Sports management shows up in the movies and on TV as one of those glitzy, glamorous careers that seem totally out of reach. In reality, though, sports management is a growing career field that offers a wide range of opportunity for professionals of all kinds. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the athletics industry is growing faster than average, and some occupations in the field are even higher – like coaches and scouts, which are growing by 13% over the next decade. But how do you find your way into a sports management career? A bachelor’s in sports management could be the first step.
Getting a Bachelor’s in Sports Management
When it comes to sports management, figures like the fictional Jerry Maguire or the semi-fictional Don King might spring to mind, but the athletics industry is huge, and there are management roles throughout the field. From professional and minor league sports to parks and recreation or public schools, managers in athletics keep the business humming. A sports administration degree provides the foundations in areas a diverse as sports medicine and kinesiology to accounting, economics, human resources, and even sports psychology. Very few occupations have quite as many facets, and a sports management major offers a huge variety in opportunity.
The best colleges for sports management usually approach the bachelor’s in sports management as an interdisciplinary program, bringing together faculty from business, social sciences, physical education, and law. A sports management major is a major in everything related to sports, and the best colleges for sports management know that a good manager needs to know everything that is going on – the numbers, the people, and the business.
Methodology: How We Ranked the Best Colleges for Sports Management
Searching out the best colleges for sports management degree programs started at the most obvious place: COSMA accreditation. The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation is the nation’s most trusted agency for overseeing sports management education, so all of the institutions on the Bachelor’s Degree Center 25 Best ranking are accredited by COSMA. From there, we ranked programs based on a wide selection of criteria:
- Return on Investment
- Graduation Rate
- Employment Rate
To put together these numbers, we consulted sources like IPEDS, College Scorecard, and Niche, using the most current, reputable data available. Sports management degree programs are ranked according to their average score in all five criteria.
1. Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge, LA
Louisiana State University’s BS in Sport Administration degree offers concentrations in Sport Commerce or Sport Leadership. This sports management degree program allows students to gain fundamental knowledge in the quickly changing sports world and how to manage it. Students take an in-depth look at leading industry best practices and discussing real-world experiences in the classroom. Students are immersed in real sports settings with an internship in the New Orleans area, as well as nationwide.
In LSU’s sports administration degree, students develop marketing strategies, learn to organize and facilitate sporting events, and manage facilities. They gain an understanding of the ethical concerns surrounding sports and gain knowledge of the legal ramifications of poor choices. Students take general sports education classes as well as the administration of sports to gain a stronger foundation in the finances related to sports administration. LSU’s COSMA-accredited bachelor’s in sports management is a model program.
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Sport Administration, Concentrations in Sport Commerce or Sport Leadership
2. St. John Fisher College – Rochester, NY
St. John Fisher College’s BS in Sports Management degree is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) and recognized as a leader in the field. The sports management degree program at St. John Fisher helps students find their niche, whether it’s in education, amateur sports, or the professional level. Students will gain fundamental knowledge of the sports world, including marketing, legal and finance.
Students in St. John Fisher’s sports administration degree will gain an understanding of society and its impact on sports and players. They will take a deeper look at drugs, violence, and gambling. They will also have a broader understanding of discrimination in the sports industry based on race, gender, and ethnicity. Course work for the bachelor’s in sports management blends theory with real-world examples and requires tangible experience through an internship before completion of the program. Students will improve oral and written communication skills in addition to computer skills which are becoming a necessity in today’s world of sports management.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
3. University of Louisville – Louisville, KY
The University of Louisville’s BS in Sports Administration degree program can be pursued on campus or online. UL’s sports management degree is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) and intends to ready students for jobs in the sports world. This program focuses on the business side of the industry with attention to leadership, marketing, finance, fundraising, event planning, and organizational behavior.
University of Louisville students benefit from internships, volunteer work, and real world experience with service projects within the community. It is recommended that students select a minor to enhance their sport administration knowledge. Minor choices are economics, wellness coaching, community health, communications, or exercise science. Students gain a foundation in the theories and principles of administration and management of sports and fitness, and recreational services and programs. They learn the value of ethical decision making and study modern concerns that influence sports.
Degree: BS in Sports Administration
4. University of North Florida – Jacksonville, FL
The University of North Florida BS in Sport Management degree program ifast-paceded to meet the growing needs within the sports industry. University of North Florida’s mission is to give students a foundation in sports management. Students will participate in internships locally with athletic programs, recreational agencies, and professional sports teams. UNF’s bachelor’s in sports management program has been accredited through the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA).
The purpose of UNF’s sports administration degree program is to provide opportunities to students for professional development and the ability to apply knowledge and research. Students learn the benefits of marketing, conference, event, and promotional planning. They develop skills to help them become stronger public speakers, as well as improve writing skills.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
5. Western New England University – Springfield, MA
Western New England University’s BS in Sports Management degree comes from the AACSB-accredited College of Business. As part of the program, students will take core business classes alongside the sports management specialized courses, developing a wider understanding of business than the average bachelor’s in sports management. Students may also choose to take a double major with Marketing. They will also have access to the 3 + 3 Law courses which will improve negotiation and arbitration skills.
With its long tradition as a leader in business education, Western New England students will learn the fundamentals of facility planning, sports marketing, managing of international sports, business law as it relates to sports. Students will participate in trips to venues and sports facilities. The will learn the details of scouting, developing players, analyzing sports, event management, and athletic coaching.
Degree: BS in Business Administration – Sport Management concentration
6. Slippery Rock University – Slippery Rock, PA
Slippery Rock University’s BS in Sport Management degree is one of the oldest programs of its kind, in existence since 1977, and it has helped set the bar for sports administration degree programs for more than 40 years. The first COSMA-accredited program in the nation, Slippery Rock’s bachelor’s in sports management develops students in preparation for sports marketing, facility management, minor league sports, and sports event management.
Students in Slippery Rock’s sports management program will develop their critical thinking skills, while gaining hands on experience. They will gain a foundation in sports management and be able to apply the knowledge they gained. Students will gain a broad understanding in other areas such as marketing, economics, communications, finance and how those areas relate and interact with sports management. And with four decades of networking, students can trust their degree to pay off on the job market.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
7. Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant, MI
Central Michigan University’s Sports Management degree program offers three option for students to earn their bachelor’s in sports management. Central Michigan offers a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management, or a Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management, or Bachelor of Applied Arts in Sport Management. In any version, CMU’s program gives students a foundation in the field of sport management, with a slightly different emphasis in each.
Accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA), students in the CMU sports administration degree program will discuss the nature, significance, and scope of the industry. Upon the conclusion of this program, students can pursue employment in various types of sport management from high school to professional sports, or non profit organizations. Students learn the benefits of morals, values, and ethics and how they influence the way a law is interpreted, while also learning the importance of merchandising, journalism, event management, and sports retail.
Bachelor of Science in Sport Management
Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management
Bachelor of Applied Arts in Sport Management
8. Endicott College – Beverly, MA
Endicott College’s Bachelor of Education in Sport Management degree provides students the knowledge and real world experience in sports management. Endicott College gives students an environment that is student centered while promoting professionalism and scholarships. This program requires an internship as part of the course work, which often propels students into a job after graduation. Internships are typically with sports teams, organizations, health and fitness clubs, and sport marketing firms.
In Endicott’s sports administration degree program, students learn the best industry practices in sports management. Students develop effective written and oral communication skills, and study the challenges in management with strong critical thinking and sound decision making abilities. They learn how to develop analytical and critical abilities to enable students to be relevant and effective leaders in sports management.
Degree: Bachelor of Education in Sport Management
9. York College of Pennsylvania – York, PA
In York College of Pennsylvania’s BS in Sport Management degree program, students study a complete curriculum in sports management while obtaining knowledge in courses in other disciplines to prepare them for jobs across all area of the sports management industry. The mission of the program at York College is to create a professional and positive environment where students can grow and learn the skills needed for sports management.
In York College’s bachelor’s in sports management program, students will gain a working knowledge of the tools to allow them to be fiscally responsible and budget savvy in their role within a sports organization. They will improve their communication skills and learn to think critically in decisions related to sports management. Students will gain a foundation in best practices found within today’s sports industry, especially the value of applying ethics to make sound decisions as they relate to current issues within the sports world. Students will gather data and learn to use evidence to create a safe environment within any organization.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
10. University of Mount Union – Alliance, OH
University of Mount Union’s BS in Sport Business degree provides students an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the sport world and industry, specifically how sports and business intersect. This is program is accredited through the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). Upon graduation students will be prepared to enter the workforce in sports organizations, college coaches, and event management and support, to name just a few.
Bachelor’s in sports management students are trained to take a deeper look into the sports industry and the unique interactions it has with the business world. They will do in depth studies of creating proposals, creating bids, business plans, and sales training. Students will learn the fundamentals of public relations, finance, marketing, and business administration. Students will have many opportunities for hands on experience through the extended internship program. Included in this program is career training, workshops and job fairs, as well as attending conferences that provide networking opportunities; Mount Union’s proximity to metropolitan Cleveland offers a wide range of internship and job opportunities.
Degree: BA in Sport Business
11. Ohio University – Athens, OH
Ohio University’s Bachelor of Sports Management degree is offered by the College of Business. This gives students a leg up because they are able to blend a business foundation with sports management. Each day, the sports industry becomes more complex as it moves into a more global environment. Students in sports management need to remain flexible and have a strong foundation in sports, management principles, and administrative theory.
Ohio University believes the best way to prepare students for employment in sports management is with real world hands on experience. As a result, they provide to students numerous paths to get involved with their Center for Sports Administration. This Center provides a place for students to find internships, apply for employment, and allow the opportunity for interactions such as the San Diego Consulting Project. In addition, students receive a lot of support through the robust and focused course work of this program. Students are able to gain experience creating events by working with school organizations to develop and promote events.
Degree: Bachelor of Sport Management
12. Winthrop University – Rock Hill, SC
Winthrop University’s BS in Sport Management degree is an interdisciplinary program offered in collaboration by the faculty of several departments, including the College of Business Administration, College of Education, and Department of Physical Education, Sport and Human Performance. This program helps students improve their written and oral communication skills, learn to think critically, and encourage intellectual inquiry. Students are given a foundation in the history of the sports industry, background on business aspects for management, as well as preparation for successful integration into any of the various pieces of the sports industry. Students also take an in depth look at the way organizations function and operate.
Winthrop sports administration degree students are given the skills, knowledge and ethical foundation to become effective leaders in the world of sports management. Neighboring states of Winthrop University are the homes of at least six professional sports teams. This program is the only one in the Charlotte metro area, which puts their students in the perfect position to procure employment at the completion of this program. Winthrop’s mission is to create leaders in sports management.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
13. Bowling Green State University – Bowling Green, OH
Bowling Green State University’s BS in Education-Sport Management Program is one of the oldest dedicated sports management degree programs in the nation. At Bowling Green State, students blend real world experience with time in the classroom to emphasis sound decision making based on ethical values, intellectual inquiry, and volunteering. Students will also get a foundation in marketing, communication, and management. Upon graduation from this program, students are able to obtain employment as corporate administrators, college directors, business managers, facility managers, sales reps, and account executives, just to name a few.
At the conclusion of BGSU sports administration degree program, students will understand management concepts and their roles in leadership. They will understand how society is impacted by social values, culture, and personal experience. Students will understand how values and ethics play a key role in sports. They will take a deeper look at interpersonal communication, including but not limited to public relations, mass communication, and public interactions. Students will grasp the key marketing techniques that helps promote sports products. They will have a better understanding of the legal ramifications of decisions and behaviors as they relate to sports.
Degree: BS in Education, Sport Management Program
14. Southeast Missouri State University – Cape Giradeau, MO
Southeast Missouri State University’s BS in Sports Management degree program focuses on practical experience. Learners study sports management from different angles. They learn how sports impact society. They also learn all about the best marketing techniques and sports-related ethics. Unlike other sports administration degrees, SMSU’s program requires a Business Administration Minor. The business background combined with hands-on learning opportunities will prepare you for your career, no matter where your career takes you. This Sports Management degree will immerse you in the knowledge and skills that you need.
SMSU starts with a foundation in the liberal arts. Students get a core level of knowledge that they can take with them into any career. From there, this school provides lots of experience-based learning opportunities. The hands-on approach reflects real-world careers. As a result, students can graduate with confidence. By combining classroom learning and practical opportunities, students get the most balanced bachelor’s in sports management education possible.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
15. Kutztown University – Kutztown, PA
Kutztown University’s BS in Sport Management degree is ready to help you get an exciting career. This industry is growing almost constantly. Kutztown University will help you develop the adaptability and critical thinking skills that you’ll need to step up. This program provides a combination of general education classes, sports management basics, and internships. When students graduate, they’re prepared for a wide variety of career options. Kutztown’s bachelor’s in Sports Management will open doors.
Kutztown University aims to help its community and the world at large. With an 18:1 student-faculty ratio, KU provides lots of individualized help. Students here enjoy a beautiful campus. They also get to be a part of the vibrant student life. The school boasts contemporary facilities, research opportunities, and state of the art technology. Graduates enjoy excellent career outcomes. Many jump into their careers right after graduation.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
16. University of Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN
The University of Indianapolis’ BS in Sports Management degree program trains students to find their place in this industry. Though this field can get overwhelming, UIndy will help you find your place. Since sports management is such a dynamic and energetic field, UIndy’s classes reflect that energy. Students get high-quality internship opportunities. They also get to work with well-known sports organizations and network with business professionals. This way, students transition smoothly into their careers after graduation. .
UIndy believes that education should open doors. Therefore, they provide their students with every possible opportunity to succeed. Classes go beyond book knowledge. While students do get lots of core classroom experience, they also work with real professionals. They explore the practical side of education so that they become as prepared as possible for the future. As a student, you’ll collaborate with others. You’ll also find the best ways to impact your community for the better.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
17. University of Southern Indiana – Evansville, IN
The University of Southern Indiana’s Sports Management degree program gives students lots of options. First, students can choose between a BA and a BS. Second, students can also choose from a wide array of concentrations. Whether you want to focus on business administration, recreational health, collegiate sports, or any number of career choices, you can tailor a degree that will help you get there. Sports administration degree students at USI also work with the school’s athletic teams and help organize events for additional hands-on experience.
With an enrollment of over 11,000 students, USI provides a highly energetic experience. With outreach programs and other resources, USI helps students succeed. 82% of USI graduates report that they’re employed within their field of study. The University of Southern Indiana lives up to its vision: “Shaping the future through learning and innovation.”
Degree: BA or BS in Sport Management – Intercollegiate Athletics, Recreational Sports, Sport Communication, and Sport & Business Studies
18. University of Tampa – Tampa, FL
The University of Tampa’s BS in Sports Management degree program combines sports theory and practical experience. UT’s program combines Sports Management classes with business classes. Students get the core skills that they need to start their careers. Students also get a lot of internship and networking opportunities, giving bachelor’s in sports management graduates a direct line to a job after graduation.
UT provides all of the latest techniques and technology in education. This private university is neither too big nor too small. Students get relatively small class sizes, but they also enjoy a lot of the resources that larger universities provide. The Tampa Bay area provides lots of opportunities for jobs and socializing. In 2018, US News and World Report ranked UT as one of the top regional universities in the South for the opportunity and excellence it offers.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
19. Wingate University – Wingate, NC
Wingate University’s BS in Sports Management degree program teaches the business side of sports. Students here go far beyond classroom knowledge. Every student in this program completes a full-time internship between junior and senior year. Wingate students have worked with the the NBA, NASCAR (thanks to Wingate’s proximity to Charlotte, NC), and other prestigious organizations. These internships often lead to full-time employment after graduation. In any case, students graduate with the skill set that they’ll need to start working right away. Overall, Wingate University will help you get the most from your Bachelors in Sports Management.
Wingate University offers all of the best benefits of a small school. 96% of classes here have fewer than 40 students. This way, students can work directly with their teachers. Students always have options when they need to ask for help. This school’s major strength is in the sciences. Nearly 1 in 5 undergrads here are preparing to go into medicine. For Sports Management students, this means that they can explore the scientific side of sports and learn how to apply it to the business side of things. Consistently ranked as one of the top best value colleges in the south, Wingate makes a great choice.
Degree: BS in Sport Management
20. Wichita State University – Wichita, KS
Wichita State’s BA in Sports Management degree program offers a thorough education in the sports industry. Students learn how marketing, law, management, and other subjects interact with the American sports world. The program requires an internship, which prepares students for employment after graduation. Graduates from this program move on to work in the professional sports business, recreation center management, and much more. WSU also offers Sports Management as a minor. Wichita State’s sports administration degree will give you lots of options in your career.
WSU combines classroom learning with real-world experience. This school encourages research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Students learn how to carve out their own pathways to a fulfilling and successful life. At WSU, students learn how to recognize opportunities and take advantage of them. This diverse and dynamic campus will give you a great educational experience.
Degree: BA in Sport Management
21. North Greenville University – Tigerville, SC
As a Christian institution, NGU is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Faculty and staff aim to change lives every day and make a positive impact in their community. Students here learn how to integrate faith and career on a daily basis. This high-quality school is perfect for those who want a faith community along with their educational community.
Degree: BS in Sport Management – Tracks in Business, Coaching, and Sport Ministry
22. Lancaster Bible College – Lancaster, PA
Lancaster Bible College’s BS in Sports Management and Biblical Studies is a unique and unusual program that combines expertise in sports administration with Christian doctrine. Students get lots of hands-on opportunities, work with professionals, and organize events. By the time students graduate, they have plenty of experience and confidence that they can use in their careers. With traditional classes, apprenticeships, and internships, the school provides everything that students need to make the most of a Sports Administration degree.
Lancaster Bible College emphasizes faith, and the unusual integration of Biblical Studies prepares graduates to enter careers in Sports Ministry, go out into the mission field as Sports Missionaries, or to become physical educators and coaches in Christian schools. Lancaster Bible College will help you find a purpose and live it every day. This private Bible college is deeply rooted in its faith tradition. Located in a beautiful city, LBC offers a full range of experiences.
Degree: BS in Sport Management and Biblical Studies
23. Saint Leo University – St. Leo, FL
Saint Leo University’s BA in Sports Business degree program benefits greatly from its location in Saint Leo, FL, a prime city for sports management – metropolitan Tampa Bay, where there is no shortage of professional and minor league teams. Students get some of the best opportunities for internships and practical experiences here. Students also get great opportunities for networking with industry professionals. This school has lots of contemporary, upgraded facilities so that learners can get the most out of their college experiences. Graduates from this program go on to enjoy successful careers. For a Sports Management degree that comes with lots of resources, look into Saint Leo University.
Saint Leo University it the oldest Catholic University in Florida. While it welcomes students of all faiths, this school infuses classes with its Catholic beliefs and values. Saint Leo is highly diverse and offers enriching learning opportunities. Small classes mean lots of individualized attention for students who need it. Valuing community service, this school is a great option for students who want to make a difference with their lives and careers.
Degree: BA in Sport Business
24. Troy University – Troy, AL
Troy University’s BS in Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management is a truly great Sports Management degree program. Students get a solid foundation of core classes. They also get internship opportunities and chances to work with professionals. Not only are students confident in their skills by the time they graduate, but they also have a competitive edge in the job market. This bachelor’s in Sports Management will give you a jumpstart to propel your career forward.
Troy University began over 100 years ago as a normal school to train teachers. Since then, it has expanded to include several campuses and lots of different majors. This school provides a diverse education for a diverse student body. It was named as one of Princeton Review’s “Best in the Southeast” for 14 years in a row.
Degree: BS in Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management – Sport Management Concentration
25. Nichols College – Dudley, MA
Nichols College’s BS in Business Administration degree program allows students to choose a concentration in Sport Management. With a strong foundation in business, the sports management degree program provides a full picture of sports leadership. Faculty members have years of experience in the field, so they can offer real, practical advice. As a result, Nichols College helps its students gain that edge they need. With a highly respected internship program, Nichols provides valuable work experience with its Sports Management degree.
Nichols College is very business-focused. Those who want to grow their business and leadership skills do well at this school. Learning happens both inside and outside the classroom, giving students a well-rounded approach to education. When students graduate, they’re uniquely prepared for the real world. This school offers lots of support and career-centered classes.
Degree: BS in Business Administration, Concentration in Sport Management
Why Should I Choose an On-Campus Sports Management Degree?
When weighing the pros and cons of sports management major programs, many benefits come to mind. This particular field offers a strong sense of community and mentorship through sports administration internship. The best colleges for sports management combine education in science, fitness, nutrition, physiology, medicine, Kinesiology, and sports medicine. It also teaches valuable life skills such as communication, leadership. resourcefulness, decision-making, and interpersonal skills.
In addition to the education, many sports management programs also prepare students for licensure or certifications related to sports administration. Some coaching jobs need certification to verify that the coach meets all the mandatory necessary standards. Certification in first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is needed in certain roles. Courses in sports safety and coaching fundamentals may also be necessary. Specialized training in certain areas can help to advance a career.
Courses outside of the sports management field may be relevant for education; for example, a student might take courses in business administration, marketing, economics, accounting, and health. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in sport management, majors can choose to pursue a master of science in sport administration. Sports administration internships can make an impact on job opportunities, as a good internship can lead to a job straight out of school.
What is COSMA Accreditation?
A sports management program needs to be recognized by COSMA in order to be considered legitimate. COSMA, or the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation, is an accrediting organization that reviews sports management educational programs. This is done to verify whether a program is up to quality educational standards.
COSMA reviews a program to evaluate whether it properly educates and prepares people for a career in sports management. This accreditation body was started by NASPE (National Association for Sport and Physical Education) and NASSM (North American Society for Sport Management). COSMA has developed a set of standards that sports management programs need to follow in order to receive accreditation.
What are Some Careers in Sports Management?
Part of the appeal of this field is its broad range of work; sports management majors can choose from a variety of careers. There is no one sports management job description, because there are so many areas in sports. The most common areas of work include college sports management, facility management, event management, recreational management, sports marketing, sports finance, and coaching. Sports managers also have the opportunity of career advancement, whether it be through coaching, scouting, marketing, entertaining, or other jobs.
Your typical sports administration job description will depend on the type of career you pursue. For example, a team coach will be responsible for planning, organizing, teaching, and developing athletic skills in individual players. A sports agent will recruit talent, manage public relations, manage finances, negotiate contracts, and find endorsement deals for the client.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for all occupations that meet the sports management job description is anywhere from $60,000 to well over six figures. Managers for athletes make a median of $90,000, while salaries for coaches and scouts vary widely depending on whether they work in professional sports, collegiate athletics, local public schools, or municipal programs. Sports marketing can earn a manager as much as $115,750 per year.
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