Advertising Vs. Marketing Majors: What's the Difference?

Oct 20, 2021

Advertising and marketing are related majors with key differences, though advertising is a part of marketing. The various majors available in marketing and advertising reflect these important differences.

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Advertising vs. Marketing

While there are many overlaps between advertising and marketing majors, marketing covers a broader range of topics, while advertising is a more specific subset of marketing. Let's review the types of coursework, concentrations, and post-graduate options that distinguish an advertising major from a marketing major.

Advertising is the act of getting the word out to consumers about a product or service. Marketing is the larger process of selling products or services to the consumer from start to finish. Marketing may begin as early as the research and development stage and involves market research, product development, pricing, sales strategies, distribution, advertising, and public relations (PR). Advertising is only one specific stage of the marketing process.

Advertising Major

Advertising majors may be presented as a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts. Overall, core coursework and credit requirements will most likely include a combination of business, marketing, social science, math, and writing classes.

Many advertising programs include courses in:

  • The principles of advertising
  • Brand strategy
  • Audience analysis
  • Content creation
  • Sociology and/or psychology courses
  • Marketing principles
  • Consumer behavior
  • Statistics and/or economics

Many advertising programs offer concentrations or simultaneous studies in public relations, account management, or art direction. A public relations concentration includes courses in copy writing, press releases, interactive design, and strategic communication. An account management concentration instructs students in integrated strategy, promotions and sponsorships, advertising and PR research techniques, advertising management, and account planning. A concentration in art direction includes courses in visual communication, digital design, and portfolio development.

Advertising Graduate Options

A Master of Science in Advertising program is also available for interested students. This degree program often allows students to select an advertising management or advertising research concentration. Programs include classes in advertising and promotion management, marketing management, advertising and society, consumer behavior, and public relations research.

Marketing Major

A Bachelor of Business Administration or Bachelor of Science in Marketing is most commonly offered for those who wish to major in the field of marketing. Many programs encourage (or require) students to participate in a hands-on marketing internship. Marketing programs often include classes in the following:

  • Marketing research
  • International marketing
  • Marketing strategies
  • Advertising and promotion management
  • Retail and Web-based marketing
  • Personal selling
  • Sales management

While many marketing programs don't require a concentration, a concentration can help prepare students for a particular career path within the marketing field.

Some concentration options include:

  • Marketing management
  • Sales
  • Supply chain management
  • Finance and accounting

A concentration in marketing management might include coursework in marketing services, new product development, and consumer behavior. A focus in sales might include coursework in personal sales and sales management. Supply chain management concentrations provide insight on improving processes, procurement, logistics, and operations. And finally, a finance and/or accounting concentration involves courses in business, economics, principles of investments, and supply chain management.

Marketing Graduate Options

At the graduate level, many schools offer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a marketing management emphasis. In addition to the regular MBA coursework, marketing students can take courses in promotion management, market research, strategy and planning, international marketing, and buyer behavior.

Both advertising and marketing majors involve coursework in marketing principles and strategy, though they have varying overall focuses. Concentrations in marketing tend to focus on management, sales, and supply chain, while concentrations in advertising tend to focus on writing, management, and design.

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