Graduate Programs in Advertising

Find out what types of graduate programs in advertising are available, including those at the certificate, master's and doctoral levels. Keep reading to learn more about curricula requirements and career opportunities for graduates. Schools offering Advertising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Advertising Graduate Degrees Are Available to Me?

If you're a bachelor's degree holder interested in an advanced degree in advertising, you can earn a post-graduate certificate, master's degree or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in advertising or a related area. Exact program content varies from school and degree level, but most graduate degree programs in advertising rely heavily on courses in marketing, copywriting and communication. If your undergraduate degree is in an area outside of advertising and communications, you may have to complete additional courses before beginning your core graduate curriculum. There are some exceptions to this rule, however; a few schools prefer graduate students to have a bachelor's degree in an area outside of the communications and advertising discipline.

If you want a graduate degree in advertising but are unable to attend classes on campus, you can earn a post-graduate certificate, master's or doctoral degree in advertising or a related area, such as mass communications, through a distance learning program. Online degree programs are available through accredited colleges and universities. All you'll need to enroll is a computer with an Internet connection to access the classes and course materials. Specific software programs, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat may be required to open file attachments. Doctoral degrees in advertising are not currently offered online.

Degree/Certificate Levels Master's and doctorate degrees; post-graduate certificate
Certificate Courses Media production, persuasive communications, communications theory, strategic marketing, media law
Graduate Courses Consumer behavior, marketing management, art direction, visual layouts, campaign creation
Doctorate Courses Cultural awareness, account management, political and nonprofit advertising, research methodology
Possible Careers Creative director, brand manager, copywriter, account manager, public relations executive

What Courses Will I Take in a Post-Graduate Certificate Program?

A graduate-level certificate in advertising may be beneficial to you if you're looking to supplement your knowledge of the field but are not interested in enrolling into a master's degree program. You can earn a graduate-level certificate in advertising in about a year, which is the equivalent of approximately 30 credit hours. Required courses may include strategic marketing, communications theory, media production, media law and persuasive communications.

What Courses Will I Take in a Master's Degree Program?

If you're pursuing a master's degree in advertising, you will probably have several different program options to help you customize your graduate education to your career goals. You can earn either a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS) advertising degree, with a thesis or non-thesis option. In some programs, you can even select between several professional tracks, including creative, corporate, account management and brand management. Programs generally take between one to two years to complete but that varies depending on your part-time or full-time enrollment status and the number of credit hours required for your chosen track. Master's degree programs with professional track options tend to focus most heavily on your chosen area of concentration. However, virtually all programs cover such topics as visual layouts, marketing management, consumer behavior, campaign creation and art direction.

What Courses Will I Take in a Doctoral Program?

A Ph.D. in Advertising is rare, but related doctoral programs in areas, such as mass communications, marketing or public relations often include advertising content as part of their curriculum. If you're admitted to such a program, you'll have to research, present and defend an in-depth dissertation on a specific professional or academic area of inquiry in advertising. The non-thesis courses that you'll have to complete and the exact length of time to earn your doctorate will inevitably vary based on the courses that you took during bachelor's and master's degree studies. Most schools, however, advise doctoral students to allow a period of 3-4 years for degree completion.

Because of the highly customized nature of doctoral programs -you'll probably work closely with an academic advisor who will help you develop a professionally relevant plan of degree completion -required coursework also varies widely. Topics frequently covered include political and nonprofit advertising, communication research methodology, cultural awareness in advertising, critical reviews and advanced account management.

What Can I Do with My Degree?

Earning an advanced degree in advertising can provide you with numerous career options. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) career profile on advertising and public relations executives, common job titles for advertising degree holders include copywriter, account executive, art or creative director, marketing official and brand manager ( If you have a Ph.D., you can explore a career as an advertising professor or in academic research.

The BLS reports that while a graduate degree is usually not required for entry-level advertising positions, it is generally preferred for senior-level positions involving research. Graduate education can also be beneficial for career advancement throughout the advertising industry.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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