What is a Marketing Degree?

In short, a degree in marketing prepares students to enter the creative business of promoting and distributing products and services to specific customer markets. Programs typically combine core courses in economics, finance, and business management with specialized courses in some or all of the areas listed below. The level of study of each of these subjects is dependent on the level of the degree being pursued:

  • Trends in Marketing Products and Services
  • Applied Marketing Research
  • Creative Selling
  • Marketing Communication
  • Public Relations / Media
  • Entrepreneurship / Business Strategies
  • Project Management
  • Digital Marketing

As the world becomes more and more interconnected and technology continues to evolve, marketing itself continues to change. The influence of technology and online platforms on how products and services are marketed naturally means that degree programs in the field must also adapt.

Program Options

Associate Degree in Marketing - Two Year Duration
Two-year associate degree programs introduce students to the basics of marketing and prepare them only for entry-level jobs like marketing office assistant or media assistant.

Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing - Four Year Duration
The education at this level is comprehensive. Here is a list of example core courses:

  • Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Principles of Management
  • Principles of Finance
  • Principles of Sales
  • Business to Business (B2B) Marketing
  • Global Marketing
  • Marketing Research
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Communications

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in marketing are generally prepared to compete for a fairly wide variety of jobs in the field.

Master’s Degree in Marketing - Two Year Duration
At this degree level, students learn the business and marketing principles that prepare them for most middle and upper management positions, often as marketing managers. They complete case studies to gain an understanding of the issues faced by marketing managers, and before graduating must research and write a thesis on the marketing topic of their choice. Topics may include product demand, identifying key demographics, setting a pricing strategy, and identifying competitors.

Doctoral Degree in Marketing - Three to Seven Year Duration
The Ph.D. in marketing is targeted at individuals who wish to work in teaching and research with universities and other academic institutions.

Degrees Similar to Marketing

Advertising is one of the steps in the marketing process. Therefore, the two fields cannot be completely separated. The wider process of marketing involves studying consumer behavior and researching ways to connect a product or service with its target audience. Advertising is focused on creating the campaigns that achieve the goal of brand communication.

Public Relations
This is another field that is closely aligned with marketing. Public relations degree programs teach students how to manage corporate reputations by communicating with stakeholders and generating positive media coverage. The success or failure of a company’s marketing activities, of course, have huge impact on both consumer perception and company reputation.

Mass Communication and Media Studies
Marketing degree programs have a fairly narrow focus. On the other hand, degree programs in communications teach broad skills that graduates can apply in media, public relations, and general communications and content writing work.

Business Administration
Marketing is part of running a business. So, marketing and business degrees are naturally linked. Business administration or management, though, has a broader scope. It is concerned with more than marketing. Its mandate includes overseeing finances, staffing, and contract negotiations. A business administration degree program, therefore, teaches students how to plan, organize, and direct all the activities of an organization.

Merchandising is a subset of marketing. It can also be said that marketing is a longer-term process than merchandising. While marketing leads customers to a product, merchandising makes sure that product is displayed in the right store or on the right website at the right time. Many merchandising managers and merchandisers hold a marketing degree, but some business sectors (such as fashion merchandising) and schools offer specific degrees in merchandising.

Psychology and marketing are not as far apart as some people may initially think. Students from both degree programs learn about individual and group behavior and they evaluate and make use of data. Marketers, in fact, routinely use psychological tactics to influence consumer behavior. They appeal to our emotions. They reveal our flaws in using competing products. They position their product/service as exclusive versus that of the competition. They introduce fear and doubt to steer us to where they want us to go.

Skills You’ll Learn

Graduates of a marketing degree program come away with many skills that can be applied in some way to almost any job:

Commercial Awareness
Perhaps more than any degree field, marketing leaves its students with an understanding of commercial markets, consumer behavior, and general business requirements. This understanding is applicable to virtually every industry.

Writing and Creativity
The ability to write, of course, never goes unused. Producing clear, concise, and original reports, proposals, and documents is important in every business sector and for every audience.

Web Design
In this age of online communication, most businesses welcome at least some basic knowledge of how websites work and are updated.

Social Media
The abilities to manage social media and apply the skill to communications, marketing, and/or public relations tasks are becoming increasingly important in all industries.

Analytics / Interpretive Skills
Analyzing and interpreting data is a skill that is applicable to an ever-increasing list of occupations.

Communications, Teamwork, and Networking
As important as becoming familiar with the digital space is, the importance of traditional networking is not going away. Potential employees who are comfortable interacting and communicating with colleagues, partners, clients, and potential clients will always have an edge on those who lack this capacity.

What Can You Do with a Marketing Degree?

Every business markets its products or services. It follows, then, that the number of occupational categories that marketing graduates can explore is extremely wide, if not almost endless. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
  • Banking and Finance
  • Charity, Not-for-Profit, and NGOs
  • Culture, Music, and the Performing Arts
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Environment, Agriculture, and Conservation
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Management Consulting and Business
  • Manufacturing and Production
  • Media
  • Public Sector and Defense
  • Recruitment and Human Resources
  • Retails and Sales

In each of the above sectors, there are opportunities to become part of a marketing team whose goal is to:

  • Identify consumer needs
  • Identify target audiences
  • Identify competitors
  • Develop marketing strategies and advertising campaigns
  • Track sales volume
  • Track customer experience trends
  • Make modifications and recommendations for future promotions
  • Build key relationships with business partners
  • Manage the marketing budget

Case Study

The writer of this content knows a Catholic priest who holds a theology degree, but who first earned a degree in marketing. Of course, the importance of his religious studies goes without saying. But he believes strongly that what he learned as a marketing student has served him well in his work as a priest. ‘After all, he says, my job is to get to know my parishioners, understand and provide what they need, and find the best way to build lasting relationships with them.’

That may just be the clearest confirmation that marketing happens everywhere!

Read our in depth Q&A interview with our Director of Marketing and Content!


See which schools are the most and least expensive.

Read about Tuition