Courses, Careers & FAQs – Forbes Advisor

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Are you interested in starting a sports career? Getting a degree in sports management is a smart first move.

A degree in sports management provides students with an arsenal of multidisciplinary skills. This degree includes coursework in finance, management, marketing, communications and economics, all through the lens of professional sports and recreation. These skills can be applied to a variety of careers in the sports management arena.

What’s more, some of the highest-paying jobs in this field go to people with degrees in sports management. Here’s everything you need to know about earning a degree in sports management.

What is a Sports Management Degree?

The Sports Management degree prepares students for careers in various areas of sports management. Several colleges and universities offer degree programs in sports management. Depending on the field of work you are interested in, you can choose to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree or pursue a master’s or doctoral degree.

Sports Management Admission Requirements

What does it take to apply for a degree in sports management? It depends on which degree you are pursuing. Bachelor’s programs generally have fewer admission requirements than master’s programs. Conversely, master’s programs typically have higher admissions standards and more stringent requirements.

Bachelor’s degrees

If you are a first-time student, you will be applying to an undergraduate program in sports management. You can enroll at a four-year college or university for your bachelor’s degree, or you can start at a two-year community college before transferring to a four-year program.

Admission requirements vary by school. Check with each school’s admissions department to learn about minimum GPAs, prerequisite courses, and standardized test scores if needed. Some programs may ask you to submit a personal essay with your application.

What it’s worth: Genuine, demonstrated enthusiasm for a sport or other recreational field is helpful. If you have significant coaching or sports experience, be sure to discuss it in your application.

Higher education diplomas

Students applying for a graduate degree in sports management must obtain at least a bachelor’s degree. An academic degree in sports management or a related field is preferred but not required.

Prospective graduate students must submit official transcripts, a resume, and test scores with their application. Some schools also require GMAT or GRE test scores. Most programs also require letters of recommendation.

Although not required, be sure to include any volunteer or independent research experience you may have completed in your undergraduate studies.

Courses in sports management program

Once you enroll in a sports management program, you will select your courses. Most programs require students to enroll in a combination of general education and degree-specific classes. If you have chosen a concentration such as sports law or sports media, you will also enroll in courses specific to that subject.

Most sports management programs offer core courses in business principles such as marketing, communications and finance. Below are some popular courses you can expect to find in a sports management program.

Business communications

Business communication courses help students sharpen their communication skills in a business context. Students learn how to handle one-on-one meetings, how to speak well on the spot, and how to write persuasive business documents. Business communication courses also prepare learners to create powerful visual presentations and manage correspondence properly.

Leadership positions require strong communication skills, but these skills are generally good to have regardless of your career.

Principles of Marketing

Many sports management positions require a solid understanding of basic marketing principles. This course explores how to identify and serve a target audience. Students learn how to define and explain basic marketing terms and how to calculate and analyze marketing metrics. Learners can also expect to cover topics including branding and product development, campaign development, market research and social media marketing.

Sports analysis

Data plays an important role in the world of sports and recreation, both on and off the field. As a result, you can expect to take a course in sports analytics as part of your sports management degree. This class teaches the fundamentals of data analysis and how to apply that analysis in a business context. Students also learn to use data and modeling techniques to improve marketing results.

Sports tourism

Sports tourism involves traveling to watch or participate in a sporting event. The Sports Tourism class covers the basics of managing and running sports events that attract sports tourists. Topics covered in sports tourism classes include event planning and development, venue selection, marketing, legality, and industry history. Students will also immerse themselves in the impact of sports on communities and economic development.

Careers in Sports Management

Earning a degree in sports management opens the door to a variety of career opportunities. Below are a few career paths that a sports management degree prepares you for.

Game or event day coordinator

Average annual salary: $49,470
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +18%
Description of the work: Game or event day coordinators facilitate the logistics of the day of the sporting event. This means looking after and managing every party involved in sporting events, from vendors to athletes to reporters. Game day coordinators must also be prepared to respond to changes in plans, inclement weather and other possible variables.

Contracts Administrator

Average annual salary: $99,290
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +9%
Description of the work: Contract administrators create, negotiate, sign and maintain sports contracts. In professional sports, these contracts typically involve millions of dollars.

Purchasing agent

Average annual salary: $75,410
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): -4%
Job Description: Purchasing agents ensure that sports organizations have what they need to function properly every day. This can include sports equipment, weight training equipment and office supplies. These professionals are also responsible for selecting vendors, negotiating contracts, and determining product quality.

Athletic trainer

Average annual salary: $38,970
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +26%
Job Description: Coaches teach, mentor and train athletes in both professional and recreational contexts. The coach is responsible for preparing athletes for games, creating drills and team-building drills, devising game strategy, and supporting the individual and collective development of athletes.

Sports marketer

Average annual salary: $133,380
Projected growth rate (2020-2030): +10%
Job Description: Sports marketers promote sports teams and related organizations such as the Olympics or the National Football League. They may also promote individual high profile athletes. In general, sports marketers make sure they tell a story that shines a positive light on their respective organizations and promotes the sport as a whole.

Frequently asked questions about sports management

How long is a sports management degree?

A bachelor’s degree in sports management usually takes four years to complete. Most master’s programs are two years long. Ph.D. applicants can expect to spend at least three to four years earning their degree.

What does a person with a degree in sports management do?

Sports management degrees open the door to a variety of career opportunities. Degree holders can enter the corporate world of athletics as salespeople, team managers, journalists or contract employees. Others find work as coaches, facility directors or athletic directors.

Does a Diploma in Sports Management Pay Good Money?

It depends on the position. Some of the highest paying jobs in sports management include sports marketing directors, sports promoters, facility directors, and athletic directors.


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