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Best online master's in marketing 2021: Top picks

The best marketing master's programs give students the skills to meaningfully connect with consumers within a growing and changing landscape.

As marketplace competition increases and consumer access improves, organizations need to find new and effective ways to reach their buyers. A marketing master's teaches modern technologies and strategies to better understand consumers and markets.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% growth in marketing manager positions between 2020 and 2030. In addition to these promising roles, marketing master's graduates can pursue market research, public relations, and management jobs. 

Here, we rank the best online marketing master's degrees and discuss what you can expect from the programs. 

The best online master's in marketing degrees

The rankings below include publicly available information from reputable and up-to-date sources. ZDNet's ranking methodology uses curated state and national data to compare variables including student financial aid, admission and graduation rates, and more.

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. Florida International University

Miami, Florida

About the program: FIU's 30-credit online marketing master's program features training in global marketing, e-marketing, and marketing analytics. The program offers concentrations in brand development, digital marketing, and marketing analytics.

Acceptance rate: 58%

Graduation rate: 64%

Annual net price: $7,296

Time to completion: 10-16 months

GRE/GMAT requirements: GMAT score of at least 500

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Two

Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Regent University

Virginia Beach, Virginia

About the program: Regent's 33-credit faith-based online political campaign marketing master's program provides training in campaign management, marketing communications, and digital media and marketing. The program features concentrations in data analytics, leadership, and policy studies. 

Acceptance rate: 86%

Graduation rate: 27%

Annual net price: $15,267

Time to completion: One to two years

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not publicly available

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Regent University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. Dallas Baptist University

Dallas, Texas

About the program: DBU's 36-credit online MBA features a marketing concentration as one of 19 options. The marketing concentration focuses on consumer and buyer behavior, international marketing, and marketing analysis. 

Acceptance rate: 90%

Graduation rate: 58%

Annual net price: $26,387

Time to completion: 1.5-3 years

GRE/GMAT requirements: GMAT score of at least 425

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Dallas Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About the program: SJU's 30-credit online marketing master's program provides training in marketing and consumer trends, research, and analytics. 

Acceptance rate: 75%

Graduation rate: 78%

Annual net price: $33,375

Time to completion: One to two years (part-time schedules are available)

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not publicly available

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Saint Joseph's University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

5. Regis University

Denver, Colorado

About the program: Regis' 30-credit online marketing master's program offers training in marketing automation, digital marketing, and global branding. 

Acceptance rate: 71%

Graduation rate: 57%

Annual net price: $25,483

Time to completion: One to two years

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not publicly available

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Two or three

Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Regis University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

6. Concordia University Wisconsin

Mequon, Wisconsin

About the program: CUW's 36-credit online MBA features a strategic marketing concentration. This specialization includes courses in publicity and public relations, strategic package design, and social marketing strategies. 

Acceptance rate: 64%

Graduation rate: 54%

Annual net price: $23,855

Time to completion: One to two (part-time schedules are available)

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Concordia University Wisconsin is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

7. Walsh University

North Canton, Ohio

About the program: Walsh's faith-based 36-credit online MBA in marketing features training in sustainable ethical leadership and organizational research and analysis. 

Acceptance rate: 76%

Graduation rate: 60%

Annual net price: $16,075

Time to completion: One to two years

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Six

Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous

Accreditation: Walsh University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

About the program: SNHU's 36-credit online MBA in marketing features concentrations in digital marketing, new media and communications, marketing research and analytics, and social media marketing. 

Acceptance rate: 88%

Graduation rate: 47%

Annual net price: $41,095

Time to completion: One to two years (part-time schedules are available)

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: 2.75

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling 

Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous 

Accreditation: Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

9. Union College

Barbourville, Kentucky

About the program: Union's 30-credit online marketing master's program features courses in brand management, e-commerce, and strategic decisions. 

Acceptance rate: 55%

Graduation rate: 36%

Annual net price: $21,771

Time to completion: One to two years

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not publicly available

Minimum GPA: 2.5

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Union College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

10. Lasell University

Auburndale, Massachusetts

About the program: Lasell's 36-credit online marketing master's program provides training in new product development, data analytics, and market research, along with integrated marketing communications. 

Acceptance rate: 84%

Graduation rate: 55%

Annual net price: $27,428

Time to completion: 1-1.5 years

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous 

Accreditation: Lasell University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

11. Tiffin University

Tiffin, Ohio

About the program: TU's online MBA in marketing features 32-36 credits in courses like strategic brand management and marketing field analysis. 

Acceptance rate: 69%

Graduation rate: 15%

Annual net price: $21,746

Time to completion: 14-30 months

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Six

Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Tiffin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

12. Bellevue University

Bellevue, Nebraska

About the program: BU's online strategic marketing master's program offers courses in marketing analytics, marketing finance, and advertising and promotions management. 

Acceptance rate: Not publicly available

Graduation rate: 46%

Annual net price: $15,616

Time to completion: One to two years (part-time schedules are available)

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Four

Course delivery methods: Online and asynchronous

Accreditation: Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

13. Brenau University

Gainesville, Georgia

About the program: Brenau's 45-credit hour online MBA in marketing trains students in the fields of advertising promotions, new product development, and international marketing. 

Acceptance rate: 58%

Graduation rate: 46%

Annual net price: $21,745

Time to completion: One to two years

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery methods: Online, synchronous and asynchronous 

Accreditation: Brenau University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

14. Franklin University

Columbus, Ohio

About the program: Franklin's 36-credit online marketing master's program features courses in creative concepts, marketing communication management, and metrics and analytics. 

Acceptance rate: Not publicly available

Graduation rate: 34%

Annual net price: $12,895

Time to completion: One to two years

GRE/GMAT requirements: Not required

Minimum GPA: 2.75

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery methods: Online, asynchronous and synchronous 

Accreditation: Franklin University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

15. Florida Institute of Technology

Melbourne, Florida

About the program: Florida Tech's 36-credit online MBA in marketing emphasizes hands-on learning and collaboration. Courses include managerial economics, organizational behavior, strategic marketing, and more.

  • Acceptance rate: 66%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Annual net price: $31,097
  • Time to completion: Two years or less
  • GRE/GMAT requirements: Recommended but not required
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Six
  • Course delivery methods: Online

Accreditation: Florida Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Insights from a marketing graduate

A headshot of Adam Goulston, a man with short hair wearing a dark suit and a purple tie.

Adam Goulston, MBA, MS, MISD, is a U.S.-born, Japan-based business owner. His Japan-registered company Scize helps globally sighted businesses and organizations, primarily in Asia and Europe, communicate their value and expand their brands. 

For more than two decades, Adam has worked with startups, corporations, NGOs, governmental think tanks, and academia in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific. Adam worked with early internet startups in the 1990s and then took his skills to Asia, where he worked with nonprofits in Southeast Asia and Japan, all the while training as he learned. 

Adam is a board-certified editor in the life sciences. He now applies scientific language expertise with business, marketing, and psychology-based approaches to help clients take a globally appropriate and profitable approach.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

ZDNet: In what cases is a marketing master's program worth it to pursue? In what cases might it not be worthwhile?

Adam Goulston: Unless you can afford it, have the time (years) for it, and are personally interested, you should have a specific idea of why you need it. Otherwise, you can learn a great deal of the degree contents through free sources. If you're really into marketing as a career, and you have the room in your life and won't take on debt, then go for it. 

The actual pursuit and paying for a degree is a strong deterrent against giving up on it, as is the support of faculty and classmates. 

Few marketers actually have a master's in marketing, or an MBA, or even a bachelor's in marketing or business. I've worked with many marketing people and I don't know a single one who had a master's in marketing. An MBA, maybe. Most common among them is a bachelor's in an unrelated subject. 

ZDNet: How did you make the most of your marketing degree program so that it prepared you for post-grad jobs?

AG: I didn't need to do an MBA with a marketing emphasis as much as I wanted to do it out of interest and personal ambition. I had two other master's degrees and I was looking at doing a Ph.D., but I really wanted to advance my business career and perhaps have my own company. 

I'd always been a practitioner, but I hoped to gain both business admin skills and marketing know-how so I could manage others and see the bigger picture, and so I could be tactical and not just follow my intuition. The studies did that, and the scholar-practitioner approach let me apply what I was learning on a daily basis. 

I was still finishing up my MBA when I accepted a new job as a copywriter and content manager, shifting from scientific editing to a marketing-related role. Then after I finished the MBA, I was able to get more involved with the marketing team at a higher level. I also shifted from sole entrepreneurship to the owner of a formal company.

ZDNet: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your master's in marketing program, that you may not have gotten otherwise?

AG: I learned theory, which really does matter, to me at least. I learned the history of the principles of marketing. I learned how to apply the theory, the difference between marketing and sales, and how much marketing can entail.

I also learned skills like accounting and finance, which I otherwise may not have picked up. Doing case studies taught me about things like ethics and global marketing strategy. 

And of course, having the degree can be an advantage with employers who value and respect formal education. Spending a lot of time on something, and having to pay for it, makes you learn it well. 

A marketer who can crunch numbers, pick apart weaknesses in the competition, and make prudent business decisions on something other than gut feeling is a very valuable marketer. Yes, you can learn a lot of that stuff for free, but it's hard to find the right material for you, and it's harder to stick with it and not get distracted by another topic, or by life in general. 

What to expect in an online master's in marketing degree program

The typical online marketing master's program prepares students for advertising, promotions, and leadership positions.

The training provides learners with analytical, communications, and technical skills. Graduate marketing programs blend theoretical and practical training with a practicum.

Most online marketing master's programs feature the same course requirements as on-campus programs, but they demand more independence and self-motivation from students. In addition to completing independent problem-solving and creative assignments, learners usually participate in group projects and teams. 

Many programs also offer concentration options so students can specialize in a subdiscipline such as digital marketing or data analytics. 

Marketing courses

Every online marketing master's program is unique, but these courses are common among them. They may appear as core requirements or electives. 

Digital marketing strategy

Digital technologies can help marketing professionals better understand and reach consumers. This course explores digital marketing plan design and implementation, along with digital marketing analytical tools.

Brand management 

In this course, students learn how to identify the pillars of an organization's brand and incorporate that into their marketing plans. They also learn how to communicate brand messaging to consumers. 

Business communication

Students learn how to communicate in a business setting. The training may cover oral and written methods, along with presentation and interview communication strategies. 

Marketing analytics

In this course, learners look at how analytics can be used to understand markets, identify pricing strategies, and evaluate campaign effectiveness. Students learn to gather and use data.

Marketing degree levels

At each subsequent degree level, marketing programs' studies are more focused and in-depth. While associate and bachelor's degrees offer broad training and widely applicable entry-level skills, graduate programs deliver advanced training, research, and specialization opportunities. 

Associate in marketing

Length: Two years

Cost: $11,389/year in 2018-19

Post-grad careers: Advertising sales agent, customer service representative, public relations specialists

An associate degree in marketing provides students with business principles and foundations. Learners explore the marketing discipline and develop the fundamental problem-solving and creative skills required for entry-level careers in the field.

Additionally, associate degrees prepare students for further training. Curricula usually combine general education and broad business and marketing courses so graduates can qualify for transfer credits if they choose to continue their studies. 

Bachelor's in marketing

Length: Four years

Cost: $28,123/year in 2018-19

Post-grad careers: Advertising manager, promotions manager, sales manager

A bachelor's in marketing provides comprehensive business and marketing training. Students progress through beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses in several business disciplines. This ensures they understand how marketing influences and coordinates with the various sectors. 

They also learn to develop and implement marketing campaigns for consumer groups. Most programs combine theory and practical training, culminating in practicums and extensive hands-on projects. 

A marketing degree at this level qualifies graduates for many marketing and business-related careers. 

Master's in marketing

Length: One to two years

Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20

Post-grad careers: Market research analyst, public relations manager, marketing manager

A marketing master's program builds on undergraduate training, exploring advanced and specialized topics. Through research and training, students develop expertise in communications, consumer markets, and marketing campaign building. They also acquire in-depth business knowledge to better understand operations and organizational goals.

Students can often focus their studies in a subdiscipline, such as digital marketing, brand management, or analytics. These degrees prepare graduates for management and leadership positions in marketing and business.

Doctorate in marketing

Length: Three to six years

Cost: $19,792/year in 2019-20

Post-grad careers: Postsecondary teacher, top executive, marketing director

A doctorate in marketing is this field's terminal degree. Aspiring postsecondary teachers often pursue these programs. Graduates may also acquire leadership or research and development positions. 

Students may choose between a practical or research doctorate. While both degrees feature extensive research, the former provides more rigid course-based training, while the latter allows for flexible independent studies. 

In conclusion

The marketing field continues to expand and evolve. Marketing master's graduates are in a good position to benefit. 

The training provided in these top-ranked programs prepares students to use digital landscapes and technologies, improving communication lines between businesses and consumers.