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The Reed College of Media and College of Creative Arts will merge to form the new WVU College of Creative Arts and Media as of July 1, 2024. Get details.

What is a T-Shaped Marketer?


Man speaking in front of a group of people.

As the landscape of marketing communications continues to evolve across all industries, the industry demands a new type of marketing communications professional. This professional offers thought leadershipand problem solvingin a specialized area of marketing communication, but can also adaptand improvein areas beyond their specialty.

The “ T-shaped marketer” is this title given to the professional in demand. What is T-shaped marker? Are you a T-shaped marketer, or how do you become one? Read on to learn more about the potential you have to leverage your knowledge and expand your skills.

What is a T-Shaped Marketer?

A T-shaped marketer is someone who has a broad range of knowledge across all the areas of marketing and profound knowledge in one specific area.This kind of marketer tends to thrive in the industry long term, experience measurable career advancement, and find themselves capable of being successful in a variety of career roles.

T-shaped marketers also tend to experience a more lucrative careercompared to “specialists”. A specialist will have one particular area of expertise, but won't necessarily know much about any other areas of marketing. A T-shaped marketer boasts a wide range of skills across many the landscape of marketing communications but will also showcase extensive knowledge in one specific area of the industry. In other words, a T-shaped marketer will bring more benefits to the table and will be able to demonstrate more value to employers.

So, how can you become a T-shaped marketer?

West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media’s cutting-edge, pioneer Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program has introduced several Areas of Emphasis (AOEs) for current and future IMC students.

IMC Degree and an Area of Emphasis

The IMC program teaches marketing communications professionals the skills they need to succeed in today’s industry, with a curriculum designed and taught by the professionals leading it. Adding an AOE will broaden your knowledge base in a particular area, making you a competitive T-shaped marketer and giving you the edge to make your resume stand out.

Industries That Need T-Shaped Marketers:

Marketing communications is essential to the success of every industry. Professionals who understand both marketing communications and a niche industry are in high-demand across all industries including:


The healthcare industry is unlike any other field. Professionals who have studied, or practiced, marketing communications with an industry lens are in high demand for a field that is highly specialized.

The Healthcare Communication AOEwill prepare you to work in roles such as:

  • Director of Corporate Partnerships
  • Corporate Outreach Officer
  • Community Outreach Manager
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Officer
  • Healthcare Communication Specialist

Public Relations:

Professionals working in the field of public relations to be able to anticipate and differentiate among different types of crisis and incorporate crisis/internal communication planning into an integrated marketing campaign strategy.

The Public Relations Leadership AOE will prepare you to work in roles such as:

  • Director of Media Relations
  • Communications Director
  • Public Relations Director
  • Media Director
  • Development Officer

Higher Education:

Higher educationinstitutions need professionals who can implement integrated marketing campaigns as a way of maintaining consistent institutional branding and increasing student recruitment strategies.

The Higher Education AOEwill prepare you to work in roles such as:

  • VP of Enrollment Marketing
  • Director of Student Recruitment
  • Communications Director
  • Social Media Marketing Manager
  • Media Relations and Content Specialist

Many other fields are acknowledging the need for marketing communications professionals who can bring a depth of knowledge regarding a specific industry to the strategy table. While we’ve only listed a few industries that are recognizing the need for marketing communicators who have a specialized skill set, the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program offers a variety of Areas of Emphasisso that students can choose the specialization that most aligns with their goals.

With the addition of these AOEs to the IMC curriculum, students — whether they identify as creatives, data gurus, or a combination of the two — will be able to find a specialization that fits their goals and interests.

Introducing IMC’s Areas of Emphasis:

In response to the need for marketing professionals who have an in-depth knowledge of one particular area of marketing, WVU’s Reed College of Media’s Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program allows students to choose an Area of Emphasis. Included on your transcript when you graduate, these specializations deepen your knowledge base, making you more competitive in the job market.

The available specializations offered by the IMC program are listed below:

  • Creative Strategy — prepares IMC students for careers that focus on the creative aspects of integrated marketing communications, including work focused on advanced creative concepts, digital storytelling, content creation and content creation.
  • Data Marketing Communications — provides access to data-driven coursework for IMC students whose career aspirations including harnessing the power of available data as part of a greater integrated marketing communications strategy.
  • Digital and Social Media — prepares IMC students for careers that utilize digital and social media by exposing them to coursework focused on social media, web metrics and SEO, digital storytelling and video production.
  • Healthcare Communication — equips IMC students to succeed in careers that focus on developing integrated marketing communications within the healthcare industry by exposing them to coursework that is focused on legal and ethical issues in the healthcare industry, content marketing and new technology utilization.
  • Higher Education — prepares IMC students for careers utilizing integrated marketing communications strategies for student recruitment and institutional branding initiatives by focusing on coursework related to higher education marketing, multicultural marketing, content marketing and social media.
  • Public Relations Leadership — exposes IMC students to coursework focused on applied public relations, crisis communication, internal communications and C-suite leadership, in turn preparing students for careers leading a public relations department or running their own PR firm.
3 More Reasons to Choose an AOE:

You'll set yourself apart from other competitive professionals:

When you obtain a specialization from a competitive master’s degree program like WVU's Integrated Marketing Communications, employers from all industries and organizations know they are talking to a person with knowledge of the best marketing strategies within the marketing communications field.

You only have to take one additional course:

As a student in the Integrated Marketing Communications program, you are already required to take three elective courses. By choosing an AOE, you will simply take one additional class after aligning your three elective courses with whatever AOE you choose.

Course breakdown for the WVU IMC program.

You'll increase your job security:

If you choose to specialize in a particular area of marketing, you will bridge the talent gap in whatever industry which you choose to work. In other words, you will become the solution to a lack of unified marketing strategies being implemented by professionals who are wading through the day-to-day stressors of running and leading a marketing team. By being the solution to a problem like this, you could make yourself irreplaceable to employers, which every marketing professional wants in today's competitive field.

An AOE Will Make You a T-Shaped Marketer:

Here at West Virginia University, we know that you have the potential to establish yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the field of marketing communications. By offering a variety of Areas of Emphasis within our exclusively online Integrated Marketing Communications graduate program, we show our dedication to preparing you to succeed in your career.

As someone passionate about the marketing industry, we want to encourage you to request more information today. We promise to make your questions a priority.