Guide to Sports Management Degree Programs

By earning a sports management degree, you’ll be at the top of your game in this industry. You’ll have the necessary skills and training to really succeed and land the job of your dreams. Sports management degree programs offer more just academics. Many schools offer specialized career training in management and leadership skills in order to best prepare you for your career. Working in this field requires more than just a passion for sports, and the right degree program will ensure that you are adequately prepared for what lies ahead. Our site offers a list of accredited programs to help you get started.

The sports management degree is designed to show students how sports organizations work from the inside and out, including how many people it takes to build and market athletes and teams that are household names. Sports management degrees focus on organization, leadership skills, business management, and accounting.

Liberty University MS - Sports Mgmt Liberty University – The MS in Sports Management at Liberty University requires 36 credit hours and includes 10 three credit hour courses and a six credit hour capstone. The curriculum is geared for recent undergraduate students, non-traditional students, international students, and working professionals. Graduates are found in high school sports programs, professional teams, and recreational leagues.
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Ashford University BA - Sports and Rec Mgmt BA - SM Marketing BA - SM Entrepreneurship BA - SM Project Management Ashford University – Ashford University offers a variety of sports management degrees. The BA in Sports and Rec Management provides students with a curriculum that prepares them to work for park districts, as PE teachers, or athletic directors. The BA/SM Marketing provides best practices in marketing sports. The BA/SM Entrepreneurship teaches business principles, while the BA/SM Project Management is available for sports organizers. Ashford University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510-748-9001,
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Northcentral University MEd - Sports Mgmt PhD - Sports Mgmt Northcentral University – Northcentral University's M.Ed. in Sports Management is geared towards enhancing your leadership, organizing, and administrative skills on and off the field. The program applies the highest standards of ethics and values. The PhD is an integral tool for obtaining research and leadership positions in the field.
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Ohio University MS - Athletic Administration MS - Coaching Education Ohio University – The MS in Athletic Administration at Ohio University offers students a program that graduates managers with the tools to become athletic directors. Ohio University designed this program with the help of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. For those that want to teach coaches, an MS in Coaching Education is also available.
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Southern New Hampshire University MBA in Sports Mgmt MS in Sports Mgmt Southern New Hampshire University – The MBA and MS in Sports Management from Southern New Hampshire University provides a practical combination of traditional MBA coursework with a concentration of sports management. To accommodate working professionals busy schedules, the program is offered both online and on-campus. Internship and volunteer opportunities are available to provide students hands-on practice in the field.
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Definition of a Sports Management Degree

A sports management degree prepares a student to work on the business end of sports. This may include working as the manager of a sports team or working in the front office of an organization. Sports management degrees are fairly new. Previously those working in sports management had MBAs or went to law school before starting their careers.

Digital media is a growing portion of sports management, as all major businesses are tapping in to digital marketing and social networking for branding purposes. Sports Management degrees can be explored further below:

Sports management degrees at the undergrad level show students how to approach sports from a business perspective. Undergrad classes cover economics and marketing for working with a sports organization. Participating in an undergrad sports management program can also open doors for networking and landing an internship with a sports team. A sports management degree does not guarantee a high paying position right away, but it can open doors that allow you to make your own opportunities. If you already have a general bachelor’s degree in business administration or communications and want to work in sports, a master’s degree in sports management may be right for you. In a graduate level program for sports management, students learn how to interact with players, front office operations, event management and fundraising, and developing a brand. Learning the fundamental parts of how a sports organization works can put a grad student in a position for a middle management job upon graduating.

Do I Need a Sports Management Degree to Work in Sports?

In short, no. A sports management degree was developed to give students a solid foundation before working in professional sports. Before sports management degrees, those working professional sports on the business end had degrees in business, communications, writing, and often went on to law school. Working in sports management is very much a hands-on activity of trial and error. It’s all about learning as you go. A sports management degree is fantastic for networking opportunities for students. Professors, organizations at schools, and other students can help you land internships, which are crucial for working in sports management. Seldom does someone enter the world of professional sports without any experience. Keep in mind this is an industry where you will work your way from the bottom up. You may start out in the front office getting coffee and making copies. That is common, but with internships prior to graduation, you will hopefully have enough contacts to interview for a position with an organization.

Where Will I Work if I Work in Sports Management?

It isn’t all glitz and glamour. Remember that as fun as working in sports can be, it’s hard work and it takes time to move up the ladder. Don’t limit yourself to high profile professional teams. It may take experience before working for the team you grew up idolizing. Instead, remember there are hundreds of minor league teams that operate like a business and need people at the helm who are well-versed in sports management. Minor league teams are often in more rural areas, and you may have to relocate to take a job. This is common, but provides an entry level employee with a substantial amount of experience. You may have more responsibilities at a smaller organization versus starting out as an entry level person at a large organization. This is something to keep in mind as you start your job hunting in professional sports. There are many positions with various duties such as managing the front office, organizing and managing players’ schedules, and examining budgets for the team. Depending what your position is, you may regularly work weekends and some holidays.

How Long Will I Be Going to School for a Sports Management Degree?

A sports management undergrad degree takes the same amount of time as any other undergrad degree. Most programs are about 120 hours of coursework. You are looking at four years of school if you’re attending full time. Outside of that, it may take you longer to finish a bachelor’s degree in sports management, should you choose to attend only night classes or break up your classes online. With the basics from one school, you should be able to transfer to any institution with a sports management program. Once your basic classes are out of the way, you can continue with sports management classes which focus on the economics and business of sports. Because of this, it is possible for someone with a two-year associate’s degree or the bulk of basic undergrad courses completed at a community college to transfer to a university with a sports management program.

A master’s in sports management will take about 36 hours and can be completed in two years. This can take longer if you are splitting your time between full time work and part time classes. Going to school for a master’s in sports management is a prime opportunity to participate in internships with an organization. Also look at other industries where your sports and management knowledge can be utilized such as a newspaper or magazine publication, sports analyst website, or sports broadcasting. While these are not the conventional paths for someone with a sports management degree, you never know what doors can open thanks to networking and building your contacts in any realm of the industry.

What is Required of Me in a Sports Management Degree Program?

In a sports management degree program, you’ll focus on learning business tactics like budgeting and marketing. Classes may look like the following:

  • Sports Law
  • Sports Marketing
  • Budgets and Revenue in Sports
  • Structure and Organization of Sports Programs
  • Event Promotions for Sports

In addition to coursework hours, you may also be required to complete an internship program for a sports management degree. In some cases, the school will set you up with an internship. You may also have to interview for an internship or be responsible for finding your own internship in the latter portion of the degree. It is important to apply for internships early on if you will be responsible for finding your own. Sports internships are extremely competitive and for some, it may be a numbers game. The more you apply for, the more chance you have of landing an internship. Some internships may pay a small stipend, but the majority will be unpaid and offer school credit. Regardless of payment, most internship programs receive hundreds of applicants every semester.

How Do I Find an Internship for a Sports Management Degree Program?

Finding an internship on your own may be required by your sports management degree program. Think about what sport you want to get involved in and what area interests you most. You may not be able to pick and choose between internships, but this gives you direction on what you may want to do for a career. Internships give you the opportunity to explore various facets of the professional sports world. Often what students think one job might entail ends up being something very different. Internships are a great way to shadow a professional and see what exactly it is he or she does on a day to day basis. Internships also help you meet people and learn how to network. Sports and any entertainment field are all about whom you know. Internship programs help students learn how to communicate with everyone within an organization and build contacts for life.

Start exploring sports internship programs online. There are many sites for internships, and social networking sites help you interact with others looking for similar opportunities. You can also check a team’s site for human resources contact information. Send your resume along with a tailored cover letter that explains why you’re interested in interning with that particular sports organization. Remember to be genuine in your cover letter and keep it fairly short and to the point. Human resources see dozens of resumes in a single day, and it’s imperative to make an impact while remaining concise. While we don’t promote pestering HR, a follow-up phone call or email is suitable if you do not hear back from an organization. Sometimes persistence pays off, and a follow-up can land you an interview or cause someone to give your resume a second look. Some internship applications may also require a letter of recommendation.

Does it Matter if I Get a Sports Management Degree Online Versus Traditional School?

No. Sports management is such a new degree that many learning institutions do not offer it. This does not mean it isn’t worth exploring; it is just a new type of degree. Previously people who would go on to work in sports management had degrees in business or marketing. A sports management degree online will teach you the same things as those taught in a traditional classroom setting. If you currently work full time, an online sports management degree may be ideal for your schedule. Keep in mind that regardless of your degree, internships are the way to go when it comes to gaining experience. If you currently work in sports, but are in a position that is not challenging, sports management can be the degree that elevates your knowledge and opens doors for a more rewarding career choice.

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