About the PhD in Marketing

Learn more about admission, funding, and curriculum.

Getting in

First, you need to meet the minimum PhD admission requirements.

An undergraduate degree in marketing is not required, but historically, most successful applicants have an MBA or a graduate degree in psychology, econ, or stats. Criteria for admission include:

Academic record
The minimum GPA is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. We consider both undergrad and graduate GPA, as well as the rigor of your undergrad or master's institution(s). You should have at least two semesters of calculus and one semester of linear algebra.

GMAT or GRE score
Admits typically have GMAT scores that average 650+, with quant scores at the 90th percentile and above.

Statement of purpose
Content and overall seriousness are considered.

Letters of recommendation
We're interested in their assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, motivation, and ability to succeed.

Work experience
While it's not a requirement, successful students often choose to gain work experience in the private sector before pursuing their PhD.

English proficiency
International students need significant proficiency in English. We accept TOEFL (recommended score is 100 iBT/600 CBT) or IELTS (7.0 with no subscore <6.0). We'll also review your GMAT or GRE Verbal (80th percentile or higher is recommended) and accumulated years of graduate study in English. Because graduate students at Iowa also teach, international students need to pass a two-part English proficiency evaluation. We may also ask you to take additional communication courses to prepare you for teaching.


Financial support

We guarantee funding for four years, with fifth-year funding available in the majority of cases. Funding continues past year four provided you're making progress toward degree completion. Our financial aid package includes:

  • All tuition payments
  • A 12-month stipend for living expenses (approximately $21,800)
  • Health and dental insurance

PhDs earn the stipend by serving as research or teaching assistants. See details on the base funding package.

Other benefits

Marketing provides funding in the form of fellowships or teaching/research assistantships. Other financial benefits include:

  • Summer funding for one year (summer funding during subsequent years is often available)
  • Graduate College Fellowships that release you from teaching for two semesters (one is usually summer) to focus on research
  • Other summer support for outstanding students
  • University fellowships for outstanding students
  • Funding for travel to academic conferences to present your research

Curriculum and plan of study

The PhD in Marketing requires 72 semester hours of credit, in addition to a dissertation. The typical time to complete the degree is five years. Most successful students remain in residence all five years.

The required Seminars in Marketing are designed to get you quickly up to speed on past and current research in specific areas, and introduce you to the background skills needed to successfully complete top-tier academic research in marketing. The topics alternate between consumer behavior, quantitative modeling, and marketing strategy.

Academic tracks

Your curriculum will vary based on which track you choose: Quantitative Modeling (QM), Consumer Behavior (CB), or Marketing Strategy (MS). All students must meet the 72 semester hour requirement and complete the doctoral seminars and econometrics sequence. Beyond that, the program allows a fair amount of freedom based on your research interests.


Year 1

  • Required coursework common to all tracks: seminars in marketing, econometrics I and II, statistics
  • Elective coursework:
    • QM & MS: Additional statistics and economics
    • CB: Cognitive or social psychology

Year 2

  • Completion of required and elective coursework, additional coursework related to research interest area
  • Determine subject and conduct original research for second-year paper
  • End of year: Presentation of second-year paper to faculty; admitted to PhD candidacy when successfully completed


Year 3

  • Coursework if needed/desired for your research interest
  • End of year 3/beginning of year 4: Propose dissertation topic

Year 4

  • Fall semester: Continued progress toward dissertation proposal
  • Spring semester:  Oral defense of dissertation proposal
  • End of year 4: Enter job market

Year 5

  • Defense of completed dissertation


Next Steps