best sports management programs to jumpstart your career in sports

The sports industry continues to grow and get more competitive, which means sports management jobs are difficult to land. But that doesn’t mean you should write-off your fantasy of managing your favorite baseball team. You just need to take the first step to getting ahead and focus on your education.

There are several program options throughout the country, but with so many choices, it’s hard to decipher which one is right for you.  

Here are some high ranking sports management programs that can help jumpstart your career, at both the undergraduate and graduate level:

Best Undergraduate Sports Management Degree Programs

Undergraduate degrees in sports management include coursework to help people who want careers with amateur, collegiate, and professional sports organizations. There are several options for both Bachelor of the Arts and Bachelor of Science.

These sports management programs are ideal for students who want to work at sports organizations, but they are also great for established business professionals who want to transition into the sports industry.

Some programs combine degree coursework with business, law, health, finance, and similarly related areas of study. The main goal is the same – students learn how to manage business dynamics that drive sports organizations.

Here are some of the best programs to consider:

Saint Leo University

Bachelor of the Arts in Sports Business

Located near Tampa, FL, the campus is around more than 50 sports organizations, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, numerous MLB Spring Training facilities and minor league teams, and Saint Leo’s NCAA Division II Athletics.

This program was one of only two programs in the U.S. to earn Commission on Sports Management Accreditation (COSMA) in the first year it was available.

Students are exposed to a variety of professional development opportunities, like Saint Leo’s International Business Conference as well as a national case study competition at the Sports Marketing Association Conference.

For those interested in studying abroad, Saint Leo offers students the chance to travel Australia for three weeks to learn about international sports and tourism. They also provide an MBA Sports Business program that ranks as one of the top online sports management programs in the world.

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University of Florida

Bachelor of Science in Sports Management

This online degree is also one of the top rated in the country. The core curriculum includes courses like Sport and Society and Sports Facility Design and Management. Students get to pursue other niche areas through electives, such as Entrepreneurship and The Legal Environment of Business.

Plus, the online is almost half that of residential tuition. However, you don’t just sit at a desk, talk on discussion boards, and do your homework — you stay engaged with the sports industry.

This is a great program for students who are interested in pursuing research. They have direct access to top researchers — the faculty. They are heavily involved in research through the Laboratory for Athlete and Athletics Development and Research as well as the Sports Policy and Research Collaborative. The latter is the official research partner of the Aspen Institute’s Project Play, an initiative that aims to get more children active in sports, as a means of encouraging habits that promote health, fitness, and well-being into adulthood.

What’s more, the program requires that students complete a full-time internship experience. This is a great opportunity for you to expand your network while gaining real-world experience.

Temple University

Bachelor of Science in Sports and Recreation Management

Located in a Philadelphia, PA, students enjoy many benefits of living and studying in a major hub for sports and tourism. The university’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management is renowned for its programs and high-quality research.

Given the location, this is a great school for those who want to build their professional network. Students are surrounded by the industry, with several northeastern sports teams not just in the city, but also in nearby New York, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh. This creates opportunities to create meaningful connections in the industry.

The program offers three different concentrations: event leadership, sport and recreation promotion, and governance and policy.

Best Graduate Sports Management Programs

For many students, the undergraduate level is just the first step in their academic journey. Many of these universities offer incredible Master level programs as well.

For example. Temple University gives their students some great options. If they plan to reach mid- to high-level management positions, they can earn their Master of Science in Sport Business. For professionals currently working in mid- and senior level positions, Temple also offers an online program called the Executive Master of Science in Sport Business.

Graduate programs give you a more advanced knowledge and make you more competitive in the sports job market. Here are some of the best sports management programs at the graduate level:

Georgetown University

Master of Professional Studies in Sports Industry Management

Students enjoy a blend of focused study and hands-on experience when they enroll at Georgetown University. The best part — it’s flexible, offering online and on-campus options so you can work while you study.

Students also get to tailor their experience by selecting from two concentrations — either strategic marketing, communications, and digital media or business, management, and operations. Plus they have access to a broad partner network, including Fox Sports, the NFL Players Association, and the Washington Nationals.

Columbia University

Master of Science in Sports Management

This top ranking program teaches management skills with a focus on digital sports media and marketing, global sports, and sports analytics. These are exciting fields that continue to grow in the sports world.  

Your dream of managing your favorite baseball team is still possible. You just need to focus on the books first.

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