MBA vs Master’s in Marketing: Which One Should You Choose?

Students earning master's degrees collaborating

Although a bachelor’s degree can help you get your foot in the door, a graduate degree is often necessary if you want to advance your career. There is no question that a graduate degree will significantly boost your career qualifications, enabling you to pursue higher level positions in your chosen industry. That leaves the question of which graduate degree you should earn. If you’re a marketing professional or you would like to transition to this career, you might consider earning either a master’s in marketing or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an Emphasis in Marketing. Either of these degrees would make a valuable addition to your resume; however, there are some differences to be aware of before you make a choice.

MBA in Marketing

A Master of Business Administration degree in any area of specialization, including marketing, will give students an impressive breadth of education. MBA programs usually emphasize leadership skills, business management and operational organization. Students may also study general topics in economics, finance and business statistics, and there is likely to be some discussion of business ethics and related legal issues. An MBA in Marketing will also focus on marketing, although it won’t be the primary focus.

Master’s Degree in Marketing

In contrast to the MBA program, a master’s degree in marketing will be much more focused on marketing itself. Rather than exploring business statistics and operational management, master’s degree students will take a deep dive into subjects such as consumer behavior, brand development, marketing strategies and cultural considerations with international marketing. The curriculum may provide for a brief look at leadership skills, and general business practices, although they are not the primary focus.

Typical Coursework

Regardless of the degree program, graduate students can generally expect to do a great deal of academic reading and writing, and to participate in stimulating discussions with instructors and peers. However, there are some differences in the typical coursework when comparing an MBA vs. a master’s degree.

For a master’s degree, students may study theories, concepts and strategies in marketing. In other words, there is a focus on theoretical knowledge. In contrast, an MBA student will explore theories, but focus primarily on the applications of theoretical knowledge to real-world situations. The coursework for an MBA program relies heavily on case studies. Students will reflect on these case studies to consider how theories and strategies are used to solve challenges in the real world.

Your Work Experience

The focus and typical coursework of these two degrees isn’t the only consideration when choosing a program. You should also consider your work experience and qualifications for applying to the program. If you’ve recently earned your bachelor’s degree and you have little to no professional experience, then you might consider applying to a master’s degree program. The MBA program is ideal for working professionals who have at least a few years of experience in the workplace.

Note, however, that even if you’re a fresh graduate, the MBA may be better suited to your long-term career objectives. If you are attracted to the idea of a degree that offers more transferrable skills and you want to enroll in an MBA program, it may be worth it to gain a few years of experience in the field before going back to school.

Your Desired Career Path

Every type of degree program requires a significant commitment. It will take many hours of hard work as well as an investment of financial resources to earn your graduate degree (although the rewards will be well worth the effort). Take your time when choosing your program, as you will want to make sure you’re making the right decision. Another important consideration is your desired career path.

The MBA in marketing and the master’s degree in marketing can both lead to careers in the marketing field. However, there are some differences. With a marketing master’s degree, you might expect to pursue careers such as the following:

  • Sales manager
  • Brand development specialist
  • Public relations officer
  • Market research analyst
  • Copywriter
  • Digital marketing and SEO specialist

Individuals with an MBA with an Emphasis in Marketing may also be qualified to hold these positions. However, they are more apt to pursue higher level positions, such as executive and C-suite roles. For example, an MBA graduate may interview for positions such as vice president of marketing, senior product manager, director of marketing and even chief executive officer (CEO).

Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business has a longstanding track record of graduating students who are capable, ethical and effective business leaders. The Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Marketing, which is available via online courses, explores timely topics such as international marketing, services marketing and operations management to provide students with a well-rounded academic framework. Click on Request Info at the top of your screen to begin your academic journey at GCU.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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