PhD in Marketing

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Who Gets One & What to Expect

A Ph.D. in marketing equips graduates with expertise in a valuable field and advanced knowledge in research methodologies that can help job-seekers in academia or the corporate world. Many people seek a doctoral degree to become a professor — a field projected to grow by 11% in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Though, this degree can lead to many other careers as well.

Graduate students may prefer to enroll in an online degree. Pursuing a Ph.D. in marketing online allows doctoral candidates to work at their own pace in convenient locations. This page explores what it takes to earn a Ph.D. in marketing online, including typical course requirements and what a doctoral degree means for job prospects.

Reasons to Pursue an Online Ph.D. in Marketing

Any Ph.D. requires a considerable commitment of both time and money. Doctoral candidates spend years conducting research, and although they often receive stipends, the compensation may seem challenging to live on. Students who earn a Ph.D. in marketing online often find motivation in long-term goals, like those listed below.

  • Career Advancement
    Along with work experience, a higher level of educational attainment can lead to management jobs at marketing firms or other companies, even as C-level executives.
  • Higher Earning Potential
    Leadership positions, such as a marketing director or CEO, come with more responsibilities. At the highest levels, these positions sometimes boast six-figure salaries.
  • Academic Career Goals
    People typically choose to pursue a Ph.D. because they hope to work at a college or university as a professor. People with these career aspirations almost always need a doctoral degree to find a job.
  • Personal Interest
    Some marketing Ph.D. candidates simply feel passionate about their field. A doctoral degree gives them the opportunity to spend years researching their passion.
  • Desire to Make a Difference
    Through research, doctoral students get the chance to do something very special: contribute significant, original findings to their field of knowledge. This alone motivates many people to pursue a Ph.D.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Marketing?

Earning the highest degree in marketing can open up several job opportunities, especially in academia or leadership roles. Project management and qualitative and quantitative research skills prove valuable when applying for positions like lead marketing research analyst or director of marketing.

Keep in mind that a doctoral degree and Ph.D. offer two different pathways. A Ph.D. involves graduates contributing original research to the academic field. On the other hand, a doctor of business administration (DBA) with a concentration in marketing prepares graduates for jobs as high-level practitioners and executives.

Common Career Paths & Salaries

Students frequently pursue a doctoral degree to become a professor or faculty member at a university. However, a marketing Ph.D. comes with many transferable skills that graduates can use outside of academia. The chart below illustrates some common career paths for Ph.D. graduates.


  • Professor

    Marketing professors work at colleges and universities. They engage in academic research, publishing their findings in journals or at conferences. Professors also teach lectures and lead seminars, along with advise undergraduate and graduate students.

    Average Annual Salary: $78,470


  • Survey Researcher

    Survey researchers, also known as market research analysts, collect and analyze data through surveys. In marketing, this means analyzing consumer trends to find out whether a certain product or service will do well in the marketplace.

    Average Annual Salary: $57,700


  • Lead Research Analyst

    Lead research analysts oversee marketing research projects. They lead teams of survey researchers and make strategic decisions about the direction of certain research. They also present findings to other senior professionals, like the CEO of a company.

    Average Annual Salary: $69,500


  • Marketing Director

    A marketing director works as the head of a marketing department at a company or organization. They direct marketing strategies and oversee employees. They must also understand the marketplace and its changing forecast to make critical decisions.

    Average Annual Salary: $86,502


  • Marketing Consultant

    These professionals create and implement marketing campaigns, either for one company or as a liaison for several companies. They must understand consumer research and digital marketing, as they utilize these skills within their work.

    Average Annual Salary: $59,885


Sources: BLS, PayScale

Marketing Ph.D. Program Requirements & Outcomes

To apply to a Ph.D. in marketing online program, candidates usually need a master’s degree. Programs sometimes allow candidates to apply with only a bachelor’s, but these students require more coursework. Ph.D. programs usually set a minimum GPA requirement, ranging from 3.0-3.4. Plus, marketing and business programs prefer applicants submit GMAT scores rather than GRE scores. Candidates may also need to send in a personal statement outlining their career and educational goals, a resume or CV, and two or three letters of reference.

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in marketing online take anywhere from 45-72 credits, including both coursework and dissertation credits. Generally, students graduate in five years, although some finish in four years. Other times, research lasts longer than expected, but most universities set a time limit of around 10 years.

Common Courses

Doctoral students typically have already completed foundational and several upper-level courses during their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. A Ph.D. includes advanced coursework and courses on research methods. The list below details some common marketing Ph.D. courses, but remember that each college offers its own unique curriculum.

CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
This course examines how consumer behavior can affect marketing decisions. Students learn about concepts like shopping motivation, product positioning, and perception-learning memory. They also study marketing mix — a company’s various strategies to persuade customers to buy their products and services — and the psychological responses of consumers to marketing mix.

QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS
Since a large part of pursuing a Ph.D. involves conducting dissertation research, learners usually must take a series of research methods courses in their first two years. A quantitative methods research course focuses on inferential techniques, like the linear regression model or probit and logit models.

BAYESIAN DATA ANALYSIS
Often, marketing Ph.D. programs offer a research course specifically on Bayesian data analysis or a method of analyzing statistics when certain research parameters remain unknown. Students learn about how to use computer simulation to calculate this advanced methodology, along with how this analysis can apply to marketing research.

MARKETING MODELS
This course examines how to research concepts related to marketing decision making, such as product, price, and advertising, through theoretical and empirical models. Students typically conduct their own research or generate research ideas for their dissertation.

ADVANCED MARKETING MANAGEMENT
This course teaches students how to put advanced marketing theories into practice at the management level. Learners study strategies for segmentation, targeting, and positioning. They also learn how to measure the success of a marketing campaign. The course may also go over concepts like distribution, pricing, and communication strategies.

Other Requirements

Unlike bachelor’s and master’s degrees, during which coursework makes up the largest part of students’ requirements, doctoral students usually finish their taught courses in the first few years. They spend the rest of their degree fulfilling other requirements, such as research. Marketing students generally must complete a comprehensive exam, dissertation, and teaching experience. Read on to learn about how distance learners fulfill these requirements below.

Comprehensive/ Field Exam
Doctoral degrees in marketing often include an examination requirement. Students usually take field or comprehensive exams after their first or second year of coursework before they begin their dissertation research. Schools may only require written exams, while other programs require an additional oral examination.

Dissertation
An important component of any doctoral degree, the dissertation can take three years to complete. Students aim to contribute new research to the marketing field in some way. They must create a dissertation committee, submit a research proposal, write the final dissertation, and defend their findings in front of the committee. Online students often participate in the defense through virtual conferencing.

Teaching experience
Often, Ph.D. programs in marketing include a teaching requirement. Students can generally complete this through a teaching assistantship. Distance learners may help run online courses, creating PowerPoint presentations, recording lectures, and grading student assignments.

Skills & Competencies

Although a Ph.D. involves niche research interests, doctoral candidates pick up transferable skills and competencies. These abilities can help them in a variety of professional marketing settings, as described below.

Project Management

A dissertation is a large undertaking that lasts years and requires impressive organization and project management skills. Graduates can carry over these skills either in academia or as marketing professionals.

Quantitative Research

Marketing professionals frequently use quantitative research skills in their work, which involves collecting and analyzing numerical data. Doctoral students use these methodologies in their research.

Qualitative Research

Marketing analysis includes qualitative research methods, such as interviewing consumers, conducting focus groups, and observing consumer behavior. Ph.D. students learn these skills in research methodology courses.

Written Communication

Ph.D. candidates become experts in written communication while working on their dissertation. In fact, a doctoral dissertation can reach up to 100,000 words.

Collaboration

Ph.D. researchers often work in teams for large projects. Therefore, they know how to take on considerable projects and communicate and work effectively with other team members.

Public Speaking

Ph.D. candidates often must teach undergraduate courses or present research at conferences. These oral communication skills prove valuable if graduates become professors or make marketing presentations for corporations.

Marketing Professional Organizations

Professional organizations connect people working in the same field, which makes networking and sharing research much more accessible. Students can gain several advantages from joining these groups, such as connecting with more experienced academics or potential employers at conferences. Professional associations also publish scholarly journals where Ph.D. students can submit their research and offer career services like job search engines.

Many professional associations allow students, academics, and working professionals to join. But others, like the Association of Collegiate Marketing Education, specifically aim to bring together scholars. When searching for a professional organization, decide what you want from the group before you join.

In addition, to make the most out of your membership, you can do more than simply attend events. You can present your research at conferences, run workshops in your local community, volunteer on a committee, or even run for board membership.

American Marketing Association

  • AMA operates as one of the largest professional marketing groups in the U.S. with over 70 local chapters. The association publishes four scholarly journals and hosts an annual higher education symposium for academics in the field.

eMarketing Association

  • Professionals and scholars interested in digital marketing should consider joining the EMA, which focuses on search marketing, content marketing, and social media. The group only began in 2019 with plans to host events and offer career resources.

International Institute of Marketing Professionals

  • The IIMP hosts an annual conference, publishes a research journal and a magazine, and offers certificates and professional development training. Members can also access a job search engine.

Association of Collegiate Marketing Educators

  • Specifically for marketing experts and researchers who work in academia, ACME brings together scholars through a yearly conference. The association also grants annual awards to professionals working in marketing education.

Academy of Marketing Science

  • Although based in Louisiana, this association hosts conferences and other events all over the world. The academy also publishes several academic journals and offers free career and networking services to its members.

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