What Are the Top Master's Degrees in Marketing Analytics?
March 10, 2021
Marketing used to be a game of hit or miss, but now it's increasingly data-driven. If you want to rocket to the top of the evolving field of analytics in marketing (and earn more than most of your peers in the field), a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics might be the right degree for you.
In the not-so-distant past, companies took a scorched earth approach to marketing. Blanket the city in mailers. Put a product in as many TV spots or on as many billboards as possible. Cold call every number in the phone book. Then they'd cross their fingers and hope for a decent response rate.
Today, that just doesn't work. Potential customers have shorter attention spans and more opportunities to curate the types of advertising they see. Email newsletters are routed directly to spam, ad blockers abound, and people can even opt out of direct mail.
What does work is targeting and tracking. Marketers are increasingly taking advantage of the thousands of data points available for both products and people to reach specific audiences more effectively. These techniques, fast becoming best practices in the marketing industry, spring from a discipline called marketing analytics.
Here's what analytics in marketing looks like:
- A consumer window-shops online but doesn't buy. Not long after that, sponsored posts featuring the stores he visited appear in his social feeds.
- A different consumer uses a store loyalty card, and her buying patterns indicate that she probably has school-age children. In mid-August, the store mails her a coupon for back-to-school gear. That same store tracks consumer behavior like coupon usage, cross-referencing loyalty card data, and is able to see where and with whom mailers are most effective.
Successful marketing executives now need a solid understanding of analytics, and universities are creating new marketing analytics degrees and concentrations to meet demand. An MS in marketing analytics (MSMA) is an excellent degree for marketing professionals who want to dive deeper into this developing field. An MSMA equips marketers to create effective advertising campaigns with maximum ROI and to build more meaningful customer relationships.
In this guide to a master of science in marketing analytics, we'll cover:
- The importance of analytics in marketing
- Who is most likely to pursue a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics?
- Admission requirements for a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs
- What Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs look like
- How to choose a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program
- The top MSMA programs
- Is an MSMA the degree you're looking for?
- What you can do with this degree
- The career outlook for MSMA holders
The importance of analytics in marketing
Marketing analytics is a catch-all term for the practice of managing, measuring, and analyzing marketing data to identify receptive audiences, track campaign effectiveness, and measure the return on investment of marketing initiatives. Probably the greatest benefit of using analytics to drive advertising efforts is that it eliminates waste. Campaigns that aren't working can be tweaked or replaced. Audiences that aren't receptive can be removed from a campaign. Lead generation and other outcomes are highly trackable.
Analytics can also be a career builder—or a career killer—for marketing professionals. Marketers who can prove that the campaigns they're creating have a positive impact on revenue will never be out of a job. On the other hand, the days of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see whether it will stick are over. As Kurt Andersen, EVP of Marketing and Sales Enablement at Savo, put it in an article on CMO.com, "The end has come for making marketing decisions based on gut instincts; everything marketers do in the digital world can now be tracked, from the first click all the way to the deal close. CMOs who do not embrace and accept this concept will likely not be CMOs for very long."
Increasingly, knowledge is power.
Who is most likely to pursue a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics?
This master's degree is typically pursued by people already working in marketing or market research. The Master of Science in Marketing Analytics is a professional degree designed for marketers in advertising, industry, nonprofits, and other organizations who want to learn more about using data to support decision-making—and who want to qualify for management positions or more technical roles.
After earning a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics, you'll have the knowledge and technical skills to examine:
- Market trends
- Growth rates
- Audience behaviors
- Distribution channels
You'll use these insights to identify patterns that can be used to make informed decisions about present and future marketing initiatives. You'll also be able to use data to:
- Effectively judge what consumers want
- Calculate campaign costs
- Reduce risk
- Track campaigns
- Measure campaign outcomes
- Suggest new channels
- Monitor the competition
Admission requirements for Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs
Every school will have its own requirements for master's degree candidates, and individual marketing analytics programs will have additional program-specific requirements.
As you look into the best master's degree programs in marketing analytics, you'll discover that some universities require all applicants to submit GMAT or GRE scores while others don't. Applicants with significant work experience are sometimes allowed to request GMAT/GRE waivers at the schools that do ask applicants for scores. These waivers are typically awarded on a case-by-case basis.
You will need to have earned a bachelor's degree. Not many colleges offer an undergraduate major in marketing analytics; New York University and University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire are among the few that do. It's possible to enter the marketing analytics field with a bachelor's degree in marketing or business analytics—especially if you proactively undertake some additional training, like the marketing analytics courses and certifications offered by the Association of National Advertisers. Whatever major you choose, coursework in probability and statistics, marketing management, and microeconomics will improve your qualifications for that first post-bachelor's job.
Most Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs prefer candidates who have at least two years of work experience in marketing or as a business analyst. You may be asked to submit letters of recommendation from professional contacts along with your resume. What candidates usually don't need to demonstrate is data science knowledge, because the MS in marketing analytics curriculum typically covers that in depth.
What Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs look like
Most on-campus master's degree programs take two years to complete, but there are options for students who want to earn a degree more quickly or who need flexibility. The full-time program at the University of Maryland - College Park's Robert H. Smith School of Business can be completed in just a year. Earning a part-time master's degree can take three years or more.
Coursework in Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs will cover marketing, management, and analytics. MSMA students learn how to use digital marketing and business analysis tools. Some programs have a programming component to promote the skills needed to create marketing software programs or to customize existing programs. Communications classes may be required, because in addition to analyzing data, marketing analysts need to be able to present business cases to decision makers.
Courses found in MS in marketing analytics programs include:
- Business analytics
- Strategic marketing management
- Social media marketing analytics
- Spreadsheet modeling
- Marketing strategy
- Database design and SQL
- Market research and engineering
- Customer relationship management
- Database marketing
- Qualitative research methods and
- Qualitative marketing models
- Predictive analysis
- Cognitive computing and AI
- Big data and business intelligence
- Brand strategy
- Integrated marketing communications
How to choose a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program
An MSMA is an investment. Make sure you're devoting your time, energy, and money to the right program. Don't make the mistake of choosing a program because the university is prestigious or the program is the cheapest or it's at the closest school. The right MS in marketing analytics program for you will be the one that sounds the most interesting and offers students more than just a degree.
Look for programs that have industry partnerships that can be useful later on in your career. For instance, the University of Maryland program mentioned above helps students land high-caliber internships at big-name tech companies like Amazon and IBM—or even jobs after graduation. Other schools may not have the tech connection, but they have active alumni groups where master's degree candidates can make connections that lead to jobs. Or, they may have a robust and effective career services office.
The strongest Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs give students a comprehensive technical education in addition to a deeper understanding of marketing concepts. Working as a marketing analyst requires more than a working knowledge of Excel and Google Analytics. A quick scan of jobs posted to Glassdoor shows employers seeking job candidates with experience using data visualization tools like Tableau and knowledge of programming languages like Python and R. If an MSMA program does not include an obvious technical component, it's probably not a good bet. Be sure that the programs you're considering offer the opportunity to work with real-world data sets and business problems. Not only will analyzing real-world data give you a taste of the work you'll be doing when you graduate, but it should also make you more attractive to future employers. Your university coursework could make up for any shortfalls in your professional résumé come job-search time.
You should also consider looking into dual degree programs. TheIllinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business offers a dual 63-credit MBA/MSMA degree that reduces the number of credits required to earn both degrees. Having both an advanced business education and advanced marketing analytics skills will make you more hireable and open doors to opportunities, including corporate executive positions.
The top MSMA programs
Noodle has compiled a list of some top on-campus and online Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs.
The following programs require students to spend at least some time studying on campus:
- Columbia University's intensive MS in marketing science is a two-term, one-year program that focuses heavily on marketing analytics.
- DePaul University offers a one-year MS in Marketing Analytics with courses taught by leaders in the marketing field. Graduates work in marketing analytics, market research, and interactive marketing.
- University of Maryland - College Park's Robert H. Smith School of Business has both 10-month and 16-month campus-based degree programs for MSMA students.
- The University of Rochester Simon School of Business has a 17-month on-campus MSMA with expanded internship options.
The following programs can be completed entirely online:
- Bentley University's Graduate School of Business one-year MSMA degree program trains students on the latest data analytics software, including Qualitap, SPSS, SAS, SQL, R, Qualtrics, TAPSCAN, Qualboard, Perseus, and MediaMark.
- Claremont Graduate University's Master of Science in Marketing Analytics degree takes one year to complete for full-time students and just two years for part-time students.
- The Illinois Institute of Technology's full-time online MSMA program takes two years to complete, but part-time students can enroll in as few as one course per semester.
- Northwestern University offers a two-year integrated marketing master's degree with a specialization in marketing analytics.
- Towson University has a two-year marketing intelligence MS that combines analytics and data-driven marketing. The program includes an embedded certificate in interactive marketing.
Is an MSMA the degree you're looking for?
Searching for Master of Science in Marketing Analytics programs may net you results that include MBA programs, business analytics programs, and master's in marketing programs. That's because there's a lot of course overlap between these programs. It's worth looking into all of these degree pathways with your career ambitions and your interests in mind.
An MBA is a less specialized degree, while a Master of Science in Marketing Analytics program will be laser-focused on analytics in marketing. You may study concepts related to finance, accounting, human resources, and management in an MSMA program, but you'll look at those topics in a data-driven way. If you're not sure that you want to stay in marketing for your entire career or suspect you may want to make the transition into management someday, consider pursuing an MBA with a marketing analytics concentration.
You can also opt for a master's in business analytics over an MSMA. Business analytics is an umbrella topic that covers everything from operations to marketing. It's a good choice if you're most interested in the analytics side of marketing analytics, because it will give you the technical foundation you'll need to work with data across departments. With this degree, you can work in marketing, helping campaigns achieve optimal results, or in finance, insurance, management, scientific and technical consulting, manufacturing, or retail.
What you can do with this degree
Analytics skills are now used across marketing disciplines. With an MS in marketing analytics, you can work at a marketing firm or in the marketing or market research departments of companies in various industries. Your job title might be:
- Marketing analytics manager: You'll be in charge of the analytics team in the marketing department and responsible for creating an analytics strategy, but you'll probably still perform analyses and draw up reports.
- Pricing analyst: You'll analyze the pricing strategies of the competition and use data to determine how much consumers are willing to spend on products.
- Market research analyst: Your job will be to find out what consumers want by conducting surveys and focus groups, and then analyzing that data to draw conclusions about what audiences to target.
- Social media analyst: In this role, you'll spend a lot of time with search engine optimization and digital analytics tools to make decisions about what your company's online presence and digital marketing campaigns should look like.
- Sales planning analyst: You'll analyze both marketing and sales data to find information about supply and demand that can drive future sales schedules and initiatives.
You might also work as a web analytics manager, marketing manager, survey researcher, a director of marketing analytics, or even chief marketing officer. You should have a lot of options in this growing field.
The career outlook for MSMA holders
In a word: great. More and more companies are using data to understand their customers and optimize their marketing initiatives. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for market research analysts and marketing specialists is increasing each year, and the projected employment growth for market research analysts (one role you could take on with this degree) is 23 percent through 2026. That's much faster than in other industries.
Even better, the money is good in this field. Glassdoor reports that the average salary for professionals in marketing analytics is $60,823. After you've earned your Master of Science in Marketing Analytics, you may make quite a bit more. According to Salary.com, a marketing manager can expect to earn $88,910 to $120,137 annually. Should you pursue this degree? That's up to you. It's a good option if you want to launch a career in marketing, or if you already work in the field and want to approach this discipline in more scientifically. It's now possible to quantify why or how an advertising campaign is working—and to backward-map that data to create successful campaigns in the future.
There was a time when roughly half of all marketing initiatives were ineffective, but data is changing that. Big data and analytics have become the keys to reaching consumers in a world saturated with advertising that's increasingly easy to tune out. With this degree, you'll be in demand and working on the cutting edge of marketing.
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