Online Marketing & Advertising Degrees

Marketing and advertising are a way of drawing attention to a person, production or product. Think about the commercials you watch, the print ads you read, the consumer tweets you retweet and the products you consider purchasing. Each of those items has a creative team of advertisers and marketers behind it. Their job is to figure out ways to make their product stand out from the competition through business and communication strategies. If you're a curious and creative person who loves to spread the word about the people, places and things, marketing and advertising could be a great fit for you.

What are the main marketing and advertising degrees?

Bachelor's degree in marketing or advertising

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most jobs in advertising, promotions and marketing require a bachelor's degree. While some agencies and employers prefer a degree in journalism or advertising specifically, courses in business law, management, economics, finance, computer science, mathematics, psychology and statistics are typically also helpful, the BLS reports. Students can pursue a bachelor's degree in a traditional setting or online, depending on what appeals to them. Business degrees are among the more common online-only options, depending on your specialization.

Master's degree in marketing or advertising

A master's degree in marketing or advertising will allow you to hone in on particular interests and specializations within the field. Samples of careers to pursue with a master's include market research analyst, market research consultant and marketing manager. Master's degrees in marketing or advertising are also available in both online and traditional school settings.

Master's of business administration (MBA)

While a master's degree or MBA isn't mandatory for an entry-level marketing or advertising position, it can pay off in the long run, particularly for managers and company leaders. An MBA introduces students to business, finance, research, analysis and strategic concepts and allows for a specialization in different aspects of marketing. According to PayScale.com, a third-party salary reporting, a number of careers in marketing have dramatically higher paychecks if an employee has an MBA. A finance director with an MBA, for example, earns 32 percent more than someone with a bachelor's degree, and a marketing specialist earns 24 percent more. Students can pursue an MBA in an online or in-class setting.

There are high-quality options for a marketing or advertising degree around the country, but there is an elite group of schools that are almost perennial members of any list of the best business schools in the country. In business, the pedigree of your degree can matter, so if you want to have name recognition on your diploma, it can help to check out some of the best programs in your specialization.

Rankings aren't as readily available for advertising programs, but according to U.S. News & World Report, the top 10 undergraduate schools for marketing include:

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  3. University of Texas at Austin
  4. Indiana University Bloomington
  5. University of California, Berkeley
  6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  7. New York University
  8. University of Virginia
  9. University of Wisconsin - Madison
  10. University of Southern California

The top grad schools for marketing, per U.S. News & World Report's most recent rankings, include:

  1. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
  2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  3. Stanford University
  4. Harvard University
  5. University of Chicago (Booth)
  6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ross)
  7. Duke University (Fuqua)
  8. Columbia University
  9. New York University (Stern)
  10. University of Texas (McCombs)

What jobs are available in marketing and advertising?

A number of job categories and specializations fit under the marketing/advertising titles, including:

  • Advertising sales agents
  • Art directors
  • Editors
  • Copywriters
  • Financial managers
  • Graphic designers
  • Market research analysts
  • Public relations and fundraising managers
  • Public relations specialists
  • Sales managers

For some of those positions, the BLS reports the following median wages in the U.S., as of May 2013:

  • Advertising and promotions managers: $93,880
  • Advertising sales agent: $45,830
  • Graphic designers: $44,830
  • Public relations specialist: $54,940
  • Market research analyst/Marketing specialist: $60,800

What about internships and certifications?

An internship is an effective tool to get real-world experience in the marketing and advertising field. An internship helps students decide if they've chosen the right career and ponder which specialties to pursue. It also provides networking opportunities and references that could lead to a job upon graduation, and some employers consider it a must when it comes to hiring potential.

National student organizations focused on marketing, including the Public Relations Student Society of America and the American Marketing Association, are great places to search for an internship online and through networking with other members. Sites such as internmatch.com and internship.com are another great starting point to search for an internship. Many schools will also offer guidance and placement for marketing and advertising internships to their students, and some even have connections with companies in the area.

In addition to a college degree, certificates in marketing and advertising can pay off in the long run. According to the report "Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees," by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, certificates, today, account for 22 percent of college awards. Compare that to 1980, when they made up only 6 percent. A number of schools and professional organizations, including Public Relations Society of America, American Marketing Association and Sales and Marketing Executives International all offer certification.

For more information about pursuing a career in advertising or marketing, consider contacting one of these professional organizations:

  • American Advertising Federation
  • Public Relations Society of America
  • American Marketing Association
  • Sales and Marketing Executives International


"Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees," Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose and Andrew R. Hanson, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, June 5, 2012,

"MBA Paths and Their Payoff," PayScale.com, 2012

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Advertising and Promotions Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Advertising Sales Agents, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Graphic Designers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Public Relations Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,

Best Business Schools: Marketing, U.S. News & World Report, 2014,

Top Undergraduate Schools for Marketing, U.S. News & World Report, 2014

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