Sports Management Graduate Programs And Rankings

Graduate Degrees in Sports Management

Someone seeking a graduate degree in sports management usually already has a job in the field, and wants to build up their skills so they can get a promotion or move into a slightly different niche within the field. There are a few different generally available types of sports management master’s degrees:

  • Master of Science in Sports Management: Heavy on the financial and analytic side of sports management, this degree will prepare you for accounting, budgeting, and bookkeeping at a sports organization.
  • Master of Science in Athletic Administration: Human resources, management, and financial duties can all fall under the purview of workers with an MS in athletic administration.
  • Master of Business Administration in Sports Management: As the name indicates, this is actually an MBA degree that emphasizes sports management. An MBA program provides a broad, general base of business knowledge, and the infusion of athletics related classes in these majors will get you ready for business issues specific to sports.

Sports Management Degree Ranking Systems

Degree programs are ranked by many self-appointed judges of educational quality, such as the U.S. News and World Report, the Princeton Review, and the Wall Street Journal. These rankings should be taken with a grain of salt. They are not governmentally endorsed, nor are they necessarily consistent from one list to another. When looking at degree program rankings, it is necessary to take into account how the rankings are arrived at, and whether the factors that are measured are important to you as a student. Below is a list of several factors included in many university rankings, though since each ranking body uses different data, you’ll need to do specific research before trusting a particular list.

  • Graduation and Retention Rates: The percentage of students who make it all the way from enrollment to graduation at a school is called the school’s graduation rate, and the percentage who continue on from year to year is called the retention rate. Most graduate program ranking lists consider these two factors strong indicators of a degree granting program’s quality. The higher a school’s graduation rate and retention rate, the more students actually end up with degrees from the school, which speaks well of the program’s efficacy.
  • Cost: Many ranking guides don’t incorporate cost in their overall quality assessments, but have a separate lists for the costliest institutions and the ones that give students the most “bang for their buck.”
  • Post-graduation Employment: Schools that offer programs in specific vocations, such as sports managements, use post-graduation employment rates as a key metric of their success. If 90% of a school’s graduates have a job in their field within one year after graduating, chances are, you will too. Because of variation in how this data is collected, though, this metric is only marginally trustworthy. Some schools only gather data on employment in general, so that a student who is delivering pizzas will be in the same “employed” group as a student working in the sports management field.
  • Financial Aid: A school’s academic rigor can’t really be judged by how much financial aid its students receive. However, with rising education costs and a bachelor’s degree being the lowest requirement for jobs in many industries, the cost of education matters a lot, and schools with good financial aid options have a lot of leverage in attracting students. Most ranking guides have a separate list of schools with the best financial aid options.
  • Job Performance: The Wall Street Journal in particular uses a fairly unique metric for ranking schools. They simply ask companies that recruit employees from college campuses “which schools do your best employees come from?” This provides a unique perspective on which schools are really turning out the graduates best prepared for jobs in their fields.

No degree ranking system is infallible, but if you want to rely on rankings to help make your decision, it is wise to look at the specific data they base their choices on.

Internships and On-The-Job Experience in Sports Management

Any high caliber graduate program in sports management will offer you some opportunity for practical experience. The field is so reliant on highly networked individuals with strong people skills and good communication that an internship or volunteer position can be almost as valuable as the degree itself. Double-check whether your program has a built-in internship or volunteer requirement, and if not, talk to a professor before you enroll to see if they can suggest a practical option for you. Another option for getting valuable practical experience is to find an opportunity on your own. Here’s a list of a few types of organizations you could reach out to and explain that you want to get some experience in the sports management field if they’re willing to take on an extra worker.

  • Local College or University: If you’re an online student, and the practical experience opportunities offered by your school aren’t available in your area, try calling up the athletic department of a local college. Volunteer experience in any capacity shows that you’re passionate and dedicated, not just in it for the money.
  • Local Sports Agency: There are many small private sports agencies that represent a range of athletes, and they might be willing to take on a volunteer to help with bookkeeping or other grunt work around the office. Do some asking around and find one in your city.
  • Local Stadium: It could be a long shot, but calling up the manager of a stadium or other sports venue in your area and asking for a tour could get you in the door, and once you’re there, asking for an internship or volunteer job in person will guarantee they remember you. If nothing else, they’ll know you’re confident, and you just might land some good experience to cite on your resume.

Careers in sports management are expected to increase as are the educational standards. Occupations that have the most growth and that usually require a bachelor’s or graduate degree plus work experience includes general and operations managers:

Costs for Graduate Programs in Sports Management

Graduate degrees in sports management can last anywhere from one to two years, encompassing from 25 to 40 credit hours of classes. Factoring in tuition, living costs, books, and other materials, the price tag for a master’s degree in sports management can easily surpass $30,000. Here’s a breakdown of the major costs you’ll pay as a student. Take into account that there are scholarships, grants, and other financial aid available to most students, so this money doesn’t have to come straight out of your pocket.

  • Tuition can be between $300 and $1,000 per credit hour, and the lowest cost programs usually end up charging around $20,000 just for tuition. Fortunately, this is the cost that is easiest to offset with loans and scholarships.
  • Books and supplies can cost between $500-$1,000 per semester at a campus college, but online colleges are usually less expensive because so many class materials are distributed electronically online. Online programs require you to have a laptop and constant internet access though, so the costs still add up.
  • Living costs, such as rent, food, and transportation, are easier to control if you take online classes rather than on campus. Many campus colleges require you to live in campus housing, which is typically more expensive than the cost of living in the surrounding town. Taking online classes lets you choose where to live, giving you more control over this aspect of your budget.

Scholarships, Grants, and Loans for Sports Management Students

Financial aid availability for sports management students is essentially the same as it is for other master’s level students. Governmental loans including subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford and Perkins loans, Pell Grants, and tax credits are all available to master’s students as well, and their amounts fluctuate depending on your monetary need, which the government will determine based on your income, family size, and other factors.

Visit the following sites for more information on what type of aid might be available to you as a master’s degree student in sports management or a related field:

The internet puts a wealth of information at your fingertips that can help you determine which graduate programs are the best, and which fit your unique needs as a student most. For more information on sports management degrees, contact some of the schools in the list below, all of which offer accredited degree programs in sports management related fields.

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