Marketing Majors Guide

What Does it Mean to Study Marketing?

Marketing is not just an occupation, but a crucial business function. A business degree in marketing helps you learn how to create an environment where your ultimate delivery goals are supported through market research, yet still designed to satisfy your target audience’s needs.

Online marketing degree programs familiarize students with the creative and business aspects of this mass media field, giving them the tools they need to pursue several jobs, including positions as advertising and promotions managers, marketing managers and advertising sales agents. These fast-paced careers entail numerous job duties, including the following:

  • Attracting clients to an advertising agency
  • Planning campaigns for clients who need advertising and promotional services
  • Negotiating client contracts
  • Conducting research and analyzing the findings in order to plan a client campaign
  • Writing campaign copy
  • Planning placement of an advertisement on radio, print, online and television outlets
  • Working with the legal department to avoid or address issues such as royalty sharing or copyright infringement
  • Providing estimates to clients outlining how much a campaign may cost
  • Helping clients demonstrate new products to their audiences

Generally, people who pursue these advertising and marketing industry jobs hold a bachelor’s degree, although in some cases, candidates may be able to find employment with an associate degree or high school diploma.

Types of Marketing Degrees

A degree in marketing revolves around careers in the marketing world, whether you’re looking to break into the field or to build up an existing career. Marketing degree programs combine the mathematical and statistical courses of an accounting degree with the organizational focus of a business major, plus the human behavioral studies of the liberal arts.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you don’t have to attend a brick-and-mortar school to earn a marketing degree. Since there are many marketing degrees you can pursue remotely in a web-based format, educational options in this exciting field are plentiful.

Before you decide to become a marketing major, consider which of these possible degree types you might want to aim for completing.

Associate Degrees in Marketing

An associate degree in marketing is a solid first step toward a bachelor’s degree in this field. However, you may also be able to parlay an associate-level education into an entry-level job in retail sales or customer service.

This degree program is built to teach you about some of the fundamentals of identifying markets and pricing products and services. Not only can you study an array of common business principles and practices, but you can learn about important marketing strategies related to retailing, communications, social media and branding. Basic core courses such as English and math are required for this degree, but you should also expect to take entry-level marketing education courses such as:

  • Financial accounting
  • Business law
  • Human relations
  • Social media and marketing communications
  • Business systems analysis and design

Bachelor’s Degrees in Marketing

A bachelor’s degree in marketing can help you learn the basics of creating compelling marketing campaigns. In these programs, the focus is on advanced marketing topics such as how to predict and control consumer behavior, building a brand and leveraging new media. Another important topic is the new role of social media in marketing and, by extension, how to use new technology to your competitive advantage.

In pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, learning about international marketing and global branding in addition to U.S.-based market theory becomes more important. Several different cultural concentrations may be offered, specifically if you’re interested in social media or branding.

In addition to basic core curriculum, those in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree should expect to study:

  • Strategic brand management
  • Consumer behavior
  • Strategic marketing planning
  • Advertising copy and design
  • Supply chain management

Master’s Degrees in Marketing

A master’s degree in marketing can help you elevate your business and marketing acumen, positioning you for some of the best job prospects in this field. This degree program focuses on helping you develop critical skills for success in marketing careers, with emphasis on brand management, customer loyalty and promoting audience engagement. Learn how to speak through a variety of diverse media, with the goal of ultimately swaying your audience to your organization’s cause.

Other areas of focus include how to analyze and interpret data and statistics, creating integrated strategies that maximize marketing opportunities, marketing delivery, and brand promotion and protection.

As an advanced degree program, a master’s in marketing degree program can cover a wide range of exciting coursework. Subjects you may study include:

  • Marketing analytics
  • Ethical and legal issues in marketing
  • Integrated marketing communications
  • Communication, media & society
  • Multinational market strategies

Ph.D. in Marketing

If you’re inclined to study marketing from a research perspective, pursuing a Ph.D. in marketing could be a smart goal. This degree program is aimed at individuals who already have a master’s degree and contains information on psychology and behavioral decision-making, economics and industrial organization, and statistics and management science.

As a Ph.D. student, your goal should be to understand the concepts behind marketing theory — the reasons consumers behave the way they do and the persuasive tactics that get them to change. Part of this is understanding topics such as cognition, culture, social influence and motivation, as well as how they change the way companies market to consumers.

Depending on the school you choose, courses offered in this dynamic degree program may include:

  • Behavioral marketing
  • Psychology
  • Quantitative marketing
  • Industrial organization
  • Statistics

Coursework in Online Marketing and Advertising Degree Programs

The marketing and advertising industries are constantly evolving, so professionals who pursue jobs in these fields must have the training they need to keep up. Online advertising degree programs teach students the latest strategies for creating winning campaigns. From print to Internet to radio, these degrees give students the foundation they need to deal with both the creative and business ends of an advertising campaign.

While each individual online advertising degree program is different, there are courses that can generally be found in the curriculum. The following are examples of these classes.

Market research

Marketing research is an important tool for advertising professionals to use when they are crafting campaigns. Finding out the temperature of a target audience can make the difference between a highly successful campaign and one that falls flat. As a result, students in this course are taught market research strategies and procedures that will allow them to use data to fuel a campaign that sells a product or service. Specific course topics include crafting questionnaires, data collection and interpreting research results.

Social media campaigns

As social media has become more popular in recent years, marketing and advertising professionals have turned to this medium in order to reach audiences. This course discusses what makes an effective social media campaign that can be used for sales, public relations and branding. Specific topics may include the creative elements of a social media campaign, how to research audiences on difference social networks and planning a campaign in this medium.

Consumer behavior

In order to know how to sell a specific product, companies must know what consumers are buying, and more importantly, why. This course covers how consumers make buying decisions and what influences these choices. Class subjects may include how to create attractive product displays, design effective product packaging and persuade people to pick one product over another.

Digital communication

This class gives students an overview of how new media tools can be leveraged to sell products and services, as well as brand a company. Specifically, students may learn about the technologies involved in these types of communications, including products such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, iMovie, Flash and InDesign. In addition, this course teaches different strategies for executing digital communication campaigns, including message development.

Portfolio management

In this course, students learn how to put together a professional portfolio designed to impress potential clients with their best work. In order to make the concepts taught in this course real, students are generally expected to create a portfolio that showcases the work they created throughout their time in the online advertising degree program.

Advertising and society

This course provides an overview of the impact that advertising has had on society throughout history. Some specific course topics may include advertising in the digital age, historical approaches to advertising, and the ethical and legal standards that the advertising industry are expected to follow.

Photography principles

This class discusses how photographs are used in advertising campaigns and how to take pictures that convey an intended message. Students in this course learn concepts such as focal length, light metering, shutter speed and aperture. Professors may require that students get hands-on experience with the use of photography by taking pictures of their own and crafting advertising campaigns with the images they create.

In addition to these courses, students in this program may be expected to take courses in image manipulation, subliminal suggestion, web design, branding, search engine marketing and advertising account planning. Other program requirements may include group projects or internships that further promote experiential learning.

Interview With a Marketing and Advertising Professor

Ian Cross PortraitIan Cross is the Director at the Center for Marketing Technology at Bentley University. He began working there as an adjunct professor and became a full-time lecturer four years later. In this interview, we discuss how students can be successful in a marketing and advertising degree program.

What are the skills, interests, and personality traits necessary for a student to be successful in a marketing and advertising program? Why are these important for students to have?

“Analytic skills are vital today to tease out meaning from complex data sets from the market, customers and competition. Creativity is also needed to develop customer relationships with meaningful offers and engagement. Students should be risk takers. Marketing is risky and encourages bold thinking, and students should not be afraid of change — they should embrace it. Extraverts are welcome, but listening and thinking are more vital. Above all, in a highly-competitive field, passion is vital to succeed. You have to care about customers, love making connections and enjoy success.”

What is the most rewarding part of a career in the marketing and advertising field? Why should students pursue a career in this field?

“I can’t think of a more fun and rewarding career. To ideate around a new product or service, whether for profit or nonprofit, discover customer needs and wants, translate those desires into features and benefits, and communicate to a target audience — and hopefully delight them — is very stimulating and exciting. It’s a constantly changing environment driven by people with passion and purpose. If you like people, this is one of the best jobs to connect with people and build relationships. Good marketers love what they do and enjoy being with other marketers and sharing experiences and living life to the fullest. It’s a glass half full world in marketing.”

What advice would you give to students who are considering earning a degree in marketing and advertising?

“Don’t be afraid of numbers, data and analysis — it’s the key to success today. Get experience early and often. Develop your own portfolio that demonstrates your skill and passion. Be involved in the world, and watch and listen to what people do and say.”

What Can You Do with a Degree in Marketing?

The majority of marketing professionals work in sales as an entry point. However, there are a wide range of higher-grade career options available for marketing majors who have some applicable work experience. This is because marketing can be applied to almost any other field. Students can find entry or advancement opportunities in advertising agencies, PR firms, corporate marketing, marketing research, brand management sales and retailing departments, customer relationship management and more. And don’t overlook the career opportunities in nonprofit organizations such as registered charities, arts groups and special interest communities.

If you plan to pursue a marketing degree, here are some of the career options to look forward to:

Marketing Managers

Marketing managers can be responsible for many different roles, such as overseeing departments to determine market demand, maximizing profits through pricing and distribution strategies, and direct promotion efforts. These professionals create and promote campaigns and contests, negotiate advertising contracts, initiate market research studies and develop pricing strategies that work in their client’s best interests.

Since these workers serve as managers in their departments, they typically oversee other marketing professional’s work and take on the task of hiring new workers.

  • A bachelor’s degree is required for most marketing manager positions in any industry.
  • Generally speaking, certification is not required for workers who fill these roles.

Market Research Analysts

As part of an in-house department or offsite market research firm, market research analysts are responsible for defining problems facing their marketing, developing research methodology, analyzing data, and interpreting and presenting the results. To do this, they monitor and forecast marketing and sales trends, measure the effectiveness of new marketing strategies, devise new ways to collect data and use statistical software to study consumer behavior.

These workers also prepare reports so they can present information to clients and colleagues. Occasionally, that may mean taking complex data and converting into easy-to-read charts and graphs that are easy for others to understand.

  • A master’s degree is the minimum requirement at many firms in the private sector.
  • The Marketing Research Association offers the Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) for market research analysts, although certification is voluntary.

Sales Managers

The sales manager supervises the sales force, a task that includes aspects of both the business and management. They prepare budgets and approve expenditures, analyze sales statistics and develop plans to acquire new customers like a businessperson, keeping a close eye on sales performance and coming up with ways to maximize performance through product arrangements or promotional materials.

However, as a manager, they also oversee the work and accomplishments of the salespeople who work beneath them. In addition to the recruiting and hiring of new staff members, these professionals must work hard to motivate all their employees to reach their goals. They may even devise special incentives to encourage sales professionals in their office to meet or exceed their quotas.

  • You typically need a bachelor’s degree and applicable work experience to earn a position as a sales manager.
  • Certification is typically not required for this career.

Advertising Managers

Advertising managers can choose to work in the business side of advertising or the creative side. On the business side of this field, they work with account management and account planning, whereas the creative side of this career involves creating ads or working in media planning and production.

Either way, their work is likely to require a wide range of tasks such as putting together advertising campaigns for clients, selling advertising space or time, generating new ideas and advertising concepts, and preparing cost and budget estimates.

Some advertising managers also specialize in a specific arm of this field, such as social media or brand management.

  • A bachelor’s degree is the most common educational requirement for these positions.
  • Certification for advertising managers is not offered.

Marketing Salaries and Career Outlook Data

Total Employment
Annual Mean Wage
Advertising and Promotions Managers25,100$141,890
Marketing Managers263,680$149,200
Sales Managers402,600$141,690
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists678,500$71,570

Marketing Associations and Organizations

Marketing majors whose ultimate goal is improving their job prospects or specializing in a specific marketing concentration may want to seek out advanced certification. Associations and organizations that offer these types of opportunities include:

  • Public Relations Society of America — The Public Relations Society of America offers a wide range of resources along with opportunities for professional development. Through them, applicants can also earn Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), which can help you stand out among your peers.
  • American Marketing Association — The American Marketing Association offers events, seminars, networking opportunities and continuing education to individuals who work in marketing. They also offer the chance to earn a Professional Certified Marketed designation that can help marketing professionals broaden their job prospects.
  • Data & Marketing Association — The Data & Marketing Association offers resources, training, and educational opportunities for individuals who work in this dynamic field. They also allow individuals to become certified as a DMA Certified Marketing Professional.
  • International Institute of Marketing Professionals — The IIMP offers training and ongoing conferences for professionals who work in international marketing. Through their program, you can also become certified as a Certified Marketing Management Professional (CMMP).
  • Sales and Marketing Executives International — This firm offers sales and marketing expertise and collaboration for corporate programs. They also offer the opportunity to earn several certifications that can help you boost your job prospects, including the SMEI Certified Professional Marketer, SMEI Certified Professional Salesperson, SMEI Certified Sales Executive, and SMEI Certified Marketing Executive.

Article Sources


  1. Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-26 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
  2. Market Research Analyst, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-26 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
  3. Marketing Ph.D. Program, Stanford Graduate School,
  4. Online Associate Degree in Marketing, Southern New Hampshire University,
  5. Online Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, Southern New Hampshire University,
  6. Online Master’s Degree in Marketing, Southern New Hampshire University,
  7. Sales Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-26 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
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