If you’ve ever wanted to be closer to the sports that you love, encourage people to get active, or make a career in a fast-paced industry, you’ve probably considered a sports management degree. This program focuses on the business aspects of sports and recreation. They teach students everything they need to know in a structured classroom setting but will often use internship opportunities to apprentice students to local or international businesses, in hopes of giving them more hands-on learning opportunities.

A degree in sports management can open many doors in the sports and recreation industries whether you want to work for a professional team, their parent league, or just your local sporting facility.

What is Sports Management?

Sports management is any field related to the administrative or business side of the sports and recreation industry. It often attracts people that are interested in working for a sports team, franchise, or within a specific sporting organization like FIFA, the NBA, or NHL. Typically, people who pursue a sports management degree have a personal interest in sports and are looking for a job that speaks to their interests, both personal and professional.

However, it’s not enough just to have a passion for sports. People who enroll in a sports management degree should also be interested in the management aspect of the program. Often, colleges will offer sports management as a combined degree within their law, finance, or business programs. This allows students to focus on a specific aspect of management or business as it intersects with the sports and recreation industry.

While there are some colleges that offer undergraduate degrees in sports management, if you want to be promoted to a managerial role within the industry, it’s a good idea to consider doing a master’s or post-graduate program in sports management or athletic administration.

What colleges offer degrees in sports management?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the sports and recreation industry, you’ll need to begin thinking about your career path early on, before you register for college or university classes. Ideally, you would make this choice while you’re still in high school, so you can pick a college or university with an excellent reputation for sports management. While it is possible to pursue a master’s degree in sports management without taking specific sports-related classes during your undergraduate degree, it’s a much better idea to start right from the beginning.

There are several great universities and colleges that offer sports management degrees at an undergraduate level.

The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas is considered the best sports management program in the country. A&M offers both internship and non-internship options, depending on each student’s preference. Getting an internship in your chosen field is a great way to make connections for your post-graduate career. They also offer a Master of Science in Sport Management, as well as a Ph.D. in Kinesiology with a specialization in Sport Management, which is a great choice if you’re interested in pursuing a career in sports medicine or rehabilitation.

Another great school that offers a different approach to sports management is the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in Minneapolis. They offer a BS in Sport Management at the undergraduate level, which follows a fairly standard curriculum. However, once you get to the post-graduate level, they have two more unique programs. They offer a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Sports Management, which is focused on advanced studies in sports and fitness. They also offer a Master of Arts in Sport Management, which is a research-oriented program designed to encourage creative thinking and new ideas within the sports industry.

What types of courses are studied in this degree program?

Typically, students that are seeking a BS in sports management would need to first start by mastering the basic principles of business and management. Classes in management, economics, finance, math, accounting, and even public speaking are common foundational courses. While studying these basic management topics, students will also take specialized courses about the sports industry, as well as related electives that support their chosen career path.

If you’re serious about breaking into this industry, you’ll need to ensure that you’re picking electives that build on your foundational courses and provide you with a sufficient amount of knowledge in your chosen niche. For example, if you’re interested in accounting for a sports franchise, focus on math or finance. If you’re more focused on marketing as it relates to the sporting industry, seek out electives like event management, communications, and design.

Many schools also offer accredited internship opportunities to students. Internships give students practical, hands-on experience in their chosen field, and allow them to make valuable connections within the industry.

Another way that you can achieve a bachelor’s or master’s degree in sports management is to take courses online. There are several schools like the University of Florida, Southern New Hampshire University, and Troy University that offer full degree programs that can be completed online. Many of these schools partner with large organizations like the YMCA and the United States Olympic Committee to offer valuable internship opportunities to students.

What is the employment outlook for sports management degrees?

The sports industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that it will only continue to grow. This means that employment prospects have never been more promising.

Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in community recreation and physical fitness or want to work for a huge organization like the NFL or NBA, there are plenty of options where your sports management degree will be put to good use. If you’re interested in community outreach and want to support a local school, club, or community organization as their athletic director, you’ll make between $35,000 and 100,000 per year, depending on the size of their department. If you want to get involved in a larger organization, work for a professional athlete, or build a career in professional sports, you’ll likely start around $60,000 (the yearly salary of an agent or business manager), and could net a yearly salary of between $145,000 and 185,000 as a marketing director or project manager for a league like the NBA or NFL.

If you want to advance into upper-level management, it’s recommended that you complete a post-graduate degree in business administration (MBA). These types of programs give you a great foundation in current business practices and advanced managerial and leadership skills and are a great way to prove that you have the expertise needed to lead a team or department.

Are there any prerequisites for entering a sports management program?

If you’re interested in enrolling in a sports management program in college or university, you need to keep in mind that there may be prerequisites that you must complete before applying to the program. While prerequisites vary depending on where you’re applying, you’ll definitely need an official transcript of your high-school grades. You may also need a resume.

Often, schools ask incoming students to write an application essay, usually from one of these seven prompts. If you’re hoping to be accepted to a sports management program, make sure your essay is thoughtful, well-written, and reflects your love of sports and its prominent role in your life.

If you’re applying to a post-graduate sports management program like an MSc or MBA, you’ll need to have an undergraduate degree, preferably in a relevant program like management, kinesiology, or physical education. You’ll need to secure a transcript of your post-secondary grades, as well as letters of recommendation from mentors, professors, or another authority figure that can speak to your academic or professional achievements. You’ll also need to take a standardized test, like the GRE or GMAT. Some MBA programs require a few years of work experience in a related field before they will consider you for acceptance.

There are so many choices for excellent undergraduate and post-graduate sports management programs out there. With a little research, you’ll be able to find the one that works best for you.

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