Which is Better, a Marketing or Communications Degree?

Many people interested in a career in marketing often wonder which degree is better, marketing or communications? While it’s true that there is considerable overlap between the two fields, they do have their own unique qualities.

Marketing is broadly defined as producing and selling goods for the benefit of consumers and producers. Consumers benefit from utility while producers benefit from profits on goods sold. Marketing specialists focus on customer relations, product promotions and sales strategies.

Communication degrees focus on conveying complex messages through written, oral, visual and digital methods. This degree is well-suited for those who can handle being “put on the spot” and speaking in front of a crowd. The communications major must deftly understand the audience and fine-tune the message accordingly. International business introduces an extra dimension to communication since people of different cultures, races and languages will inevitably have different etiquette and taboos regarding communication styles.

Marketing Degree Strengths

The strength of a marketing degree is that virtually every sector of life requires at least some expertise in marketing. Every product or service sold has to incorporate marketing insights. Even government services such as police and military work entail marketing the service, mainly to build trust with communities and recruits.

Specialized studies focus on detailed methods of product/service creation and delivery. Focus groups, statistical studies, promotion methods, market segmentation and product development coursework will give an advantage to students pursuing marketing degrees. Understanding and implementing marketing strategies is a highly valued skill.

Communication Degree Strengths

Communications degrees give advantages in broadcasting, journalism, social media and various design jobs. Public relations is a prominent sub-field of communications studies. Public relations can be enhanced by insights from other lines of work. For instance, an investor relations specialist usually has a communications major, but would benefit from background in finance or economics. Generally, communications degrees need to be supplemented with specialties and/or related experience to have substantial payoff.

Further Information

Graduate degrees in both fields can help launch successful careers. Marketers must be well-versed in communicating strategies, promotions and solutions to problems. Communications specialists have to be aware of their audience and their role as a producer and/or promoter of a marketable good or brand.

Salary.com conducted research on average entry-level, mid-career and approximate lifetime earnings for various majors. In this study, a communications degree was found to have the worst return on investment. Additionally, with the prevalence of e-books, blogs and social media, virtually everyone with an Internet connection becomes potential competition for a communications major.

Investopedia is a reliable source on myriad investments. In “A Career Guide for Marketing Majors,” it tackles marketing degrees in terms of likely job prospects, advancement opportunities and limits. Overall, marketing degrees receive positive marks. It is emphasized that the degree itself is not a job guarantee. Rather, the degree testifies to a job applicant’s ability to brand, sell and make the right impression. The article rightly emphasizes that resumes and interviews are not just a formality. Rather, they are rigorous tests of what an applicant absorbed in their study of marketing.

The answer to the question, “Which is Better, a Marketing or Communications Degree?” really is dependent on the student and the desired career path, but overall, a degree in marketing usually gives a slightly higher return on investment than a communications degree.

Additional Resource: Top 10 Best Marketing Degree Programs