Sports management degrees address the concepts, theories, and best practices of business and apply them to the sports industry.
Some sports management courses are specific and touch on topics such as leadership and adapting to the rapidly changing sports environment, or cover aspects of sports administration, including talent acquisition, athlete representation and coaching. Other courses will be broader and covering topics like sports marketing and media.
With growth projected in the sports industry, now is the perfect time to pursue a degree in sports management. We will walk you through this and other aspects of the industry, as well as explain what to expect to learn while pursuing your degree.
There are two main reasons to pursue a degree in sports management, both related to each other. The first is salary potential. The second is job opportunity. In order for either to exist, you should first determine if the larger industry is growing. In the case of spectator sports, it is. In 2016, the North American Sports Industry had a reported value of about $67.29 BILLION dollars. If you are not impressed by that number, the 2021 predicted figure is $78.53 Billion. As revenues grow, it's likely that so will opportunities within the industry. Let's take a closer look.
Sport management is the business of sports and recreation. This includes managing the front office of a sports team, overseeing the finances of an athletic organization or supporting sports marketing, event management and facility management.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management jobs within Spectator Sports have among the highest median salary as well as most employment opportunities [when looking at the two data points together].
|General and Operations Managers||$90,334||3,050|
|Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes||$92,227||Not Reported|
|Public Relations and Fundraising Managers||$101,192||410|
|Coaches and Scouts||$32,270||7,130|
|Athletes and Sports Competitors||$51,370||7,040|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||$51,812||1,330|
Taking a closer look at top cities and states with the highest level of employment for coaches and scouts, a specific job within the sports industry, it is no surprise that most openings are predicted in states near a major or minor league sports team or collegiate system. It is also likely that opportunities for other jobs in the sports sector such as operations managers will also be in these same areas.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Athens-Clarke County, GA||29,760||$41,500|
Keep in mind, professional sports organizations are not your only opportunity. The industries with the highest concentration of employment for coaches and scouts are:
Sports management degrees are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under the category of Parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies.
In fact, in the most recent update of the data (20011/12), across the U.S, there were 3,035 sports management degrees awarded to graduate students. The majority (99.3%!) of these programs were at the masters level.
Sports management and sports administration may be used interchangeably because they both cover the business-side of sports, as well as the development of talent. However, there are a few slight differences.
Sports management graduate programs could focus more on the business aspects of sports organizations. These may include marketing, public relations, finance, and facilities management.
Sports administration programs might emphasize developing and managing talent. Think team managers, coaches and agents. Topics could include making roster moves, signing new talent, and representing athletes.
There are sports management and sports administration programs that combine these 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.
Sports Management Masters Degree Guide
|Sponsored Degree Example: M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business||Sponsored Degree Example: Master of Sports Administration||Sponsored Degree Example: Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management|
|Length of Program: 54 credits||Length of Program: 36 Credits||Length of Program: 30 Credits|
|The MBA will focus on a strong business background with foundations in sales and marketing, finance, revenue generation, analytics, accounting and management||The MA covers aspects relative to the administration and management of sports personnel and facilities, recreation and fitness programs and businesses, health facilities, coaching, and recreational activities||Master of Professional Studies degrees combine administration and management aspects. They may emphasize case studies and internships or field experience.|
|Concentrations focus on trends in sports business. Sample courses:||Sample Courses:||Sample Courses:|
|Program Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) & Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)||Program Accreditation: This sample program does not hold a programmatic accreditation.||Program Accreditation: Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA)|
If you are looking to work specifically in Elementary or Secondary school systems, you may want to consider an MEd, or Master of Education. These MEd's focus on sports administration with in school systems.
If you are interested in working as a researcher or impact the sports industry on a broader level, a PhD in sports management is the degree you should consider. Doctorate programs focus on developing research, writing, and critical analysis skills so that you may be able to contribute new knowledge to the sports management field. Courses might examine approaches and rationales behind modern issues
As previously mentioned, courses for a program will depend on which type of degree you choose to pursue (MBA vs MSA vs MPS). A few of the common course themes are centered on leadership, ethics & finance. Exploring these areas a bit more deeply, sample course descriptions would include.
Management & Leadership in Sport Organizations
This type of course would cover the critical function of leadership in the management of sport organizations. Building from the academic foundations of industrial psychology, organizational behavior, and organizational theory, we consider the degree to which leadership is of strategic import to organizational operations.
Applied Ethics in Sports
This type of course would cover a broad understanding of the moral and ethical issues in sports with a special focus on the responsibility of governing bodies and decision-makers in sport including: faculty, coaches, athletic directors, presidents, professional league commissioners, heads of professional league player associations and owners.
Financial Administration in Sports
This type of course would provide an understanding of different financial decisions that confront the sports industry. In addition to basic accounting skills, the course will explore financial statement analysis, working capital, and budgeting.
Recognized as one of the top programs in the world, Georgetown University's Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management is available in an online format.
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Aside from making sure any school you choose is regionally accredited by one of the six regional associations, there are also program specific accreditations you may want to consider. The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) is one such accreditation. COSMA is a specialized accrediting body whose purpose is to promote and recognize excellence in sport management education. Other accreditations to consider would include:
If the program you are considering is an MBA in Sports Administration, look out for an accreditation from one of these two organizations:
If the program you are considering is an MEd or MBA, MS or MA with an education component, look for an accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).
Masters in Sports Administration programs are typically completed in about two years, or 24 months. The specifics though will depend on the circumstances in your schedule as well as how often the school offers classes.
A PhD Sports Management degree typically takes 3 to 5 years to complete. The largest factor here is the time it takes to complete the dissertation PhD candidates are asked to complete.
|University||# Of Credits Required||Start Dates||Minimum Months to Complete|
|University of Northern Colorado||30||Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer||12 months|
|Lasell University||36||6 Starts Through the Year||12 months|
|Northcentral University||30||Weekly Course Starts||15 months|
The average cost of a of a graduate degree in sports management from a public institution is $11,617 per year. This means you will be able to find programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.
To give specific examples, this visualization shows graduate tuition costs of 4 institutions with Sport & Fitness Management graduates as reported by the NCES. We have then compared those costs to the typically most affordable and most expensive college options, also as reported by NCES.
Cost per credit of course is different at every College or University. State Universities are also likely to have in state costs vs out of state costs. Below are a few examples of the cost per credit as reported by each one of these institutions.
|University||# Of Credits Required||Cost Per Credit||Total Tuition Cost|
|University of Northern Colorado||30||$565||$16,950|
|Grand Canyon University||54||$575||$31,050|
We asked Senior Account Executive, Tamarah Strauss about how earning a sports management masters degree 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 sport management degree 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
The golfing industry is growing faster than any other sporting industry worldwide.