Marketing vs. Communications Degrees

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The ability to communicate effectively is essential for many careers and organizational structures. As companies evolve and grow, they need strong communicators to articulate their messages and reach target audiences. Many undergraduate degrees promote skills in this area, but students should consider key differences among their options and how each potential degree suits their interests and goals. Two common undergraduate degree paths are marketing and communication.

Marketing degrees typically include courses in economics and public relations, while communication requires courses in mass communication and writing. A marketing education prepares graduates for careers in advertising or media, while communication programs allow students to pursue different options in fields such as journalism or public relations. Here, we outline the major differences between marketing and communication degrees so you can choose the one that best fits your interests and aspirations.

Marketing Overview

Marketing focuses on the relationship between products and consumers. It is the study of how customers and brands interact, as well as how product design and advertising can forge connections with the public. Oxidian, a web marketing company, states the five main concepts of marketing are production concept, product, selling concept, marketing concept, and societal marketing concept. Marketing isn’t just the advertising itself; it consists of both preliminary research and performance analysis.

Generally, marketing degrees include coursework in economics, public relations, finance, and managerial communication. The curriculum emphasizes the financial side of advertising and public relations and helps students develop research skills to analyze and understand the ups and downs of the market. Students also develop communication and leadership skills to communicate strategies and research findings to the rest of their teams.

What Do Marketing Graduates Do?

Graduates from programs such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Marketing often use their research and leadership skills to pursue careers in advertising or public relations. Their strong understanding of economics, production, and product performance may lead to work as a market researcher, or they may be the public face of a company as a public relations executive.

Types of careers:

  • Market research analyst: Market research analysts are in charge of assessing the public opinion on new products, services, or the company at large. They may do this through focus groups or surveys. They then relay their findings to their teams.
  • Product manager: Product managers are in charge of a particular good or service. They oversee all aspects of the product, from concept to manufacturing. They often work with others to implement changes that will improve the product’s performance.
  • Social media manager: Social media managers create and maintain the social media accounts of a business. They may focus on only one platform — such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook — or handle multiple accounts. They aim to create a brand voice that resonates with the target audience.

Communication Overview

Communication is the verbal or written exchange of information. These degrees focus on courses in interpersonal communication, mass communication, research methods, and news writing and reporting. Graduates of programs such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication are strong readers and writers but also have superior organizational and public speaking skills to articulate a business’s message clearly across multiple channels. Students hone their problem-solving and interpersonal skills as they gain valuable experience in collaboration.

What Do Communication Graduates Do?

With strong written and verbal communication skills, communication graduates can enter careers in a variety of fields, including journalism, law, education, and public relations. Any organization that needs a message communicated effectively benefits from employing a communication graduate.

Types of careers:

  • Journalist: Journalists research, interview, write, and edit articles for print or online publications. They may pursue a number of different beats, from local politics to major league sports.
  • Human relations manager: Human relations managers are in charge of recruiting, hiring, and retaining an organization’s employees. They must have strong conflict resolution skills to handle interpersonal problems that arise in the workplace.
  • Paralegal: Paralegals work for law firms or government agencies on legal cases. They must have strong interpersonal and writing skills to prepare contracts, wills, and other legal documents.

Similarities Between Marketing and Communication

Marketing and communication degrees emphasize interpersonal communication in various forms. As such, they include coursework exploring communication strategy and how technology is changing the ways humans exchange information. Marketing and communication programs typically include some exploration of social media and digital communication. Graduates of either program may work as social media managers, advertising executives, or media planners.

Differences Between Marketing and Communication

Although there are several similarities, there are many differences between marketing and communication degrees, including the coursework and common career paths for graduates.

The Degrees

A bachelor’s degree in communication offers graduates the potential to pursue careers in several different industries, such as journalism and law. This versatility sets it apart from many other degree paths, though some communication students choose a specialization, such as strategic communication.

In contrast to the more general communication degree, marketing programs focus more on business and finance. They offer many professional opportunities but in more limited industries. Graduates often go into advertising, or they may work closely with others in their company to meet broad objectives, like revenue and PR goals.

Career Paths

Communication degree graduates often go on to pursue an advanced education in law or journalism or careers in public relations, human relations, or journalism. They use their strong written and verbal communication skills to inform the public or assume leadership roles in their organizations.

On the other hand, marketing students may pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or begin a career in sales, advertising, or brand managing. They use their strong research skills and financial knowledge to help businesses advertise and operate more effectively.

Marketing vs. Communication: Which Is Right for You?

Now that you’ve learned about marketing vs. communication, you may have identified some aspects of each degree that are important to you. If you’re interested in business and economics and know you want a job where you can help businesses meet their organizational objectives, a marketing degree such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Marketing may be a great fit. However, if you enjoy reading and writing and seek career flexibility, a communication degree such as Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication may prove more worthwhile. In either discipline, graduates put to work strategic and creative thinking, as well as interpersonal skills, and contribute to the success of their organization.

The Balance Careers, “10 Jobs for Marketing Major Graduates”
Forbes, “So, You Want a Career in Marketing?”
Houston Chronicle, “What Can I Do with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication?”
Monster, “So I Have a Degree in Communications … What’s Next?”
Oxidian, “The Five Marketing Concepts”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promoting and Marketing Managers
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Media and Communication Occupations