Ph.D. in Marketing Online

Degree Options & Potential Careers

Marketing professionals must keep their skill sets current by learning the latest best practices in the industry. This can be accomplished through training seminars, independent reading, or networking with more experienced peers, but to make a lasting impact on the marketing field, many professionals decide to earn an online Ph.D. in marketing.

A Ph.D. in marketing online prepares students for academic careers where they can pass on expertise to students and publish original research. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for postsecondary teachers will grow 15% between 2016 and 2026 — almost double the median projected growth rate for all professions.

Should I Earn an Online Ph.D. in Marketing?

Marketing professionals choose to pursue a Ph.D. in marketing online for a mix of professional and personal reasons. Some students enter Ph.D. programs because of their dedication to an academic field. Ph.D. programs involve advanced courses, original research, and a lengthy dissertation, and completing each one requires tremendous resolve. Doctoral programs take 4-7 years to complete, and earning a degree often brings graduates immense satisfaction and pride no matter how they apply their educations.

Many people earn a Ph.D. because they wish to start a career in academia. Most colleges and universities require tenure-track professors to have a Ph.D. A candidate with an online Ph.D. in marketing and significant professional experience can help the next generation of marketing professionals prepare for their careers. Tenured professors create unique courses, mentor graduate students, and make a positive impact on campus culture.

Doctorate-holders who teach at colleges and universities also perform original academic research that they publish in academic journals and books. These publications guide companies' marketing strategies and influence both national and global commerce. Universities often allow tenured professors to go on sabbatical so that they may dedicate themselves to research projects.

Finally, professionals with online Ph.D. in marketing degrees can pursue many careers outside of academia. In the private sector, they can perform market research, lead teams, and collaborate with other senior managers. They often rise through companies' ranks faster than less-educated employees.

What Can I Do With an Online Ph.D. in Marketing?

Online Ph.D. in marketing graduates have many exciting career options. Programs usually emphasize research, writing, and teaching skills, so most graduates compete for tenure-track positions at the nation's best colleges and universities. Professionals who want to focus on teaching rather than producing research apply to positions at state or community colleges.

In the private sector, companies hire expert marketing professionals to mentor less-experienced employees and oversee large projects. With their research and statistical analysis skills, marketing graduates with Ph.D.s can develop surveys to judge consumer preferences and use the results to make high-level marketing recommendations. Professionals can also seek careers in publishing, where they write and edit marketing textbooks and other materials. With experience, they can move into senior managerial positions.

Government agencies often hire marketing and other economics professionals to analyze government policies and initiatives. Just like at large companies, online Ph.D. in marketing graduates survey the public to gauge reactions to policy proposals under development. Their findings influence public policy.

Finally, some online Ph.D. in marketing graduates work for themselves as authors or consultants. Like other self-employed professionals, they build a client base by seeking out work that matches their academic strengths and professional interests. Although self-employed workers have less job security than their peers, they enjoy greater flexibility and can often charge higher rates due to their experience. Below are a few more career options.

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers instruct courses at community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. Typical duties include teaching 2-3 courses each semester, creating curricula, and mentoring students. Outside of the classroom, postsecondary teachers perform original research and publish their findings. Earning a Ph.D. in marketing online qualifies job-seekers for tenure-track positions.

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Once postsecondary teachers gain work experience, they can advance their careers by becoming postsecondary education administrators. These professionals oversee one or more departments, hire staff, admit students, and lead marketing campaigns for their schools. The latter responsibility fits perfectly with the skills of an online Ph.D. in marketing graduate.

Survey Researcher

Working in survey research allows marketing professionals with Ph.D.s to apply their educations every day on the job. Survey researchers design surveys that measure public opinion. After obtaining the results, they present their findings to their companies' managers. Although most survey researcher positions require only a master's degree, candidates with doctorates have a leg-up during the application process and for future promotions.

Elementary, Middle, or High School Principal

Principals act as their schools' chief executives. They implement their districts' academic initiatives, hire new staff, and discipline students, among other tasks. Many school districts require applicants to possess doctoral degrees. Applicants with marketing degrees can effectively promote their schools within their communities.

Instructional Coordinator

Online Ph.D. in marketing graduates can use their education and expertise as instructional coordinators. Many of these professionals work for school districts, designing curricula that meet their states' academic standards. They also analyze students' test results and lead training seminars to help teachers improve their effectiveness.

Marketing Ph.D. Program Overview

This section covers the essential information that prospective online Ph.D. in marketing students should know before selecting a program. In the following four sections, you can learn more about types of marketing doctoral degrees, application requirements, curricula, and program outcomes. As you read, please keep in mind that this is a general overview. The Ph.D. in marketing online program you select may have different requirements.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Marketing

Many prospective doctoral students discover that Ph.D. in marketing online programs and doctorate in business administration (DBA) programs offer similar curricula and graduation requirements. Although both degrees require the same level of academic rigor and boast similar benefits, subtle differences can impact career options.

First, the similarities: Both require students to perform extensive research that leads to a dissertation. Typical DBA and Ph.D. students take the same amount of time to earn their degrees — approximately 4-7 years.

However, Ph.D. students go more in depth with marketing topics, while DBA students expand their business education to related fields, which include marketing and related topics. This is highlighted in their specialization options; in DBA programs, popular concentrations include organizational behavior, economics, and management science. At top Ph.D. in marketing online programs, students can concentrate in areas like behavioral marketing or quantitative marketing.

Although Ph.D. and DBA programs both prepare students for tenure-track positions at colleges and universities, many DBA graduates work in business settings as senior managers or researchers. However, this trend does not prevent DBA graduates from working in academia. Similarly, many Ph.D.s accept positions in the private sector, though most work for universities. Before applying, prospective students should consider what type of degree best matches their academic interests and career aspirations.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Although no two Ph.D. in marketing programs have the same application requirements, prospective students should at minimum have a bachelor's degree. Some programs may require a master's degree in marketing or a related topic. Schools often use undergraduate or graduate GPA cutoffs; most competitive programs have a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA requirement.

Applicants also usually submit GRE or GMAT test scores. Like with GPAs, programs may use test score cutoffs. Other common application requirements include recommendation letters, examples of prior academic research, a personal essay, and a resume. Competitive programs often ask candidates to perform interviews, which can be in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing.

Some programs only consider applicants who have relevant work experience. Fortunately for recent college graduates, very few programs have this requirement. Finally, prospective students should pay close attention to application deadlines, which vary between programs.


In Ph.D. in marketing online programs, students complete the same rigorous curriculum as their on-campus counterparts. Typical programs have three curriculum components: the major, the minor or specialization, and a dissertation. Within the major, students complete coursework that blends marketing fundamentals with economics, psychology, sociology, and management topics. When students complete the major curriculum, they take a comprehensive exam that may include both oral and written components.

After passing the comprehensive exam, students move on to their minors or specializations. In these courses, students explore subjects that lay the groundwork for their dissertations. Also during this time, students work with dissertation advisors to explore topics and plan research. Before students can perform dissertation research, they must write a dissertation proposal, which their advisors must approve.

When students complete coursework for their minors, they dedicate themselves fully to their dissertation research, which can take 1-2 years depending on their research questions. Writing the dissertation can take an additional 1-2 years.

The final step before earning a Ph.D. in marketing online involves the dissertation defense. During the defense, students present their dissertation findings and answer questions from their advisors and other faculty. A successful defense results in a degree.

The following eight courses are offered by most online marketing Ph.D. programs as part of the major curriculum:

Microeconomic Theory
Microeconomic theory describes how individuals and small groups make economic decisions. This course covers both individuals' economic decision making and the outside forces that influence those decisions.
Social Behavior in Organizations
This course explores how people collaborate. Coursework emphasizes the standard model of communication, which involves how people's preconceived notions and feelings influence their decision making within a group.
Sociological Theory
In this course, students analyze how people's subjectivity and agency influence their interactions with society. Course topics also include contemporary sociological theories, including normlessness and critical theory.
Field Experiments
Students in field experiments courses learn the latest experimental best practices. Students use the skills this course conveys to perform original field experiments, the results of which support their dissertations.
Consumer Behavior
As the name implies, consumer behavior refers to how and why consumers make purchasing decisions. This course blends many economic, psychological, and sociological topics.
Marketing Models
Marketing professionals use marketing models to visualize relationships and variables. In this course, students analyze the most popular marketing models and hone the skills necessary to use them.
Probability Theory
In probability theory courses, students learn advanced mathematical concepts. This course prepares students to perform qualitative research to support their Ph.D. dissertations.
Introduction to Econometrics
Econometrics refers to using statistics to show the relationships within economic systems. In class, students learn how mathematical models help explain marketing trends.

Program Outcomes

Earning an online Ph.D. in marketing conveys much more than a degree and new career opportunities. Graduates gain advanced writing and research skills, which they can apply in nearly all careers. Also, as Ph.D. students teach undergraduate courses, they become more effective communicators. They can use their communication skills to forge professional relationships and persuade others, helping them attain promotions faster.

Earning a Ph.D. takes years of dedication, hard work, and setbacks. By overcoming these and many more challenges during their Ph.D. programs, graduates can take on additional responsibilities at their jobs and still produce excellent work, even under tight deadlines.

Accreditation for Online Marketing Ph.D. Programs

When researching online Ph.D. in marketing programs, check for regional accreditation from an organization approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Employers may not recognize degrees from non-regionally-accredited universities.

Beyond regional accreditation, seek out programs that also hold accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). ACBSP and AACSB review programs for academic rigor and grant accreditation only to the ones that meet their high academic standards.