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The Best Business Schools for Marketing

Wharton’s core curriculum includes both fixed and flexible course options. The fixed core includes one required marketing course, “Marketing Management,” which gives every Wharton student an intro to foundational marketing concepts while helping whet their appetite for marketing-focused electives.

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

In terms of majors, Wharton students can choose a single major, a double major or design their own major. Students interested in marketing careers can choose a single major in Marketing, a joint major in Marketing and Operations Management, combine one of these with another major of interest in their target industry or create their own major related to the marketing field.

The Marketing major gives a strong foundation in the basic disciplines needs to implement effective marketing strategies—making it perfect for students pursuing management careers in fields such as consulting, entrepreneurial management or line management. Often, students will pair it with a second industry-focused major to develop a particular expertise. A Marketing major paired with the Entrepreneurship & Innovation major, for instance, could make sense for someone hoping to start their own venture. A student looking to manage a nonprofit organization, meanwhile, might pair Wharton’s Marketing and Business Economics & Public Policy majors.

Students set on post-MBA careers in brand management, product management, consulting project management or other related positions are better suited by the joint Marketing and Operations major. In addition to the core marketing and operations management courses, this major also requires students to take “Marketing Research” and “Managing the Productive Core of the Firm: Quality and Productivity.” A choice of electives round out the major, one of which must be from the marketing department and two from the Operations and Information Management Department (OPIM).

In terms of the electives marketing students at Wharton have to choose from, you’ll find everything from old standards like “Consumer Behavior” and “New Product Management” to deeper dives like “Consumer Neuroscience” and “Introduction to Brain Science for Business.” To be sure, Wharton is also bulking up its elective offerings in terms of data analytics, digital marketing and global marketing, with multiple options on offer for the spring 2019 semester.

Wharton’s Marketing Department is also associated with a variety of research centers and programs to help students and faculty understand the latest trends in the field. The Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative and the Jay H. Baker Retailing Center all offer initiatives in different marketing sub-fields.

Students Helping Students
Wharton, too, is home to a dynamic student-run Wharton Marketing Club (WMC), which hosts regular events ranging from coffee chats to guest speaker series, conferences to industry treks. Recent WMC industry treks have taken marketing students to visit fashion and luxury companies in New York City, tech companies on the West Coast, and CPG firms in the Midwest.

The WMC taps Wharton’s extensive alumni network as well to organize “day-on-the-job” visits all over the United States, during which students get to shadow marketing employees and learn about their career paths, the company culture and the daily life of a marketing professional. Host companies for these special visits have included Colgate-Palmolive, Dell, Frito-Lay, General Mills and Kraft.

In terms of events, the WMC puts on a much-anticipated Battle of the Bands each year. Getting its start in 2008—with the tagline “Watch Wharton Students and Professors Rock Out”—the Battle of the Bands brings together amateur rock bands at Wharton for a night of entertainment that may contain more enthusiasm than talent. The marketing students, meanwhile, hone their marketing skills by promoting the event.

The WMC’s largest event, though, is the annual Wharton Marketing Conference, held in November. The theme of the 2018 conference was “Leveraging Technology for Innovative Marketing,” which invited speakers and panelists to share their insights on the latest ways technology can be used as leverage to develop increasingly innovative marketing strategies. In addition to keynote speakers renowned in the industry, it also featured multiple networking events, fireside chats, and panels on topics including “Speaking to Millennial Consumers,” and “How Do We Use Data Analytics for Better Marketing?”

Where Do Wharton Marketers Get Jobs?
The Wharton Marketing Club (WMC) works with Wharton’s MBA Career Management Office to make sure that marketing students have solid support in the job search process. The WMC runs a panel program in which a second-year student who has just been through the summer internship recruiting process makes themselves available to offer mentorship, as well as help with résumé review and mock interviews. Wharton’s annual employment reports break things out a little differently than other schools, but students who went into product/brand marketing, product/development structuring and sales together made up approximately nine percent of last year’s graduates. The median annual salary for those in product/brand marketing functions was $120,000, and $135,000 for those in product development/structuring roles. Wharton shares only that given employers employed two or more Wharton students, but among those firms for 2018 were Johnson and Johnson, Anheuser-Busch, Estee Lauder,  PepsiCo, and General Mills.

Other Marketing Programs On the Rise
Following coverage of two of the longest established and most highly renowned business schools for marketing, we looks at other solid choices prospective MBA applicants have when it comes to marketing.

As you might imagine, with more and more students showing interest in marketing, schools are beefing up their resources to meet demand—devoting increasing faculty, courses, centers and programming to support these interests.

Marketing at UCLA Anderson School of Management

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has sent as much as 29 percent of its graduates into marketing roles in recent years, with 23.3 percent of the Class of 2018 heading off to marketing departments in industries ranging from consumer products, entertainment and media to technology and healthcare. The number of Anderson graduates entering marketing functions matched those choosing consulting (23.3 percent), and surpassed finance/accounting (22.6 percent). Of course, counted within the percentage of graduates heading into marketing functions were those pursuing roles in brand management, product management, market research, sales and other marketing services—though it could be that the variety of employment options open to marketers is precisely part of its wide appeal. Top hiring firms for Anderson students in marketing include Mattel, the Walt Disney Company, and Nike.

Percent of Hires in Marketing Functions, UCLA Anderson 2018 Employment Report

How Does Anderson Make Marketers Out of Its MBAs?
For starters, every Anderson student gets an introduction to foundational marketing concepts as part of one of the school’s core classes, “Marketing Management.” You can’t pass this class without a firm grasp of the “four Ps” and “3 Cs.” But from there students can dive into an ocean of marketing elective options, covering everything from the building blocks of the field—like price policies, consumer behavior and market research—to more nuanced and cutting-edge topics such as one-to-one marketing, entertainment marketing and web marketing analytics.

In their second year, Anderson MBA students take part in a required eight-credit Applied Management Research project (AMR) that stretches out over two quarters, with students working in teams on an original applied research assignment. Students interested in post-MBA marketing positions can choose the management field study option, getting placed with a client company where their job is to analyze marketing or competitive challenges and recommend how to address them. One recent Anderson AMR team worked closely with the Mayor’s Office to rebrand the city of Los Angeles.

Unlike Kellogg and Wharton, which both offer majors in marketing, Anderson does not have majors. That said, Anderson students can tailor their studies through a variety of specializations and certificate programs. Students who opt for the marketing specialization can choose from sets of electives recommended by the school for particular career paths. For example, students interested in careers in brand management might select from electives that will help them build a solid foundation in consumer psychology, financial modeling and quantitative research. Students gearing up for careers in high-tech marketing can instead focus on electives that will help them hone their understanding of network effects, rapid cost declines, information goods versus industrial goods, product bundling and versioning.

The Anderson School of Management at UCLA

Who’s Teaching Anderson MBAs to Become Marketers?
Anderson’s marketing faculty is comprised of almost two dozen distinguished scholars who bring a range of marketing expertise, spanning from human behavior to market analytics to pricing. Professor Dominique Hanssens, who has served as the school’s faculty chair, associate dean and marketing area chair, is widely regarded for the quality of both his research and his teaching. He is best known for using data-analytic methods such as econometrics and time-series analysis to tackle strategic marketing problems—for companies including Agilent Technologies, British Telecom, Disney, Google, Hewlett Packard, Hughes, Johnson & Johnson, Mattel Toys, Mercedes, Microsoft, Schwab and Wells Fargo, among others. Then there’s current Marketing Area Chair Aimee Drolet Rossi, meanwhile, who examines the mental processes that underlie consumer decisions, with specific focus on decision-making among older consumers, as well as on the development of habits and moderation.

The point is, Anderson’s marketing faculty offers students a range of perspectives and access to expertise and research that will serve them whichever path they ultimately choose within the field.

Outside the Anderson Marketing Classroom
The student-led Marketing Association (MA) works to help advance its members’ career searches as well as educate the larger Anderson community about the marketing field. It does this through a mix of professional and social events all year long. Kicking things off is a Fall Career Night, where interested students can learn more about potential career paths in both traditional and emerging marketing fields by networking with alumni and recruiters. Last year’s panelists included representatives from Nestlé, Mattel, Clorox, E&J Gallo Winery, General Mills, Henkel and Mars.

Throughout the year, the MA also hosts corporate presentations, a speaker series, a workshop series that helps students hone their marketing interview skills, and something called “Dinners for Eight,” which are informal dinners with Anderson alumni focused around specific topics and industries.

Anderson marketing students can also take part in the Elite Eight Brand Management Competition, the historical sponsors of which include General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Target and other firms. In this three-day competition, hosted in November 2018 at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, teams from eight leading MBA programs are presented with a strategic brand management challenge currently faced by a partner company. The teams have 30 hours to develop a structured case analysis and original recommendations, which they then present to a panel of expert judges.

A Center Helping Anderson Be a Go-To Source for Marketing, Data Analytics
A $10 million gift from Anderson Professor Emeritus Donald Morrison and his wife Sherie, a distinguished professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, established the Morrison Family Center for Marketing Studies and Data Analytics in April 2015. The center serves as a global resource to enable academics and practitioners to use data analytical tools to understand consumer markets and behaviors. “Marketing isn’t just about creative thinking today,” Don Morrison said in a statement about the center’s launch. “It includes more quantitative research that incorporates the art of econometrics, big data, psychology, behavioral research—all under the umbrella of ‘marketing studies.’”

Getting Anderson MBAs the Marketing Jobs They Seek
Of course, a school can have all the courses, student organizations, top faculty and centers it wants—but the true measure applicants care most about is whether or not Anderson students are finding the post-MBA jobs they want. Anderson’s Parker Career Management Center (CMC) features advisors specifically aligned with the marketing function to help students targeting marketing roles have a clear understanding of the landscape, facilitate outreach and informational interviews—including with the Anderson alumni network—and prepare for marketing interviews. These advisors also provide resume and cover letter review, as well as job offer evaluation and negotiations. First-year students are also grouped into a marketing-focused Anderson Career Team (ACT). As part of the Marketing ACT, students meet with guest speakers, share contacts, experience and motivation through the internship search process, and gain valuable guidance from second-year ACT coaches, who have emerged from the career search process with top job offers.

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