programs
Understanding marketing concepts at a graduate level can lead to a range of career options. If you know that a master’s in marketing will improve your chances of promotion then it makes sense to get this qualification. However, if you can also see yourself in other business-related roles, it makes more sense to pursue an MBA with a specialization in marketing.
The AMA is the leading professional organization for people who work in marketing.
AIPMM is a membership-based professional organization for marketing professionals working in a global setting. It offers training, education, and professional opportunities to enable its members to excel in marketing.
A leading professional organization for people who specialize in digital or social media marketing. The DMA offers postgraduate certificate programs for students looking to specialize in digital marketing.