Sports writing is usually included in a more general mass communications or journalism degree program, but a few degree and certificate programs focus on sports writing. These programs often include a combination of coursework and practical experience. Some online courses and programs may be available.
A 4-year bachelor's degree program in sports communication typically offers a comprehensive overview of the field. Certificate programs in sports journalism are brief undergraduate programs that offer basic instruction in the field. Master's programs are often aimed at sports writers who want to advance their careers or get up-to-date on new technology.
Bachelor's Degree in Sports Communication
Sports writing figures prominently in the few bachelor's degree program in sports communication. Alternatively, journalism bachelor's degree programs typically include sports writing coursework, as do bachelor's degree programs in sports management.
In addition to journalism training, this type of program also includes coursework in sports broadcasting, digital media and sports marketing, along with liberal arts and humanities education. Students are often offered the opportunity to work for campus publications. Sports communication bachelor's degree programs include general education courses, such as math, science and English. Most programs include internships or other hands-on work opportunities. Some course topics may include:
- Writing for mass media
- Sports reporting
- Sports media production
- The culture of sports in media
- Writing for broadcast
Certificate in Sports Journalism
Perhaps because it is such a specialized area in journalism, there are only a few certificate programs in sports journalism. Some of the bigger journalism schools do offer a concentrated course of study in sports writing and communication, either for those just out of high school or those enrolled in a bachelor's degree program. The focus of these types of certificate programs is sports reporting, whether it's writing, broadcast or photography. Similar sports communication programs may also look at marketing and advertising and focus less on sports writing.
Sports journalism certificate programs focus on journalism and sports reporting and do not include general education classes. They may include an internship or similar work experience. Some course topics include:
- Foundations of sports journalism
- Broadcast and Web writing and reporting
- Telling a story visually
- Feature writing for sports journalists
- News stories for multimedia
Master's Degree in Sports Journalism
Like the sports writing programs at the bachelor's degree and certificate levels, there are only a few programs specific to sports journalism available at the master's degree level. The existing programs are geared toward professionals who seek to advance in the field of sports writing and reporting to perhaps national or international news outlets. Most master's degree programs also provide a look at how the Internet is changing the sports writing field and all of journalism. Some general journalism master's degree programs may also include advanced sports writing coursework.
Most master's degree programs include a thesis or similar research project, as well as the opportunity for internships or hands-on work experience. Some course topics may be:
- The business behind sports media
- The impact of sports journalism on society
- Mass media and society
- Advanced sports reporting and writing
- Amateur sports coverage
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a sports communication bachelor's degree program may be prepared for work in many related areas. Some job titles include:
- Sports announcer
- Sports writer
- Sports information director
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employers of news analysts, reporters and correspondents consider practical experience to be the most important element of education and training (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicts that jobs for news analysts, reporters and correspondents will decline by 9 percent between 2014 and 2024. The median annual salary for reporters and correspondents was $37,720 in 2015, according to the BLS.
For those interested in working with sports teams or sporting venues, there are many master's degree programs in sports management that also may include training in sports marketing and promotion. Such programs include coursework in finance and business, and some schools offer the program as a dual degree with a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
For candidates interested in research and academic careers related to sports writing, there are Ph.D. programs in journalism that may include sports journalism coursework. Also, Ph.D. programs in sports management may be appealing to sports writers who want to pursue further study of the theory and history of sports.
There are several degree and certificate programs that prepare students for careers in sports writing. They can help build students' journalistic and communication skills, especially as they relate to covering athletic events, teams and competitors.