Earning an Online Ph.D. in Marketing

Students who want to earn an online Ph.D. in marketing can now access more programs than ever before. According to AACSB International, online marketing Ph.D. program enrollment grew 5.9% for doctoral students at accredited business schools between 2016-17 alone.

Marketing professionals seeking better career opportunities can benefit from earning a marketing doctorate. As higher level positions in the marketing industry become more competitive, those with higher educations stand out amongst other job applicants.

This guide covers what to expect when earning an online Ph.D. in marketing, including funding resources and professional organizations for students, as well as salary potential and job growth for marketing Ph.D. graduates.

Why Get a Doctorate in Marketing?

Pursuing Specialization

Pursuing higher education gives students the opportunity to dive into a specialization within marketing or branch out into specializations in other industries. For example, a marketing doctoral student may specialize in one specific area of marketing, such as digital marketing and social media or forecasting, modeling, and market strategy. Learners might choose a specialization outside marketing, including psychology or management, to broaden their skill set.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Many individuals earn a marketing Ph.D. for career advancement. Ph.D. graduates may receive promotions to a higher level position with increased responsibility and better pay. Earning a marketing Ph.D. demonstrates a level of seriousness about the profession.

Online Learning Technology

Another benefit of earning a Ph.D. in marketing online includes the opportunity to become familiar with online learning technology. Employers frequently prefer individuals proficient in using the latest communication technology. This could translate to an advantage in the marketing industry, which relies heavily on workers that can keep up with changes in technology. The marketing industry continues to need experts in digital marketing and social media management.

What's the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a DBA in Marketing?

Prospective students may question the difference between a Ph.D. and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in marketing. Both are graduate-level marketing degrees, but they each represent two different doctoral tracks. Many more schools offer a Ph.D. in marketing than a DBA; however, a DBA is more common.

Business schools typically offer the DBA programs, which focus on practical, applied marketing and management skills. Ph.D. in marketing programs emphasize research and marketing theory from an academic perspective. Ph.D. in marketing graduates hone their research and analytical skills, and many go on to work as post-secondary teachers or in other roles in academia. Students who earn a DBA in marketing usually enter the marketing field as marketing managers and directors and market research analysts.

Prerequisites for Online Doctorate in Marketing Programs

Prospective students must meet prerequisites to qualify for admission to online doctorate in marketing programs. Some common prerequisites include work experience, exams and test scores, coursework, recommendations, and essays. International students may need to meet different eligibility criteria.

  • Work Experience: The requirements for work experience vary by program. Some require at least five years of relevant professional experience, while others require none. Applicants with marketing experience typically stand out from other prospective students.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Applicants who do not already hold a master's degree may need to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Individuals with a master's degree do not usually need to submit exam or test scores. Most programs do not specify a minimum test score or range for program eligibility. GRE and GMAT test scores remain valid for five years.
  • Coursework: Most online Ph.D. in marketing programs do not require specific prerequisite courses if the applicant holds a marketing background. Students typically need a minimum 3.0 GPA from their most recent master's program. Learners without a master's degree may need an even higher GPA to qualify for admission.
  • Recommendations: Many online Ph.D. in marketing online programs require applicants to submit three letters of recommendation. Ideally, the letters come from professors or work supervisors who know the applicant well.
  • Essays: Applicants to most online Ph.D. in marketing programs must submit one or more essays explaining their academic and career goals and/or answering questions.
  • Interviews: Most online Ph.D. in marketing programs do not require interviews.
  • International Students: Learners from outside the U.S. typically do not need to meet additional eligibility criteria. International students may need to submit proof of English proficiency. Most programs require the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

How Much Can I Make with a Doctorate in Marketing?

Graduates of online Ph.D. in marketing programs face excellent career and salary prospects. The salary range for the marketing industry can range from $69,800-$208,000. Graduates can pursue traditional marketing careers or nontraditional, out-of-the-box opportunities.

Traditional Careers

Career Stats Description
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Median Pay: $132,620

Job Growth: 10%

Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers work with sales agents, art directors, and other financial staff members. They coordinate programs to generate interest in services or products. Important qualities include creativity and communication, analytical, interpersonal, organizational, and decision-making skills. Before becoming managers, most individuals work in advertising, marketing, sales, or promotions.

Sales Managers

Median Pay: $124,220

Job Growth: 7%

Sales managers direct sales teams at organizations big and small. They create training programs, evaluate data, and establish goals. Essential qualities include analytical, communication, customer service, and leadership skills. Before becoming managers, most work in other sales positions, usually for many years.

Market Research Analysts

Median Pay: $63,120

Job Growth: 23%

Market research analysts study new products and services and evaluate their sales potential. They help companies understand what consumers want and how much they will pay. Most industries work with market research analysts. They need strong analytical, critical-thinking, and communication skills.

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Median Pay: $114,800

Job Growth: 10%

Fundraising managers organize fundraising campaigns for organizations. Public relations managers help create programs and materials to enhance public perception of organizations. They usually work in organizations but also travel to give speeches and work with media. They need leadership, speaking, writing, organizational, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Marketing Director

Median Pay: $85,749

Job Growth: N/A

Marketing directors manage marketing tasks for organizations. They oversee other marketing professionals and coordinate marketing projects. They need problem-solving, multi-tasking, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Many marketing directors transition to higher-level roles within their organization, like vice president of marketing or chief marketing officer.

Nontraditional Careers

Some graduates of online doctoral programs in marketing pursue careers outside the traditional marketing field. Although some of these careers might seem like a surprising choice for someone with a Ph.D. in marketing, they require many of the same skills. This section outlines some nontraditional careers that may appeal to marketing Ph.D. graduates.

Career Stats Description
Postsecondary Teachers

Median Pay: $78,470

Job Growth: 15%

Postsecondary teachers provide instruction to students at the post-high school level. They develop instructional plans, assess student progress, and advise students about their degree plans. Oftentimes, they also conduct research and publish books and articles. They typically need a Ph.D. at minimum to teach at the university level.

Skills overlapped: Critical-thinking, interpersonal, speaking, and writing skills

Top Executives

Median Pay: $104,980

Job Growth: 8%

Top executives lead organizations. They create and manage strategies to help organizations accomplish their goals. They are responsible for planning and directing the operations of their company. They often start in lower roles and then advance over time.

Skills overlapped: Communication, decision-making, leadership, management, and problem-solving skills

Human Resources Managers

Median Pay: $113,300

Job Growth: 9%

Human resources managers take charge of an organization's administrative needs. They manage recruitment, interviewing, hiring, and firing employees. They serve as intermediaries between management and employees. They also help organization leaders create strategic plans.

Skills overlapped: Decision-making, interpersonal, leadership, organizational, and speaking skills

Training and Development Managers

Median Pay: $111,340

Job Growth: 10%

Training and development managers lead programs that train an organization's employees. They manage and organize staff training and development, assess training needs, and create training budgets. They often supervise a staff of training specialists. They often work with managers of other departments to specify needs.

Skills overlapped: Communication, critical-thinking, decision-making, and leadership skills

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paying for a Doctorate in Marketing Online

Prospective learners can find many opportunities to pay for their online Ph.D. in marketing. Most online students qualify for the same types of financial aid as their on-campus counterparts. This includes student loans, grants, work-study, and scholarships. Marketing Ph.D. learners should explore differing tuition rates, study timelines, and accelerated paths that can save money. The following section includes a few scholarships available to online marketing students.

Scholarships for Online Marketing Students

College students, including business majors of all levels, can find many scholarships to help pay for their education. Scholarships can come from private companies, nonprofit groups, and foundations. Learners can find scholarships available to applicants based on demographic criteria, merit, membership in an organization, and by major.

What to Expect from an Online Marketing Program

Online Ph.D. in marketing programs explore advanced marketing concepts and practices. Individual students select specialized research areas, which they usually focus on intensively for their dissertation projects. Full-time students who dedicate themselves entirely to the degree can finish in as little as three years. Part-time learners can take up to seven years to graduate. Most marketing doctoral programs include two years of coursework followed by dissertation research. The following describes major milestones of many online marketing programs.

Major Milestones

  1. Complete Coursework

    Online Ph.D. in marketing programs typically require two years of intensive coursework before students begin their dissertation. Required courses can vary by program and the area of specialization.

  2. Internship

    Many doctoral marketing programs give learners the chance to gain hands-on experience by completing a marketing internship. This may prove unnecessary for individuals who already hold extensive professional experience in the marketing field.

  3. Dissertation Topic Selection and Research

    Many doctoral students already know their dissertation topic before beginning their program. Official research usually does not start until at least the second year of study. During this time Ph.D. candidates also select and confirm their dissertation committee.

  4. Dissertation Preparation and Defense

    Marketing students finish preparing their dissertation and defend it in their last year of the Ph.D. program. This includes completing writing, copyediting, formatting, and submitting the dissertation and completing an oral defense in front of their dissertation committee.

  5. Licensure Exam and Exam Preparation

    Not all Ph.D. in marketing students pursue licensure. Those that do can begin preparing for or take the exam in the last year of their program.

  6. Intent to Graduate/Completion Confirmation

    Most schools require Ph.D. candidates to submit forms declaring their intent to graduate or complete their program. Typically, these forms require signatures from department heads and academic advisors.


Ph.D. in marketing online programs typically offer courses that explore issues like advanced research methods, organizational behavior, and buyer behavior. Available courses vary by program.

Advanced Research Methods

This course explores advanced social science research methods commonly used to conduct market research. Students explore both quantitative and qualitative methods, including surveys, statistical analysis, focus groups, and ethnography. The class also investigates effective research design and analysis.

Consumer Behavior

Students learn theories of consumer behavior and how to determine consumer wants and needs. The course draws from psychology, sociology, and economics. Learners figure out how to devise marketing strategies through consumer behavior insights.

Ethics in marketing

This class explores ethical issues that arise in marketing situations and helps students make ethical and sound business decisions. The course incorporates ethics case studies from the marketing field.

Digital Strategies

Learners discover the history of and contemporary issues related to digital marketing. The course explores the internet, social media outlets, and new digital marketing strategies.

Marketing Planning

Students receive an advanced understanding of how to create effective marketing plans. The course covers current practices, communication strategies, and action-oriented planning.

Degree Timelines

Prospective online marketing doctors can pursue part-time, full-time, and accelerated study timelines. Availability of study timelines varies by program.


Time to Complete: Up to seven years

Part-time enrollment may prove ideal for individuals who must keep professional or personal commitments while earning their Ph.D. in marketing. Part-time learners may take just one course each semester. They may also take time off or increase time spent working toward a Ph.D.


Time to Complete: Three to four years

Full-time students can typically earn a marketing Ph.D. in three to four years. Learners often take two or more courses each semester and complete their dissertation research quickly. This degree timeline is ideal for individuals who do not have demanding professional or family commitments and who want to complete a Ph.D. quickly.


Time to Complete: Three years or less

Not many accelerated Ph.D. in marketing online programs exist. Students who want to finish their program as quickly as possible may be able to increase their credit load each semester to finish degree requirements in three years or less.

Licenses and Certifications

Graduates of online Ph.D. in marketing programs can apply for marketing licenses and certifications. These voluntary credentials help demonstrate an employee's specialized skills and open the door to better job opportunities. A job applicant with a marketing certification stands out from similar candidates who lack certification. Possible marketing certifications include the American Marketing Association's (AMA) Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) credential with specializations in digital marketing, sales management, and content marketing.

  • PCM, Digital Marketing: The AMA offers the PCM credential to digital marketing professionals. Applicants must pass a 120-question, multiple-choice exam within two hours. Members pay $249, and non-members pay $349 for the certification.
  • PCM, Sales Management: The AMA's PCM, sales management certification prepares applicants for careers in sales management. Professionals take a 100-question, two-hour exam that costs $249 for AMA members and $349 for non-members. Applicants do not need to meet eligibility requirements.
  • PCM, Content Marketing: The PCM, content marketing certification from the AMA demonstrates skills in planning, strategy, production, measurement, and promotion. Applicants must take a two-hour, multiple-choice exam. AMA members pay $249 and non-members pay $349 for the certification. This certification prepares applicants to work as content marketers.
  • PCM, Marketing Management: The AMA offers the PCM, marketing management credential to managers who want to demonstrate broad expertise in marketing issues. Candidates must take the 150-question, three-hour marketing management online exam. This credential prepares applicants to work as marketing managers.

Professional Organizations and Resources

Joining a professional marketing organization offers many opportunities for students and recent graduates. Groups frequently offer benefits like continuing education programs, certification opportunities, job boards and career assistance, and networking events. Many professional marketing organizations also publish industry or academic journals, blogs, and magazines and offer access to online libraries. Students and recent graduates typically qualify for significant membership discounts, making it more affordable to join a professional marketing organization.

  • American Marketing Association: The AMA shapes the field of marketing globally. It offers resources like the Professional Certified Marketer credential, guides and ebooks, job boards, and academic journals.
  • Association of Network Marketing Professionals: The leading professional organization for marketing professionals, the ANMP offers members continuing education programs, peer networking, and access to a library of network marketing materials.
  • Society for Marketing Professional Services: The SMPS brings together marketing and business development professionals in the architectural, engineering, construction, interior design, and planning industries. The society offers educational opportunities, networking events, and industry leadership.
  • Association of National Advertisers: The ANA represents client-side marketers and marketing solution providers. The group offers leadership and resources like a data analytics center, a content library, trainings, and events.
  • Association of International Product Marketing and Management: Founded in 1998, the AIPMM offers leadership to the product marketing and management industries. It offers career resources, webcasts, a blog, and a certification program.
  • MarketingProfs: MarketingProfs offers educational resources for professional marketers, including articles, video tutorials, infographics and charts, courses, trainings, and webinars. The website explores issues like marketing technologies, artificial intelligence in marketing, and social media.
  • Neil Patel's Blog: One of the most well-known and successful marketers, Neil Patel writes this very popular marketing blog. His website also contains a wealth of other marketing news and resources.
  • The Content Marketing Institute: A content marketing education and training organization, the CMI teaches brands to use storytelling for attracting customers. It organizes an annual content marketing conference, publishes a quarterly magazine, and offers content marketing how-to guides.
  • HubSpot Blog: HubSpot's popular blog covers many aspects of the marketing industry. Articles cover issues like success content creation, marketing terms everyone should know, and the best sales management books.
  • AdAge: Founded in Chicago in 1930, the long-running magazine covers many aspects of the advertising industry. It offers news and data on marketing trends. AdAge's website includes a career center, data center, event listings, and downloadable marketing resources.