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Master of Marketing vs. MBA in Marketing

Nov 7, 2019
Five factors to consider before deciding between a Master of Marketing and an MBA marketing concentration for your marketing career

By Jong Eun Jung

Amanda Fend, Vanderbilt Senior Associate Director and Career Management Center Coach,

Amanda Fend

Students look to marketing graduate programs to expand their networks and gain advanced business knowledge and skills to enter a marketing career. If you’re an aspiring marketer, the next step is to decide whether or not a Master of Marketing program or an MBA with a concentration in marketing is the right fit for you. Both degrees are offered by business schools, but they are tailored for different experience levels. Amanda Fend, Senior Associate Director and Career Management Center Coach, talks about five factors you should consider when deciding between these two degrees.

Previous Marketing Work Experience

If you’re fresh out of undergrad, with less than two years of work experience, a Master of Marketing might be right for you. On the other hand, if you have 4-5 years of experience, an MBA would be a better choice. “If you have three years or more of work experience, an MBA is probably the right fit. If you have two years, I would strongly consider looking at the MBA, but you could look at both. And if you have less than two years of work experience, you should do the Master of Marketing,” Fend said.

Marketing Career Paths

MBA graduates with a marketing concentration usually (though not exclusively) apply to three types of marketing management jobs: brand manager, product manager, and marketing manager. Many corporate marketing departments actively look for MBAs and usually hire them directly into some kind of manager level, regardless of the official title.

Meanwhile, Master of Marketing graduates usually start in entry-level marketing jobs such as marketing analyst, marketing coordinator, and marketing assistant. However, these jobs are often more prestigious than what students would have secured with just an undergraduate degree, and the promotion timeline often moves more quickly. “You’re in a much better position (with a graduate degree) than an undergrad looking at the same entry-level role,” Fend said.

In fact, if they stay in marketing, Master of Marketing graduates will eventually attain the same level as an MBA graduate, though they’ll need a few years of work experience first. One example of this is Victoria Conlon (MMark’17), who started as a Senior Marketing Analyst at the Kraft Heinz Company and is now an Associate Brand Manager.

Master of Marketing vs. MBA Curriculum

Depending on the school, MBA and Master of Marketing students may take many of the same marketing courses. However, the MBA offers a wide range of classes that go beyond marketing. In addition to marketing, MBAs also take general management core classes in subjects like finance, operations, and strategy. These courses help MBAs hone a diverse set of skills for the business world.

On the other hand, Master of Marketing students take an exclusive deep dive into marketing to develop knowledge in this specific area. This is also why most marketing master’s programs only run about half the length of the MBA’s two-year timeframe, wrapping up in one year instead. “(The MBA curriculum) is a really diverse business foundation, versus the Master of Marketing, which is more of a specialized focus on just marketing. Master of Marketing students are essentially doing the marketing classes that the MBAs take,” Fend said.

Marketing Internships

Most MBA candidates complete an internship in the summer between the two academic years. For the internship, MBA students spend 10 to 12 weeks working full-time at companies like Mars Petcare and Mattel on structured marketing projects. Although Master of Marketing candidates can intern part-time during the academic year, their internship isn’t as formal or tied to a full-time offer as the one in the MBA program is. “(Master of Marketing students can spend) maybe 10 hours a week working in a company in Nashville to get experience, versus the MBA internship immersion, which is full time and usually a very specific role,” Fend said.

Master of Marketing vs. MBA Program Research

If you’re still debating between a Master of Marketing and an MBA marketing concentration, Fend recommends that you do as much research as possible to make sure that the program you decide on is aligned with your goals. “It’s good to do all your homework and research into different options and programs, because at the end of the day, you’re committing a lot of time, resources, and effort into going to a master’s program,” she said.

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