Sports Management Degree

What is a Sports Management Degree?

A sports management degree is a uniquely specialized degree that positions graduates to work with professional athletes, facilities, and support staff as agents, publicity managers, facilities coordinators, and general managers, among other career tracks. Sports management programs are heavily business focused, but tailored to the specific demands of athletes and sports franchises. This is a competitive field, but openings for sports management degree program graduates are available at educational institutions with sports programs, minor and major athletic leagues, and companies that provide sports products and services. Most sports management programs are offered at the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, though professional certificate programs are also available for those who already hold related degrees.

What Can You Do with a Sports Management Degree?

There are a number of career tracks that sports management graduates can follow. Sought-after entry level positions in sports include reporters and correspondents specializing in sports news and analysis. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for these occupations is $36,000.1

Sports management graduates may also work as advertising, promotions, and marketing managers, working on advertising the sports team or facility for which they work and creating promotions and incentives to drive revenue. These professionals earn a median salary of $108,260 per year, with growth prospects between 2010 and 2020 estimated at 14%.2

A sports management degree is often required to obtain professional designations. The sports specific designation of Registered Collegiate Recreational Sports Professional is offered by the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association. Sports managers may also be interested in pursuing designations for business, such as the International Association of Business Communicators’ Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) certification.

Prerequisites and Requirements

Sports management degrees are in high demand, which has resulted in fewer applicants being accepted into such programs due to space constraints. Those interested in pursuing an accredited sports management degree should be prepared to exceed the minimum requirements for acceptance in order to meet this heightened selectivity. At most schools:

  • Admission to a bachelor’s degree program requires proof of a high school diploma or GED. A cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or higher may be required. Minimum scores on the ACT or SAT exams may be required. A demonstrated interest in sports, including participation as an athlete, may be an advantage.
  • Admission to a master’s degree program requires proof of a completed bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in a field related to sports or business is often required. Minimum scores on the GRE or GMAT exams may be requested. Due to high competition for a limited number of spaces, many programs require letters of recommendation and a personal statement showing interest and/or experience in sports and athletics.
  • Typical Coursework

    Since sports management is a highly competitive field, most programs offer hands on internship and other learning opportunities as part of the program of study. Students learn not only about business and its fundamentals, but how the principles and theory of business are applied to sports management. Course titles students may be required to complete include:

    • Introductory Accounting
    • Economics
    • Business Finance
    • Statistics
    • Operations Management
    • Marketing Fundamentals
    • Ethics
    • Social Aspects of Sports Management
    • Sports Media
    • Sports Governance
    • Sports Law
    • Sports Administration
    • Facility Management
    • Event Planning and Management

    Career openings with sports teams and facilities are pursued by sports management graduates as well as graduates of programs in business and communications, which fuels high application rates for these job openings. However, job openings are available for those with the education and drive to pursue this career.

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    1. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
    2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: