Illinois Sports Management Masters Programs
Masters in Sports Management programs bolster administrative skills and help students think strategically to meld their existing interests in athletics and sport recreation with business acumen.
For students who want to get in the game, Masters in Sports Management programs could be a great way to focus on management, coaching, sports analytics, marketing and more. In fact, Sports Management Masters programs could give room for students to choose electives, conduct research, or focus studies through a concentration.
Masters in Sports Management Programs: Overview
Essentially, sports management is all about the business of sports, and all aspects of the sports industry. As such, it could tackle operation and organization of an enterprise whose focus it is to make money from athletic competition, programs, fitness facilities or events.
Students ready to pursue a Masters in Sports Management study things like contract negotiation, public relations, leadership and even how to best motivate players for maximum performance.
Coursework for the Sports Management Major
Coursework for a Masters in Sports Management major could depend on the emphasis of the program. Curriculums might include some instruction in how to plan and develop top sports programs, and could cover financial management principles, sales, marketing and recruitment.
Also on the playing field, students might study some of the topics below.i
- Athletic Recruitment
- Event Promotions
- Facilities Management
- Legal Aspects of Sports
- Health and Safety
- Personnel Management
DID YOU KNOW?
24% of Brand Managers report they have a masters degree. ii
Types of Sports Management Masters Degrees
Sports Management Masters degrees are offered as a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Professional Studies (MPS) or Master of Education (MEd). Each Masters degree in sport management could entail distinct requirements, both in terms of coursework and admissions.
Applicants to Masters in Sports Management programs need a Bachelors degree, and specific course or major prerequisites are a possibility. Some schools may also weigh GPA, GRE and GMAT scores. Material such as a personal statement, recommendations, and a CV or resume could be among the other documents required on an application.
Below are some general guidelines in terms of what each program could look like. Keep in mind that individual schools define their programs, and speak with an advisor from any selected university to clarify which program might be suitable given your career goals.
What Is an MBA Sports Management?
A Sports Management MBA (Master of Business Administration) is an option to a theory-focused program such as a Master of Science (MS). An MBA is a professional Masters degree which means it focuses on how to implement (management theory) into real scenarios.
Students who pursue a MBA in Sport Management may need to complete about 36 credits. In some cases, a full-time student might need about one year to do so, although a school may allow up to five years.
Most MBA programs seek to engender in students a set of well-rounded business skills. Students could learn to solve complex management problems, effectively work as part of a team, and make ethical business decisions.
Consequently, an MBA Sports Management program typically features a two-fold curriculum. The first part (business core) could form 2/3 of the coursework. These courses typically include professional and business development, strategy and management. Students might also study financial and managerial accounting, economics, organizational behavior and human resources.
The second third of an MBA degree plan is typically devoted to the student’s area of emphasis. Therefore, for a concentration in sports management, students could learn how to apply concepts from their core courses into the sports business. Course names vary, but below are some examples.
- Risk Management in Sport
- Revenue Generation
- Facility Planning
- Brand Building
- Financial Aspects of Sport
To round out classroom instruction, participants may need to complete an internship. This is sometimes where a student is supervised by a sport business faculty member and sport organization on-site coordinator.
MS Sports Management
A Master of Science (MS) in Sports Management often zooms in on the technical and theoretical sides of the sports business. At the same time, some programs are flexible, and students might round out their studies with courses in sport journalism baseball analytics or sports psychology.
MS in Sports Business Management programs aim to prepare graduates with the knowledge and business skills to lead in sports or entertainment management. To earn their degree, students may take compulsory courses in business basics, electives and an internship.
Core courses may be planned out to provide breadth of knowledge about the sports business. This often contrasts an MBA where a required core is usually all about general (advanced) business topics. See below for some sample MS topics.
- Management of Sports Businesses
- Sports Marketing
- Legal and Ethical Aspects in Sports
- Leadership in Sports Organizations
- Facility and Event Management
- Economics and Finance
Concentrations, which could add focus to a MS degree are also offered although each grad school may have their own list. As a very general rule, a MS program looks at business as an applied science, so any concentration might include analysis, technology, and management theory.
8 Areas of Emphasis
- Sports Analytics: A focus in Sports Analytics and Management could examine strategy, digital technologies and measurement of social engagement. A sports analytics degree plan might also include a class in cost-benefit analysis how to format analytical business writing.
- Sport-Based Youth Development: An emphasis in Sport-Based Youth Development could make use of teaching, coaching and administrative points of view. As a focus area, it might aim to prepare students to work with young people outside of the traditional physical education and interscholastic/intercollegiate sport settings.
- Athletic Administration: A MS in Athletic Administration could provide instruction in how to manage interscholastic athletic programs. Students might take classes in sport governance, sport marketing and financial management of sports facilities and programs.
- Exercise and Sport Science: A MS in Exercise and Sport Science could offer core courses that cover aspects of general health, fitness and exercise science subject matter. Within the larger program, students might structure their studies through an area of emphasis in nutrition or health and wellness promotion.
- Sport Tourism and Hospitality Management: A MS in Sport Tourism and Hospitality Management might help students understand the role sport plays in the field of leisure, recreation, travel and tourism. Coursework could provide a thorough overview of sport sponsorship, product licensing and marketing management.
- Sport Leadership: A focus in Sport Leadership could address operational and financial aspects of a sports franchise or organization, as well as topics in media relations and law. Through their courses, students might develop a grasp of how to liaise with the press, make savvy financial decisions, and manage employee teams.
- Parks and Recreation: A MS Sports Management with a focus in parks and recreation could prepare students to navigate trends in natural resource use and conservation, as well as changes in recreation management policy over time. Students might examine case studies in issues that relate to the management of national parks and forests as a forum for outdoor recreation.
- Sports Marketing: A MS in Sports Marketing and Media could explore core courses in marketing research, promotions, brand management and consumer behavior. Cognate courses could build skills in public relations, sport development and sales.
A class in economics and financial management of sport could work in tandem with a course in supply to chain management, to help students develop a broad sense of how to manage the advertising side of athletic organizations or products.
MA in Sports Management
A Master of Arts (MA) in Sports Management could build both breadth and depth of knowledge about the sport marketplace. Students might study to develop leadership, communication and networking skills as they learn how to make decisions and solve industry-related problems.
As part of their coursework, students might learn how to create a business plan, team financial plan, marketing plan, cultural analysis, team management plan, stock portfolio prospectus, strategy plan, career plan, and legal analysis.
While curriculums could vary, students may be required to complete a sports business research prospectus and a Master's Project as well as an internship in sport management.
5 Potential MA topics
- Strategic Management and Human Resources in Sport
- Accounting and Budget
- Sport Economics and Finance
- Sport, Culture and Society
- Fundraising and Marketing
Some graduate schools may provide students with an opportunity to focus their studies in areas such as Sports Broadcasting or Athletic Communications and Promotions. Students may receive a humanities-oriented instruction in the art and craft of digital storytelling through multiple media platforms as they work to think critically about the sports media industry.
MEd in Athletic Administration
A Master of Education (MEd) in Athletic Administration could explore the links between sport, culture and society through an athletic administrator’s lens. For instance, coursework could shed light on the management, planning, organization, and administration of interscholastic and intercollegiate competition and recreational athletics.
In some programs, MEd students may need to take about 39 credits which could be allotted to compulsory courses and a choice of emphasis.
Typical Required Courses
- Human Resources
- Financial Resources Management
- Governance, Compliance, Risk Management
- Event Planning and Operations
- The Impact of Technology in Sport
MEd Concentrations could enable students to build up specific skills. Some potential areas follow.
Collegiate Level Athletic Administration: Students could study NCAA compliance and the psychological factors that impact student athlete performance.
Secondary School and Recreation: Aside from administration, students might learn about the psychological factors that affect group behavior. Other topics might include the history and philosophy of recreation and leisure.
Global Sport Management: A focus in global sport management could include a discussion of the structure and function of the Olympic Games. Students might also learn about the psychological factors that affect elite training and performance
MPS in Sports Industry Management
A Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Sports Industry Management could mix focused coursework with hands-on applications. Students might explore industry methods as they study to build contemporary digital and entrepreneurial skills.
To earn their MPS in Sports Industry Management, students might need to complete about 30 credits. MPS programs are sometimes formatted with core courses, foundation courses, a concentration, and electives, and students may work on a capstone. Topics do vary, but below are some sample course names.
- Applied Ethics in Sports
- Sport Leadership and Management
- Social Responsibility and Globalization in Sports
MPS concentrations might allow each student to tailor studies and sharpen expertise in a specific area. Some examples follow.
Strategic Marketing, Communications & Digital Media: A focus in strategic marketing could help students understand how to leverage bran brands, databases, the internet, market research, technology, and media relationships. Students could learn to develop marketing strategies, execute targeted promotional tactics, and garner long-term consumer loyalty.
Business Management and Operations: With a focus in management, students might study to develop a strong grasp of finance, law, facility management, and economics. At the same time, they might learn how to use tools of analysis and strategies that might maximize profitability and productivity.
Sports Management Masters Programs: Formats
Masters in Sports Management programs may be available in an online format and an on-campus format. In some schools with Sport Management Masters programs, students might opt to take classes online, on campus or through a blend of both.
On-campus programs tend to offer classes at the same time every week, whether evening or daytime. An online sports management degree may have the same curriculum as the on-campus program but students might be able to watch lectures on their own timetable.
Many regionally accredited universities offer both formats. Some individual programs may meet approval by specific professional accreditors. For instance, some business-focused Masters programs (E.g. MBA) may be accredited by either the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) or by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
Some Sport Management Masters programs may also be approved by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). COSMA reviews sport managements programs and evaluates how well the program educates students and may prepare them to pursue a career in the sport management industry.
Search for a Masters Degree in Sport Management
Strive to build a competitive edge with a Masters degree in Sport Management. Choose the format you prefer (online, campus).
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[i] nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=88449 | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-2021.00
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