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Is a Master's Degree in Marketing Worth It?

Is a Master's Degree in Marketing Worth It in 2023?
Jennifer Calonia
Jennifer CaloniaUpdated January 26, 2023
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A master’s degree in marketing could give marketing professionals a chance to expand their knowledge and learn new skills that may help their careers advance. A masters in marketing could unlock opportunities for promotion, allow you to take on a leadership role, and grow your salary. But getting a master’s in marketing can be expensive. You’ll want to make sure the degree pays off for you professionally and financially. Deciding whether a master’s in marketing is worth it depends on your career goals and whether the anticipated salary boost justifies the cost.Here’s what you need to know to help determine whether to get your master’s degree in marketing.

Master's Degree in Marketing Salary

What is a typical master’s in marketing salary? According to the Winter 2022 Salary Survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), earnings were an average of $68,370 for those with a master’s in marketing. Respondents in the 75th percentile (or upper tier), earned $77,200. By comparison, the average marketing salary for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in marketing was $59,652. Those in the 75th percentile earned $64,500 with a bachelor’s degree.The Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas, Dallas, found that a master’s degree in marketing can result in a 15% salary increase. However, your true earning potential with a master’s degree in marketing also depends on other factors like how many years of experience you have and what you specialize in. 

Jobs of Marketing Master's Graduates

With a master’s in marketing, you could position your career toward a managerial or executive-level role. Leadership-based positions provide greater decision-making opportunities at a higher salary, compared to lower-level jobs. Jobs you may be able to get as a master’s of marketing graduate include:
  • Chief marketing office
  • Marketing manager
  • Brand manager
  • Art director
  • Market research analyst
  • Digital marketing executive
  • Marketing consultant
Additionally, jobs for those with a master’s in marketing may offer tremendous flexibility. These positions are available in the public or private sector, and across many industries, such as financial services, retail, health care, and more.

How Much Does a Master's in Marketing Cost

The average tuition for a master’s degree in 2020-21 was $19,749, based on the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics. However, costs vary by type of institution and state residency status. Average in-state master’s program tuition at a public institution in 2020-21 was $12,394. If you’re an out-of-state student attending a public college or university, you can expect to pay more. For example, the M.S. in Marketing Research program at Michigan State University costs $30,500 for in-state students, and $37,500 for out-of-state students.Attending a private school will also impact how much a master’s in marketing costs. Enrolling in a master’s degree in marketing at the University of Southern California (USC), a private institution, for example, costs $2,092 per credit. The program requires 30 credits to complete, which means a master’s in marketing at USC will cost $62,760, not including other school fees and expenses.Tuition at private schools is usually the same for both in-state and out-of-state graduate school students. 

Pros and Cons of Marketing Degrees


One advantage of an M.S. in marketing is that it could make you a competitive job candidate, compared to another applicant with a bachelor’s degree and similar work experience. It might also help if you’re applying for a job at an organization that requires their management team members to have advanced skills and training. Additionally, a master’s in marketing could deepen your knowledge about marketing theory and the latest strategies in the industry. It might also help you formalize a specialization within your career.


Earning an advanced degree as a full-time student takes time — typically up to two years, depending on the program. Although a master’s in marketing salary is generally higher than what you’d earn with an undergraduate degree, it’s also a big investment. And if your goal is to stay up-to-date with marketing trends and strategies, you might be able to do this through industry resources. For instance, you could join a professional association. 
Pros of a Master’s in MarketingCons of a Master’s in Marketing
• Competitive edge in job market • Takes up to two years
• Opens doors to career advancement • High cost 
• Gain advanced or specialized knowledge • Other resources can offer similar knowledge

Opportunity Cost

Aside from the cost of attendance to pursue a master’s degree in marketing, you’ll also want to consider the opportunity cost of losing up to two years of work — and the salary those years would have brought in.This calculation is different for everyone since it depends on your existing earnings. But, based on NACE’s average annual wage for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, let’s say you earn $59,652 a year, and plan on enrolling in a full-time, two-year master’s in marketing program.The opportunity cost in this scenario is $119,304 in lost wages. This is in addition to losing out on potential promotions or salary increases as well as real-world experience and networking with other professionals in your field.Depending on your situation, you might not realize a return on your investment until years after graduating with your master’s in marketing. 

Paying Back Student Loans

If you choose to pursue a master’s in marketing, you may be looking for ways to manage your student loan debt during and after graduate school. This guide to paying off student loans gives you several options to consider.

Forbearance During Grad School

When you’re enrolled at least half-time in a master’s program at an eligible school, your federal student loan repayment is automatically placed on temporary student loan deferment. During this time, you can pause your full student loan payments to get some financial breathing room while you’re studying. However, many loans, including private loans and direct unsubsidized loans, accrue interest during deferment. The interest is typically added to your principal balance, making your debt even bigger.Some private lenders also offer in-school deferment, but the requirements vary. Reach out to your student loan lender for more information.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Federal student loan borrowers can pursue student loan forgiveness programs for their federal loans. The Department of Education offers multiple programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), which forgives your remaining federal student loan debt after you make 120 qualifying payments by working for 10 years in public service. A number of states also offer state-based student loan forgiveness programs that you can check into. However, you must meet specific criteria to qualify, and there might be tax implications, depending on the program.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

You can request to be placed on one of four income-based repayment plans if you’re having difficulty affording your monthly federal student loan payments. On these plans, your loan payments are adjusted to your income and family size, and are generally 10 to 20 percent of your discretionary income. Your loan term will be extended to 20 to 25 years. 

Student Loan Refinancing

You might also consider refinancing your federal or private student loan debt with a private lender. With refinancing, your current student loans are repaid and you get a new loan. If you have good credit, you may qualify for a lower interest rate, which could save you money. However, make sure you understand the risks and benefits of refinancing a student loan. For example, refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal repayment plans, forgiveness programs, and other protections. If you think refinancing makes sense for you, you can shop around to compare different lenders and typical student loan refinancing rates to find the best option for your needs.

The Takeaway

Getting a master’s degree in marketing is a big decision that you’ll want to consider carefully. If you believe it might lead to lucrative job opportunities and career advancement, you may decide it’s worth the cost of pursuing your degree. However, it’s not the right choice for everyone.If you do decide to pursue your master’s in marketing and you’re looking for ways to manage your student loan debt in the meantime, there are several options you could pursue, including forbearance and student loan forgiveness. Refinancing your student loans might also be a useful strategy if you could qualify for lower interest rates to make your monthly payments more affordable. That’s where Lantern can help. Our online platform makes it quick and convenient to explore student loan refinance options based on your repayment goals, such as finding the lowest APR or getting a new and more beneficial loan term. With Lantern, you can compare offers from multiple lenders all at once, in one place.Compare your student loan refinancing rates with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Photo credit: iStock/Chaay_Tee

About the Author

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia

Jennifer Calonia is a Los Angeles-based finance writer who has covered the gamut, including student loans, credit card rewards, consumer loans, and debt. Her work has been featured in outlets like Bankrate, NerdWallet, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and U.S. News.
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