The \"help wanted\" ads for marketing, advertising, public relations or other communications-related work often require a marketing degree. There are several different types of marketing degrees, each designed for a specific range of career paths. Here is an overview of the different types.

Definition

A marketing degree is a credential obtained by completing a graduate or undergraduate degree of study at an accredited institution of higher learning. It can prepare you for private sector, public sector or academic work depending on the degree type.

Topics

In a marketing curriculum, you will more than likely gain exposure to most if not all of the following topics: marketing research, marketing strategy, consumer behavior, media buying, direct marketing, advertising, public relations, Internet marketing, pricing strategy, branding and new product development.

Undergraduate

An undergraduate marketing degree curriculum will expose you first to basic business principles through survey courses like Introduction to Finance and Microeconomics. You then generally take 10 or more marketing courses that allow you to develop a strong understanding of marketing fundamentals.

Graduate

There are three types of graduate marketing degrees: a masters degree in marketing, a masters of business administration (MBA) in marketing or a doctorate in marketing. All three are offered through graduate business schools.

An MBA offers students a broad overview of business course through their general requirements. There are also major courses--four to eight--that give you an overview of your field. An MBA is a practitioner's degree rather than an academic one. MBA students usually pursue careers in private industry, although some may work in nonprofits; a relatively small group of MBA holders may pursue further graduate study.

An MS offers a more in-depth study of marketing. Required courses may include statistics to complement your Market Research class, and\or a computer science class to complement any required classes concerning Internet marketing or Web technologies. It can be, and often is, a stepping stone to a doctorate, depending on the rigor of the program. MS programs typically require the completion of between 30 and 48 credits.

A Ph.D., or doctorate, is the standard credential for most full-time academic appointments. It consists of 2 years of required coursework--much of it elective work that enables you to master marketing fundamentals and develop expertise in a particular marketing subject area, such as advertising. The coursework is followed by another 2 years of dissertation work: You develop an original marketing research proposal with the help of faculty advisers, which you then complete.

If you have not yet completed a masters degree in marketing, you will receive one upon completion of the required coursework. The subsequent dissertation phase often takes longer than 2 years, though all programs have time limits, ranging from 4 to 6 years after the coursework has been completed.

Expense

The cost of an undergraduate degree in marketing is the same as the tuition price of the undergraduate institution attended. Public schools may be as inexpensive as $5,000 a year, while top-ranked Ivy League colleges may cost you as much as $50,000 a year.

Graduate tuition rates are generally steeper on a per credit basis than undergraduate tuition rates, but you take fewer classes than in an undergraduate degree program. Scholarships for graduate degrees (masters level) in marketing are relatively rare compared to those available in other disciplines, such as the sciences. Doctoral programs usually set aside funding that may cover some or all of your tuition in the form of grants and fellowships, though many fellowships require a certain amount of teaching or research to receive them.