Last Updated on January 20, 2022
MBA in Sport Management Guide
Sport Management MBA Programs
There are millions of young people who dream about making it big in the sports industry. But in the same way that very few athletes will ever reach the apex of their sport, very few individuals will make their way to the top-tier of the industry. In both cases, this level of success does not happen by accident, instead requiring years of hard work, making the right decisions, and making the most of your talents.
The sports industry is really the business of sport – simply put, the industry as a whole does not exist without related business bringing many worlds together. A master’s in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in sport management is the ultimate way to prepare yourself for success in sports related businesses.
For young aspiring professionals in pursuit of a career that they are passionate about, an MBA with a focus in sport management can provide you with the foundation to compete for jobs that most people only dream about. According to Professor Steve McKelvey, Director of the Sport Management programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who recently spoke with Sports Degrees Online, an MBA in sport management prepares graduates for a wide variety of career paths in the athletic industry and beyond…
“The benefit of having a sports management degree (and particularly if it’s in a school of business), you’re going to have that business foundation and you’re going to learn everything in the context of sports management… If you are in a good sports management program, then you are getting a lot of opportunity to do experiential learning projects that specifically touch the sports industry. You are more likely to get a summer internship that is in the sports field so when you do go to apply for a job you have some sports [experience] on your resume.” [source]
An MBA in sport management is an excellent way to set yourself up for success. For those seeking a successful career related to the sports industry, an MBA in sport management could be an excellent choice.
What is an MBA?
A master’s in business administration (MBA) is a generalist degree which covers a range of fundamental business concepts. An MBA provides knowledge that can be applied to the management and operations of any industry. Graduates can expect to have a solid understanding of how businesses function, the nature of customer service, and the importance of communication and teamwork. An MBA will encompass coursework in finance, human resources, customer relationship management (CRM), and strategy. Since the MBA degree assures that you will be educated in all aspects of business, you can be confident that earning this degree will serve you well even if you decide to pursue a career outside of the sports industry.
What is the benefit for studying an MBA with a concentration in sport management?
There are literally hundreds of MBA options being offered in the U.S. and around the world at present. However, only a limited number of MBA programs feature a concentration in sport management. For aspiring professionals hoping to find a successful career in the business side of the sports industry, there is arguably nothing better that you can do from an educational standpoint to set yourself up for success than complete a degree like an MBA in sport management.
For one, you will learn how core business concepts are applied within the context of sports organizations. MBA programs lean heavily on experiential learning, so students who are exposed to real world sport management situations can expect to gain a great deal from this exposure. Graduates who can speak at length about their take-aways from these experiences stand out head and shoulders above others without similar contextual understanding.
Why does an MBA provide a good foundation for success in the sports industry?
While many sport management master’s degrees are housed in departments like kinesiology or education, approaching sport from the business perspective opens graduates to the widest variety of opportunities. Graduates of MBA in sport management programs will be fluent in the core concepts of business, including marketing, customer acquisition and retention, management, accounting, economics, finance and more.
Having this foundation prepares one for success in business regardless of what the application is, whether it be in sales, marketing, merchandising, team operations, event management, partnerships and sponsorships, or elsewhere. Further, since so many of these concepts are universal in the business world, graduates would be capable and prepared to excel in management positions in other industries as well should they choose to do so.
Another reason why an MBA with a specialization or concentration in sport management is the ideal education is the networking aspect. There are a number of ways in which sports industry can be a bit different than other industries, and one of these is the importance of networking.
Simply put, networking within the sports industry is huge. So many of the experts and professors that have contributed to Sports Degrees Online through interviews have stated again and again the importance of networking. More often than not in the sports industry, organizations and companies hire “known commodity” candidates from their short lists rather than combing over piles of resumes from unknown applicants.
Well respected MBA programs with a concentration in sport management deliver networking opportunities for their students in spades. Students can expect to develop a diverse network of professionals throughout the sports industry throughout the course of their MBA program. Cultivating this network can lead to career changing advice, connections, and opportunities in the present and throughout your professional career [source].
Many programs feature extensive involvement from alumni all around the industry who serve as peer mentors. Providing access to alumni throughout the sports industry helps current students learn exactly what specific roles look like on a day-to-day basis. This exposure helps students determine very quickly whether or not a role is a good fit for them or not, which in turn allows them to tailor their experience at an early stage. As Liza Kirkpatrick, Director of the Kellogg Business School, recently told the Harvard Business Review, in addition to “accelerating your career goals”, a big draw of getting an MBA is the networking upside.
“A part of enrolling in business school is becoming part of a community of future leaders and well-connected alumni…most MBA programs offer access to networking events hosted by clubs and employers, [which are] all opportunities that could expand your reach, and therefore, your chances of success.”
What courses make up an MBA?
An MBA will be made up of courses from a number of business related disciplines:
- Finance & Accounting – Finance is the science of money management. MBA graduates are expected to understand the fundamentals of corporate, personal, and public finance. Accounting expertise will ensure that all expenses are accounted for using systems, software, and pest practices.
- Marketing – Marketing is the science of building a brand and spreading the word about your product or service. The goal of marketing is to increase revenue for your business using strategy, market analysis, analytics about your target customers and their behaviors, and how to most effectively get and retain them.
- Business Leadership and Management – Strategies on how to most effectively motivate and organize teams and individuals to maximize performance and results.
- Law and regulation in business – Becoming proficient on the ways that corporations and companies are structured and how local, state, and federal law compliance comes into play.
- Business Analytics
- Ethics in business
What courses comprise an MBA with a sport management concentration?
As part of a MBA in sport management degree program, student should expect to study a diverse set of courses relevant to the sports industry, including topics like:
- Marketing and Sales in the Sports Industry
- Sports Law
- Social Media in Sports
- How Sports Organizations are Managed
- Finance in the Sport Industry
- Business Analytics in Sports
- Sporting Event Planning and Management
Many sport management MBA programs offer students the chance to choose a concentration area to tailor their education depending on their career goals. Concentration areas can include sports analytics, business analytics, collegiate athletic administration, sport leadership, recreation management, event management, and sports marketing – just to name a few.
How does an MBA in sport management compare with other sport management degrees?
Most schools offer the master’s degree in sport management in twelve to twenty months of full time study, and it is quite common for many schools to offer popular alternative schedules as well. Many schools also offer the option to study the master’s degree on a part-time basis, completing the degree in as little as two years. Depending on the institution, many programs also include preferred placement for internships or work on capstone projects with local professional sports teams. These opportunities can be a great way to leverage existing networks to pursue attractive positions that could potentially be a good fit for you. While these components often add months to your degree experience, the experience and connections they provide is incredibly valuable and well worth the investment of time.
What are the graduation requirements for an MBA in sport management?
The specific business courses combined with sport specific knowledge is what makes an MBA in sport management a versatile degree.. Another popular option for those considering a career in the sports industry is a master’s degree in sport management.
While the MBA option is a combination of business courses and sport specific courses that build on the business knowledge, a sport management master’s degree consists primarily of sport specific courses. In addition, these master’s programs can offer perspectives beyond general business concepts.
Depending on the university, sport management master’s degree programs can be offered through kinesiology, or education departments. Programs that are housed in kinesiology departments will have programs related to exercise science, human performance and nutrition. These courses are ideal for those who expect to pursue a career in which working directly with athletes, trainers, and coaches. Professional candidates with a holistic understanding of athletic performance will be well prepared to get the most out of athletes and teams.
When combined with analytics and statistics teams, familiarity with these aspects of sport can be a powerful combination at the management and front office level. Programs in education departments may have specific courses related to intercollegiate athletics or even university recreation. They may offer more content specific to non-profits and educational settings, including coaching and programming for youth as well as adults. Other sport management master’s programs are housed in business schools and tend to have sport courses built around general business knowledge.
How to choose which MBA in sport management is the best fit
There are several factors that students should keep in mind while trying to determine which MBA program with a sport concentration suits you best. One major factor is the accessibility of the professors. Some programs might feature a few very high profile, nationally known professors, but that doesn’t mean that those professors will be available to MBA students who are expecting direct or personal access. The best way for prospective students to gauge the accessibility of the faculty is to connect with current students or recent graduates who can provide you with an inside perspective since universities aren’t likely to disclose this in detail.
Should I Consider an MBA in Sport Management Online?
The COVID-19 pandemic changed education in many ways, most notably online learning. Prior to the global shutdown, there were very few reputable colleges and universities offering quality online degrees. Today, the number of quality online degree programs – including online MBA programs with a sport management or sport business focus – has increased exponentially. Online MBA programs allow professionals everywhere the opportunity to level-up and work toward a promotion at their own pace on their own time. Before making the decision to pursue and online degree, you must be honest with yourself that you will be able to carve out the time and commit to the work in an online format. If you have never taken a course online, perhaps it is wise to try taking one course first to see if you enjoy it. Keep in mind that there are also MBA programs delivered in a hybrid format as well, with some courses on campus and other programs online.
Internships and Networking – The Secret Sauce of the MBA Experience
A key factor to consider when choosing an MBA in sport management program is what kind of experiential learning opportunities exist for learning outside of the classroom. Be sure to ask questions like what are some of the specific partnerships that current students are doing internships with? What do those experiences look like? And best of all, would it be possible to speak with current students about their internship experience?
Good programs should have well-established relationships with top-tier organizations and companies throughout the sports industry, including access to specialized positions. If you have a specific interest – whether it be event planning, merchandising, marketing, etc. – be sure to do your diligence about whether learning opportunities in these areas might be possible. The more you can learn about what day-to-day life looks like at a variety of positions, the better you will be able to decide what you don’t want to do. And the quicker you can decide what you don’t want to pursue, the farther down the road you will be to discovering which roles are the best fit.
Finally, it is important to ask yourself some basic questions as you try to choose which MBA program with a concentration in sport is best for you. Professor Maylon Hanold, Director of Seattle University’s Sport Management program, recently explained this aspect in a conversation with Sports Degrees Online.
“One of the things that is maybe not so obvious, is that people need to figure out “who am I?” Do I need to be near home, family and support systems? Do I want to choose a place that is within a five hour drive of where I live or am I willing to move across the country? Do I desire that excitement and am I willing to drop myself into a whole new place with the mentality of “home is where I am?” IWhile we often focus on program features, I think location and geography can be really critical. It’s important because going to graduate school is a big time and financial commitment. You need to consider what works well for you.”Professor Maylon Hanold, Seattle University
For more information and resources on potential careers, check out our Sports Management Careers Guide.
MBA in Sport Management FAQs
Salary expectations for MBA graduates can vary significantly based on a variety of factors including which program you graduate from, your area of expertise, the market you are in, and so on.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, MBA graduates are expected to make $29,000 more than those graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration this year. Importantly, according to the same study, MBA graduates are second only to Computer Science graduates on the “Top Degrees in Demand” list.
Aside from covid-related GRE requirements, there are a number of MBA programs that don’t require GRE scores. In our listings below, we have taken the time show which programs don’t require GRE scores to save you time on your search.
Yes, many universities now offer MBA Sport Management Online. Be sure to visit our Online MBA in Sport Management page to learn about those options.
There are several programs which offer MBA in Sports and Entertainment Management programs. Depending on your career goals, including courses specifically designed for Entertainment Management provides graduates with a bit more flexibility outside of the sports industry.
In short, yes – it just comes down to semantics. Some universities use Sport Management, others use Sports Administration, and some call their degree program Sports Business. With that said, be sure to pay special attention to concentration or focus areas that different programs offer. All MBA programs have business fundamentals at their core, but elective courses and concentrations can vary a great deal between schools.
Nova Southeastern University | Fort Lauderdale, FL
MBA in Sports Revenue Generation
Delivery Method: On Campus and Online
Credits Required: 46 Credit Hours
Local Tuition (per Credit Hour): $967
As the Sports Industry becomes more competitive, this specialized MBA program allows students to graduate and obtain a leadership role in a sport organization. This also offers a flexible schedule as courses are offered either during the day or on weeknights, as well as either in person or online with start dates in August, October, January, March, and May.
Ohio University | Athens, OH
MBA/Master of Science in Sports Management
Credits Required: 78 Credit Hours
Local Tuition (per Credit Hour): $33,676
Total Tuition: $53,656 per year
GRE (or GMAT) Required: Yes
Ohio University’s Dual MBA/MS in Sports Management Degree is one of the most well respected programs of its kind in the US, having existed for fifty years. The program begins with a one year, three semester MBA program which provides students with an exceptional foundation in marketing, strategy, management and finance. The second year delves into sports industry specific knowledge, including core courses, a diverse selection of electives, and a capstone project. The faculty of this program are leaders in the industry, and 85% of graduates now work in key positions throughout the sports industry, a prestigious network that graduates can look forward to leveraging.
Samford University | Birmingham, AL
MBA with Sports Business Concentration
Delivery Method: On Campus and Online
Credits Required: 40-49
Concentrations: Sport Business, Data Analytics, Finance
Out of State Tuition (per Credit Hour): $888
GRE (or GMAT) Required: No
Samford University is proud to announce the new MBA with a concentration in Sport Business beginning in the fall of 2021. Samford is home to the first – and only – Center for Sports Analytics housed in a university. The Center is a leader of thought in the industry in areas ranging from sport business research, on-field sports analytics, and sport science and analytics. Having the Center for Sports Analytics in-house provides students with unparalleled access to active projects featuring world class clients and partnerships. This experiential component – combined with the stellar reputation of the Brock School of Business – provides students with an exceptional education and the perfect foundation for a successful career in the business of sports and beyond.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst | Amherst, MA
MBA/Master of Science in Sports Management
Delivery Method: On Campus
Credits Required: 72 Credit Hours
Local Tuition (per Credit Hour): $29,556 (total cost)
Out of State Tuition (per Credit Hour): $66,080 (total cost)
GRE (or GMAT) Required: Yes
This dual-degree program combines the best of two worlds–an MBA and an MS in Sports Management–to equip graduates with the skills they need to prepare and succeed for a wide variety of positions in the sports industry and beyond. Featuring a robust alumni mentorship program, the one-of-a-kind executive in residence program, and experience with leading consulting firms and agencies, graduates enter the workforce with a remarkable amount of real world experience. The program typically takes 20 months to complete as students who earn internship credits in the summer between 1st and 2nd years.
University of South Florida | Tampa, FL
Vinik Sport & Entertainment Management Program (MBA & Master of Science Dual Degree)
Delivery Method: On Campus
Credits Required: 54
Local Tuition (per Credit Hour): $750
Dual Degree – MBA and MS in Sports & Entertainment Management The second year of the program includes participation in the Sports & Entertainment Management Fellowship program, made possible through a partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning & the Lightning Foundation. USF also hosts major Esports and analytics, providing students with unique access to these cutting-edge fields.
Webber International University | Babson Park, FL
MBA in Sport Business Management
Delivery Method: On Campus and Online
Credits Required: 55 Credit Hours
Total Tuition: $25,526 per year
This MBA concentration in Sport Business Management not only gives students knowledge of the fundamentals of business but will prepare them to take management and leadership roles in the sports industry.