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Sports Management Degree 101

July 10, 2012 · 12 Comments

Earning a degree in sports management can lead to a variety of roles within the sporting industry. That diploma with some work experience qualifies you for a position in a front office, marketing department, as a player agent or in ticket sales, to name a few. It can help already established professionals transition into the industry as well as enhancing marketability for those entering it fresh out of school. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there but here are some basics to help you get started.

What does a sports management program teach you?

Obviously each program differs but, at its core, a sports management degree is a niche business degree. Its subjects will educate you on all aspects of the business side of sports. Courses in sports marketing, ethics, facility management, finance and operations are typical. It takes a lot to run a successful sports-centric company so the degree is structured in a way that it can be applied to many areas of an organization.

Are there different types of sports management degrees?

There are several standard degrees that you should consider depending on your current level of education. Research them in more detail to find the right one for you. When selecting between a Masters or MBA in Sports Management realize that an MBA will prepare you more for a business management or operations role where a Masters could include opportunities in coaching, scouting and marketing.

  • Bachelors in Sports Management
  • Masters in Sports Management
  • MBA in Sports Management
  • PhD in Athletic Administration / Sports Management

What does a sports management degree qualify you to do?

Sports management degrees have been applied across the industry. Utilizing the degree comes down to finding out what skills are in demand, what interests you the most and talking with people who know about that career. School counselors at prospective colleges will help you select the best path and conducting informational interviews with people already in the field are especially useful. Keep in mind that most degrees allow you to choose an emphasis whether it is operations, marketing, administration or health and medicine. Below are some notable positions which can be obtained by combining a sports management degree with the right experiences. But the list goes on-and-on.

How can you best translate your degree into a successful career?

The sports management degree is one piece of the puzzle. But, like in any other industry, real world experiences make the puzzle complete. While in school search high-and-low for internships, paid or otherwise. No one likes working for free but an unpaid internship in college will give you an edge when applying for jobs after graduation. Remind yourself of your long-term goals. Those experiences will also show you what sports business careers you are not interested in. And the people you meet through these internships will be the foundation for a professional network that you’ll develop throughout your career.


Where should you go from here?

The North American Society for Sport Management has a consolidated list of colleges and universities offering Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral sports management degrees. The links within it will take you to the sports management websites for the individual schools. Read background information, detailed curriculum and use contact information to learn more about each program. U.S. News & World Report is a well respected organization in education research and you should take its school rankings into account.  Once you narrow down your list of potential schools make sure it has Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation. AACSB recognition legitimizes the degree you seek.

Any degree, whether it be undergrad or graduate, can be expensive so detailed up front research will validate your decision to obtain a sports management degree. It will also help make sure you choose the right school to earn it from. The upfront research helps avoid disappointment and saves time and money. It ensures the degree you earn matches your needs from the beginning.

Tags: Advice & Education

12 responses so far ↓

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  • 12 Anthony S // Mar 6, 2014 at 4:32 AM

    Thank you for sharing this article. I'd like to know what is the difference in sports management and sports marketing. From what I know, most of their disciplines tend to overlap, including media relations, fitness, and crisis management. Would appreciate your quick response! Thanks!

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