While degrees in marketing share many similarities with degrees in communications, especially in terms of job prospects and earning potentials, significant differences still exist. Students of each discipline are educated differently, in different departments, and with different goals in mind. Even the similarities: the earning potentials, while similar, are not identical, and the career paths fork at the higher levels.
Purpose of Education
Communications students are trained to focus on how verbal and visual messages are coded and received in all forms of media. They're not trained specifically for one job, but to adapt and apply their expertise to communications in all fields (See References 1). Marketing students, on the other hand, are trained specifically in the field of commerce, so they can successfully market a product or service to an intended consumer.
According to CNN Career Builder, communications degree holders often compete for the same jobs as English majors, which often includes teaching, but they also qualify for positions in public speaking, public relations, advertising and broadcasting, many of which overlap with jobs for which a marketing major might also qualify. The main difference in the two career paths is that marketers take jobs that involve products that can be marketed to a consumer, and communications degree holders aren't primarily concerned with products.
While the two career paths have similar earning potentials, marketing edges out communications by a few thousand dollars each year. The average marketing degree holder earns $77,300 each year while the average communications degree holder earns $72,200. Marketing managers, however, can earn up to around $97,260 while communications majors top out around $89,430, widening the gap of financial potentials (See References 3).
A master's or doctoral degree in communications will prepare students for higher level professional work and teaching, while marketing graduate degrees take the form of a master's of business administration, and train candidates to finely tune their areas of expertise for practical application. Some institutions, however, like Franklin University in Columbus Ohio, offer a Master of Science degree in marketing and communication, and aims to bridge the gap between the two fields (See References 4).