Bachelor’s in Sports Management Program Guide

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by Doug Wintemute

Updated August 24, 2022

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A bachelor's degree in sports management provides students with leadership, business, operations, and analytical training — set within a sports industry context. Students develop traditional management skills and learn to apply them to professional and amateur sports settings.

The career outlook in sports management is expected to be positive in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of over 1 million combined sports and entertainment and management occupations between 2020 and 2030. Workers in both sectors also received higher median annual wages, as compared to all occupations.

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Like most undergraduate business programs, the typical online bachelor's degree in sports management takes students four years of full-time study to complete. In this guide, we examine the sports management field more closely and highlight the different educational and professional options available to students.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Sports Management Programs

What is sports management?

Sports management comprises all forms and functions of leadership within professional, collegiate, and amateur athletic organizations. The discipline also covers most areas of business, including finance, marketing, sales, and facility management. Professionals in this field may work in the front office in an administrative role, behind the scenes in a research or analytical position, or interact directly with athletes in more of a sports science position.

Sports management programs often provide students with leadership, analytical, and communication skills. Learners can apply their training to many sports- and business-related fields. Aspiring sports managers may be able to choose between different concentration options, and the type of training they choose can have a major impact on their eventual career.

Is a bachelor's in sports management worth it?

Earning a bachelor's degree in sports management can lead to some very exciting and rewarding careers. The BLS projects the addition of over 900,000 management occupations between 2020 and 2030, which represents significant opportunities for business leaders in various sectors.

The sports industry also looks to have substantial growth and opportunity in the future. The 2021 Sports Global Market Report projects the industry to approach $600 billion by 2025 — an overall growth of 8%, despite the significant negative impact from COVID-19 in recent years.

How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in sports management?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average undergraduate degree at a four-year school cost $28,775 per year in 2019-20 — this number includes tuition, fees, room, and board. Students can save money in various ways, such as by finding a relatively inexpensive online program. Some online options feature lower tuition rates, and distance learners benefit from a larger selection of schools when comparing expenses.

Students can also reduce their education costs by transferring from a two-year school into a four-year college or university. The average annual cost at a two-year institution was about $11,400 in 2019-20 — less than half the price of a four-year school.

How long does it take to complete a bachelor's in sports management?

A bachelor's degree in sports management typically takes full-time students four years to complete, although accelerated and part-time options also exist. Some schools feature shorter course terms or summer and winter sessions, which can also have an impact on study times. Other factors that can influence the overall program length include a student's transfer credits, prior learning assessments, and internships.

How much do sports management jobs pay?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average sports manager salary across all fields and levels as of November 2021 was about $50,670. In contrast, according to the BLS, the median annual wage for all management occupations was nearly $110,000 in May 2020.

Median annual wages for other related jobs include advertising, promotions, and marketing managers ($141,490), financial managers ($134,180), and compensation and benefits managers ($125,130). Human resources managers made $121,220, public relations managers made $118,430, and administrative services and facilities managers made $98,890 in May 2020.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Sports Management?

The BLS projects 22% growth for sports and entertainment careers and 9% growth for management occupations between 2020 and 2030; both of these growth rates are faster than the average projected growth for all occupations (8%). As sports popularity and management complexities increase, professionals who specialize in the intersection of these fields should benefit.

Students interested in receiving sports management training can find a variety of options, such as on-campus and online programs, accelerated and part-time schedules, and specializations that can alter the focus of the curriculum. For example, learners can follow a general management pathway or choose a concentration that helps them pursue a career in one of the field's many related disciplines, including marketing or analytics.

Depending on their in-program choices, sports management graduates may enjoy professional flexibility as well. Their knowledge of management practices gives them access to many different administrative, analytical, and leadership positions. Graduates also have the option to pursue postgraduate certifications to set themselves apart from the competition or qualify for niche roles.

Although this field is projected to grow in the coming years, many learners aspire to work in professional sports, so positions may be quite competitive. To boost their employment chances, recent graduates can also consider careers in community or amateur sports or sports-adjacent fields.

Find the best online sports management programs.

Popular Online Sports Management Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How Do I Get Into a Bachelor's in Sports Management Program?

The admissions process for a sports management program looks very similar to most other programs at this level. According to our undergraduate application guide, these programs usually require high school transcripts, college entrance exam scores, college application essays, and letters of recommendation.

When choosing a college, prospective students should pay close attention to the school's grade and test score requirements — some colleges require applicants to meet minimums, such as a 3.0 GPA or higher. Those pursuing an online bachelor's degree in sports management should also note whether a program has any on-campus or in-person requirements.

What Will I Learn in a Sports Management Bachelor's Program?

The type of training provided in a bachelor's in sports management program largely depends on the school and the student's individual choices. Still, many programs feature some similar courses, covering topics like business fundamentals, management principles, and sports organization. Sport-specific courses often go over sports policy, governance, and law.

In addition to general business competencies, such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills, sports management students may develop skills related to event management and performance evaluation. Prospective students may have the opportunity to earn a BA or BS degree, which could have an impact on the focus of the program.

BA programs, for example, may take a more interdisciplinary approach to management theory, whereas BS pathways often delve into more practical and analytical approaches. The department offering the program can also influence the curriculum. For example, some schools run sports management programs through their business departments, while others have kinesiology departments run them.

Concentrations

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Sports Management?

As with most professions, a worker's location, industry, specialization, and employer can greatly influence their salary. According to the BLS, professionals in management occupations earned median annual wages of $109,760 in May 2020, but these earnings vary significantly among different professions within the sector.

For example, advertising, promotions, and marketing managers earned some of the highest median annual salaries ($141,490). Financial managers earned median annual wages of $134,180 and public relations managers earned $118,430 during that same period.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Sports Management?

While most students pursuing a bachelor's degree in sports management aim for a career in the professional sports industry, many other options are also available. Graduates can, for example, pursue careers in collegiate, international, and amateur and community sports. They can also look at positions in related fields, such as media, finance, and health and safety.

Sports management graduates also have the ability to pursue management careers in many other fields. They can apply their business and operational expertise and communication and leadership skills to business positions in most industries. Below are some of the most popular career and continuing education pathways for graduates.

Popular Sports Management Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

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