A bachelor's degree in sports management allows students to pursue entry-level positions with recreational, collegiate, and professional sports organizations. Most students in sports management programs plan on working in athletics after graduation; however, the core business competencies they learn in the program prepare them for careers in other industries, as well.

As the sports industry continues to grow — with recent reports estimating a value of over $500 billion per year — the demand for sports and business professionals remains strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for coaches and scouts will grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average occupation in the U.S.

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What Is Sports Management?

Sports management focuses on the business aspects of sports and recreation. Sports management bachelor's programs typically cover finance, law, ethics, and administration. Professionals are often tasked with facility operations and planning, staffing, and managing organizational events.

What Are the Best Online Bachelor's in Sports Management Programs of 2020?

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida - Online Gainesville, FL
2 Florida International University Miami, FL
3 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
4 University of Minnesota Crookston Crookston, MN
5 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
7 Toccoa Falls College Toccoa Falls, GA
8 Averett University - Non-Traditional Programs Danville, VA
9 Shorter University Rome, GA
10 McKendree University Lebanon, IL

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Sports Management?

Sports management programs develop students' organizational leadership and communication skills. As the sports industry continues to grow, so does the demand for professionals with these skills. For example, the BLS projects 7% job growth for event coordinators and administrative managers between 2018 and 2028.

Furthermore, many occupations that students can pursue after earning a sports management degree offer strong salary prospects. According to the BLS, financial analysts and marketing managers earn median annual salaries of $85,600 and $135,900, respectively.

What Will I Learn in a Sports Management Graduate Program?

Incorporating topics from both business and sports, sports management degrees often cover administration, business finance, and law. Depending on the concentration, some programs may emphasize marketing and public relations, while others focus more on facility and event management.

Regardless of the concentration, all sports management programs teach students how to effectively manage and coordinate athletic activities.

Courses

Sports Facility and Event Management

This course covers how to effectively manage stadiums, arenas, and athletic complexes. Students explore different concepts within event management, including organizing, ticketing, and assessing the safety of sports facilities.

Sports Marketing

This course teaches students how to develop and apply sports marketing plans. Learners study concepts such as product, price, and promotion and then apply them through the lens of a sports organization.

Sports Finance

Along with basic financial management principles, this course explores concepts and techniques used specifically within the sports industry. Students learn about financial accounting and how to balance a team's budget and expenses.

Sports Law and Ethics

This course examines ethical dilemmas and legal concepts in the context of sports management. Learners focus on legal issues that often arise in sports and analyze values promoted by the industry.

Contemporary Issues in Sports

This course examines various sports controversies, both in society and within sports organizations. Students explore past issues to better understand how sports contribute to culture and the ways they may impact society in the future.

Concentrations

Event Management

In addition to covering foundational business topics, this concentration develops students' competencies in venue management, sports and entertainment marketing, and event promotion.

Sports Law

This concentration serves students interested in pursuing careers as sports lawyers or contract negotiators, examining legal concepts within the sports industry. Learners study legal principles and learn about regulations that apply to both sports organizations and athletes.

Athletic Administration

Exploring organizational concepts, this concentration provides students with an understanding of how to effectively manage sports programs. Learners often study current organizational issues and develop solutions to management challenges.

Athlete Development

This concentration teaches students how to support, work with, and enhance athletes' lives on and off the field. Graduates can pursue roles as coaches, scouts, and athletic directors.

Business Analytics

This concentration provides a comprehensive framework for how to use analytics and data to drive decision-making within the sports industry. Developing students' statistical and data management skills, business analytics is a good concentration for learners who may also be interested in pursuing careers as business or financial analysts.

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

Students who earn an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in sports management can pursue many different career paths in a variety of fields.

In traditional office settings, graduates can find work as analysts, administrative managers, and event coordinators. Alternatively, learners interested in working directly with athletes can consider coaching or scouting roles.

Careers

Coaches and Scouts

Graduates with a sports management degree are uniquely positioned to manage a team and its players. Coaches and scouts work directly with athletes by teaching them the skills needed to succeed in their respective sport.

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts who work in the sports industry assess organizational funds and expenditures to maximize revenue. Additionally, they examine athlete salaries, vendor contracts, and overall franchise performance.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Sports advertising and marketing professionals are responsible for promoting their organization and managing sponsorships. They often use social media, advertisements, and newsletters. At the managerial level, these professionals often lead teams and oversee these key job functions.

Administrate Services Managers

While athletics administrators' duties vary by organization, they are often responsible for planning and directing many aspects of a sports franchise. Key tasks may include coordinating sports activities, improving facilities, and maintaining rules compliance.

Event Coordinators

Event coordinators are involved in every stage of event preparation, including seating, transportation, and ticketing arrangements. In arena and stadium settings, they work with engineers to address technology and communications issues.

How to Choose a Sports Management Bachelor's Program

There are many factors to consider when choosing a sports management program. As curricula are often tailored for different occupations, you should first consider each program's available classes and concentrations. Some programs feature more business courses to prepare you for administration and marketing roles, while others focus on kinesiology and athletic development to better prepare you for coaching and scouting positions.Other important factors include cost and program type. Online degrees in sports management are great options for students who also need to raise families or work full time. Additionally, some schools charge all online students the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.

How to Get Into a Sports Management Bachelor's Program

Admission requirements for sports management bachelor's programs are fairly similar across schools. Most programs require students to submit official high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and letters of recommendation. Other programs may require a minimum GPA — usually between 2.0 and 3.0.

Check with your prospective school for exact requirements.

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Sports Management?

Most bachelor's in sports management programs require at least 120 credits, which typically takes full-time students four years to complete. Part-time students, however, usually need 2-3 additional semesters to graduate. Many programs also require an internship or work experience. Students interested in reducing the time it takes to finish their degree may consider taking courses over the summer.

Furthermore, while accelerated bachelor's programs are fairly limited for this degree, many schools offer an accelerated five-year pathway that leads to a bachelor's and a master's degree. These programs are often available online.

Sports management graduates can also consider pursuing professional certifications. While not required for most entry-level positions, certifications in a specialized area, such as coaching or administration, can lead to career advancement opportunities and increased wages.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Bachelor's in Sports Management?

There are several factors that can impact the cost of a sports management degree, including residency status and whether you attend a public or private university.

According to CollegeBoard, the average in-state tuition at a public, four-year institution for the 2019-2020 school year was just over $10,000, while nonresidents paid nearly $27,000. The cost at private universities, however, was roughly $37,000.

In many cases, online degrees in sports management are much more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. While tuition rates may be similar, you can save thousands of dollars by avoiding costs related to on-campus room and board and transportation.

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