Online master’s in marketing programs are generally considered to be a more convenient and flexible alternative to traditional campus-based programs. They are designed to deliver the same curricula as their campus-based counterparts while accommodating students who cannot or would prefer not to travel to a college or university for classes. Online programs offer all or most of their coursework through distance-learning technologies that allow students to log on to a learning management system (LMS) for lectures, discussion groups, and other coursework. Students in an online master’s in marketing program communicate with professors and classmates electronically, submit assignments and take exams online, and have access to a variety of instructional materials through the LMS. Some online master’s programs require students to attend a limited number of campus visits, but there are also master’s in marketing programs that are offered 100% online and do not require students to travel to a college or university campus.
Most master’s in marking programs offer a Master of Science (MS) degree, and many of these MS degree programs are offered through schools of business and management. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of marketing, some master’s in marketing programs may be offered by schools of professional studies and/or departments of communication. What all of these programs share is a core curriculum that provides training in four important areas of marketing: business management; media technologies; data analysis; and strategic communication. As noted, these programs may also offer elective coursework and/or formal concentrations in specialized areas of marketing, including global marketing, digital marketing, and marketing analytics. While these programs are often designated as master’s in marketing programs, there are several common names for programs that offer this curriculum online. These include:
Note: OnlineEducation.com does not include MBA programs with a marketing specialization in our list of master’s in marketing programs.
OnlineEducation.com researches online master’s in marketing programs and classifies relevant programs based on clear criteria regardless of the program’s name. To be included on the site, programs must be offered by regionally accredited, non-profit colleges and universities. They must also provide a curriculum that covers core marketing proficiencies in the areas of business and management; media and communications; and data interpretation and analysis for marketing professionals. In addition, the online master’s in marketing programs listed on the site require two or fewer campus visits per year, and many do not have any required campus-based sessions. Programs that require more than two campus visits per year are classified as hybrid programs and are not currently included on the site.
The core master’s in marketing curriculum is designed to offer students the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of global markets, assess consumer demand and preference, and utilize clear strategies to effectively promote various goods and services. Students in these programs develop a foundational understanding of the business environment through courses that explore economic theories, organizational management, and financial reporting procedures. They study the dynamics of consumer choice, consumer behavior, and the psychology of how purchasing decisions are made. They learn to use statistical analysis tools and analytics software to interpret data on pricing, packaging, media campaigns, and public perception. And they use this information to craft integrated marketing strategies that are applicable to a range of products and services in various sectors of the economy. In addition, master’s in marketing programs often offer students a choice of elective coursework and/or specialized tracks in market research, social media marketing, customer relations, advertising and promotional management, and other areas that are part of the marketing profession.
The following table provides a representative sample of the types of courses that are typically offered as part of an online master’s in marketing program. The course names and descriptions are taken from actual online masters in marketing programs.
|Business Communication||Communication strategies in the business world, including written and oral presentations of business and technical information.|
|Marketing Strategy||An exploration of how companies formulate, implement, and evaluate marketing strategies in a variety of complex, real-world business scenarios.|
|Marketing Analytics||Quantitative tools and techniques and their application in understanding the relationship among marketing factors, economic variables, and the consumer.|
|Consumer Behavior and Marketing||The psychological, sociological, economic, and anthropological factors that influence consumer decisions and impact marketing strategies.|
|Applied Marketing Research||Marketing research as it applies to decision-making, including qualitative, experimental, and survey research designs; secondary and syndicated data sources; questionnaire designing; and basic analysis.|
|Decision Models||The use of quantitative methods in business decision-making, including methods for modeling of probable outcomes using Excel.|
|Strategic Internet Marketing||The platforms and technologies used to created online strategic marketing campaigns.|
|Websites, Search Engines, and SEO||The benefits and limitations of search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies in a marketing environment.|
The baseline prerequisite for admission to an online master’s in marketing program is a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Some programs may weigh a candidates cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) as part of the selection process, and/or have undergraduate coursework requirements, such as an economics/business course or an upper level mathematics course. These requirement vary by program, so prospective applicants should review each school’s admissions policies prior to applying. In addition, many online master’s in marketing programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE), a personal statement, and/or one or more letters of recommendation. There are also some online master’s programs that prefer candidates who have had some prior experience working in the field of business/marketing.
While online master’s in marketing programs are generally designed to accommodate a range of students, including those who may have significant work or family responsibilities outside of school, some programs are more flexible than others. There are several factors related to program formatting that determine the relative flexibility of an online master’s in marketing program, and that may be important considerations for prospective applicants. These include: the delivery method for online coursework; part-time and full-time enrollment options; and the number of campus visits that may be required.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: Online programs typically choose between two contrasting methods for delivering online instruction. Synchronous instruction takes place in real-time and requires students to be logged on to a computer in order to view and participate in lectures and other activities at designated times. In this respect, synchronous instruction is analogous to a classroom learning experience, and it can be preferable for students who desire a more structured online learning environment. Asynchronous instruction allows for more flexibility in that it does not require students to be logged on to an LMS at scheduled times. Instead, lectures and other class activities are accessible 24-7 to students, who must then be responsible for keeping up with syllabi and meeting various deadlines.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time Enrollment: A typical master’s in marketing curriculum can be completed in a few as 10-16 months by students who are able to enroll full-time and maintain a full course load (3-4 classes per academic semester). Many online master’s in marketing programs offer a full-time enrollment option. It is also common for online programs to provide a part-time enrollment option for students who would prefer to take fewer courses per semester (generally, one or two courses). Students who opt for part-time enrollment have a longer time to completion – generally two years or more. Programs with flexible part-time enrollment options typically cap the number of years a student may spend earning their degree at between five and seven years.
Campus Visits: It is not uncommon for online master’s in marketing programs to include a limited number of on campus sessions, often called immersions or intensives. These campus visits incorporate instructional activities and may include lectures, workshops, seminars, and networking events. They are also an opportunity for online students to meet instructors in person and to interact face-to-face with fellow classmates. However, these are scheduled sessions and students must make allowances for the requisite time and expense it takes to attend these campus events. In contrast, there are many online master’s programs that are offered 100% online and that do not require any campus visits. This is another important structural difference between online master’s in marketing programs that prospective students should consider when weighing the benefits of various programs.