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Graduates of sports management programs handle the business end of sports. From sports agents and scouts, to head coaches, athletic directors and facility managers, these savvy professionals can be found all over the country. They help run major league teams, Division I squads, municipal organizations, private companies, gyms, golf resorts and more. Marketing? Finance? Event management? They’re trained in that too.
Competition for jobs in the sports industry is tight and turnover is rare. If you’re set on this career, we recommend you seek out real-world internships (a must!), look for schools that place you close to your dream team and network like crazy.
You also have the option to browse through our guide to affordable sports management programs. Here you’ll find detailed info about degree options, sample coursework and career opportunities for each level of education. We explain why sports agents need to be licensed and what universities mean when they say they’re accredited.
The College of Education and Human Development at Texas A & M University College Station offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management with an internship and non-internship option. Students who wish to study sport management from a business perspective are encouraged to explore the internship option, while students interested in administrative and management positions should consider the non-internship option. There is also a Master of Science (MS) in Sport Management degree available. The MS program prepares students for careers in activity programming and events management, sport marketing and promotions, and facility management and planning. The department also offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Kinesiology with a specialization in Sport Management degree.
CAG Score 97.0
Students at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities who are interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management program can enroll at the School of Kinesiology. The school also offers a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Sport Management program. This is a practitioner-oriented program that prepares students for advanced studies in the field or careers in sport and fitness related professions. The Master of Arts (MA) in Sport Management program is a research-oriented program that offers students an interdisciplinary curriculum with an emphasis on generating new ideas and improving current practices in the sport industry. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Kinesiology program offered by the department has a Sport Management emphasis.
CAG Score 96.6
The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport and Recreation Management program offered at the University of Minnesota in Crookston has an employment-oriented curriculum. Students learn about general business principles, such as finance, management, and marketing, as they relate to sport and recreation management. The program includes coursework in facility and event management, sport finance and economics, sport ethics and leadership, and sport psychology. Students admitted to the program are given the option of completing their degree on campus via face-to-face instruction, or completely online. The BS in Sport and Recreation Management program offers a Coaching minor which is only offered on campus.
CAG Score 96.5
At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management is part of the Isenberg School of Management. The department offers Bachelor of Science (BS), Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Sport Management programs. Students admitted to Isenberg's Master of Business Administration (MBA) program have the option of choosing sport management as the focus of their study. This option is available to students pursuing the degree on campus as well as online. The department offers a dual degree program that allows qualified students to concurrently earn their MS in Sport Management degree and their MBA degree.
CAG Score 96.3
The Department of Kinesiology at Saint Cloud State University offers a BS in Recreation and Sports Management, as well as an MS in Sport Management. The BS program requires 41 credits of major coursework and eight credits of electives. Students in the major are required to complete two practica and one 15-week internship. The MS program requires 32 to 36 credits of coursework and can be completed on a full or part-time basis. MS students can also choose from two tracks of study: an internship track or a thesis track. Students in the MS program are eligible for graduate assistantships that include partial tuition remission and a stipend, with 12 to 15 assistantships offered through St. Cloud State Athletics each year.
CAG Score 96.3
The Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology at Michigan Technological University offers a Bachelor of Science in Sports and Fitness Management that qualifies students to take certification examinations to become personal trainers or strength and conditioning specialists. The B.S. in Sports and Fitness Management requires 85 credits of major coursework that covers subjects such as kinesiology, accounting, management, marketing, biology, chemistry and mathematics. B.S. students can also complete a six to twelve-credit internship, become an undergraduate researcher or participate in the Enterprise program, in which students collaborate to complete projects for real clients. Additionally, sports and fitness management students can enhance their degree with a coaching minor, a coaching certificate, a lifeguard certificate or a water safety instructor certificate.
CAG Score 96.2
The Sport Management program at Wayne State College gives students the option of pursuing either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Sport Management or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management degree. Students admitted in either program are encouraged to add a minor to their BS or BA degree in order to qualify for a greater number of career choices after graduation. A minor in Broadcast Communication or Business Administration is highly compatible with the department's BS/BA in Sport Management degree. The program offers a wide range of coursework including Sport Law, Facility Management, Ethics in Sport Management, and Principles of Marketing.
CAG Score 96.2
Farmingdale State College offers a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management that allows students some flexibility to tailor the coursework to their career interests. To earn the degree, students must complete 121 to 123 credits, including 48 credits in business and sport management classes. Among the topics sport management majors study are sports economics, a sociological analysis of sports in society, accounting, management theory, business law, sport information management, sport marketing, sport finance, and athletic administration. Students who are interested in gaining hands-on experience can arrange an internship in their final two years in the program. School of Business scholarships open to sport management majors include the Loretta Chiarenza Memorial Scholarship and the Frank J. DelBene Memorial Scholarship.
CAG Score 96.2
The Sport Management Graduate Program at WIU puts roughly half of its students in graduate assistantships, whether by having them teach in a classroom or finding them employment with the WIU Athletics Office. Students can also compete against Kinesiology majors for the William Lakie Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded based on academic achievement, extracurricular involvement and exemplary leadership. Undergrads looking for a different entry approach can get a baccalaureate and master's in five years via the Sports Broadcasting/Sport Management 4+1 integrated degree.
CAG Score 96.1
The Bachelor of Science in Sport Management at Castleton University requires students to acquire practical experience through internships and service learning. At the end of their college career, all sport management manors complete an internship, and this experience often leads students to their first professional job out of college. Castleton sport management majors have worked for athletic departments at colleges such as the U.S. Military Academy and Notre Dame, for minor league sports teams, and for professional race events. The program also helps students to develop a professional network throughout their college career. Outside of class, students can join the Sport Management and Administration Club.
CAG Score 96.1
The Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management degree offered by the Department of Kinesiology at Bethel College is an interdisciplinary program designed for students with plans to build a career in the sport industry. The curriculum covers diverse topics such as the fundamentals of accounting, business law, principles of marketing, human resources management, and the psychosocial dimension of kinesiology. The degree is comprised of a total of 124 credits, 48 of which constitutes the major and must be taken at Bethel. All students are required to complete an internship experience in order to graduate from the program. The department also offers an 18-credit minor in sport management. Graduates are prepared for work as athletic directors, health club administrators, sport team/club manager, etc.
CAG Score 96.0
The Master of Education in Sports Administration at Midwestern State University prepares students for a management career in fields such as intercollegiate sports, professional sports, or community recreation services. This 36-credit program allows candidates to select from four focus areas: event and facilities management, media and community relations in sport, sport marketing and finance, or special topics in sport management. For their capstone project, candidates can perform applied research, a project, or independent study. Applicants should have taken at least 18 credits of related undergraduate coursework or they will have to take leveling courses.
CAG Score 96.0
University of Florida students who are interested in sport management can enroll at the Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management program at UF's College of Health and Human Performance. There is a 4+1 combined degree program that lets students earn a BS in Sport Management as well as a Master of Science (MS) in Sport Management in five years. This is one year less than it would take to pursue each degree separately. There is also a stand-alone MS in Sport Management program available. The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health and Human Performance program allows students to choose sport management as an area of concentration. All sport management programs are administered through the Department of Tourism, Recreation and Sport Management.
CAG Score 95.9
Iowa's Department of Health and Human Physiology runs BS and MA programs in Sport and Recreation Management. Both undergrads and graduate students are eligible for departmental scholarships; they must apply by March 1st. Residents near the state's capital can avoid relocation costs by taking the entire bachelor's program at the University of Iowa's Des Moines campus. Students in the MA program can look for appointments as teaching assistants, research assistants or student employees with the athletic department. Once they do, their tuition is fully paid for. (Most undergrads start out as teaching assistants.)
CAG Score 95.9
The sport management department at North Carolina State University has ties to 50 sports organizations around the country (including, yes, the Carolina Panthers) that provide internships for students working toward a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management. Students learn the business of sports with hands-on projects. They also follow a community-based curriculum that focuses on how sport can improve communities, such as by combatting obesity or pollution. Sport management majors seeking funds to help cover their expenses will find the college has scholarships specifically for their degree, including the Edwin and Letitia Lindsay Sport Management Scholarship and the Jack Frauson Sport Management Scholarship. Awards vary for both scholarships.
CAG Score 95.9
The Department of Business and the Department of Physical Education at Geneva College have teamed up to offer a bachelor's degree in sport management. This sport management program stands out from other similar programs because Geneva offers an emphasis on how to apply the Christian faith to the marketplace. Students in this program will take courses like Facility Management & Design, Legal Issues in Sport, Biblical Management & Business Ethics, and Governance and Organization of Sport. Graduates of this program pursue positions in community, intercollegiate, interscholastic, professional, and youth sport organizations as well as various sport venues.
CAG Score 95.9
Students interested in a behind-the-scenes sports career can earn a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management from SUNY Fredonia. The 49-credit program requires students to take classes in topics such as financial accounting, statistics, sport psychology, sport management, facility management, event management, sport law and risk management, and marketing and public relations. To complete the degree, all majors must work an internship with at least 400 hours spent on the job with an organization in the sports or sports management industry. Students in the program have interned with the Buffalo Bills, New York Islanders, regional college and high school athletic programs, and local health and recreation centers. A 21-credit minor in sport management is also available.
CAG Score 95.8
The sport management program at North Dakota State University provides students with plenty of hands-on experiences, including a required 500-plus-hour internship, which students usually complete the summer before their senior year. Past sport management majors have found internships with organizations including the Minnesota Vikings and the U.S. Olympic Committee. Students secure their own internship and it can be anywhere in the world. All sport management majors must take 42 credits in the major and complete a minor in business administration to receive the Bachelor of Science in Sport Management. Outside the classroom, student groups organize trips to sports venues and professional events around the region.
CAG Score 95.8
The Department of Human Performance at Minnesota State University-Mankato offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in sport management. The undergraduate program in sport management requires 37 major credits that teach students about sport administration, marketing, finance, law and ethics. Major requirements also include a three to six-credit internship. Additionally, study abroad opportunities are available to sport management students, including week-long courses that take them to places like New York, Arizona or the Virgin Islands. The graduate program in sport management is offered in three tracks of study: an internship option, a thesis option and a manuscript option. MSUM awards 10 scholarships and three awards to sport management students each year, including the $500 Rushing Sport Management Scholarship and the $500 Dennis Erie Sport Management Scholarship.
CAG Score 95.7
The Department of Kinesiology at Towson University's College of Health Professions offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management degree. The program prepares students for careers in a wide variety of sport settings, including collegiate and professional sports, facility and event management, recreation management, and the fitness industry. Students admitted to the program are required to complete a formal minor in business administration. Business courses are coordinated with Towson University's College of Business and Economics, and include classes in accounting, finance, marketing, management, and micro- and macro-economics.
CAG Score 95.6
Alfred State College offers an Associate of Science and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Sport Management. Students who complete the 64-credit associate program can enter directly into the B.B.A. program. To earn the bachelor's degree, students must complete 123 credit hours of coursework, including classes in accounting, marketing, sport communication, business law, sport facility management, and sport law. Students take two field experience classes where they work at least 45 hours getting hands-on experience in sport management. In their final semester, students work a full-time internship in a sports management position. As part of the experience, students must keep a journal, write a paper, and make a public presentation about their experience.
CAG Score 95.6
At SUNY Cortland, the Sport Management Department is part of the School of Professional Studies. The department offers Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management programs. At the Sport Media and Technology Learning Center, four state-of-the-art student computer labs and classrooms give students access to the latest hardware and software used in the sport industry. The department also offers a Master of Science (MS) in Sport Management program that students can pursue on a full-time or part-time basis. Courses for this program are available on-campus and online. There is also an MS in International Sport Management program available. Students admitted to this program can complete their degree in international locations such as Australia, Canada, England or Germany.
CAG Score 95.6
The University of Georgia's College of Education offers a Bachelor of Science in Education (BSEd) in Sport Management degree through the Department of Kinesiology. Students admitted to the program learn how to apply core business principles to the sports industry. The department also offers Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Kinesiology degrees. Both programs allow students to choose Sport Management and Policy as their major area of study. A dual degree program makes it possible for students in the MS program to pursue a concurrent degree in law (Juris Doctor). The PhD program allows students to focus their research in the following areas: sport marketing and consumer behavior, social/cultural diversity and social justice, and risk management.
CAG Score 95.3
The Kinesiology Department at Brooklyn College offers a Master of Science in Physical Education: Sports Management that covers topics such as sports management, sports and the law, and public relations. The program is designed for students who have an undergraduate degree in sports management and who already have some experience in the business. Students must meet prerequisites that include having taken undergraduate classes in management, marketing, and accounting. The program requires students to complete 36 credits, including Research Methods and Design, Risk Management and Legal Issues in Sport, Administration of Interscholastic and Intercollegiate Sport, and Global Sport. An internship program allows students to gain real-world experience in sports management.
CAG Score 95.3
Students who major in Sport Management at Lyndon State College have 32 elective credits they can use to tailor their degree to their career goals. Many students decide to pair the Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with a minor such as electronic journalism, exercise science, or marketing, strengthening their skills and employability. The program gives students many opportunities for hands-on experience, including working for the athletic department and at fitness centers operated by Lyndon alumni. Over their college career, sport management majors perform at least 450 hours of experiential learning through internships and other positions. More than two dozen Lyndon grads work at ESPN.
CAG Score 95.3
The Kinesiology Department at Aquinas College offers a dual major in business administration and sport management. Students in the program learn about accounting, management, marketing, kinesiology, sport law, and sport and recreation administration. Business administration and sport management students are also required to complete a 6 to 12 credit internship. Students often complete their internships with professional sports teams in the city of Grand Rapids. Additionally, students can participate in the Sport Management Club, which offers professional development opportunities, networking events and informational presentations.
CAG Score 95.1
SUNY Delhi offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science in Recreation and Sports Management that allows students to tailor the program of study to their career goals. Students work closely with an adviser to select relevant coursework, whether they are interested in coaching, working for a professional sports team, or managing a recreational facility. The program requires students to earn 67 credits and includes classes in topics such as sports officiating, coaching, and design and development of park and recreation facilities. The program also includes an internship so students can gain hands-on experience.
CAG Score 95.1
The Department of Human Performance, Sport and Health at Bemidji State University offers a BA and minor in sport management. The BA in Sport Management requires 69 major credits and provides students with an understanding of sport marketing, finance, accounting, economics, event management and facility management. The program curriculum is based on the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation guidelines and includes a 400-hour internship. Students also work with campus sports teams assisting the Department of Campus Recreation and BSU Athletics with events and facilities management. The sport management minor requires 21 credits of coursework that covers marketing, finance, psychology and ethics in sport management. Sport management students are eligible for several scholarships, including the $2,000 Myrtie Hunt Alumni Award and the $800 Elsie Annis Honor Award.
CAG Score 95.0
Part of UCM's College of Health, Science and Technology, the Department of Nutrition and Kinesiology offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management program that emphasizes effective sport management applications, rather than business principles applied to sport. The department offers students a variety of experiential learning opportunities and internship options throughout the course of their study at UCM. There is also a Master of Science (MS) in Kinesiology program that allows students to choose sport management as their area of specialization. This program can be pursued entirely online. Students admitted to the program can choose either the thesis option or the internship option.
CAG Score 95.0
The Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas in Austin offers a program of study that leads to a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management degree. The program exposes students to the business side of the sport and entertainment industry with coursework that covers subject areas such as intercollegiate athletics administration, facility management, and professional sports administration. Students are required to choose a minor in a related field or a specialization offered by the department, as well as complete an internship program in order to graduate. On the graduate level, the department offers two degrees: Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Sport Management and Master of Science (MS) in Sport Management.
CAG Score 95.0
The Business Administration and Law and Sport Management Department at Western Carolina University offers a program of study that leads to a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree. Students pursuing this degree can choose Sport Management as their major. The program includes coursework in Sport Ethics, Event Management and Sponsorship, Sport and Culture, Finance, Sport Marketing, and Sport Administration. There is also a minor in Sport Management available for students pursuing other majors. Students admitted to WSU's BS in Sport Management program are required to complete an internship in order to graduate.
CAG Score 94.9
The Department of Educational Leadership, Sport Studies, and Educational/Counseling Psychology at Washington State University offers both a bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in sport management. One of the goals of the program are to instruct students on the proper way to identify and analyze legal, ethical, and socio-cultural issues in regards to decision making and policy determinations in sport. Scholarships are available specifically for sport management students. Students will take such courses as Sport in American Society, Sport Law, Sport Marketing, Managing Sport Organizations, and Theory and Application in Sports Event Management.
CAG Score 94.6
The University of Central Florida's DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program gives students the opportunity to earn two master's degrees concurrently - the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree and the Master of Sport Business Management (MSBM) degree. The program incorporates a core business administration curriculum with courses in general and specialized sport business areas. Students learn about the impact of sport on society and get the chance to work with real-world projects with different sport business leaders. An endowment by the DeVos family matched by the State of Florida ensures the availability of scholarships or graduate assistant positions for all admitted MBA/MSBM students.
CAG Score 94.5
Niagara University's Master of Science in Sport Management is a 36-credit program that has a strong experiential component. Candidates have the option of writing a thesis or working a six-credit internship to gain professional experience and make contacts in the industry. Students in the program benefit from Niagara University's established relationships in the industry, which include professional teams and sport facility managers around the country. The program has options for students interested in sport management at all levels from professional and collegiate athletics to recreational sport. Students may be required to take some foundational business classes as a prerequisite for the program. Required classes include Strategic Sport Management, Technology and Information Management in Sport, and Issues and Ethics in Sport.
CAG Score 94.4
The Department of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Kinesiology degree with an emphasis in Sport Administration. The program is designed to provide students with the skills needed to meet the emerging needs in the sport and fitness industry. The department also offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Sport and Fitness Administration degree with a thesis or non-thesis option. Students who choose the non-thesis option have to complete the Master of Arts Comprehensive Examination with a passing evaluation. The department has a second graduate degree - a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Kinesiology. This doctoral program allows students to choose sport and fitness administration as an area of emphasis.
CAG Score 94.4
USF offers a Master of Science in Sport and Entertainment Management through the Muma School of Business. The curriculum includes coursework in sport business analytics, sport and entertainment marketing strategy, the global environment of sport, and sport and entertainment finance. There is a dual degree option available for Master of Business Administration students who wish to earn an MS in Sport and Entertainment degree at the same time. Students accepted to this program can expect to complete the requirements for both degrees within two years, with the second summer session designated as an internship period. The Muma College of Business offers a limited number of teaching and research assistantships that award partial tuition waivers to qualified full-time graduate students.
CAG Score 94.3
Through its Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Southeastern Louisiana University offers a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management that prepares students for professional roles in sport, fitness and recreation organizations. BS students study a variety of disciplines, including biology, psychology, finance, marketing and public speaking. Major coursework provides students with a solid foundation of knowledge in sport administration and related subjects such as sport law, governance, history, and facility and event management. BS students are also required to complete a nine-credit practicum and have the opportunity to participate in student organizations like the Sport Management Association. Sport management students are eligible for several scholarships through the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies, including the Arthur and Esther deVries Endowed Scholarship and the Walter L. Russell Scholarship.
CAG Score 94.3
The Department of Health and Human Performance at Middle Tennessee State University offers a Master of Science in Leisure and Sport Management with concentrations in recreation and leisure services, and the sport industry. MS students have the option to choose between completing a thesis or a professional project or internship. The thesis option in both concentrations requires the completion of 30 credits of coursework, while the professional project or internship option requires the completion of 36 credits. Core requirements for thesis tracks of study cover subjects like facility design and management, legal issues, risk management, data analysis, financial management and marketing. Scholarships available to students in the Department of Health and Human Performance at MTSU include the Bethany Kline Scholarship and the Nancy Hill Robertson Scholarship.
CAG Score 94.3
The Department of Human Performance and Health Education at Western Michigan University offers a Bachelor Science (BS) in Recreation degree. Students admitted to the program have the option of choosing sport management as their area of concentration and are also required to minor in business. The department also offers a Master of Arts (MA) in Sport Management program that teaches students to apply general management skills to the specific demands of managing sport organizations and teams. All students admitted to either program are required to complete an internship in order to graduate.
CAG Score 94.0
The College of Education and Human Services at the University of North Florida offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Sport Management degree through the Department of Leadership, School Counseling and Sport Management. This program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). Students admitted to the program can choose from two areas of concentration. The Community Sport concentration is for students who wish to pursue leadership or instructional careers in settings with fitness, recreational or sport programs. Students who plan to pursue opportunities in professional sport or college athletics are encouraged to explore the Sport Management concentration. The department also offers an online Sport Management Graduate Certificate program.
CAG Score 93.4
An associate’s degree in sports management is a 2 year undergraduate program that provides a grounding in the field. These programs are offered by community colleges, universities, and a variety of other institutions. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.
Most students use an associate’s degree as a stepping stone towards a bachelor’s. If you’re thinking of this option, check that your hard-earned course credits will be transferable.
Most associate’s programs are a mix of general education courses (e.g. science, foreign language, etc.) and classes directly related to sports management. You might study statistics, finance, accounting, physical education, coaching, business law, ethics, psychology, economics, marketing, PR and product promotion.
A quick tip – look for programs that arrange internships. Time and again, sports management experts say that networking and real-world experience are keys to a successful career.
If you’re interested in becoming a sports agent or a manager, you need to aim for a bachelor’s degree or better. However, with the right job training, an associate’s degree may qualify you to work as a:
Plus similar entry-level jobs.
A bachelor’s degree in sports management is a 4 year undergraduate program that provides students with a comprehensive foundation for a career in the sports industry. A high school diploma or GED is required to apply.
An important tip – to work in most professional sports leagues as a player agent or manager, you must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. The NFL requires a master’s degree or significant work experience plus a bachelor’s.
Like most baccalaureate programs, your degree will be made up of general education prerequisites, core courses for your sports management major and relevant electives (e.g. broadcasting, event management, business administration, etc.).
Core courses address every aspect of the sports industry, from sports physiology to handling the media. Your classes might include economics, accounting, operations management, marketing, sociology, psychology, sport science, contract law, ethics, sport leadership, PR, marketing, sport governance and more.
One of the most important parts of your degree is the internship. Competition for jobs is tight and relevant, firsthand experience is going to be key in landing a job upon graduation.
Job opportunities for bachelor’s degree holders include:
Graduates work in a huge variety of settings – from university athletic departments to country clubs, resorts and theme parks – and take on dizzying area of tasks. Talk to your school’s alumni and mentors about which courses and internships will improve your employment options.
A master’s degree in sports management is a 1-3 year graduate program that prepares graduates for leadership positions in the sports industry. Most master’s candidates have a background in sports/athletics and hold a bachelor’s degree in sports management or a related topic (e.g. communications, business, finance, sports medicine, etc.).
You may wish to pursue a master’s degree in order to advance your current career, qualify for management positions or get a foot in the door. Some professional leagues, including the NFL, require sports agents to hold a master’s degree or have extensive experience in sports management.
Interested in becoming a sports agent? You could also consider combining your master’s program with a law degree. This will make you an expert in business law and sports contracts. It’s an expensive choice, so discuss your options with your mentors beforehand.
Although every master’s degree is unique, a standard sports management program will include courses such as sports marketing, business law, team/player contracts, athletics finance, event management, labor relations, recruiting and other important subjects related to the industry. A research thesis or capstone project may be required as a condition of graduation.
Search for programs that provide outstanding internships. No matter how hard you work at your thesis, in the eyes of recruiters nothing is a substitute for real-world experience.
Provided that you have an internship and/or real-world experience, a master’s degree in sports management from an accredited school can be a real boon in a competitive market.
Committed graduates go on to become sports agents/managers in the major leagues, head coaches, sports administrators and CEOs. Others may use the master’s degree as a step towards entry-level management positions in high school or collegiate sports.
A doctorate in sports management is 4-7 year terminal degree intended for students who wish to pursue high-level research in the theory of sports and/or management. Unless the program is billed as a combined one (i.e. master’s + PhD), a master’s degree is required to apply. Course prerequisites in areas such as management theory and marketing may also be specified.
If you’re considering an EdD, check if your program is COSMA-accredited.
Make no mistake, a doctorate is a huge challenge. Like the curriculum of a master’s degree, the first few years of a doctorate will often involve advanced courses in research methods and sports management topics.
In the remaining years, you will be allowed to conduct your own independent research in area of your choice (e.g. Title IX, facility management, consumer behavior, educational administration, etc.). This practical project culminates in a written dissertation and a public defense of your work.
Graduates may wish to earn a PhD or EdD in order to:
A certificate in sports management is a non-degree program that takes approximately 3 months to 1 year to complete. For the graduate certificate, an accredited bachelor’s degree is required to apply.
Certificates are often “introductory” academic qualifications geared at students interested in learning more about sports management. However, they are not the same as voluntary professional certifications from independent organizations.
Certificate coursework is as varied as the field is long. Some programs focus on broad topics within sports management; others tackle specialized areas such as recreation management, intercollegiate athletics, sports law, etc.
A certificate in sports management won’t earn you a job on its own, but it will add extra shine to your résumé.
Above all, we recommend you attend a college or university with regional accreditation. This is a “seal of approval” granted to institutions (e.g. non-profit and public colleges and universities) by one of six regional accrediting bodies (e.g. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools).
You can learn more about the difference between regional accreditation and national accreditation in Accreditation: Understanding the Difference Between Real Schools and Diploma Mills.
Attending a regionally accredited school will make it easier for you to:
Created by the NASPE and NASSM in 2008, the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) is the only organization offering discipline specific accreditation in sport management. It accredits programs at the baccalaureate and graduate levels.
Although the concept of sports management accreditation is still fairly new, the idea is gaining ground. As of 2015, there were 43 COSMA-accredited programs in the U.S.
Aspiring sports agents should be aware that every major league (e.g. NFL, NBA, MLS, etc.) has its own licensure requirements. If you want to work for more than one league, you will need a separate license from each.
Check with the league of your choice for details. As part of your licensure/certification process, you may be asked to fill out an application, pay fees, take an exam and attend a conference. After certification, the league will provide you with official player contracts.
Even if you already hold a league license as a sports agent, some states (e.g. California) will still require you to earn a separate state license. You could be asked to submit an application, pay a fee, list your criminal history and/or provide references.
Check with your state’s board/department of licensing and regulation to see if this step is necessary.
Thanks to their high risk of injury, sports such as boxing, martial arts and wrestling have their own set of licensing rules. Each state handles these licenses differently, so ask your state’s board/department of licensing and regulation for specific information on earning a combative sports agent license.
On top of any mandatory licensure, you could consider earning a professional certification with an independent organization. These voluntary qualifications show potential employers that you’re serious about your career.
Examples of sports management certifications include:
Browse through LinkedIn profiles and ask around to see which certifications are worth your time and money.