The sports industry in North America is one of the largest on the planet. It offers plenty of opportunities to people seeking careers related to what happens behind the scenes in sports.
If you’re passionate about sports and want to turn it into a carer, you might want to consider earning a master’s degree in sports management.
A sports administration master’s gives students training and education in areas that cover ethics, public relations, governance and leadership, marketing, finance, and more — and all in regards to how they relate to sports.
Whether you want to work with a team or not, there are plenty of opportunities for graduates of this program. You can find work as an athletics coach, sports agent, facilities manager, event planner, athletic director, and more.
If you’re considering applying to a sports management master’s program, this ultimate guide can help.
What’s a Master’s in Sports Management?
A master’s in sports management is a business-oriented degree that can help you build the skills you need to manage a sports team or handle the business side of sports organizations and clubs to raise revenue.
Students in this program gain the expertise and experience necessary to lead and promote sports organizations, manage stadiums and arenas, and organize entertainment sports events. Programs include subjects covering sports facility management, sports governance, athletic recruitment, personnel management and leadership, sales, sports marketing, and communication.
Sports management master’s programs also help students acquire skills that can help them motivate teams and boost their performance. Additionally, it can help candidates define the objectives of athletes and sports clubs, encourage improvement through team member and employee training, and create and manage marketing campaigns.
Degree holders can find work in professional, collegiate, or amateur sports league organizations upon graduation. If they don’t want to work with sports organizations, they can work in non-profits or corporate sports firms.
Pros and Cons of Getting a Master’s Degree in Sports Management
- Can help you follow your dreams in the sports industry
- Job flexibility
- Skills learned are transferable to other industries
- Potential for travel
- Can help you give back to the community through volunteer activities and working with non-profits
- Online programs available
- Can take a lot of effort and time to rise the ranks
- Pay can vary significantly from job to job, which means it’s difficult to count on a specific salary
- Irregular hours
- Significant time and money investment
Alternatives to Getting a Sports Management Master’s Degree
Deciding between a sports management master’s degree and an alternative option can be challenging, but the choice often depends on your career goals. At times, you may be able to achieve your professional aspirations without necessarily going for a master’s degree.
If sports management isn’t entirely your thing, you can seek other alternatives from where you can learn skills that are useful in the sports industry but transferable elsewhere. Choosing one of the alternatives below might allow you to find work in sports while still giving you skills you can take to other sectors if you prefer.
Some alternatives you can explore include:
A Career with Sports Management
Careers related to sports management can be incredibly competitive, a fact that is especially true for the major professional sports scene. This competitiveness may make finding employment in your sports organization of choice difficult.
The competitiveness might seem like a deterrent, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for coaches and scouts will increase by 26% from 2020 to 2030. Marketing and advertising, areas that are useful in sports management, also have above-average growth rates heading into 2030.
With a master’s in sports management, you may be able to enter one of the career paths below.
Public Relations Manager
Average Annual Salary: $118,430 (BLS), $71,772 base salary (PayScale)
Public relations managers, or PR managers, build a branded image for individual athletes, teams, and sports organizations. They ensure that a positively branded image is maintained at all times while also helping to improve relationships with the community.
PR managers also liaise with other departments to ensure PR campaigns are effective and consistent.
Event Planners and Coordinators
Average Annual Salary: $51,560 (BLS)
Event planners and coordinators handle the administrative side of sports events. They hold operational support and logistical roles, ensuring that everything goes smoothly before, during, and after an event.
Event coordinators assist with facility preparation and security, scheduling, and concession and vendor management. Professionals in this field also oversee event venue personnel and media access.
Average Annual Salary: $55,995 base salary (PayScale)
Promotions managers supervise promotion programs to raise sales revenue. They create and advertise promotional deals that encourage things like event ticket or merchandise purchases.
Professionals in this field are in or work closely with the marketing department, where they develop and refine promotion strategies. They also ensure that marketing campaigns are effective and within budget, making adjustments where necessary.
Like PR managers, promotions managers also help franchises and athletes build their public images and strengthen their relationships with the community.
Average Annual Salary: $44,314 base salary (PayScale)
A coach works hands-on with an organization’s prospects and athletes. They provide instructional insight that can help an individual improve athletically, peeking into the physical and mental aspects of optimizing performance. Coaches also monitor athletes’ progress and ensure that they are on track to reach their goals.
Read also: Master’s in Coaching
Average Annual Salary: $44,412 base salary (PayScale)
An athletic trainer applies their knowledge of the science of exercise to prevent and treat any injuries that athletes sustain during sporting events. Trainers play active roles in designing physical conditioning protocols and programs as well as implementing them.
When trying to find work as an athletic trainer, you may find that some sports organizations require you to have certification from organizations like the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.
Best Sports Management Graduate Programs
Average Cost: $12,522 for North Carolina Residents, $30,248 for non-North Carolina Residents
Financial Aid: Here
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the best schools with master’s in sports management programs. It offers an MA in Sports Administration program, which they proudly state ranks among the top 10 in North America and the top 15 worldwide, according to the 2021 Sports Business Postgraduate Course Rankings. Needless to say, this university’s MA in Sports Administration is one of the best sports management master’s programs today.
It may be somewhat challenging to get into this competitive program, especially given that there are only nine slots available each year. According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, they receive anywhere from 60 to 125 applications each year, each vying for a coveted spot in the program.
Students admitted into this program can apply for assistantships during their first year. Upon qualifying, they receive a waiver for in and out-of-state tuition, healthcare insurance coverage, and a stipend between $10,700 to $11,000. During their second year, they start a full-time internship where they receive the same benefits as the assistantship on top of being paid a monthly stipend.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also offers a dual degree if you wish to study law simultaneously.
Average Cost: $11,313
Financial Aid: Here
Online Program: Here
The University of Florida College of Health and Human Performance offers an MS in Sports Management both on-campus and online. Students can choose between the thesis track and the non-thesis track. Those who choose the non-thesis track must take fifteen elective credits and complete a comprehensive exam.
If you want to apply to this program, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify.
Once admitted, students start with two courses related to health and human performance, then move on to the core requirements:
- Sports psychology
- Sports marketing
- Management/Leadership within sports
- Sports law issues
Average Cost: $19,118
Financial Aid: Here
Texas A&M University offers a master’s of science in sports management. The program requires 36 credits to finish, which means it will likely take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete if you are studying full-time. If you prefer distance-learning, Texas A&M also has its masters in sports management online.
Texas A&M’s program offers students the choice between a thesis and a non-thesis track. It trains students to prepare them to be leaders of sports organizations where they must make major decisions as managers and administrators.
Students also learn the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career in education, professional sports, health and country clubs, media and communications, sports marketing, event planning, facility management, etc.
Texas A&M University conducts a professional and comprehensive program where students learn from lessons and lectures and then learn from real-world experiences and opportunities such as internships.
Average Cost: $21,740
Financial Aid: Here
The University of Massachusetts – Amherst’s Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management offers an MS in Sport Management. However, they also offer a dual-degree if you’d like to earn an MBA at the same time.
The MS in Sport Management degree offered at this institution requires 35 credits to complete, which means full-time study should take about 18 to 24 months. It requires courses like sports marketing, socio-historical foundations of modern sports, sports business and finance, and organizational behavior and development. Students must complete 12 credits in electives.
Earning your master’s in sports management at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst means you’ll also complete a summer internship where you can gain real-world experience and experience solid mentorship.
Average Cost: $13,513 for Michigan residents, $27,403 for non-Michigan residents
Financial Aid: Here
A world-class faculty teaches the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor School of Kinesiology’s MS in Sports Management. The program educates students in things like urban planning, corporate and social responsibility, entrepreneurship, economics, finance, marketing, law, and more to prepare them to succeed in their careers.
The University of Michigan also provides a one-of-a-kind experience in real-world projects and internships, activities, and experiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of jobs can you get with a master’s in sports management?
There are many possible careers with a master’s degree in this field.
- You can become a coach, athletic director, or athletic coordinator if you want to stay close to the action and athletic side of things.
- If you’re looking to stay closer to the business side of things, you can become an event coordinator, sports agent, facilities manager, athletics operation manager, business development specialist, or financial analyst.
- Your options include sports blogger, social networking manager, sports camp administrator, reporter, or video editor if you want to work in the recreational or community-centric side of sports.
- If you have a law license, you can be a sports lawyer. You may also work as a mediator, arbitrator, sports contract negotiator, or compliance manager if you want to stay close to the legal side of sports.
- You can also go for the sales side of sports if you prefer working in brand management, ticket management, or sales.
What is an MS in sports management?
An MS in sports management takes an interdisciplinary approach to teach students to examine the sports industry from various business and operational perspectives. Many of the core courses cover similar foundational knowledge as an MBA, at least when it comes to marketing, finance, management, and legal concepts. However, it looks at these areas through a sports administrator’s lens.
A master’s of science in sports management can cover behavioral topics impacting athletics, sociology, and human performance.
Are sports management degrees worth it?
Whether a sports management degree is worth it depends entirely on your professional and career goals. Most jobs in the field involve working with and coordinating people. Ask yourself if this is something that you would be at ease with and if you think you can develop the leadership and communication skills necessary for this field.
Can you be a PE teacher with a sports management degree?
Some schools will allow you to teach physical education with a degree in sports management. However, if you want to teach elementary or secondary school, you’ll likely need an education degree as well.
Most higher learning institutions separate PE and sports management, so you might need to figure out which degree better fits your goals.
What is the salary of sports management?
PayScale’s average base salary for someone holding a master’s degree in sports management is $53,000.
Glassdoor’s average base salary for someone with a sports management master’s degree is about $59,000. However, with extra bonuses, tips, commissions, and profit-sharing, this average increases to around $84,000.
You might be interested in Highest Paying Master’s Degrees in 2022.
What degree is needed for sports management?
Most of the time, applicants seeking jobs in the field will need a bachelor’s degree at a minimum — but not necessarily in the athletics field. A master’s degree in sports management can benefit your career and help push you toward success. Many who work behind the scenes in major sports organizations can also benefit from an MBA.
How long does it take to get a master’s in sports management?
Most top sports management grad programs require 30-36 credits, equivalent to 18-24 months of actual study. Those studying part-time while balancing other responsibilities often finish within three years.
Is a Master’s in Sports Management for You?
The best thing you can do to figure out whether you want a master’s degree in sports management is to look at your professional and career goals to see whether a master’s in sports management is the right step.
You can also look at the time and financial costs involved to see whether they are worth it in your situation.
Although a master’s degree in sports management can be very valuable in helping you develop the skills you need to work in the industry, it may not always be necessary. But if you want to begin a career in the sports industry, it could open a lot of doors for you.
Chriselle has been a passionate writer for over 10 years, but she's a geek at heart. When she isn't busy writing, she spends her time streaming video games and learning new skills.