Last Updated on March 28, 2021
Masters in Sports Management 2021
A masters degree in sport management will equip you with the skills and concepts to put yourself on a competitive career track in the sports industry. While a bachelor’s degree in sport management introduces students to many different subjects in a general sense, a master’s degree presents the opportunity to delve more deeply into specific facets of the business of sports. This specialization allows students to explore topics within their fields of interest, helping them enter the job market with a major advantage over candidates without advanced degrees.
A master’s degree in sport management offers the opportunity to specialize in areas such as analytics, ethics, communications, law, marketing, and policy. It will also familiarize graduates with services, events, and organizations related to the industry of sports. Many programs offer thesis and non-thesis options to suit students particularly interested in research or practical careers in the field. Individuals who graduate with a masters in sports management are well prepared for a variety of career tracks in the upper echelons of the sports industry. For example, they may work to recruit potential team players or to manage athletic teams, programs, and organizations strategically. They may work at the collegiate, amateur, or professional level.
Why Study a Master’s Degree in Sport Management?
With an industry so broad, the opportunity to specialize and gain real world experience prepares graduates to be significantly more marketable than undergraduates in the same field. Of course, on-the-job training is standard for entry-level positions, but many organizations out there are seeking to hire a change-maker who can help provide direction and take the initiative right off the bat. The chance to specialize in a specific area of interest–and quite possibly gain real-world experience and perspective while doing so–helps build the kind of knowledge base that higher paying jobs require from day one.
A graduate degree equips students for a variety of careers in the athletic industry as well as the massive – and growing – health and wellness industry. For example, they may work to recruit potential team players or to manage athletic teams, programs, and organizations strategically. They may work at the collegiate, amateur, or professional level, and they might even find themselves managing important relationships between brands and strategic partners.
How do you choose the right masters in sport management program?
In recent years, many more schools have begun offering master’s degrees in sport management. While it is great that there are so many options out there, it does make the task of determining which program is the best fit for you that much more difficult. Programs vary a great deal in terms of cost, strengths, and quality, so expect to invest time into getting familiar with your choices. We highly suggest taking the time to compile features and statistics in a spreadsheet where they can easily be compared side by side. If you choose a program for its name and prestige alone, you may miss out on the chance to find a program that truly suits your needs and interests. Spending a little extra time upfront doing due diligence can save you time, money, and headaches later on. We recommend narrowing your list to four to eight of your top schools starting with your top choice and working your way down to a couple “safety” choices – schools that may not be your top choices, but where you’d be happy to attend and feel pretty confident you will be accepted.
As you begin to narrow down your list, be sure to pay special attention to the emphasis on learning opportunities outside standard lecture and classroom time.
“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,”
according to Umass Amherst Professor McKelvey. Many programs have extensive requirements for learning in applied settings which provide graduates with invaluable real world experience and access to career mentors. Even when remote, these experiences can take learning to a whole different level while facilitating connections and opening doors in the professional world.
While you should expect that sport management master’s degree programs will always provide you will a well-balanced curriculum, it is good to pay special attention to the program faculty and their previous experience. Sport management programs tend to be housed in either business departments or kinesiology/exercise science departments, so depending on your career goals, you may want to keep that in mind while making your decision.
What is required for acceptance into a master’s degree program in sport management?
Most schools and universities require a bachelor’s degree with a GPA over 3.0 to be considered for a masters in sport management. Fields of study are not restricted to be accepted into most programs, though some schools do have some prerequisite courses. Some programs do require standardized test scores (GRE or GMAT), though others do not. Prior professional experience in the sports industry is generally preferred but not required. Some programs are highly competitive while others are able to accept the majority of their applicants.
How do you apply for a sport management graduate school program?
You’ll want to note start dates, the length of each program, and standardized test requirements to ensure that important dates don’t creep up on you. Every program will require your complete undergraduate transcripts and several letters of recommendation as well, so be sure to get those documents together early in the process. For letters of recommendation, always give professors and professionals plenty of time to complete them – remember that these letters can go a long way toward building your application, so don’t overlook them!
How long does it take to earn a master’s degree in sport management?
Most schools offer the master’s degree in sport management in one year of full time study, and it is quite common for many schools to offer popular alternative schedules as well. Many schools also have a two year option to study the master’s degree on a part-time basis. 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 a master’s degree in sport management?
Program graduation requirements can vary a great deal between different schools, with some programs placing great emphasis on capstone or thesis projects and others focusing on exams and collaborative projects. Generally speaking, most programs require 30-36 credits for a masters in sport management.
How much will it cost?
Tuition for a Masters Degree in Sports Management can vary widely between schools, and programs generally fall within the $20,000 – $55,000 range for a one-year degree. Of course, if you are considering an on-campus program, you will also need to account for your housing and living expenses for the duration of your program. Many schools offer financial aid packages for qualifying students, so it is always worth asking about any help that might exist. If you have applied for financial aid, any schools that have accepted you will offer you a financial aid package. In some cases, you may be able to request that they take a second look at your application and ask for more financial aid.
Masters in Sports Management Concentrations
Since Sports Management covers such a broad area, many students choose to further specialize their degree by pursuing a “concentration” within their graduate degree. Below are a few of the more popular concentrations within Sports Management.
Sports Law – As very high-profile parts of popular culture, teams, athletes, vendors, and sponsors need the guidance of legal experts on a regular basis. Within the sports law umbrella are partnerships and negotiations–for everything from transportation and logistics to branding and sponsorships. Athletes need legal representation in the form of agents while teams–and the leagues in which they play–must have solid agreements in place to ensure smooth, equitable operations. Sports law is an exciting niche within the sport management world that offers very attractive salaries for those who excel in this area, as well as high level involvement with your favorite teams and leagues.
Sports and Media – Driving the strong, sustained growth of the multibillion-dollar sports industry is a complex media ecosystem involving TV networks, radio stations, podcasts, websites, and print media. There are rewarding opportunities for broadcast media personalities, producers, and technicians; writers, editors, and content creators, marketing professionals, graphic designers, partnership managers, and many more rolls and functions. Product placement, sponsorships, and the many charitable fundraisers supported by sports teams all require precise planning and execution by highly educated and dedicated sports media professionals. Sports Media is where you’ll find the most opportunities within the sports industry, so earning a master’s degree with this concentration is a smart play.
Sports and Event Management – Sports and event management focuses on the logistics of hosting major events with tens of thousands of fans and personnel that are at the core of the sports business. Graduates in this concentration will be well prepared to step into significant roles related to planning, promoting and executing major games, tournaments, and other events. From the flow of crowds to the halftime entertainment to risk management, sports event management professionals must know their fanbase and how to make game day a safe, exciting, and smooth experience for all. This concentration will help you develop your ability to lead and manage multiple large teams of staff members, plan meticulously, think on your feet, and keep fans coming back for more.
Leadership in Sports – For those who plan to reach the top tier of coaching, team management, or athletic direction, leadership in sports is the ideal concentration within sport management. To become a top decision maker who brings out the best in others, you’ll need to set your sights high and equip yourself with the academic foundation of a Master’s Degree tailored to high level management in a collegiate, semi-professional, or professional organization. A leadership in sports concentration will set you apart from the rest of the pack as you pursue your path to the top of a sports organization.
Advantages to studying your masters degree in sport management on campus
Many of the advantages for studying your master’s degree on campus relate to the networking and in-person connections that many universities provide through their sports programs, internships, and mentorship with nearby professional and minor league teams. While there are other ways to find these opportunities, the ease of which many programs plug in to them at some universities is certainly a selling point. The chance to collaborate in-person with other like-minded individuals who share your passion for the sports industry is also an incentive for studying on campus.
Why consider studying your masters in sport management online?
Despite the factors listed above, there is no question that earning your masters in sport management through an online program also has a great deal of upside.
For many working professionals with busy lives, it is simply impossible to dedicate a full year to living on campus–possibly far from home and responsibilities–to getting a master’s degree. However, since online degrees offer both synchronous and asynchronous studying, many students are able to carve out time around their busy schedules to complete their coursework. Recent advances in technology have brought major improvements in the quality of virtual interaction with professors and classmates, meaning there is less of a distinction between the on-campus and virtual experience.
Whereas just a few years ago online degree programs were viewed as inferior alternatives to on-campus programs, that stigma is now a thing of the past. The rapid rise of distance learning that has come with the COVID-19 pandemic means that online programs are now accepted as equal to classroom learning. Many of the most competitive universities in the country are racing to enter the online degree space, offering the same degrees whether students attended in person or online.
As the entire world has adapted to living online, networking, internship and career placement services and events have now gone virtual as well, so online programs can now offer the same networking opportunities as on-campus programs. Be sure to ask plenty of questions about what the structure of these networking opportunities looks like, and note how involved successful alumni are with the graduate program. Since those connections can often lead to unique opportunities to get your foot in the door, an engaged alumni network can be an incredibly valuable asset.
Careers in Sport Management
In an industry as large as sports, The number of careers within the field of Sport Management is almost endless. While some positions work directly with athletes, many others work either behind the scenes or in the front office. Graduates of Master’s in Sport Management programs have a considerable advantage when it comes to entering the professional world. According to Professor Steve McKelvey…
In an industry as large as sports, The number of careers within the field of Sport Management is almost endless. While some positions work directly with athletes, many others work either behind the scenes or in the front office. Graduates of Master’s in Sport Management programs have a considerable advantage when it comes to entering the professional world. According to UMass Professor Steve McKelvey…
“If you’re a sports management [graduate], it’s just going to give you the ease of access to the industry, the network and the alumni network, projects and so forth. And all of this, learning within the context of the uniqueness of the sports and sport industry.”
For more information and resources on potential careers, check out our Sports Management Careers Resource.