2021 Best Online PhD in Marketing Programs [Doctorate Guide]

Home » 2021 Best Online PhD in Marketing Programs [Doctorate Guide]

Is it beneficial to pursue a PhD in Marketing online when marketing is essentially a practical business skill?

PhD in Marketing Programs

In the wake of shifting consumer behaviors and evolving media and communication landscapes, there’s enormous change happening in some fundamental areas of marketing science and methods.

As a result, a number of marketing leaders are viewing online Ph.D. programs as an intriguing next step in their careers.

Online PhD in Marketing Degree Programs

PhD in Marketing Degree Programs

Large marketing campaigns and multinational marketing initiatives can require big investments.

Effective marketing strategies can involve complex market survey methods, concepts related to consumer behavior, and tactics that rely on skillfully deploying AI and machine learning software. There are inward-facing marketing strategies too, such as sales team training, sales force investment strategies, and pricing strategies.

Online marketing doctoral degree programs can offer you the opportunity to pursue expertise in a range of topics:

  • Market modeling and forecasting
  • Consumer behavior and psychology
  • Services marketing methods
  • Multinational marketing
  • Advanced research methods and applications

As you start exploring online marketing PhD programs, you’ll discover that schools vary in their curriculum designs and in the areas of specialization that they offer.

Marketing PhD Careers & Salaries

Marketing PhD Careers & Salaries

Getting an online PhD in Marketing can open doors to a variety of opportunities. Experts in the field may seek roles in senior marketing management, business development, private consulting, or research and academia.

Important segments within the field of marketing include branding, market research, creative content development, pricing strategy, salesforce management, customer retention, and marketing analytics.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing qualifications and related skills are applicable to many well-paid careers.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Marketing Managers $142,170
Financial Managers $134,180
Advertising and Promotions Managers $133,460
Sales Managers $132,290
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers $118,430
Postsecondary Teachers $80,790
Market Research Analysts $65,810
Public Relations Specialists $62,810
Survey Researchers $59,870
Advertising Sales Agents $54,940

Marketing efforts typically require collaboration between many specialized designers, copywriters, advertisers, and sales team members. Professionals with marketing expertise often lead and monitor larger marketing teams and initiatives.

In other cases, a marketing professional might specialize in e-commerce startups or in highly entrepreneurial settings. Information-age innovations are changing marketing tools and strategies, so this could be a strategic time to advance your education and research in this fast-changing field.

With a doctoral degree, you might also consider teaching in postsecondary institutions, working with business and marketing consulting firms, or freelancing as a marketing consultant.

Marketing Doctorate Curriculum

Marketing Doctorate Curriculum

Online PhD marketing programs vary by school. Most will give you a chance to study more advanced topics in the field, choose a distinct focus area, such as buyer behavior vs. modeling and analytics, and engage in experimentation and research.

  • Buyer Behavior and Psychology: You’ll explore and extend key concepts related to the study of buyer behavior, examining and modeling key findings and experimental research.
  • Social Psychology in the Market Place: You’ll learn how to profile consumer culture, psychology, and behaviors and how to translate this data into strategic marketing insights.
  • Product Development and Pricing Strategies: You’ll learn advanced methods and strategies for product pricing and positioning in relation to specific marketing objectives.
  • Digital Branding: You’ll learn about experimental approaches to comprehensive digital branding strategies relevant to large businesses, multinational footprints, and entrepreneurial contexts.
  • Market Modeling and Forecasting: You’ll learn analytic tools and practices that will allow you to provide valuable analytic modeling for data-driven marketing and decision making.
  • Applied Marketing Models: You’ll explore and test modeling tools in conjunction with different objects of analysis, such as buyer behavior, conversion rates, or marketing ROI.
  • Multinational Marketing: This course will give you tested strategies for scaling up all aspects of marketing operations for large-scale business settings.
  • Marketing Technology: You’ll examine current topics in marketing technology innovations and applications and related ethical topics.
  • Services Marketing: This course helps you apply strategies specific to both entrepreneurial and large-scale e-commerce initiatives.
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Research Models: You’ll study scientific marketing analysis methods in the context of key aspects of marketing psychology, marketing communications, and marketing investments.

These are just examples of courses you might take in a PhD marketing program. While courses and their content will vary by school and program, you can expect to learn from seasoned marketing professionals and to engage in advanced topics and analytic thinking and research.

How to Choose an Online Doctorate in Marketing Program

Online Doctorate in Marketing Program

Just as when exploring online bachelors degree in marketing or online MBA in Marketing programs, it can also be helpful to consider your own interests, professional goals, and gaps in knowledge as you look for online marketing PhD programs.

  • Concentration offerings. You can look for a program with study tracks and specializations in the branches of marketing that most interest you.
  • Flexibility. There are many online program options, so you may want to decide if you need or prefer a program with more flexible asynchronous study options.
  • In-person vs. online. You may want to avoid hybrid programs if you don’t want any in-person learning requirements or expect you’ll be living too far from campus.
  • Program preferences. Academic rigor, faculty qualifications and accomplishments, tuition costs, and the required number of credit hours can all vary significantly from school to school. You may want to look for schools offering a learning experience that meets your expectations.

As you check out different programs, you may get an even clearer picture of your different options and what kinds of curriculum designs are available to choose from.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Marketing Programs Admissions

Some online doctorate in marketing programs require you to have a masters degree, but others don’t. Admissions requirements can vary greatly by school and program. Some common requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • GRE or GMAT scores (if required)
  • Satisfactory GPA
  • Relevant professional experience
  • Letters of recommendation (if required)

Relevant work experience may be required more often for a professional doctorate than a PhD program. Admissions officers may request additional criteria as well to ensure that you’re prepared for doctoral-level coursework.


PhD in Marketing Programs Accreditation

A school with regional accreditation has been evaluated by an outside agency and has been found to meet standards of academic quality. An accrediting organization also evaluates a school’s student services.

Accreditation can impact credit transfers as well as financial aid offers. These are just a few of the benefits of sticking with fully accredited schools and programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has more information about accreditation as well as a database of accredited schools.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Marketing Programs Financial Aid

Many professionals who qualify rely on financial aid to help them advance their education.

Need-based financial aid might be available to you in the form of federal or state aid. You may also pursue financial assistance through employer-based tuition programs and need-based or merit-based scholarships.

Student loans are part of many financial aid packages. Terms for loans and aid packages can vary, so it’s beneficial to review all offers carefully. If you’ll be applying for need-based aid, you can start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Marketing Professional Organizations

Marketing Professional Organizations

If you know you’re headed for a career in marketing, it’s never too soon to connect with one of the professional associations in the field:

The benefits of your membership can include keeping up with industry trends, finding out about professional development offers, and boosting your networking opportunities.

Should I Get a PhD in Marketing?

PhD in Marketing

There could be many reasons why someone pursues a PhD in Marketing. Each person’s motivations can differ greatly, but here are a few benefits of earning a marketing PhD:

  • A sense of personal accomplishment. If you have a passion for marketing and the profession, you may want to get a PhD to live out that passion.
  • Senior roles and higher pay. Getting a PhD can boost your resume, and a PhD program can help you qualify for senior roles in the field. In addition, a doctoral education often leads to higher earning potential.
  • Opportunities in academia. Getting a PhD, conducting original research, and writing a dissertation can all be essential first steps for building a career in academia.
  • Intellectual drive. If you like probing topics and following new threads of thought and research wherever they lead, a PhD program can provide an outlet for abstract inquiry and for rigorous applications of scientific method and analysis.

Pursuing a PhD can be very rewarding, but it also requires a big commitment. It can be beneficial to weigh your own pros and cons before enrolling in a doctoral program.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Marketing?

PhD in Marketing roles

With a PhD in Marketing paired with work experience, you could be qualified to pursue senior or leadership roles in marketing.

Some marketing specialists work in senior advertising, promotions, or marketing roles. Depending on your specialization, you might also qualify to work in financial analysis roles. A professional in this position can help companies analyze marketing investments and returns or help manage a private marketing firm.

Some marketing professionals with a PhD continue actively learning and researching, applying their research interests and accomplishments in consulting roles or in academia.

How Much Does a Marketing Manager Make?

PhD in Marketing salaries

How much you make as a marketing manager can vary based on your professional skills and experience, where you live, and what kind of organization you work for.

That said, effective marketing investments and strategies can directly drive revenues and profits for many companies. This kind of success can also reward marketing directors with good pay.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advertising and marketing managers, financial managers, sales managers, and public relations managers are careers that, on average, reward workers with salaries well above $100,000. The median annual salary for marketing managers in particular is $142,170.

How Long Does a PhD in Marketing Take?

How long it takes to get an online doctorate in marketing can vary by school and program. The time you need to complete a dissertation can also impact how long your doctoral program takes.

Marketing doctoral programs generally take 3 to 5 years to complete. If no dissertation is required, it may be possible to finish in 3 years with full-time study.

What’s the Difference Between Marketing vs. Advertising?

Marketing vs. Advertising

Advertising is just one of the many components within marketing. Marketing managers may have the following responsibilities:

  • Oversee marketing budgets
  • Coordinate marketing strategy
  • Manage marketing team members, such as advertisers and copywriters
  • Study consumer behavior, market trends, and marketing economics

Advertising specialists typically do the following:

  • Work within a larger marketing team
  • Create advertising campaigns for specific products and services
  • Plan how to promote a specific product or service
  • Create advertising collateral with the input of marketing team members

Both marketers and advertisers can engage in creating concepts and branding. Marketing directors, though, tend to use research and business decision-making skills to inform broad branding and marketing strategies. They measure marketing results, and advertisers create actual ad collateral for specific products or services.

What’s the Difference Between a DBA vs. PhD in Marketing?

DBA vs. PhD in Marketing

In marketing and other professional fields, getting a professional doctorate is a common alternative to getting a PhD. A DBA is a professional doctorate in business administration, and marketing is a common concentration option.

Here are some key differences between the two types of degrees:

PhD in Marketing Doctor of Business Administration
  • More emphasis on theoretical concepts and research
  • Usually requires a dissertation
  • Typically aimed at people who want to work in research or academia
  • More emphasis on practical, professional development
  • Often has a practical capstone requirement in lieu of a dissertation
  • May take less time to complete
  • May offer more opportunities for business networking

A doctorate in business administration is less specialized than a degree in marketing, so you may want to look into online DBA programs that offer a marketing pathway.

What’s the Difference Between Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing?

Digital Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a component of digital marketing. Both of these marketing strategies live in a digital world and seek to build out a company’s digital presence.

  • Digital marketing: Digital marketing seeks to attract and engage prospective customers through both direct advertising online and through many forms of less directive online content.
  • Social media marketing: This specialty field within digital marketing focuses on using social media platforms to engage prospective customers through social media posts, ads, and conversations.

While social media marketing specifically utilizes social media platforms to create ads and build brands, digital marketing utilizes a wider range of tools and resources. For example, digital marketing can encompass websites, landing pages, blog posts, and email campaigns.

Is a PhD in Marketing Worth It?

Yes, a PhD in Marketing is worth it for many professionals. Marketing is a highly competitive, essential, and dynamic branch of business strategy and management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 7% job growth for marketing managers over the next ten years.

A marketing PhD program can help you develop your expertise and learn new marketing concepts, such as content marketing, social media marketing, and service marketing. PhD graduates may seek senior marketing roles, work in business and marketing consulting, or even pursue jobs in academia, so this marketing degree is worth it for many people who want to work in this field.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Marketing Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Alliant International University

Alliant International University

Alliant International University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Bellevue University

Bellevue University

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

California Southern University

California Southern University

California Southern University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Concordia University – Chicago

Concordia University - Chicago

Concordia University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Drexel University

Drexel University

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Felician University

Felician University

Felician University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Florida International University

Florida International University

Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Franklin University

Franklin University

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

George Fox University

George Fox University

George Fox University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Johnson and Wales University

Johnson and Wales University

JWU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

LIGS University

Ligs University

LIGS University is accredited by Accreditation Service for International Schools, Colleges and Universities.

Northcentral University

Northcentral University

Northcentral University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Temple University

Temple University

Temple University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Trident University International

Trident University

Trident University International is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Dallas

University of Dallas

The University of Dallas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Missouri – St. Louis

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Florida

University of South Florida

The University of South Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Westcliff University

Westcliff University

Westcliff University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Wilmington University

Wilmington University

Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Earning Your PhD in Marketing Online

PhD in Marketing Online

Today’s marketing experts can make valuable contributions to a company’s success. With so many new and evolving marketing strategies and communication channels, advanced studies in marketing may offer you increased career value.

If you like business dynamics and have a penchant for rigorous, systematic study and research-design methods, you might be well suited for this intriguing online graduate degree pathway.

If you’re ready to advance your education and expertise in this lucrative field, you can start by exploring online PhD marketing programs from accredited universities.

Keith Nickolaus
Keith Nickolaus
Keith has a Ph.D. and Master's in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in innovation, policy, and education leadership.