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Program Description

Just the Facts

Advertising. A program that focuses on the creation, execution, transmission, and evaluation of commercial messages in various media intended to promote and sell products, services, and brands; and that prepares individuals to function as advertising assistants, technicians, and managers. Includes instruction in advertising theory, marketing strategy, advertising design and production methods, campaign methods and techniques, media management, related principles of business management, and applicable technical and equipment skills.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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Additional Information

Advertising students learn how to research, write and develop ad campaigns. Graduates can work in advertising agencies and other media companies. There is a wide range of employment possibilities.

"The job market is incredible right now! Advertising is such an innovative and ever-evolving industry. It moves at a break-neck speed, and it's due in part to the fresh, new minds that are entering the field from our college systems," says Kim Donaldson. She is the advertising program coordinator at a college.

Christopher Cakebread warns students that they need to be highly motivated, hardworking and passionate about the business. He is a professor of advertising at Boston University.

"Advertising is a brutally volatile, vicious business that is not for the faint of heart," he says.

Students need to be creative and develop strong writing and critical thinking skills. They will also learn about the business side of advertising, such as the presentation and marketing skills that are used to develop campaigns.

Advertising programs should help students to create a portfolio of advertising materials and plans. Employers will want to see what you can do!

There are a variety of programs for students to choose from. Certificate and diploma courses are available at community colleges. They range from a few semesters to three years in length.

Universities offer four-year bachelor's degrees and graduate programs. Some students major in communications and choose to specialize in advertising during the final year of the program.

Portfolio schools have become very popular for postgraduate work (studies after you complete a degree) on the creative side.

"Shorter programs provide you with a great basic overview of the industry, and are perfect for someone who has a passion for the work and the drive to enter the workforce as quickly as possible.

"Longer programs of study provide students greater details and insight into the intricacies of the industry, and allow for specialization in one particular field," advises Donaldson.

Cakebread stresses the importance of getting your feet wet in the industry.

"The student should have had an internship or two in a related industry prior to applying for a job. This has become almost mandatory, at least at major advertising agencies in NYC and Boston," he says.

When you are researching advertising education options in your area, make sure to ask about the faculty. You want a program that is taught by former advertising professionals.

"Do not enrol in a program that is taught by academics who have never worked in the field. I can't tell you how important this point is," says Cakebread. "There are other good state university programs available if a student does their research."

Donaldson lists three areas to concentrate on in high school for future ad executives. English is number one, especially if you're considering exploring a career in the creative end of the industry. Business courses should be number two on your list. Finally, she says to study art. That includes graphic design, drama, presentation and public speaking.

Cakebread suggests finding a retail job to get experience solving customer complaints. "It provides a first-hand exposure to consumer behavior which no psychology course can replicate," he says.

Beyond buying textbooks and the usual school supplies, advertising students usually don't have many additional costs. Students may opt to buy a Mac computer and current design software.


Advertising Age
A magazine for the ad industry

American Association of Advertising Agencies
The national trade association


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