Athletic Administration Graduate Programs | Sports Management Degree

Sports management graduate programs analyze the concepts, theories, and best practices of business principles and how they relate to the many facets of the sports industry. ...

This may include specific topics in management and leadership to forecast new developments and adapt to the rapidly changing sports environment.

Sports Management Graduate Programs

Plus, often you can choose between three formats to earn your sports management graduate degree. These may include on-campus, online, and a hybrid format that combines both online and on-campus.

Fun Fact

In 2015, the global sports market had a value of about U.S. $145 billion.

Sports Management Graduate Programs: Basics

Some of the business principles sports management graduate programs cover include those listed here.

  • Strategic Planning
  • Research Analysis
  • Law and Labor Relations
  • Economic Benefits of Sports

Plus, depending on the program, some courses may also look at a number of sports administration topics. These may include the management and development of athletes, coaches, and trainers.


We asked Senior Account Executive, Tamarah Strauss about how earning a master's degree in sports management can kick start your career in a variety of industries:

"My master’s degree definitely exposed me to a number of important subjects in the industry, especially new and evolving topics such as technology and social media. The great thing about getting a degree in sport management is that you become more aware of the different sectors in the sports world – from marketing and PR to finance and law – sport is everywhere and consumed by all types of people in a variety of ways."

~Tamarah Strauss: Senior Account Executive, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment Click to Tweet

What’s the Difference between Sports Management and Sports Administration?

Sports management and sports administration can be used interchangeably because they both cover the business-side of sports, as well as the development of talent. However, some sports management graduate programs focus more on the business aspects. These may include marketing, public relations, boosting ticket sales, public relations, and facilities management.

On the other hand, some sports administration graduate programs may focus more on teaching how to make roster moves, sign new talent, and represent athletes. There are other sports management and sports administration programs that combine the two aspects of the sports industry. Keep in mind that each school is different. You should check with a few options to find one that aligns with your goals.

Common Sports Management Graduate Courses

As sports-related industries such as professional sports teams, merchandise, and sports marketing face unique business challenges, sports management graduate programs teach how to apply business concepts and theories to the sports industry. Therefore, you may take a number of business courses, as well as others focused on developing your management skills. Typically, these are in addition to courses focused on increasing the profitability of sports-related organizations.

Check out the list below for some of the common sports management graduate courses you may take.

  • Management of Sports Organizations
  • Internationalization of Sports Business
  • Social Issues in Sport
  • Sport Marketing
  • Negotiations for Leaders
  • Sport Media and Technology
  • Legal Issues in Sport
  • Economic and Financial Management of Sport
  • Revenue Generation in Sport
  • Sport Facility and Event Management

Keep in mind that each school has different course offerings. Therefore, specific names may change from school to school. Check out a few options to find one that matches your goals.

Different Sports Management Graduate Degree Levels

There are three different sports management graduate degree levels. Each of these levels look to build upon your educational and professional experience by teaching a complete overview of the ethics, principles, and values of sports and their influence on communities and culture.

Types of Sport Management Degrees
CertificateN6 months - 1 yearY
MasterY2 yearsY
PhDY3 + yearsY

Typically, courses also focus on analyzing and evaluating sports management research to apply theories to complex and controversial issues in sports. Keep in mind, that the higher the degree, normally the harder it is to earn. For instance, earning a doctorates degree usually requires more research, writing, and critical analysis than it takes to earn a certificate.

Check out the list below for the three levels of sports management graduate degrees and see which might be a perfect program for you.

Certificate Programs in Sports Management

As a less time-intensive, non-degree program, many certificates can be earned in as little as six months, though most take one to two years. Certificate programs are designed to develop your skills, knowledge, and abilities in sales, marketing, analytics, and technology and how they impact the sports industry.

Many Sports Management certificates are designed to provide more flexibility for part-time students who work full-time. Typically, programs ask that you have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university. Some programs may also ask for a resume, transcripts, and a letter stating your intent.

Sports Management Masters Programs

Masters in Sports Management study the social and business issues that drive the sports industry. Therefore, courses cover the impact of media, developing leadership skills, approaches to complex issues in sports and team building, and how sports can help prevent violence and improve the health of sporting communities.

Many masters programs ask that you have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university and kept a 3.0 GPA or higher. Some schools may also ask for an essay, copy of your resume, and letters of recommendation.

Upon completing all required coursework, many sports management masters programs ask that you complete a thesis or capstone project. Typically, it takes full-time students two years to earn their masters degree. However, that depends a lot on when courses are available. Also, it may take longer for part-time students to work their way through the program.

PhD in Sports Management

In a PhD in sports management program , classes focus on developing your research, writing, and critical analysis skills so that you may be able to contribute your own theories and research to the sports management field. As a result, many courses examine approaches and rationales behind modern issues related to sports management and administration. Courses also analyze and interpret current research in the sports industry.

Most sports management PhD programs ask that you have earned a masters degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA or higher before applying. While each school has their own admissions requirements, some may include a resume, a writing sample, and letter(s) of recommendation.

Typically, upon completing all required coursework, PhD programs ask that you write, present, and defend a dissertation in front of a board of faculty. Many programs also ask you to complete a comprehensive exam in order to earn your degree.

Different Formats for Sports Management Graduate Programs

Typically, there are three different formats for you to choose from when pursuing a sports management graduate degree, which are listed here.

  1. Online Sports Management Degree
  2. You may pursue business careers specifically tailored to the sports industry when you have earned your sports management graduate degree. For instance, the jobs listed below, and their 2015 median annual salary, could be for any business, but after earning a sports management degree you may be able to pursue these roles specifically at a sports organization.

    Some students who earn a PhD choose to pursue a career as a postsecondary teacher. According the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2015 median annual salary for college teachers was $72,470.The BLS expects the number of postsecondary teachers to increase 13% during the 10 years that span 2014 to

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