Is Sports Management a Good Degree For You?

You love sports but don’t really see yourself as a professional athlete material, which is why you are considering majoring in business management or marketing instead. What if I told you that you can enjoy the best of both worlds by getting your hands on a bachelor’s degree in sports management?

Sports management is a good option for degree-seeking students who would someday like to take charge of the business aspect of overseeing a sports team or organization. Needless to say, it is recommended for those with an interest in careers that combine business management with athletics seamlessly.

If you like the idea of combining being in the world of sports and taking on a managerial role, read on.

This post is all about some of the most important things you need to know about being a sports management major as well as the career options available for you after earning a bachelor’s in it.

sport management degree

Is Sports Management Hard in College?

The general consensus is that sports management is a fairly easy major. This is especially true for degree-seeking students who are passionate about the sports industry as well as its business aspects. However, just like other majors, some general education (gen ed) courses can be challenging for some individuals.

It’s true that it isn’t a STEM- or healthcare-related field, but it doesn’t mean right away that completing a bachelor’s degree in sports management can be as effortless as possible.

A major’s difficulty level depends on the interests and desire of a student to graduate from college.

Usually, it’s during the last four semesters of college that core courses, which are required for undergraduate students to take for them to be able to earn a bachelor’s, have to be taken. Before them, many gen ed courses have to be taken, ranging from math, sociology to public speaking.

As a sports management major, some of the core courses you may encounter include:

  • Business administration
  • Communications and technology
  • Facility management
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Sports history
  • Sports law
  • Sports management

Some colleges and universities allow undergraduate students to graduate without any minor, while others require minoring in at least one discipline. If your school requires it or you just want to gain added knowledge or skills, including those that can prove to be useful in the sports management world, some wonderful options include:

  • Accounting
  • Athletic training
  • Biology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Exercise science
  • Leadership studies
  • Nutrition
  • Physical education
  • Physiology
  • Psychology

Different Sports Management Degrees

Different sports management degrees are available for students with different educational and career goals. Some degrees in the discipline allow for eligibility for entry-level jobs, while others allow for eligibility for higher-level ones. Different degrees have different price tags and different completion times.

Once you are 100% certain it’s sports management that you want to study after high school, it’s time to determine which kind of sports management degree is enough for you to be able to take the career path of your liking.

The following are three of your options:

Associate degree in sports management

Typically, it takes around two years to complete an associate program in sports management. Usually consisting of 60 credits, it prepares sports management students for a variety of entry-level positions.

Despite having a less rigorous curriculum, an associate in sports management still has some very important core courses such as accounting, communication, finance, marketing and negotiation. Needless to say, students also have to take sports-related courses, including coaching, sports analytics and sports laws.

Bachelor’s degree in sports management

Degree-seeking students may choose from a handful of bachelor’s programs in sports management:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a sports management concentration

Which one you should opt for will depend on your career goals and the sports management programs the college or university of your choice offers. Keep in mind that all options are bachelor’s degrees equally.

It goes without saying that a bachelor’s in sports management program has a more rigorous curriculum than its associate counterpart. Sports management majors are usually employed by sports teams, sports leagues, sports facilities, athletic departments of learning institutions or organizations and others.

Master’s degree in sports management

Typically, it takes a master’s program in sports management anywhere from one to two years to complete, depending on how many credits students take per semester or whether or not the program culminates in thesis writing.

It’s common for sports management majors to further their education and earn a master’s degree if they are looking to become college professors. However, a master’s in sports management will still make you eligible for various areas of sports, albeit higher-paying ones, including athletic agencies and sports facilities.

What Can You Do With Sports Management Degree

Because there are many different sectors in the sports industry, there are various career options available for sports management degree holders. This is most especially true for those with a master’s or bachelor’s, which is usually the minimum requirement for a lot of available sports management jobs.

After completing your chosen sports management degree, it’s time to face one of the hardest challenges to tackle right after graduating from college: applying for a job.

Here are some of the things that you can do as a sports management major:


Athletic coach

  • Median annual salary: $38,970
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 26%

Besides a bachelor’s in sports management, individuals who wish to work as athletic coaches should have extensive knowledge of the sport the athletes they need to train and guide partake in. Some athletic coaches work part-time, while those who are employed full-time usually have to work over 40 hours per week.

Sports event planner

  • Median annual salary: $49,470
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 18%

What sports events planners do, as the job title pretty much explains, is arrange all aspects of an important match. Due to this, it’s of utmost importance for them to have excellent planning, organizational and time-management skills. It’s also usually a part of the tasks of sports event planners to recruit volunteers and participants.

Sports marketing specialist

  • Median annual salary: $133,380
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 10%

Some of the highest-paid sports management majors are those who are employed as sports marketing specialists. They are responsible for coming up with programs vital for the creation of interest in a sporting event. A minor in marketing or a related field, such as advertising and consumer psychology, is certainly a huge plus.

Sales managers

  • Median annual salary: $127,490
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 7%

Higher pay can also be expected by individuals with a bachelor’s in sports management working as sales managers, who are tasked with building sales plans and directing the sales team. Most sales managers in the athletics industry travel a lot. It’s also quite common for them to work additional hours, either in the evening or over the weekend.

Sports media relations specialist

  • Median annual salary: $62,800
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 11%

Creating and maintaining a favorable relationship between the team or organization and various media outlets — such is the primary role of sports media relations specialists. Some of the most important qualities sports media relations specialists must possess include good communication, research and creativity skills.

fitness manager

Fitness manager

  • Median annual salary: $40,700
  • Job outlook in 10 years: 39%

It’s a must for athletes to stay in tip-top shape, which is why fitness managers play pivotal roles in athletic teams and organizations. What they do is procure and maintain on-site fitness equipment as well as recruit fitness staff members and fitness instructors. It’s not uncommon for fitness managers to travel with the entire team.

Best Schools for Sports Management Major

In the US, it is estimated that there are more than 400 sports management programs, undergraduate and graduate alike, that are recognized by the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM). Many of the top options for aspiring sports management majors are also highly ranked institutions.

Choosing which sports management program to enroll in is just as important as choosing which schools you should add to your college list in order to make it balanced and realistic.

Here are some of the colleges and universities you might want to consider shortlisting:

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor$31,484 (in-state) and $67,802 (out-of-state)
North Carolina State University$24,555 (in-state) and $44,674 (out-of-state)
University of Florida$21,431 (in-state) and $42,648 (out-of-state)
University of Miami$73,712
Southern Methodist University$79,050
University of Georgia$27,658 (in-state) and $46,698 (out-of-state)
Florida State University$23,126 (in-state) and $35,644 (out-of-state)
University of South Carolina$29,121 (in-state) and $50,361 (out-of-state)
Texas A&M University$31,467 (in-state) and $58,024 (out-of-state)
Syracuse University$75,652
Belhaven University$37,475
Clemson University$32,880 (in-state) and $55,872 (out-of-state)
University of Texas at Austin$28,928 (in-state) and $57,512 (out-of-state)
Denison University$72,820
Best Schools for Sports Management Major

Best Online Universities for Sports Management Major

Besides a traditional degree in sports management, you can also choose to earn an online sports management degree. Just make sure that the one you are about to work on is legit and will be respected by employers.

Here are some of the best accredited online schools with sports management programs.

Liberty University

  • Location: Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Cost: $390.00 per credit hour
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Accreditor: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Average starting salary: $33,700 per year

McKendree University

  • Location: Lebanon, Illinois
  • Cost: $400.00 per credit hour
  • Acceptance rate: 70%
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Average starting salary: $37,400 per year

Maryville University of Saint Louis

  • Location: Saint Louis, Missouri
  • Cost: $400.00 per credit hour
  • Acceptance rate: 95%
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Average starting salary: $42,400 per year

Concordia University – Saint Paul

  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Cost: $420.00 per credit hour
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Accreditor: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Average starting salary: $42,900 per year

Southern New Hampshire University

  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Cost: $320.00 per credit hour
  • Acceptance rate: 94%
  • Accreditor: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Average starting salary: $41,400 per year

Just Before You Enroll in a Sports Management Degree

Getting your hands on a sports management degree allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds: sports and business. It’s really important for you to have enough passion for sports and the various business aspects of it if you want to succeed not only as a sports management major but also as a professional in the field.

Related Questions

What’s the difference between sports management and sports business?

Simply put, sports management majors earn a complete understanding of the entire business, including finance, accounting, economics and marketing. Meanwhile, sports business majors gain knowledge and skills limited to selling and promoting sports-related products and services.

Do sports management majors have to be student or professional athletes?

There is no need for you to be an athlete just to be able to successfully complete a degree program in sports management. However, it’s a huge advantage if you know plenty about sports and the many business management aspects, from human resources to operations.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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