Marketing Colleges and Degree Programs in Illinois

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What is Marketing?


A marketing professional is a businessperson who is on a team of others who seek to find the best way to produce, package, and sell products. The marketing field is subdivided into many different sectors, each of which require special skills and talents. Generally speaking, marketing executives can focus on the analytical side of marketing or the creative side. Analytical executives are typically considered data scientists or data specialists who crunch marketing data to identify the best markets for specific products. They may even determine that consumers want different products altogether. For instance, market analysis resulted in the explosion of choice that happened with spaghetti sauce.

Creative marketing professionals, on the other hand, seek to implement the findings of their analytical peers. They might help fine-tune different spaghetti sauces, create eye-catching labels, and produce entertaining advertising to promote the product. Lumped in this sector are those who organize events and promotions for products.


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Marketing Education in Illinois

Illinois is a diverse state that is home to one of the nation's largest urban centers and also to vast prairies and farmland. In Chicago, the economic hub of the state, industries such as finance and manufacturing reign supreme. Yet the city is also home to a vibrant tourism industry, on top of world-class restaurants and shops. All of these fields are supported by Illinois' colleges and universities, which help produce the professionals that run all these businesses.

To go one step farther, all of those fields are supported by the marketing executives that deliver the brands and products to the public. Even the financial services industry, for all of its staid and stodgy environment, is in need of dazzling marketing campaigns. After all, every commodity needs to target a specific market if it's going to be successful. Thus, Illinois financial firms and other businesses seek out marketing executives from Illinois' colleges and universities whose insight into the markets will create success for everyone.

The third largest industry in the state is manufacturing, and Illinois firms need marketing professionals who know how to create, build, and maintain branding for all of the new and exciting products. Illinois' colleges and universities recognize this need and train students to best serve manufacturers and other local businesses of all sorts. The marketing professors help students understand how to evaluate products and their markets. For brand new items, they give students the framework necessary to create the approach needed to launch something the public has never seen before.

At the end of the day, the Illinois economy relies on its colleges and universities to help form the marketing professionals they need to thrive. Whether a firm needs a sharp data scientist to analyze the market data or a graphic artist to envision the brand identity for a new product or service, marketing degrees fill that need.


Associate Degree in Marketing (AS)

A two-year associate marketing degree from a local community college is a great foundation to kick off a career in marketing. Students might also consider an online associate marketing degree which can enable them to work in a marketing department or firm while studying.

While an associate marketing degree is rather limited in terms of a deep study of the subject, it does have other benefits. One of the chief advantages of attending a community college is the fact that tuition rates tend to be lower than those in full four-year colleges and universities. Not only is the price tag lower, but community colleges tend to have smaller class sizes and feature instructors who are every bit as capable as those in four-year institutions. On top of this, an associate degree includes all of the core college curriculum that bachelor’s degree programs require.

Bachelor's Degree in Marketing (BS)

Employers tend to prefer candidates with an Illinois bachelor’s marketing degree. This is because a full four-year degree allows students the time it takes to dive deep into the subject. Upper-level courses in a bachelor’s degree specialize into specific topics and ask students to do deep research and work into the marketing field. Students can also take courses in other, related fields.

Marketing students who are more interested in the analytical side of the field can take additional courses in statistics or computer science. Some might even earn a minor concentration in computer science where they learn to write code that can parse and model troves of big data. During a bachelor’s degree, some marketing students may even perform independent research where they apply their computing and marketing knowledge.

Finally, a bachelor’s marketing degree enables students to prepare for the working world by allowing time for internships. Students are also prepared to start applying to master’s degree programs.

Master's Degree in Marketing (MS or MC)

An MBA or master’s marketing degree is becoming more and more vital to success in today's business community. Once students complete their bachelor’s marketing degrees, they should immediately start considering a master’s marketing degree. They should also look at MBA programs with a marketing concentration. As to which is the better choice, students should investigate on their own and determine which is better for them.

Generally speaking, an Illinois master’s marketing degree, or a Master of Science in Marketing is focused solely on high-level marketing concepts. Once graduated, students will be absolute experts in marketing and will have a highly focused skill set. It's important to note that every master’s marketing degree program will have its own unique curriculum which students should examine for themselves.

As for an MBA, this degree provides students with a solid general business background at the master’s level. Then, the second year is spent concentrating on marketing or any other focus a student desires. An MBA makes for a terrific background for those seeking upper management or the C-suites.

PhD Degree in Marketing (PhD)

While a PhD is not in high demand for those in the marketing community, that could be changing. Marketing professionals who are deep into analysis may seek out a doctorate in data science. Data scientists are often found with PhDs in mathematics or even computer science.

Given the increasing importance of big data to all sorts of firm, doctorate degrees may find their popularity on the rise. This is due to the fact that the internet is creating so much specialized data that reveals consumer habits, preferences, and desires. Marketing professionals who know how to interpret this data can discover new approaches to branding and marketing.

Those who pursue marketing in their PhD work will surely find interest for their talents in the market. However, most doctorate marketing students are aiming toward a career in academia. With a PhD, graduates may be eligible for tenure-track positions or at least full-time teaching positions with esteemed Illinois colleges and universities.

Become a Marketing Manager in Illinois


There are many routes to a professional marketing career in Illinois. Marketing professionals often start their careers even before they enter a bachelor’s marketing degree program. That is, their talents start expressing themselves early in life. Whether they have a more creative, analytical, or strictly administrative bent, youngsters will start showing their talents early on.

Those who are destined for a career as creative marketing professionals will likely display artistic and creative attributes as early as grade school. Whether they are more prone to visual art and illustration, video, or the writing side of marketing may be reflected in their schoolwork and outside interests. Kids who spend all their time drawing may benefit from an early exposure to software tools tailored for their age and ability. Other kids may get a kick out of creating short videos with their parent's phones or an iPad.

More analytically minded marketing professionals tend to start out with a keen mathematical mind. Their school interests tend to lean heavily toward math and science and, after school, they might tinker with computer programming. In high school they should seek out higher level mathematics, including statistics. High schools also are starting to support coursework in computer science, which will be a boon later on.

When it comes time to find a college, students who are interested in marketing should look for a top business degree program. On the other hand, those who have a more creative mind should seek out art programs that focus on graphic arts and design. A program with a strong web design and development program should be of particular interest. Those who are fanatics for big data should seek programs that offer a strong curriculum in statistics and computer science.

No matter what aspect of marketing a student finds appealing, all marketing students should seek out internships. These experiential learning courses allow students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skill in a real-world situation. They will also have their first opportunity to network and rub elbows with their future professional colleagues.

Finally, all marketing executives should consider an MBA with a concentration in marketing. However, those who work on the creative side of marketing might discover other avenues for attaining the management and general business background they need. Nevertheless, marketing professionals with an MBA are more likely to land in the C-suites than those who don't achieve such a degree.

Careers for Marketing Graduates


  • Marketing Director:
    This title comes to professionals who have many years of experience in marketing. Directors oversee entire marketing departments, including the analysts, administrators, and creative geniuses. They help guide teams through complex and effective marketing campaigns that hopefully result in increased profits and long-term success for the firm.
  • Special Events Manager:
    These administrative marketing executives must employ a myriad of skills to pull off the promotions they manage. These professionals may specialize in special events, such as conventions, though some may work with a wide range of events including fund raising dinners, large concerts, or standard grand opening events with balloons, promotional giveaways, and food for potential customers. To succeed as a special events manager, marketing experts need a creative mind in conjunction with the ability to follow a budget, coordinate multiple people and vendors, and pull off the events with class.
  • Social Media Manager:
    Companies need to have social media managers to help promote their company and its products. This field involves responding to social media posts, including negative reviews. Social media managers also need to be able to create creative and eye-catching posts with catchy verbiage and clever images.
  • Media Buyer:
    After a print or television ad has been created, it needs to find a spot in the media. Some of these spots are more expensive than others. It falls to the media buyer to negotiate the best prices for the best spots that will best benefit their clients. These professionals are the ones who bid up the price on Superbowl advertising spots but they also determine the best billboard space, radio time slots, and television shows for their advertising.
  • Digital Marketing Manager/Director:
    With the rise of the internet and e-commerce came a need for digital marketing and digital marketing managers or directors. These marketing whizzes analyze the best way to promote their products via online media. They may oversee whole YouTube campaigns, including not only the ads we see when watching something else but also original marketing videos. Digital marketing directors should have a background that includes SEO and e-commerce.
  • Brand Manager:
    Brand managers are in charge of managing the public image and overall quality of their product. They are constantly on the lookout for new ways to expand their brand via marketing campaigns but in other ways, too. For instance, often a food product will begin with one flavor but then see the product line expand to include other varieties. The brand manager ensures that each iteration of the product maintains consistent branding including product labels, advertisements, and other market messages.
  • Marketing/Research Analyst:
    These marketing professionals spend their time working with large troves of data. They often have advanced degrees in data science or computer science, among other options. Every strong marketing campaign begins with the results of their work. After all, marketing professionals need to have an insight into consumer patterns.
  • Marketing Specialist:
    Often this is the title for a marketing professional who is still early in their career. Specialists may perform a number of tasks including market analysis, event management, and even some creative work. Often marketing professionals discover their niche interest in these positions.

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