Differences Between Sports Management MBAs and Master’s

When preparing for a career in sports management, it can be confusing deciding what degree program will best help you in the career of your choice. Sports Management is a wide-ranging field, so you need to assess what you’re looking to do specifically. Do you see yourself working in the front office for a sports team? Would you prefer to be managing a team on the ground? An MBA in Sports Management takes a more macro approach to the operations and processes of running a business in sports, while an MS in Sports Management is more multidisciplinary. Master’s in Sports Management will often provide a basic coverage of the business topics that MBAs focus on, but provide more sports-related knowledge. While an MBA often covers a wider range of topics that might be pertinent to business and management in a sports setting, Master’s in Sports Management often cover a number of disciplines that all relate to sports roles in some way. These disciplines include behavioral topics like sociology and human performance, as well as leadership, kinesiology, and sports specific business courses. Both of these programs should prepare graduates to manage people, infrastructure, events, business strategy, sales, budgets, marketing, communication, sponsorship, community outreach, and much more. By taking an online Sports Management MBA or Master’s in Sports Management, you can maximize your time, continuing in your current profession while earning a degree that can either enhance it, or allow you to begin a new career. If you would like to look at some of the top online programs in either one of these disciplines, check out our ranking of the best online master’s in sports management and online sports management MBAs (forthcoming).

Curriculum of Sports Management MBA’s and Master’s in Sports Management

An MBA program’s curriculum is always going to focus on finance, marketing, accounting, statistics, operations, and human resources. These building blocks will in turn inform the student about efficiency and decision making in the sports industry. Sports management specializations in MBA’s often offer 3-5 courses that relate directly to sports.

Example Curricula:

Southern New Hampshire University’s Sports Management MBA program offers courses like Sport and Society, Internationalization of Sport Business and Management of Sport Organization, in addition to a heavy dose of law, business, economics, mathematics, accounting, marketing and other traditional MBA courses.

Columbia University’s MSc in sports management offers classes on global sports and sports analytics. Another MBA program to consider comes from San Diego State University (SDSU) is especially known for pairing core business courses with an emphasis on cutting edge sports business. This program also allows students to work on a consulting project with a sports organization.

A more sports-heavy MBA is offered by Florida Atlantic University. Their MBA in Sport Management offers 7 classes that pertain directly to sports, including Management and Administration of Intercollegiate Athletics, Management of Sport, Entertainment and Convention Venues, Sport Business Analytics, Sport Marketing, Sport Law and more.

MS in Sports Management degrees regularly require around 15 graduate-level courses. Common courses included in sports management-centered master’s degrees include personal leadership, sports media and marketing, sports analytics, sports law and ethics, sports accounting, sponsorship and sales, sports revenue strategies, and potentially sport-specific offerings (baseball analytics, for example). Some sports management master’s programs are particularly business and analytics driven, like NYU’s MS in Sports Business. It builds on business courses like Applied Research Methods, Financial Analysis, Investment Analysis, Revenue Strategies & Pricing and more. It builds on this business foundation with concentrations that include Sports Law, Global Sports Media, Sports Marketing and Sales, and Professional Collegiate Sports Operations.

Job Prospects of Sports Management MBA’s and Master’s in Sports Management

There are many jobs you’ll be qualified for as a graduate with a Master’s in Sports Management, whether you take a MBA or MS program. These programs are first and foremost turning graduates into high functioning managers, so wherever management and sports intersect, you’ll be in a position to succeed. This can involve coaching or managing teams, events, venues or fitness and recreation. As people become more health conscious, and digital life takes up more time, the value in sports, fitness and recreation has, and continues to build. Some roles within Sports management, like agents and promoters, have very lucrative careers. In 2011 BLUS reported the mean annual wage was $102,240 for agents and $65,140 for promoters. Other positions are expected to see more job opportunities. BLS predicted a 29% increase in jobs in coaching and scouting through 2020. Most importantly, you need to think creatively. Sports is a sprawling field, and you could work in managing reporters who cover it, philanthropy of wealthy athletes and sports executives, player appearances, market research, teaching sports management, public relations, youth sports organizations, parks and recreation departments, tournament planning, sales, sports mediation and arbitration, and much, much more. You may need to earn further degrees, or work your way in a direction, but by earning an MBA or MS in Sports Management, you’re opening the door to endless possibilities. Something else to consider alongside your job prospects is where you live, or plan to live in choosing a program. States like New York and California have high employment and income levels in comparison to other states, but Florida, Tennessee, Illinois and Vermont are good choices as well. A good resource on Sports Management career prospects can be found here.

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