Gaining an Online Degree in Marketing

If you’re considering a distance program, you’re not alone. Popularity-wise, the U.S. Department of Education reports that business is second only to information technology when it comes to online degrees. Working professionals, parents, isolated learners – all benefit from the flexibility the format provides.

A good online marketing program is just as challenging as its campus counterpart. You’ll be required to budget your time, be responsible for self-directed learning and commit to online discussions. Ask to see a demo or sit in on a class before signing on the dotted line.

On average, you can expect:

  • An online associate degree – 15 to 24 months
  • An online bachelor’s degree – 36 to 48 months
  • An online master’s degree – 12 to 24 months

Part-time study will bump that time up. Basic prerequisites might include English, economics or humanities electives.

Importance of Accreditation

Don’t get suckered by diploma mills. If you’re going to invest your hard-earned money in an online marketing degree, make sure you emerge with a qualification that the business world respects.

The first step is to look for accreditation from the following bodies:

As with anything, you have to pay for quality. An online AACSB-accredited marketing degree may cost you more, but it can also make you more competitive in the job hunt.

For a comprehensive list, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

What to Look for in a Marketing Program

With the advent of the Internet, traditional boundaries between ad agencies, corporate marketing departments and consultancies are disappearing. Now marketers are expected to have a raft of skills – statistics, online strategy, consumer psychology – that they never had before.

Look for an online marketing degree that grounds you in the basics:

  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Marketing principles
  • Marketing management

Then examine the curriculum carefully. Does it allow you to specialize in fields such as:

  • Market research and data analysis (a rapidly growing field)
  • Business-to-business (B2B) marketing
  • Sports management
  • Buyer and consumer behavior
  • International marketing

Are the professors involved in up-to-date research? Do the courses prepare you for the current job market? Can you connect with professional organizations that will help boost your career?

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Marketing

A well-respected online bachelor’s degree in marketing qualifies you for an entry-level position in most fields – account management, public relations, sales, design, copywriting, and more.

Be forewarned that first-time marketing positions can be highly competitive and time-consuming. Many marketers put in well over 40 hours per week.

Not sure where to start in your search? Here are two options to compare:

1. University of Massachusetts (UMass)

UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management offers an online Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a major in marketing.

  • Marketing core courses include marketing research, international marketing, Internet marketing, product strategy, sales and distribution strategy and topics in social media.
  • Marketing majors also choose five electives – e.g., event management, financial modeling, social entrepreneurship – related to their interests.
  • Programs are accredited by the AACSB and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and have earned consistent praise over the years.
  • In 2013, UMass’s online MBA program was ranked #22 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

2. Penn State

Penn State has developed an online Bachelor of Science in Business with an 18-credit management and marketing option.

  • Marketing majors can customize their degree by selecting from courses in global or small business marketing, sales, management, organizational design, leadership and other advanced topics.
  • Students can also opt to create an individualized 18-credit option, drawing from different disciplines.
  • Penn State’s programs are accredited through the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Its online bachelor’s degree programs were ranked #16 by U.S. News & World Report in 2013.

Online Master’s Degrees in Marketing

Graduate marketing programs usually fall under the title of a Master in Business Administration (MBA). An MBA in marketing is designed to prepare you for managerial and specialized positions; jobs with better salaries and bigger responsibilities.

Online or on-campus, an MBA in marketing is tough. Along with marketing courses, you may be expected to take classes in business law, accounting and economics. You may also be required to participate in internships in your home state.

If you’re weighing possibilities, have a look at:

1. Washington State University (WSU)

WSU offers a two-year online MBA with a concentration in marketing, finance or international business.

  • Marketing electives include international marketing, consumer behavior and advertising.
  • Online courses are developed and taught by the same faculty who deliver on-campus graduate courses.
  • WSU’s online programs have a great reputation. Its MBA program is AACSB-accredited and was ranked #1 in “Best Online Graduate Business Programs” by U.S. News & World Report in 2013.

2. Arizona State University (ASU)

ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business offers a two-year, 48-credit, online MBA with an optional emphasis in marketing.

  • Marketing electives include development and pricing of new products, B2B marketing, global marketing and services marketing.
  • MBA candidates can also select an area of emphasis from related fields such as finance, international business and supply chain management.
  • This AACSB-accredited online graduate business program was ranked #2 in U.S. News & World Report 2013 rankings.

“Increasingly, students are looking for the flexibility of an online program, but they don’t want to sacrifice the high quality of a top university. The W. P. Carey School offers the same stellar faculty and degree in our online MBA program with a marketing emphasis as we offer in all of our other top 30-ranked MBA programs. We also offer small class sizes, a financial aid specialist and a dedicated career center.”

Beth Walker
Chair of the Marketing Department at the W. P. Carey School of Business

In the News

Penn State, WVU, Robert Morris Among Schools Realizing Potential of Online Education: Debra Erdley discusses the meteoric rise of online programs in traditional bricks-and-mortar universities, including Penn State and ASU.

Keeping an Eye on Cheaters: Linda L. Briggs of Campus Technology outlines the measures Penn State and other universities are taking to prevent online learners from cheating.

Online Education Degrees Skyrocket: Greg Toppo and Christopher Schnaars highlight how for-profit universities are dwarfing competitors in size. ASU is one of the few traditional colleges to compete successfully.

Useful Marketing Organizations & Publications

American Advertising Federation (AAF): AAF is the oldest national advertising trade association in the U.S. It has nearly 200 local federations, representing 40,000 advertising professionals and 200+ college chapters, with over 6,500 student members. It also runs the popular ADDY Awards.

American Marketing Association (AMA): AMA serves 30,000+ marketing professionals, teachers and students worldwide. In addition to organizing regular events and networking opportunities, it produces a number of publications, including four well-respected marketing journals.

Business Marketing Association (BMA): BMA is tailored towards B2B marketing professionals. It prides itself on providing educational resources and its annual B2B conference attracts 600+ attendees.

Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS): SMPS is a specialist organization representing 6000+ marketing and business development professionals working for A/E/C firms (architecture, engineering and construction).

Advertising Age: One of the more popular marketing magazines, AdAge provides news, commentary and analysis on marketing and media. It also produces blogs, videos, podcasts and various newsletters.

AdWeek: AdAge’s closest competitor is AdWeek. It’s a weekly American advertising trade publication that covers everything from branding and global advertising to client/agency news.

B2B: As the name would imply, B2B Magazine provides news and analysis of B2B marketing trends. The magazine’s website also features an up-to-date event calendar and a number of handy educational resources.