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Online Degree Options for an Aspiring Athletic Director

Learn about online degrees with Athletic Director courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Many schools offer online bachelor's and master's degrees in sport management or athletic administration that train students to run sports or recreation programs. Anyone wishing to become an athletic director at a high school will need a teaching license in most states and should pursue a program that includes teacher training. An athletic director position at the college or university level usually calls for a master's degree.

Many courses in these degree programs can be taken online, although students may be required to complete internships or student teaching experiences in person. Students can access online courses as their schedules permit and interact with instructors and classmates through e-mail, chat rooms and online forums.

In a bachelor's degree program in sport management, students take courses in marketing, finance and personnel management. They also look at current issues in the sports industry. Master's degree programs include information on the business of athletic administration through courses in marketing, the media and current issues. Students also develop and utilize research skills through independent projects.

Bachelor's Programs in Sport Management

Students aspiring to be athletic directors can earn an online degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management. The curriculum combines courses in marketing, sports, business and education to give students a solid foundation for running a successful sports or recreation program. Some programs allow individuals to specialize in a particular area, such as finance and marketing. Online students sometimes have the option of participating in education experiences.

Information and Requirements

A bachelor's degree program in sports management can be completed online within four years. Online classes combine traditional texts with informational videos, online chats and forum discussions, allowing students to communicate with their instructors and peers. A variety of expert sources, such as sports coaches, trainers and administrators, teach the courses and are able to provide a practical and working knowledge of the field. Communication in online courses is commonly conducted via e-mail and instant messaging. On-site student teaching experiences may be optional.

Students need access to a computer with Internet connection and the ability to download and view video presentations. Because research papers are required for some courses, word processing and printing capabilities are also necessary.

Course Topics

Aspiring athletic directors receive an interdisciplinary education. They study sports ethics and laws in addition to techniques for marketing and communication.

Accounting Basics

This fundamental course teaches students accounting principles and procedures. Learned concepts include information development and decision making related to finances.

Administration Basics for Sports Organizations

This class exposes students to the various administrative challenges and issues of running a successful sports organization. Students learn about personnel organization, company policies and procedures, interoffice communication essentials and leadership roles.

Contemporary Issues in Sports Management

Students examine the growing role and obsession with sports in society and the challenges athletic directors face. By the end of the course, they understand the power and influence of the sports industry.


Master's Programs in Athletic Administration and Sport Management

Most students aspiring to be athletic directors want to work at the college and university levels. This usually requires a graduate degree, such as a Master of Education in Athletic Administration or a Master of Science in Sport Management. These programs are available online. They teach students to be both business administrators and sports enthusiasts who oversee the operation of a number of departments and are involved in setting budgets, raising funds, publicizing teams and working closely with all athletic departments.

Information and Requirements

Graduate programs in sport management or athletic administration are available in online or hybrid formats; a bachelor's degree in a related field is a prerequisite. Designed to be completed in two years, online programs require students to have e-mail, computer and Internet access. Students conduct research online in preparation for their thesis project. A course management system, such as Blackboard, keeps track of all class materials and assignments. Students may be required to complete an on-site internship.

Course Topics

Graduate students continue to build upon the basics of accounting, business, marketing and other related subjects, while also conducting independent research projects.

Sports Management Research Methods

This class focuses on the various research methods used in the athletic industry and highlights practices in reading and evaluating research. Such class topics as problem selection, research review and statistical analysis are covered.

Organized Sports in Society

Students work to understand and analyze the role of competitive sports in society. The class considers socio-culture factors and the role of ethics in sports.

Sports Media and Marketing

Students study successful marketing practices used by university and professional sports programs. The class uses examples from contemporary society and media as illustrations, and it details the development and implementation of marketing and communications plans.


Career Information for Graduates

Graduates may work as athletic directors for recreation departments and organizations, country clubs, resorts and other leisure-related employers. In addition to a bachelor's degree in sports management or athletic administration, a teaching license qualifies graduates to work as athletic directors for high school programs. Some high schools may not require a teaching license for part-time work. A bachelor's degree is a good start for athletic directors aspiring to work in intercollegiate athletics, but a master's or doctorate is often required to work at the university and college levels.

Graduates of a master's program in sports management or athletic administration are poised to begin a number of exciting careers, including college or university athletic administrator. As of May 2015, the median annual wage for postsecondary education administrators, which includes athletic directors working in postsecondary education, was $88,580, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Continuing Education Information

Beyond a master's degree, some students pursue law degrees. Other graduates continue their education further, entering Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Education programs in sports psychology, sports leadership or related fields. These types of degree programs aren't offered in online formats.

Bachelor's and master's degree level programs in sport management or athletic administration are available online. Those wishing to become an athletic director at the high school level will need to have a teaching license in most states, while those at the college or university level will normally need to have a master's degree.


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