Earning a Master's in Marketing Online

A recent study by eMarketer suggests that despite the growing digital age of marketing, traditional marketing still accounts for nearly 60% of all media spending in the U.S. -- allowing those pursuing a master's in marketing online to work in both mediums. Marketing professionals who want to bolster their careers can pursue this type of degree, as can career changers with bachelor's degrees in other subjects. This program not only signals to employers your seriousness about learning best practices and emerging strategies, it also helps you command higher salaries and better titles. The following guide covers these topics alongside how to pay for a master's in marketing online and what it takes to earn the degree.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Marketing?

Online master's in marketing programs appeal to numerous learners as the skills and knowledge gained during the program translate to many industries. Individuals pursuing these degrees often include those who hold a bachelor's degree and who want to advance their careers, those who want to complete a specialization, workers who want to enhance their salaries, and individuals deciding between a professional certificate or a master's degree.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Marketing?

Pursuing Specialization

While specializations are rarer at the bachelor's level, graduate students of marketing can select from several options to concentrate their knowledge in a particular area. Some learners may wish to focus on their existing work in graduate school, while others may want to branch into another subfield. Common specializations include digital marketing, marketing research, social media marketing, and marketing management.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Completing a master's in marketing online degree helps set graduates apart from their colleagues who only possess a baccalaureate diploma. With an advanced degree, they can compete for more senior-level roles offering career mobility and higher salaries. They also have the ability to take on positions allowing them to shoulder more responsibility and make decisions about the marketing direction of their companies.

Online Learning Technology

Because so much marketing takes place in digital spaces, degree seekers completing a master's in marketing online hone their internet skills simply by being a student. Outside of course materials, distance learners use cutting-edge communication technology to interact with peers and professors. These experiences help them develop skills in digital communication that translate seamlessly into professional work.

Prerequisites for Online Marketing Programs

Before applying to a master's in marketing online, applicants must ensure they meet the prerequisites required for most programs.

  • Work Experience: Work requirements vary by individual school, but most programs prefer at least one year of related experience, as this existing knowledge can be used in class and to help learners better understand case studies presented. Exceptions may be made for those moving straight from a bachelor's degree who undertook an internship or worked while in school.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Many master's in marketing online degrees require standardized test scores – either from the GRE or in some cases, the GMAT. Score requirements vary based on the school, but most GRE scores should fall between 280 and 320. These scores remain valid for five years after the exam date.
  • Coursework: Because students from many disciplines elect to complete a master's in marketing online, most programs do not require any coursework prerequisites. However, they often require minimum GPAs which depend on specific programs, but usually fall between 2.5 and 3.5.
  • Recommendations: Most programs require applicants to include two or three letters of recommendation to provide outside opinions on their preparedness for advanced study. These must come from a supervisor, mentor, and/or former professor who can speak to the learner's strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Essays: Many schools ask applicants to provide statements of purpose. These allow students to speak to their journey, what led them to pursue the degree, and why they think they can enhance the student body at the school they chose -- and vice versa.
  • Interviews: Many schools rely on the requirements listed above when deciding the fate of applicants; however, some may use interviews to help differentiate candidates. This is especially true of extremely competitive programs needing additional information to make an informed decision.
  • International Students: Along with all other requirements, international students must complete another step to receive consideration. If their first language is not English, they must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam, receive a passable score, and provide it to the schools to which they apply.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Marketing?

Along with gaining advanced industry skills, many individuals complete master's in marketing online degrees for increased salary potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing managers earned median annual salaries of $132,230 in 2017. Those in the bottom 10% earned $68,490; those in the top 90th percentile earned in excess of $208,000 annually. In exchange for higher salaries, advanced degree graduates must contribute unique viewpoints, leadership, and innovative marketing strategies.

Traditional Careers for Marketing Majors

Career Stats Description

Public Relations Manager

Median Pay: $111,280

Job Growth: 10.3%

Marketers achieving and maintaining positive brand recognition without paying for it directly are known as public relations managers. This is generally an office-based position, which may require working overtime to fulfill client's needs.

Ideal for: Charismatic, trustworthy individuals acutely aware of current marketplace trends.

Advertising Director

Median Pay: $129,380

Job Growth: 10%

These professionals work with other directors in the company to create advertising plans aligned with company goals and budgetary limits. They develop campaigns, negotiate pricing, evaluate effectiveness, and work with vendors providing advertising services. They also typically oversee others in the department.

Ideal for: Efficient individuals enjoying working creatively with different personalities.

Marketing Operations Analyst

Median Pay: $81,390

Job Growth: 27%

With a focus on ensuring marketing processes are managed efficiently and effectively, these professionals introduce frameworks, technologies, and specific skills to help the department consistently meet performance goals.

Ideal for: Process-minded multi-taskers enjoying developing systems to increase output creatively.

Media Buyer

Median Pay: $66,610

Job Growth: -3%

A position created in response to the growing digital media era, media buyers help clients find placements for advertising through social media marketing, SEO, digital advertising, and traditional media. They may work in-house for a single company or as a consultant to multiple organizations.

Ideal for: Tech-savvy creative marketers attuned to the changing waves of marketing who enjoy coming up with unique campaigns.

Non-Traditional Careers for Marketing Majors

Career Stats Description

Director of Events

Median Pay: $65,772

Job Growth: 11%

In collaboration with other marketers and salespeople in the company, directors of events plan meetings, conferences, and conventions. They oversee all the logistics of the day, including catering, spaces, transportation, lodging, rentals, vendors, invitations, and programming.

Ideal for: Detail-oriented professionals excelling at multitasking and enjoying working with many types of people.

Marketing Software Developer

Median Pay: $103,560

Job Growth: 24%

With a focus on creating technology improving or enhancing marketing capacity, software developers working in this realm create programs and apps supporting more sales leads, greater client awareness, better systems for managing customers, and higher levels of revenue. They may work for a single client or in a freelance capacity.

Ideal for: Individuals enjoying working with technology but also liking to interface with clients and come up with useful software.

Training Consultant

Median Pay: $108,250

Job Growth: 10%

Training consultants work within their companies to ensure employees receive continued professional development needed to do their jobs properly. They liaise with other staff to assess needs, hire trainers, arrange events, and implement methods of measuring the success of training events.

Ideal for: Organized professionals enjoying helping others reach their potential.

Sales Manager

Median Pay: $121,060

Job Growth: 7%

Along with managing other sales staff who report to them, sales managers set goals for the department, create and manage budgets, review existing sales data to find patterns, create pricing plans, and work with the marketing team to develop strategies for selling products or services.

Ideal for: Determined individuals enjoying communicating with others.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, 2017-2018

Paying for an Online Master's in Marketing

Among the biggest questions prospective students have when considering a master's in marketing online revolves around cost. As the cost of a degree continues to rise, learners seek ways of lessening their debt. Students should always look for marketing-specific grants and scholarships offered by prospective schools and outside organizations/foundations. They should also consider how different study plans can help save money. The following section takes a look at various study timelines to see how time spent enrolled and costs can be lowered.

Tuition Timelines

Degree seekers can often select from three timelines when pursuing a master's in marketing online. Read up on those outlined below to get a sense of what works best for you.

Part-Time Path

This part-time M.S. in marketing can be completed from 15 months up to five years, depending on your needs.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Indiana University
Total Credits Required: 30 credits
Summary: Offered through the Kelley School of Business, this part-time program can be completed in under two full years of study if students take summer classes. Without scholarships, tuition is $39,900. The department of financial aid points out tuition rates may change each academic year. Students must finish the program within five years.

Full-Time Path

Liberty University offers a full-time master of science in marketing that can be completed fully online.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Liberty University
Total Credits Required: 36 credits
Summary: The master's in marketing at Liberty takes an average of 1.5 years and offers multiple start dates throughout the year. Without any financial aid, this program costs $20,340. While the school has not raised tuition rates in three years, no such guarantee exists for the future.

Accelerated Path

SNHU offers a fully online master's in digital marketing that can be completed in just 15 months on the accelerated path.

Real-Life Example:

School Name: Southern New Hampshire University
Total Credits Required: 36 credits
Summary: SNHU's accelerated master's in marketing online can be completed in 15 months of full-time study. Without any financial aid, students pay $22,572 for this degree. The institution has frozen its tuition rates since 2012 but does not state when they might increase.

Subject-Specific Financial Aid, Grants & Scholarships

Scholarships specific to master's in marketing online degrees can help make the difference in whether a student can afford the program. Check out those listed below, but also do additional research to find more opportunities.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Marketing Program

Undertaking a master's in marketing online requires great focus and determination, especially for students working while enrolled. Most programs last between 15 and 24 months for full-time learners. Milestones along the way include completing an internship, finishing coursework, and, if required, researching and writing a thesis or compiling a comprehensive final project. Along the way, degree seekers engage in the virtual classroom experience through forums, video conferencing, email, and platform-specific communication tools.

Major Milestones

  1. Capstone Coursework -- Final Semester

    As students finish up programmatic requirements, they often take a capstone course to help synthesize their learning into a final project. Examples include creative marketing strategies, case studies, and marketing plans.

  2. Internships/Apprenticeships/Job Shadowing -- Final Year

    Students looking to stand out from competition often complete an internship to gain real-world experience, network with other professionals, and add a valuable line to their resumes.

  3. Thesis Preparation and Defense -- Final Year

    Individuals interested in the more academic side of marketing -- or those who want to complete a doctoral program -- often elect to write a thesis to provide the high-quality research and writing needed in the application process.

  4. Licensure Exam and Exam Prep -- Final Semester

    Because marketing does not require licensure in any state, students bypass this step. They may, however, decide to complete additional certifications while in schools requiring exams.

  5. Intent to Graduate/Completion Confirmation -- Final Semester

    After meeting all program mandates, students must signal their intent to graduate. This involves filling out forms, paying any existing fees, and signing up for a graduation ceremony.

  6. Application to Professional School -- Final Year

    Learners who want to continue in higher education should begin thinking about their next steps while still enrolled if they plan to move seamlessly to the next school. This involves finding prospective schools, filling out applications, gathering paperwork, and asking professors to write letters of recommendation.


Marketing master's programs offer coursework based on interests and goals. Classes highlighted here provide a glimpse of possibilities, but students should contact schools directly to find out what is available.

Managing the Customer Experience

This course helps students learn how to use marketing tactics to connect clients with brands, reach them in innovative ways, and ensure their experience is positive throughout the entire exchange.

International Marketing

As the internet makes it easier for companies to sell goods and products to international audiences, it becomes more important for marketers to understand how to reach these customers. This course examines marketing ethics, economics, cultural norms, and legal considerations.

Foundations of Digital Marketing

Three topics receive ample coverage in this course: UX/UI (User eXperience/User Interface), Facebook advertising, and email marketing. By understanding these facets, learners can build digital marketing strategies to reach diverse audiences.

Brand Management

How a brand appears to current and potential clients makes all the difference in if it succeeds. This course looks at case studies of compelling brands and requires students to create branding strategies for fictional companies.

Mobile Marketing

As users spend more time on their smartphones each day, this course looks to tap into digital marketing and mobile advertising. Students cover some mobile marketing tools available as well as the philosophies behind using this medium.

Requirements to Practice

Unlike roles in law, education, or healthcare, individuals working in marketing do not need licensure to practice. They can, however, complete certificate programs to further hone their knowledge and stand out from other job seekers. These programs span a few weeks to a few years but provide students the skills necessary to move their career to the next rung or command higher salaries upon completion. Learners must complete coursework and successfully pass any required examinations for certification.

  • Marketing Management Certificate: Harvard University's Extension School offers this fully online program requiring four courses and is usually completed in 1.5 years. Students pay approximately $11,000 for the program and qualify for leadership roles within marketing.
  • Graduate Certificate in Marketing Analytics: Penn State's World Campus provides a 12-credit online certificate costing $930 per credit. Students looking to work in marketing research and data often gravitate towards this program.
  • Marketing Communication Certificate: This program, provided by the University of Denver, requires 4-6 courses and costs between $10,976 and $16,464. Learners spend 6-12 months completing all requirements online. Individuals wanting to combine marketing and communication skills in a senior-level role often pursue this program.
  • Graduate Certificate in Digital Marketing: Walden University provides this fully online program which requires nine credits and costs $9,010. Learners can transfer up to three credits. WU's program is a great fit for individuals interested in harnessing digital, social, and mobile marketing strategies.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations offer students and marketing veterans the opportunity to continually hone their craft through professional development opportunities, meeting others in the field through networking and conference events, staying up to date on best practices through in-house publications, and finding meaningful careers through active job boards. The organizations highlighted herein offer a glimpse of opportunities, but students should do additional research, particularly for associations in their regions.

  • American Marketing Association: As the leading marketing association in the U.S., the AMA provides networking events, training programs, career guidance, online communities, publications, and numerous multimedia services to members.
  • Internet Marketing Association: The IMA connects marketing professionals across the world through meaningful training and certification programs, local and national groups, and the women's leadership group. Free and premium memberships are available.
  • Society for Marketing Professional Services: Based in Alexandria, Va., the SMPS provides local networking chapters, active job postings, continuing education, certifications, workshops, and lunchtime learning labs.
  • ANA Business Marketing: Focused exclusively on serving B2B marketers, ANABM offers numerous annual events, an award series, local chapters, training and career development services, and access to trade publications.
  • Sales and Marketing Executives International: A global marketing professional organization, SMEI serves members through continuing education webinars, certification programs, online forums, and peer connections.