Marketing executive

Is an MBA in Marketing a Good Choice?

An MBA in Marketing is a rising star on many students’ career checklist. If you want to know if an MBA (Marketing) is a good choice, here’s our short answer.

An MBA in Marketing is a sound business management degree. Specializing in Marketing strengthens a business skill widely regarded as essential. Graduates are positioned for general management roles plus those with a marketing focus.

The degree is meant for marketing and non-marketing professionals who aspire to senior management positions. But it may not be the best choice if your initial goal is to launch a professional marketing career.

Let’s further explore the purposes, pros, cons and options associated with a Marketing MBA.

What Is an MBA in Marketing?

MBA in Marketing

An MBA in Marketing is a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Marketing specialization. We estimate that marketing subjects typically comprise from 25% to 42% of the degree program.

Even with a Marketing specialization, the bulk of the MBA program will be on non-marketing subjects. You’ll likely cover other business disciplines such as accounting, business analytics, economics, finance and human resource management. As well, some subjects will explore management principles and leadership theory and practice.

The 25% to 42% content range is based on the assumption that a 12-subject MBA will contain (a) one core marketing subject that is compulsory for all students and (b) from two to four electives must be completed in a given discipline to qualify for a major. Those assumptions imply that from 3 to 5 subjects in 12-subject MBA (Marketing) will actually be on Marketing.

Difference Between an MBA and Masters in Marketing

Digital marketing

The key distinction between an MBA in Marketing and a Masters in Marketing is the amount of marketing-specific content. An MBA with a Marketing specialization may have from 25% to 42% of subjects that are about marketing. By contrast, a Masters in Marketing will have 100%, or close to it, of subjects focused on marketing.

That’s not the only difference however. Because an MBA is a management degree, students are expected to adopt a manager’s perspective when they study marketing. For a specialist marketing master’s, the aim is to build professional practice skills. Hence, exploration of the field in an MBA program will be relatively high-level and non-technical.

What Is the Purpose of the Degree?

University degree

An MBA in Marketing prepares graduates for management roles where marketing knowledge is beneficial. These roles can be highly marketing-focused (e.g. Chief Marketing Officer) or general (e.g. Business Development Manager).

The degree is for professionals either with or without a marketing background. Experienced marketers can use the program to climb into senior management roles. Non-marketers can acquire knowledge that is beneficial for executive jobs such as running a business or organizational unit.

The program combines business management studies with the development of marketing management expertise. Students cultivate strategic leadership skills while gaining specialised know-how to direct marketing activities.

Value of marketing knowledge and skills

Marketing is a critical function in all companies. It is central to how people view a company’s products and how those goods and services ultimately sell. In an increasingly consumer-led business world, professionals who understand consumer behavior and the fundamentals of good marketing practices are vital to corporate success.

More than simply advertising, graduates with an MBA in Marketing bring core business acumen to marketing functions, helping ensure campaigns are not only effective but profit-maximizing. MBA courses cover business fundamentals like data-driven decision making, marketing research, communication, management, accounting, and strategic planning.

Is there an MBA in Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing

You can definitely find MBAs in Digital Marketing. The reality is that most MBA programs with a marketing specialization focus quite strongly on web or internet marketing already. The online environment is where we consume much of our information and where we make many of our purchasing decisions.

With an MBA in Digital Marketing, some of the topics you’ll likely cover include digital consumer behavior, data-driven marketing, emerging technologies, the use of online platforms for social media marketing, content marketing, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Whether an MBA specialization is called “Marketing” or “Digital Marketing”, it will likely contain significant online marketing content. Marketing analytics and reaching and satisfying digital consumers will be key themes of a technologically progressive course.

Is an MBA in Marketing Worth It?

Increasing value asset

An MBA in Marketing is an excellent educational investment. You gain a strong management qualification while building knowledge and skills in an in-demand field.

The MBA program provides the professional skills and technology awareness that candidates need to stand out. Students in a marketing MBA explore marketing concepts, marketing research and campaign management, online consumer behavior, use of analytics, marketing strategies, and emerging technologies. They conduct real-world case studies and gain insights from instructors with industry connections.

The degree will ultimately be worth it if you can leverage your new skills and credentials to move into senior roles as a marketing manager or general manager. Here are some of the key advantages and disadvantages to consider when deciding if this is the right course for you.

Pros

1. Graduates gain a versatile skill set

An MBA in Marketing provides the core business and management training an MBA is renowned for with the benefit of extra training in a key business discipline. There is always potential value for managers from knowing about brand management, business-to-business marketing, strategic marketing, and so forth.

2. Graduates enter a sought-after field

Corporate recruiter surveys, such as this one, consistently find Marketing to be one of the top fields from which employers plan to recruit MBA graduates. Graduates with a marketing specialization are in high demand and enjoy exceptional job opportunities. 

3. Your earning ceiling rises dramatically

MBA holders are more likely to work in executive or senior management positions, which are higher paying roles. The qualification also carries a potential fast-track into the C-suite. 

Cons

A. Significant investment of time and money

MBA courses have significant time and money requirements. But there are multiple options you may consider that offer more affordable tuition and a flexible learning schedule.

B. Payoff relies on experience

Most programs require work experience for admission and employers want to hire experienced candidates for senior roles. An MBA in Marketing may not be suitable for entry-level job candidates.

C. Professional roles may require ongoing learning

Marketing is a field that is constantly in flux. As new technologies and buyer habits emerge, professionals who want to stay ahead of the game need to re-invest in career development.

Since marketing is a dynamic industry, evolving along with the changing needs and behaviors of consumers, employers prefer candidates with dynamic skill sets. For instance, a 2019 hiring trends report by McKinley Marketing Partners found that digital marketing is a top skill requirement for marketing jobs. The survey found that 44% of hiring managers report that qualified candidates are hard to find. 

How Long Does an MBA (Marketing) Take?

Time clock

An MBA in Marketing is a 2-year full-time program in the United States. Completing the degree in Australia and the UK takes less time, as programs typically run for 1-1.5 years full-time. Part-time study takes longer, potentially adding a year or more to the timeline. 

Accelerated online programs save time by running year-round. They normally take 2 years part-time and require in the order of 10 hours of study-time per week. They’re designed specifically for working professionals, offering schedule flexibility and usually dispensing with traditional exams.

What Can I Do With the Degree?

Job interview candidate

An MBA with a marketing specialisation makes you competitive for executive marketing jobs as well as general management roles. The degree offers impressive opportunities to enter a high-profile role or help you climb the corporate ladder faster. If you’re looking to fast-track your route into management or feel you’re ready for more responsibility, an MBA can be worthwhile. 

The professional and leadership skills gained from a marketing MBA will help you stand out from other candidates and increase your earning potential. The value of an MBA degree is well documented. You lose none of that by specializing in marketing, a core business discipline. But you expand opportunities for the many management positions where marketing knowledge is an asset.

But you should also be aware that the qualification is not meant to establish you as a marketing professional with a hands-on role every working day. A Masters in Marketing may be a better vehicle for early-career professional development as a marketing specialist or marketing manager.

Jobs and Salary Prospects

An advantage of an MBA in Marketing is the broad set of business skills you gain. And this translates to a wide range of career pathways. Executive marketing jobs include: 

  • Marketing Manager
  • Chief Marketing Officer
  • Public Relations Executive
  • Marketing Communications Director
  • Director of Sales 
  • Account Executive

Additionally, graduates are qualified for these kinds of business management roles

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • General Manager 
  • Business Development Manager
  • Business Consultant 
  • Product Manager
  • General Manager 

Salary prospects for MBA (Marketing) graduates are excellent. PayScale reports that the average annual base salary for MBA holders working in marketing and related management fields was $103,000. Comparably, bachelor’s degree holders earned $66,000 per year on average.

The degree can also be used to gain a foothold in the marketing industry when complemented with applied training courses and on-the-job experience. Professional job opportunities include brand manager, customer relationship manager, market research analyst, marketing director, public relations specialist, and sales manager.

Why an MBA Instead of a Master’s in Marketing?

For many executive roles, general management and business administration skills are more vital than advanced marketing skills. Professionals in those roles must be able to direct marketing efforts at a high-level but with the business context and strategic planning of a corporate leader. An MBA (Marketing) may provide a better balance of professional and management skills compared to a Master’s in Marketing.

Additionally, as this CMO survey shows, employers want candidates with technical skills (like analytics competence) and soft skills (like curiosity and communication). While the two areas of competency may not be vital for all marketing roles, people looking to rise to leadership positions must have a solid grasp of both. A marketing MBA generally does a better job of inculcating those skills.

Can I Earn an MBA in Marketing Online?

Online college student

Yes, virtually all online MBA programs teach marketing. Marketing is also a popular specialisation, so you’re likely to have your pick of online programs that offer a marketing MBA course.

What to expect from an online MBA

Online graduate programs are best known for the convenience and flexibility they provide. Students can save on commute time and work through courses at their own pace with a virtual class.

You may choose to continue in your work role while you study part-time for your marketing MBA. With accelerated courses, you do one subject at a time and several across the year with few or no exams after each course period.

The online learning mode also potentially expands students’ access to in-demand marketing programs. You can join a class from anywhere in the world, connect to classmates and instructors online, and enjoy a multi-dimensional learning experience.

Students also gain access to the same quality of instruction that in-person programs offer. Many top business schools even provide an online component to their physical program. So, you’re accessing the same basic curriculum and high-caliber instruction.

Admission Requirements

The entry requirements for an MBA in Marketing are no different from any other Master of Business Administration program. The course is open to people from a non-marketing background, meaning there are no special requirements in terms of prior marketing or business knowledge.

The typical entry requirements for an MBA degree are that you have a bachelor degree (any discipline) and multiple years of work experience in supervisory or management roles. It can also be possible to gain entry without a degree if you have extensive relevant professional experience.

Some business schools require you to achieve certain minimum standards on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Studying for the test is an added time cost if you wish to be considered for a business school with a GMAT requirement.

Tuition Costs

MBA (Marketing) programs differ widely in terms of tuition costs. At the low end, there are programs with tuition costs ranging between $15,000 and $20,000. In Australia, the average cost of an MBA in 2021 was $57,300 AUD.

On the other hand, costs can exceed $200,000 for MBA programs at the high end of the scale. For instance, the world’s most expensive MBA in 2020 was MIT Sloan, with tuition costs of $241,984. And the average total cost of study in a high-end MBA in 2021 was $176,000. Nevertheless, you should have no problem finding programs in the US from $40,000 to $70,000.

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