The Online Master's in Marketing Degree
The William & Mary Online Master of Science in Marketing degree program prepares the next generation of leaders in this dynamic field, instilling deep, far-reaching expertise in digital marketing tools, technologies and strategies used by forward-thinking marketers across industries. Building on our history of innovation, it is an extension of the long-standing foundation of excellence that places our graduate business programs among the highest-ranked in the nation.
Whether you are looking toward a career pivot into marketing or advancement to upper management and the C-suite, such as a chief marketing officer position, the Online Master’s in Marketing offers everything you need to thrive as an industry leader in today’s rapidly evolving digital world.
What Is a Renaissance Marketer?
William & Mary's online program creates a new type of marketing leader by cultivating disparate skills in the analytic, strategic and creative facets of marketing.
Renaissance Marketers are not interested in business as usual.
They are adept at the digital and marketing analytics-based skills that drive innovative decision-making. They are capable and fluent in the rapidly evolving technology that defines their profession, and they recognize its role as a catalyst for collaboration and insight.
They are modernizers in a dynamic world and are not bound to the mechanistic rhythms of conventional workflows. Embracing ambiguity and iteration, Renaissance Marketers understand that the best use of time is often nonlinear.
To Renaissance Marketers, no challenge is simply an obstacle to overcome.
They treat even the most difficult problems as opportunities for strategic creativity and inventive brand strategy. They approach their work informed by, but not beholden to, time-tested methods: They balance the wisdom to respect proven processes with the courage to adapt them—or even radically change them—to meet current challenges.
Renaissance Marketers look outward.
They understand that broad collaboration is key to identifying problems and creating solutions. As a result, they act with humility, engage with empathy, and create a culture of respect in which all are challenged to do their best work. They cultivate new ideas by inviting diverse perspectives, engaging in deep immersion, encouraging open debate and treating every idea as a hypothesis to be tested.
Renaissance Marketers make an impact on the problem at hand, the companies for which they work, the market they serve and the world they inhabit.
Are you ready to become a Renaissance Marketer?
Having a digital focus and having a digital skillset as a marketer is non-negotiable in today's world. William & Mary's Master's of Marketing program is unique because of its intentional focus on digital marketing and balancing analytics with creativity, and because of the professional development. Everything that I'm learning is useful for what I'm doing right now and where I hope to be. Specifically, some of the larger concepts of wicked problems, design thinking, disruption in the marketing industry. I'm absolutely at a different professional capability from the beginning of the program to even two classes in.
Gain the Expertise to Lead as a 21st-Century Marketer
Our graduates are:
- Empowered with leading-edge digital marketing skills and strategic, imaginative vision
- Adept at using analytical tools to drive decision-making
- Fluent in quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques, including conjoint analysis, cluster analysis, and customer lifetime value calculations
Right now, in 2020, there has arguably never been a more disruptive environment in which to market. William & Mary's Master's of Marketing program is unique because of its intentional focus on digital marketing and balancing analytics with creativity, because of its distinction with marketing in an age of disruption. Having a digital focus and having a digital skillset as a marketer is non-negotiable in today's world. Marketing managers have to take it serious. Students that are coming out of these marketing programs, such as myself, that have grown up around digital environments, that know what it is to utilize these digital infrastructures. I'm absolutely at a different professional capability from the beginning of the program to even two classes in.
Meet the Marketing Challenge
At the core of our Online Master’s in Marketing program lies the Marketing Challenge: the defining, unifying project that you create, refine and build throughout your coursework. To complete it successfully, you must expand your thinking and adopt a broader, strategic view of marketing.
The challenge is an opportunity for you to embrace new ideas and new initiative, and to become a richer asset for your company.
Work starts right away in the foundational Renaissance Marketer course. You’ll start to develop your unique Marketing Challenge, establishing parameters for a project you’ll work on throughout the master's program.
At the beginning of each course, you’ll identify areas of your Marketing Challenge that need development, and the current class’s possible impact on its outcome. At the course’s end, you will update your challenge’s parameters, discuss the course’s impact on it and outline your next steps.
As you grow as a marketing professional through work on the Marketing Challenge, you’ll create value for your current business. The challenge gives you occasion to reach out to senior leaders in your company with whom you don’t interact on a daily basis. In meeting with them, you’ll have the chance to demonstrate strategic skill by addressing your challenge’s tactical requirements. You will become adept at collaboration and relationship-building through discussions with fellow marketing professionals.
William & Mary students have recently created and addressed these Marketing Challenges:
- With podcasting companies focusing predominantly on high-income audiences, how do we create compelling podcast content for an underserved population and connect it to a brand that serves that audience?
- How do we increase referrals from general veterinary practitioners to veterinary neurologists?
- How do we create and market a content creation company for Black men?
Expert Guidance Through an Ever-Changing Field
Study with faculty creators, innovators and marketing professionals who have been influential in building nationally and internationally known companies and brands, including:
- American Express
- Best Buy
- Burger King
- Discover Financial
- Domino's Pizza
- Kraft Foods
- Mondelez (Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Velveeta)
- Morgan Stanley
- Old Navy
- Taco Bell
- Turkish Airlines
Jump Start Course
Jump Start Course (0 credits)
BUAD 5207 Renaissance Marketer (4 credits)
Analytics and Insight Courses
BUAD 5217 Analytics for Evaluation and Situation Analysis (4 credits)
BUAD 5247 Analytics for Planning and Optimization (4 credits)
Marketing Innovation Courses
BUAD 5257 Product Management and New Product Development Strategies (4 credits)
BUAD 5267 Market-Driven Innovation Strategy and Management (4 credits)
Modern Integrated Marketing Courses
BUAD 5277 Integrated Campaign Marketing (4 credits)
BUAD 5287 Digital Content Management (4 credits)
Residency Support Course
BUAD 5237 Residency (1 credit)
- To help students better understand and assimilate into the culture of William & Mary and the Mason School of Business
- To teach content that is best learned in a face-to-face environment (e.g., experiential exercises)
- To allow students to make connections with faculty and each other along with an opportunity to create relationships that will endure beyond the end of the program
BUAD 5297 Capstone: Revolutionary Marketing Leadership (4 credits)
The online environment gives us some really important advantages in a program like this. One, because it's simply more flexible. So every student is busier than they've ever been. Many are juggling family and work demands. And the online environment just makes it easier to go through this program on your own time and at your own pace. That's an inherent advantage to the online medium. But for a program like this, it also gives us lots of different ways to deliver innovative and creative content.
We can do video in real time synchronously with professors and students. We can do asynchronous delivery of video. So you can watch that video whenever you want to. We can do chats. We can break you up into smaller groups. We can deliver third party video in interesting ways. So the ability that we have to bring students from all over the world together in an online forum with professors from all over the world and guest speakers from all over the world, and to deliver that content in lots of different, interesting, compelling ways makes it a perfect fit for a program that's focused on marketing innovation.
Online Master’s in Marketing at a Glance
- Complete in as few as 15 months
- 1 free Jump Start course
- 1 on-campus residency
- 2 opportunities to start per year
Faculty Interview: Marketing Program Director Matt Williams
Hear MSM Program Director Matt Williams share his insight into what makes the program unique, how it empowers you to begin applying your learnings to your career from day one, and what impact the degree has on recent graduates' professional roles.
Good afternoon and welcome to our question-and-answer session with our faculty member from the online Master of Science and Marketing program here at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary. It's my honor and privilege to welcome our faculty director Professor Matthew Williams, to join us for the session today, where we will discuss frequently asked questions by our prospective students, provide you with some insight and background on our faculty, our student body, as well as what our graduates are doing beyond the classroom when they finish here at the Mason school. Professor Williams, it's an honor and a privilege to have you here today. I will give you the floor to introduce yourself. As a tee-up for the first question, what makes our program special in your eyes?
Great. Well, thanks, Kevin. Great to be here. I'll give a little background on myself cause I think it connects back into what makes the program special. I spent 30 years prior to teaching at William & Mary in the advertising agency business. 26 of those years were spent at an agency called The Martin Agency here in Richmond, Virginia, and the last five years of those 26, I was CEO of the agency, and I had a chance to work with some amazing clients. I worked with Geico for 25 years and we invented the Geico gecko and the caveman and things like that. We worked with Morgan Stanley and discover Financial, Walmart, UPS, some really, really great brands.
I think what makes this program particularly special and how that ties into my background is that when I talk to Dean Pulley about developing the program, he said, "Create the program that you as a marketing professional would be most interested in hiring from," and that was a really interesting brief for the development of the online master's of marketing. What we did from there was say, "All right, there are a couple of things that are really important. Number one, we have to have exactly the right mix of data analytics and digital marketing, which are the future of marketing combined with the creative side of marketing. How do we think about innovation? How do we apply the principles of creativity and innovation to those things like data analytics and digital marketing?" That compliment of left-brain/right-brain thinking became really important in the program.
The other thing that was really important was making sure that the faculty that teach the students represent just the right mix of career-tenured professors who spent their lives thinking about the discipline of marketing and practitioners, people who spent their careers working in the marketing field, so all of our students get that great compliment of left-brain analytics and right-brain creativity taught to them by a combination of experienced marketing practitioners and tenured faculty.
One of the questions that I get in the interview process with many of our candidates, they want to know more about, "What types of skills will I develop in the marketing program?" When students come into the interview, they often think, "Well, if I go in this direction, am I destined to become a chief marketing officer? But I'm 25 years old." What does that look like in terms of their career journey? From your perspective, what types of skills do you believe students will really develop in our program?
Right, so we can't promise that you'll be a CEO, or a chief marketing officer, but we can promise that you'll leave the program, really understanding the nuts and bolts of how data can drive marketing decisions, and how digital marketing can build brands. You'll also get a reinforcement of some of the timeless truths of marketing. I mean, marketing's always going to be about the good old four Ps: promotion, price, product, place, but we activate those four Ps in a completely different way now because the environment we're working in as marketers is completely different, so you'll leave this program, really understanding the foundational skills you need to be a great marketer, and how to apply those foundations in today's marketing environment. So, you may not leave and become the chief marketing officer of your organization, but you will leave knowing how to activate the fundamentals of marketing in a way that hopefully puts you on the career trajectory that you want to be on.
That sounds exciting. One of the parts of the program that I really am excited about is the marketing challenge, the large product and promotion and placement in this large project that students will walk work on throughout the duration of the program. Can you give us some insight about the marketing challenge? What makes it customized to what's going on in the field of marketing today?
Yeah, Kevin, I'll tell you, I think the marketing challenge is one of the signature aspects of the program. The idea was to make sure we had a thread that unified the entire 15-month journey that our students go on and that thread is the marketing challenge, so you'll come into the first course, which I teach called Renaissance Marketer. In that course, we will work together to define a marketing challenge that you'll carry with you through the entire program. The idea of that challenge is for you to pick a marketing problem that you want to solve. It can be something related to the company that you're in, it can be something related to a business you want to begin. We've had students create challenges around the development of new products, new brands, a consumer challenge that their company might be facing, or even building a business from scratch that they've always dreamed about building.
But in any case, we define that challenge really specifically in a way that can draw on all the disciplines of marketing and our students build out their solution to that challenge from day one, all the way through the presentation of their solution, to their challenge in the last class they take in their 15th month, so when you leave the program, you'll leave with specific evidence of how you would apply the ideas of marketing to solving a really specific, meaty, big, important challenge to your life or to your professional life. That gives us a chance to say, "Look, you're not only learning the principles of marketing, you're applying them to a specific challenge through the entire program, and throughout that time, you're able to go back and show to your boss or your coworkers that, hey, look, here's how I'm solving this program and, or solving this problem in my program at William & Mary. What do you think?"
It becomes a great way, not only to apply the discipline of marketing to a specific challenge, but to start dialogues with people in your organization about this challenge that's strategically important to the company. We've had students come back and say, "Wow, I've had conversations with the president of my company about this challenge, and she's really interested in how we're working it," and she's given me input that I never would've gotten without the challenge to stimulate those conversations. So it's a multifaceted kind of benefit that the program offers to our students, and we're really excited about it.
Something that you talked about as far as just the exploration of what is in your organization or the potential that you will develop this ability to really solve tough and complex problems marketing-related within your current role. Our students generally on average have about a 3.2 undergraduate grade point average. They're comprised of about 55% women, 35% students of color, they're bringing in on average about six years of professional work experience. With all of that said, many of our students are also career changers and some of them have no marketing experience at all, so even before you get to the marketing challenge, how can one prepare for the program, say, if they don't have any marketing background?
We love this about the program. We love that it attracts a really diverse student body and that's really important to us because you will learn as much from your peers in this program, as you will from people like me, or people like you, Kevin, so that's super important to us. In terms of learning about marketing and gaining the kind of background and skills you need to succeed in the program. Some people come in with lots of marketing expertise, like you said, others come in fairly green in the marketing discipline. That's okay.
We provide every student what we're calling a jumpstart package, and in that jumpstart package is all the tools that you need to remind yourself or expose yourself to the fundamental ideas of marketing that you'll be using throughout the program. In that package, you'll see things like an explanation of pricing and brand positioning. How does that work? What are the four Ps and how should I think about them? Really foundational concepts that you'll need to come into the program with. So, we'll make sure whether you're an experienced marketer or not that you start this program with all the background and all the knowledge you need, even down to learning how to run Excel spreadsheets to do data analytics. You'll come in knowing that and you'll have all the tools you need to quickly get up to speed before the program starts. We make sure that happens.
Students come to William & Mary overall for the community. Once you are a part of the tribe, the tribe really does take care of its own, and so what types of networking opportunity exist for our online students in marketing that they can take advantage of in the program?
Yeah, I'm glad you talked about that, Kevin, because the community of William & Mary is the thing that makes this place so special and makes this program as special as it is. There are other places you can go that are top-flight academic institutions like William & Mary, but there are very few, I think, that have the kind of community and dedication to one another that you'll find at this school. It's why I came back after graduating from it. That's my diploma.
What you'll find is that you will learn from your peer group, you'll learn from your professors, you'll learn from the staff and the leadership of the school, people like Kevin, and you will have support from those people, not only during the time you're in the program, but after you leave. I'm still having conversations with recent graduates about, "Hey, can you look at my resume? Can you talk to me about this interview that I'm getting ready for? How should I prepare for this?" We love doing that. We love forming relationships with students that go far beyond the classroom and far beyond the duration of the program, so that community aspect is something that makes William & Mary and the Mason School really, really special and really different.
Something that many of our current students are excited about and they've gone through the experience already is our weekend residency requirement. I had the privilege and honor of participating in the fall residency when you planned it and so that was a great experience to watch. What makes the weekend residency experience a must-attend event?
Yeah, so it is literally a must-attend event, it's a requirement to graduate, and we do that for a really specific reason, and it's connected to the idea of community. When you're in an online program, you can form relationships with your peers over Zoom and over chats and things like that and that's good, but there's no substitute to spending some face-to-face time. It helps you to get you to know the classmates, better your faculty better, the staff and the leadership of the school, you'll get to interact with them, and you'll get to become part of the William & Mary community in a way that you can't do remotely.
What you'll realize when you're on campus and you're at the school is that you're part of something really special. This school becomes yours and it becomes yours because you're there and you physically experience what makes it special. There's an element of the online education process that's really important, which is that it's more convenient, it's more flexible for people with busy lives like yours, but that weekend is a great chance for you to interact with people on a face-to-face, in-the-same-room basis that you can lose in an online environment, and we want to make sure that our students have the best of both.
Yeah, the previous two residencies that we've held, one was around the customer experience, which is all things marketing, and the residency before that was around creativity and analytics and how analytics drives the creative process, really cutting-edge stuff. What makes those topics relevant in the current time that we're in?
Here's cool about the residency, Kevin, as you know, everyone has a slightly different topic, so there were those two customer experience, and then there was prior to that, there was a crisis communications one, so we went through a crisis simulation. What's cool about this is that, yes, if you're in the program, you have to go to one residency, and you have a lot of flexibility to prove to pick the one that works best with your schedule, but you also have the option to come back to other residencies during that time that have different topics that might be interesting to you. We want you to come back as often as you want to and you have the option to do that and that's cool.
But we particularly choose the topics of the residency to be really important and relevant to the time that we're in, right? Crisis communications is super important. We're seeing lots of brands suffer through some crises and at some point in your career, you'll have to deal with crisis communications. We also bring in the online MBA class for those residencies, so you're not just mixing with online master students, you're mixing with online MBA students, so we want to make sure the topics are relevant to them as well, so they tend to live in a very broad kind of business area, which makes them doubly interesting.
Customer experience, as you mentioned as an example, that is the new important way to think about marketing and the context of every touchpoint that your customer has with your brand. How are you activating that? How are you moving that customer through this experience in a way that creates velocity and creates advocacy and creates repeat purchases and loyalty and all the things we want as marketers? So, the topics of the residents here are chosen to be really relevant in the time we're in and also really relevant to all aspects of business because it attracts not just the online master's in marketing, but you're going to see online MBAs and online master's in business analytics sharing that residency.
Yeah, no as director of admissions for the program, of course, I'm somewhat biased. I think all of our online programs here at the Mason School are phenomenal and we've gained a wide variety of recognition and notoriety across the programs, and so full disclaimer, I am biased, and I think our program is extremely special, but there are also a lot of other online marketing-related programs out there in the industry, in the marketplace right now. Why choose William & Mary over another school?
I'm just as biased as you are. I'll put that out there right now. Number one, I think because the construction of the program is different, right? There are lots of programs out there that you can find that are very data-analytics-heavy, and there's nothing wrong with that if that's what you want to focus on, but there are very few that have that compliment of data and digital with creative thinking and innovation, and we purposely built this program to have the right balance of those two things. That's hard to find. You're going to get a top-flight faculty experience. The people who teach in this program are A1 top-class teachers. Now, that's true of William & Mary, it's true of lots of other top-flight schools as well.
But what's not always true is that kind of community aspect. You're going to learn from your peers. You're going to learn from the faculty and the staff, but you're also going to be in an environment where we are going to make sure you learn what you need to learn. We're going to make sure you succeed. We're never going to pit you against each other. We don't like that idea of internecine competition between our students. We don't do that. We want to create a supportive, mutually uplifting kind of environment where people feel welcome and they feel supported, they feel like they're getting what they need to learn, and they're leaving that program with friendships that are going to last for decades. That's really important to us. The feel of William & Mary is very, very unique that way.
My final question for you, Professor Williams, we have just graduated our inaugural class for the Master of Science and Marketing program. Just to see us launching the program in fall 2020 and see the end result has been a great experience. What are some of our graduates aiming to do as the ink has just dried on their diploma?
Yeah, it's so cool to watch what happens with these students when they leave the program because they all share the desire to accelerate their careers, or maybe they want to switch careers, move into a marketing field, and to watch that happen after the program is really cool for me and the rest of the faculty. We've got a student who made a career switch from real estate into marketing and just got a job at Deloitte, which was his dream job. We've got a student who wanted to accelerate her move through her organization, and as a result of her master's degree, got a promotion a month after graduation as we sit here now. That's awesome to see. We have a student who has been in the US military for his entire career and wanted to move into a different area within the Army and is now working in that area partly because of the credential that he was able to gain in the program.
They all share this desire to accelerate their career and to get into the marketing discipline. Sometimes that means moving up faster in their business. Sometimes it means starting their own companies. We have students who have left the program and started their own entrepreneurial ventures. Sometimes it means switching careers completely and going into their dream job at a place like Deloitte, so it's all about acceleration and it's all about setting you on a path in the marketing world that gets you excited and moves your career in the direction it wants to move and it's amazing to see that happen.
Wrapping up, every time I speak to you about our program, it really excites me. It energizes me. I want to apply for another graduate degree every conversation.
I think we can get you in. I know the admissions director.
Yeah, good to know, good to know. Well, Matt, it's certainly been an honor and a privilege for you sharing some of your time today to answer some of the frequently asked questions from our students. Do you have any part in words before we adjourn today?
Yeah, I'm really excited about the program, I'm really excited about the students that we meet in the course of the program, and I'm most excited about the effect the program has on not just the students, but the faculty and the people like me who teach them. I'm learning from you just as much as you're learning from me. I can't wait to meet you. I hope I see you online and at the residency in Williamsburg. We're really proud of the program and super proud of the students that come through it.
Thank you very much. This has been a question-and-answer segment with Professor Matthew Williams of our Master of Science and Marketing program. I'm Kevin Holmes. I serve as director of admissions and enrollment for our online programs here at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business at William & Mary and we hope to see you soon. Take care.
Finding a Common Ground: Residency and the Jump Start Course
Students in the Online Master’s in Marketing program arrive with a diversity of personal and professional backgrounds. That’s why our marketing master’s degree program includes two opportunities to begin building a shared experience with your cohort, both in terms of marketing knowledge and your interpersonal relationships with one another.
The Jump Start Course helps you start well and succeed in the intellectually challenging Online MSM program. It’s comprised of three sections:
- Knowledge Check: a short quiz designed to point out those areas where you might need to brush up on your marketing basics or confirm that you’ve all the knowledge you need to begin the program
- Marketing Principles: Our discipline rests on some timeless ideas. This module includes the core concepts of marketing that you’ll need to understand as you begin the program
- Marketing Math, Finance and Analytics: More than ever, marketing relies on data and marketing analytics to uncover insights and inspire ideas. These resources ensure you’re up to date on the principles and tools you’ll need to complete the data-oriented areas of the program
For the Residency Weekend, we invite you to make the trip to our beautiful Williamsburg campus to meet your online classmates and faculty face to face for the first time. In addition to bonding and networking over the course of three days, you will complete a one-credit course introducing you to unique aspects of the William & Mary experience and helping develop the interpersonal skills that are essential for any successful marketing leader.
The residency curriculum is structured around three themes:
- Collaboration: Content and exercises designed to capitalize on face-to-face opportunities
- Culture: Experiences to more tightly bind students to the culture of William & Mary and the Raymond A. Mason School of Business
- Connections: Social interactions designed to create relationships between students and faculty that endure beyond the end of the program
Residency Weekends are offered twice per academic year. While we recommend attending the residency weekend nearest to the beginning of your time in the program, doing so is not required.
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