Sports Management College Majors and Degree Programs

Depending on students' career goals, sports management degree programs can prepare them to work as sports managers, agents and administrators. Candidates interested in earning a degree in sports management can find programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels.

Essential Information

Sports management professionals are responsible for various financial, promotional, marketing and supervisory responsibilities within sports organizations. Associate's degree programs typically prepare students for entry-level careers in the field, while bachelor's and master's programs can prepare students for leadership roles. Within a bachelor's and master's degree program, students have the opportunity to complete an internship. Those in a master's program may also need to complete a thesis. Programs at the undergraduate level require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission. Graduate applicants are typically required to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university to apply.

  • Program Levels in Sports Management: Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees, Ph.D. degrees
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma; bachelor's degree
  • Some Specializations Available: Athletic Development, Sports Marketing, Sports Administration
  • Experiential Learning: Internships are typically part of bachelor's and master's programs

Associate's Degree in Sports Management

Students interested in entry-level administrative, management or marketing careers in sports management can earn an associate's degree in sports management. These programs typically require two years of study and can allow students to pursue careers with sports teams, leagues, athletic organizations and related sports groups. Courses in a sports management program can teach students subjects like promotion, financial accounting and human resources management. Students can also take athletic, sports and exercise-based courses that focus on the scientific, medical and biological aspects of sports. Typical courses may involve subjects such as:

  • Business communication
  • Marketing
  • Sports and society
  • Accounting
  • Information technology
  • Event management

Bachelor's Degree in Sports Management

A bachelor's degree program can prepare students for supervisory and direct management positions with sports organizations. Sports management bachelor's degree programs can offer areas of specialty, such as athletic development, sports marketing or sports administration. In addition, many programs provide internship opportunities with local or regional sports organizations. Typical courses can include:

  • Sports finance
  • Sports leadership
  • Intercollegiate sports administration
  • Sports facilities management
  • Sports event management
  • Industrial trends in sports and exercise

Master of Science in Sports Management

A Master of Science (M.S.) in Sports Management degree program offers students the opportunity to focus on applying sports management to the athletic industry. Graduate students may study sports literature and learn athletic management techniques. Graduate students will learn to combine the practical aspects of athletic management with sports theory. Many programs culminate in the student's completion of a master's thesis. Some programs include a sports management internship. Common course topics involve:

  • Collegiate Athletics
  • Sports Finance
  • Sports Marketing
  • Leadership
  • Sports Law
  • Sports Industry Management

Popular Career Options

Sports management careers typically require individuals to work with athletes and other sports professionals to meet various short and long-term business objectives. Common sports management careers include:

  • Sports business administration
  • Park management
  • Event planning
  • Sports promotion

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2014 the mean annual wage for agents and business managers of artists, athletes and public figures was $97,220, while promoters of art and sports events earned a mean annual salary of $64,490 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that the employment of agents and managers of artists, performers and athletes was projected to grow average from 2012-2022.

Continuing Education Information

Beyond the master's degree level, students can enroll in Ph.D. programs in sports management, which could offer opportunities to study exercise science or exercise management. These programs may require a student to hold a master's degree for admission, and can lead to a variety of positions, including positions in sports franchises and fitness organizations.

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