A Psychology Major as Preparation for Marketing Management

Can you become a marketing manager with a psychology major? Yes. It’s not the most common route — but it’s not uncommon either. Marketing and management are well represented in the list of top jobs for psychology majors. And that’s psych majors who stop after the bachelor’s. Psychology majors go on to graduate school in a variety of disciplines.

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Marketing and management are well represented in the list of top jobs for psychology majors.

If you are sure you want to go into marketing, psychology isn’t the most direct path, at least if you don’t pick a supporting minor. But if you want a versatile degree and marketing is one of the fields you’re considering, you may do well to select the major — at least according to Professor Charles Brewer (http://money.cnn.com/2000/12/08/career/q_degreepsychology/). Psychology students have gone on to become marketing directors and business executives – as well as many other careers.

What skills does a psychology major come away with? Brewer cited critical and creative thinking and communications. Others have cited the following (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201209/the-top-10-reasons-major-in-psychology):

  • Evaluating the legitimacy of behavioral claims
  • Predicting individual and group behavior
  • Evaluating and making use of data
  • Operating effectively through organizational channels

An interesting point made by Psychology Today: One thing young adults learn to manage in their psychology classes is themselves. An understanding of self-regulation and motivation can be important for a new career professional. Developmental psychology is still relevant to students’ lives.

Some grads put their skills to use in a more direct way. Marketing depends on market research and user research – not just interpreting data but designing experiments.

Grand Canyon University (GCU) offers an online Bachelor’s in Psychology modeled after the standards and recommendations set by the American Psychological Association with emphases in: Forensic Psychology and Performance and Sports Psychology. Several Master’s in Psychology programs are also offered. Click here to learn about GCU and their programs.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers online Bachelor’s and Master’s in Psychology programs with several emphases to select from as well as a CACREP accredited online Master’s in Counseling. Click here to learn about SNHU and their programs.

Educational Options

The American Psychological Society has recommended that undergraduates meet with an advisor early in their undergraduate career to plan a curriculum that will develop the needed knowledge and skills base (http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/features/2009/first-job.aspx).

You don’t have to know exactly what job you’ll take – that’s the beauty of the nonprofessional degree – but your experiences will be somewhat different if you’re more interested in administration than therapy. You may want to take coursework in social psychology and organizational psychology. You can pursue a track in industrial/ organizational psychology or consumer psychology as early as the bachelor’s level. Data from the American Psychological Association indicates a majority of four-year programs do include at least one course in i/o psychology (http://www.apa.org/education/undergrad/profiles.aspx?item=4).

A bachelor’s level consumer psychology program may actually include a few courses from the marketing department. If your school doesn’t have an official specialization — and most won’t — you may have the opportunity of pursuing a minor. Some psychology departments actually require a minor.

The APA psychology database can be useful to you if your studies integrate psychology and marketing. The organization has supplied a guide (http://www.apa.org/pubs/librarians/guides/psycinfo-consumer-psych.pdf).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that internships can be crucial for those in marketing. Your school may be a resource. The American Marketing Association is another potential resource. The organization has career resources and links to internship postings (https://www.ama.org/career/StudentCareers/Pages/default.aspx).

If you opt for consumer psychology at the master’s level, you can learn to apply psychological principles to consumer behavior. You can come away with a skill set applicable to marketing and also to fields like consumer awareness. Electives could include psychology of decision making, psychology of consumer behavior, media influence, and market segmentation. Consumer psychology may be pursued as a specialization within organizational psychology or social psychology (http://www.consumerpsychologist.com/cb_Graduate_Study ).

You also have the option of studying psychology at the undergraduate level and completing an MBA down the line.


You may be interested in APA Division 23: The Society for Consumer Psychology (http://www.apa.org/about/division/div23.aspx).

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology is a resource for students from the undergraduate level on (http://www.siop.org/studentdefault.aspx).