Sports Manager Degrees and University Programs Overview

Athletes, physically active people, and sports enthusiasts with a talent for organization are good candidates for degrees in sports management. Graduates have vast career options with sports facilities, schools, professional teams, and retailers.

Essential Information

Sports management degree programs include elements of accounting, marketing, and fitness. Most programs combine on-campus classroom lectures with off campus practical experiences, such as internships. At the graduate level, students typically complete a culminating project, such as a thesis or dissertation. Most bachelor programs require applicants to have a high school diploma, and a specific minimum grade point average (GPA) that may vary according to school. ACT or SAT scores will also be required for for a bachelor's degree before applying for additional degrees such as a master's or a Ph.D. Program specializations include operations, finance, marketing or public relations. Associate and master's degrees can be earned in two years, bachelor's degree programs are completed in four years and Ph.D. programs must be completed in five years.


Associate's Degree in Sports Management

An associate's degree program in sports management introduces concepts in management, leadership, budgeting, and marketing that have been adapted to support athletic competition, as well as concepts in fitness, health, and wellness. Programs are typically built around classroom study, with some providing opportunities for internships. Students pursuing an associate's degree in sports management might take the following core courses:

  • Sports industry basics
  • Sports marketing
  • Fitness, exercise, and kinesiology
  • Anatomy and physiology

Bachelor's Degree in Sports Management

A bachelor's degree program in sports management provides more comprehensive exposure to topics introduced in associate's degree programs, as well as liberal arts courses and expanded opportunities to acquire off-campus experience in the field. Some programs channel students into an area of concentration, such as communications and public relations, finance, marketing, or operations. In addition to general education requirements, students in a bachelor's degree program in sports management complete a variety of multidisciplinary coursework, including classes in:

  • Exercise science
  • Sports history
  • Sports psychology
  • Facilities management and maintenance
  • Event planning and management
  • Communications, marketing, and promotions

Master's Degree in Sports Management

A master's degree program in sports management combines graduate-level core courses, electives and either a practicum or thesis. Some schools offer sports management as a specialization within an existing Master of Business Administration program, while others offer a stand-alone degree that requires further specialization in management, marketing, or finance. Master's candidates in sports management build on knowledge gained at the undergraduate level, through courses such as:

  • Sports budgeting and financial management
  • Brand management
  • Sports contracts, licensing, sponsorship, and negotiation
  • Sports law and ethics
  • Global sport

Ph.D. in Sports Management

Ph.D. programs in sports management feature a balance of coursework, seminars, and dissertation research, with most classes coming in the first year. Candidates typically have up to five years to complete their dissertation. Sports management classes on the doctoral level might include the following:

  • Research methods
  • Facilities administration
  • Administrative finance
  • Sports information systems
  • Group dynamics

Employment and Salary Info

Those who complete a bachelor's degree program in sports management are prepared for entry- and mid-level coaching positions. The number of employed coaches and scouts is projected to increase 6% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Coaches who hold a college degree should have an edge on the competition. As reported by the BLS, the median salary for coaches and scouts in 2015 was $31,000.

Popular Career Options

Students who complete an associate's degree in sports management are prepared for entry-level jobs with athletic departments or sports facilities, such as assistant facilities manager, equipment manager or marketing assistant. While master's graduates are prepared for high-level administrative and supervisory positions, including athletic director, sports information director or facility administrator.

Those who complete a Ph.D. program in sports management are prepared for careers as researchers and analysts. Available positions may include professor, research fellow or business analyst.

There are a many different levels at which you can acquire a Sports Manager degree. Coursework prepares you for exceedingly more complex elements of the industry as the degrees advance.

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