Best Online Master’s Degrees in Marketing: 2016

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Advanced Programs, Careers & Salary Potential in Marketing

From billboards to TV spots to magazine adverts, opportunities for marketing careers exist in nearly every industry, ranging from government organizations to privately-owned businesses. Marketing professionals help these entities build and grow business and share their messages to far-reaching audiences. Online master’s in marketing programs can allow already-working professionals to expand their knowledge and skills in the industry, and open up higher-level opportunities for them in their careers. Discover programs and learn about marketing concentrations and possible career paths.

Timeline of an Online Master’s in Marketing

Getting in: the Application Process

The top online master’s degree programs are competitive in the marketing field, so prospective students must stand out to get accepted. Here are some of the standard components marketing schools take into consideration during the admission process:

  • GRE scores

    Most graduate schools in the United States require prospective students to take the Graduate Record Examination to measure their reasoning, writing and critical thinking skills.

  • Transcripts (paper/electronic)

    This academic record shows the courses students have taken and the grades they received. Prospective schools will ask for either official or unofficial transcripts, and applicants can visit their undergraduate school’s website or call the registrar’s office to request copies.

  • Resume.

    Many graduate programs require some undergraduate experience in marketing or a related field such as business or advertising. Applicants to graduate marketing programs should strongly consider placing their resume on a well-designed portfolio website to better showcase their skills, experience and projects.

  • Statement of purpose.

    Applicants should determine what they want to do with their degree in online marketing and state this in their essay, specifically focusing on the specialization they wish to take, such as brand management or advertising. They should also explain how specific elements of the school’s marketing program will help them achieve their career goals.

  • Letters of recommendation.

    Prospective students should ask professors or employers — people who know their work ethic, skills and potential — for letters of recommendation. Letters from family members or friends are not acceptable.

Schools might also require two more things of prospective students. The first is to submit financial documentation explaining how they will pay tuition. The second is to sit for a personal interview.

Year 1

Students must first determine which path of study to pursue under the umbrella of marketing: Master of Business Administration with a concentration in marketing or a Master of Science in marketing.

For those who wish to pursue an MBA, coursework includes the principles, elements and essentials of business development, along with classes in economics, financial management, and business law and ethics. Targeted study includes consumer behavior and strategic marketing. Students seeking careers as marketing research analysts, consultants or business leaders often pursue the MBA.

The MS degree in marketing is more focused on marketing. Courses include marketing management, strategy, research, consumer behavior and branding strategies. Additional work may include brand identity, Internet marketing and social media or entertainment marketing.

Regardless of the chosen degree path, first-year studies focus on core classes in marketing and business.

Year 2

The second year of study follows up with more advanced coursework that fits students’ areas of interest and specialization. Students may take courses in e-commerce, international marketing, project management or marketing techniques. Some schools require students to map out a marketing business plan for a real-world client.

Testing & Graduation Requirements

Some online master’s in marketing programs allow students to complete graduation requirements in less than two years or to work at a slower pace and complete requirements in three years. Regardless, after completing their coursework, online master’s in marketing students must show that they can apply what they learned to the working world. This can be done in several ways:

  • Capstone project.

    Aside from getting good grades, students in online marketing courses will be required to complete a capstone project, which integrates previous coursework and practical experience to help solve a real-world problem in marketing.

  • Internship.

    A practicum, internship or cooperative project is typically necessary to graduate and will offer students professional experience before graduation.

Although certifications are not required for graduation or to hold marketing positions, professional certifications are available for those who want to go the extra mile:

  • The Public Relations Society of America offers certification based on experience and contingent upon passing an exam.

  • The Marketing Research Association offers the Professional Research Certification for market research analysts and the Professional Certified Marketer credential, which shows that the holder has mastered essential marketing practices, stays current with industry trends, and maintains high standards.

Search Online Master’s Degrees in Marketing

It seems that almost every school offers online degrees, making it difficult to even begin searching for a program that fits a student’s specific needs. Use this search tool to narrow down options such as cost of tuition, student body population and type of school.

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Master’s in Marketing Careers & Salary

There are a number of paths a graduate can take with a master’s in marketing and the right experience. Different programs have different courses, which all lead to distinct careers:

Advertising and Public Relations

The rise of online platforms has broadened the way we do business. A concentration in advertising and public relations will give students the skills to stay on top of Internet analytics, communications and search engine optimization.

Public Relations Director
Public Relations Director

Whether it’s repairing the reputation of an actor who has a public meltdown or promoting the charitable venture of a nationally known company, there will always be a need for public relations. Public relations directors ensure their clients project a favorable image to the public, which sometimes involves taking questions from the media or consumers on their clients’ behalf.

Advertising Sales Director
Advertising Sales Director

Professionals in this career manage an advertising agency’s sales team and play a major role in bringing in new clients. Advertising sales directors develop budgets for ad campaigns and craft client proposals.

Promotions Manager
Promotions Manager

Who doesn’t like free samples or rebates? Promotions managers collaborate with ad reps and marketing teams to develop and direct promotions and incentive programs to increase sales.

Vice President of Marketing
Vice President of Marketing

These high-level professionals oversee marketing initiatives from the beginning stages to final implementation and serve as the liaisons between marketing managers and top executives.

Brand Management

What do a swoosh, Golden Arches, and a green and white mermaid have in common? They are all examples of brand identities, which require strong communication skills to foster and maintain.

Consumer Marketing Manager
Consumer Marketing Manager

Consumer marketing managers lead marketing agents through the implementation of marketing campaigns. They produce large-scale research projects to discern what products consumers want and how to market those products.

Product Manager
Product Manager

These professionals are experts in navigating the waters between product development and marketing while keeping the brand message on track.

Marketing Research

Marketing begins with data collection and analysis as researchers look at consumer behavior to make such decisions as product packaging, pricing and promotions.

Market Research Director
Market Research Director

This career is a good fit for numbers people because market research directors comb through statistics to keep market strategies one step ahead of the competition.

Consumer Marketing Manager
Consumer Marketing Manager

Consumer marketing managers lead marketing agents through the implementation of marketing campaigns. They produce large-scale research projects to discern what products consumers want and how to market those products.

Email Marketing Manager
Email Marketing Manager

Email marketing managers determine the best way companies can reach consumers about new products and company direction. They then utilize company databases to reach tens of thousands of consumers.

Sales Manager
Sales Manager

Put simply, sales managers work to increase sales, acting as the link between sales reps and distributors. Sales managers analyze data and determine product inventory and distribution.

Web and Social Media Marketing

Coursework delves into Web design and development, as social media marketers forge new methods for gauging consumer behavior.

Consumer Marketing Manager
Consumer Marketing Manager

Consumer marketing managers lead marketing agents through the implementation of marketing campaigns. They produce large-scale research projects to discern what products consumers want and how to market those products.

Email Marketing Manager
Email Marketing Manager

Email marketing managers determine the best way companies can reach consumers about new products and company direction. They then utilize company databases to reach tens of thousands of consumers.

Media Analyst
Media Analyst

Media analysts look at the interaction between businesses, organizations and the media. Some study the markets to promote businesses, and others keep track of how well a company or product is portrayed in newspaper, TV or Internet ads.

Potential Salary Increases with a Master’s Degree

An online master’s degree in marketing provides graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue advanced positions in the sales and promotion of products. A 2011 CBS News report listed a master’s in marketing degree as one of the most worthwhile master’s degrees financially. It showed that marketing directors with master’s degrees made 20 percent more than marketing directors with bachelor’s degrees by a margin of $98,849 to $79,133. Things have gotten even better for marketers since 2011. Marketing managers and directors — regardless of their education levels — made a median salary of $127,130 in 2014.

Career outlook 13%
Average Salary $127,130

Additional Resources & Links

Marketing students and professionals can find further resources, networking opportunities and salary information at the links below:

  • American Marketing Association

    Billing itself as “the essential community for marketers,” the American Marketing Association provides ways for marketers and academics to connect with the people and resources they need to be successful.

  • Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals

    The AMCP administers and judges several international competitions for marketing and communications professionals.

  • CMO Council

    The Chief Marketing Officer Council has an extensive list of North American marketing organizations on its website.


    Users can compare and contrast average salaries for jobs requiring a master’s in marketing.

  • Society for Marketing Professional Services

    The SMPS is dedicated to creating business and networking opportunities for its members.

Best Online Master’s in Marketing Degrees

It is almost impossible for busy professionals to individually research each school that offers an online master’s in marketing.

That’s why we did the research for them and created our list of Best Online Master’s in Marketing Degrees for 2015-2016. (Check out our methodology here).

1 Maine Maritime Academy 100.00 13:1 70%
2 University of the Sciences 98.50 10:1 74%
3 Virginia University of Lynchburg 98.25 10:1 39%
4 Brandeis University 97.25 10:1 91%
5 Colorado State University-Fort Collins 97.00 16:1 65%
6 Western Carolina University 96.75 16:1 58%
7 University of Denver 96.50 11:1 76%
7 Goucher College 96.50 9:1 64%
9 Villanova University 96.00 12:1 89%
9 Saint Joseph’s University 96.00 13:1 73%
11 San Diego State University 95.75 28:1 66%
11 Metropolitan College of New York 95.75 11:1 39%
11 Concordia University-Wisconsin 95.75 13:1 61%
11 Boston University 95.75 13:1 85%
15 Spring Arbor University 95.25 12:1 54%
15 South Dakota State University 95.25 17:1 57%
15 Dallas Baptist University 95.25 13:1 55%
18 Texas A & M University-Commerce 94.50 18:1 52%
18 Southern Adventist University 94.50 14:1 52%
20 Illinois Institute of Technology 94.25 13:1 65%
20 Franklin University 94.25 11:1 14%
22 University of Saint Mary 94.00 9:1 35%
23 Baker College Center for Graduate Studies 93.75 13:1 20%
24 Kettering University 93.50 13:1 57%
24 Freed-Hardeman University 93.50 14:1 52%
26 Wilmington University 92.75 14:1 35%
26 Oklahoma Christian University 92.75 14:1 47%
28 SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica-Rome 92.25 18:1 43%
29 Hofstra University 91.75 14:1 60%
30 Savannah College of Art and Design 90.00 19:1 65%
31 University of Charleston 89.00 15:1 35%
32 University of the Southwest 88.75 17:1 17%
32 Tiffin University 88.75 18:1 39%
34 Nichols College 88.50 17:1 48%
35 Southern New Hampshire University 87.00 28:1 50%
36 New England College 86.00 18:1 36%