Best Sports Management Degrees

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Sports management professionals focus on the business side of athletics.

The billion dollar sports industry draws millions of spectators to its events. Forbes estimates the North American sports market to exceed $73 billion by 2019. Sports fans flock to stadiums, arenas, and courts to see their favorite sports teams. But, behind all the glamour is a team of working professionals. These workers do everything from marketing to assisting athletes while they play.

Usually, these professionals have a background in sports management. A bachelor’s degree in sports management prepares graduates to work in athletics. Topic focuses include kinesiology, biology, and accounting principles. While some work with athletes, others work in management.

With this knowledge, sports professionals help teams brand themselves and build rosters. The following schools boast sports management programs that instill important skills into students. much-needed tools and techniques into its students. Additionally, many of these schools run successful athletic programs. They also encourage students to intern in their athletic departments.

Advertisement CollegeChoice.net is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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What are the Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Sports Management?

Sports management can happen in many academic spaces. This includes both large research universities and small liberal arts schools. The list below includes the best schools for sports management.

To bring together this list, we researched the reputation of each sports management program.

From there we examined student retention, graduate salaries, and program affordability. What we got at the end was a list of the best programs for providing an education in sports management.

Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

Best Sports Management Degree Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of North Carolina
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Overview

    Our list gets off to quite a strong start with the University of North Carolina, and more specifically, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the main campus of the 16-school system. There are so many elements that UNC has going for it: affordability ($296 per credit hour), a huge payout when you’re ready to graduate (early grads earn on average $102,000 a year to start off!), and the assurance of a reputable school (UNC has an impressive 97 percent retention rate).

    Features

    All of those features alone are reason enough to attend UNC, but the undergraduate program in Sport Administration is also one of the best in the country. For one, it already has a built-in graduate program in case students want to pursue further schooling in the field. The bachelor’s program incorporates a blend of exercise science courses with business and marketing courses to give you premiere access to a high-level sport management position. Some of these classes include:

    • Finance and Economics of Sport
    • Legal Aspects of Sport
    • Fitness Management
    • Sports Business Venture

    Notables

    UNC Chapel Hill excels at connecting their sport management students to crucial networks of athletes and professionals in the field. The Carolina Sport Business Club is a completely student-run organization that helps undergraduates find internships and other resources in the sport industry. Even more, the North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA I sport teams have collectively won 40 NCAA team championships. You’ll be dealing with the greatest!

  2. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Overview

    One of the top-ten largest universities in the nation, the University of Florida (UF) is a public research institution that is based in Gainesville, Florida. It consistently shows its strength in research and innovation, earning it a top-15 spot in US News & World Report for overall best public university in the United States. UF is home to over 54,000 students, as well as over 150 unique research institutions and centers.

    Features

    At the University of Florida, the academic focus is problem solving and critical thinking, two concepts that students will encounter in the 120-credit-hour Bachelor of Science in Sport Management degree. The program blocks off the entire 8th semester to complete the Internship in Sport Management requirement, in which students get the chance to work in the industry for 13 weeks. However, in previous semesters, you’ll be taking classes like:

    • Sport and Business Finance
    • Administration of Sport and Physical Activity
    • Sport Facility Design and Management
    • Ethical Issues in Sport

    Notables

    The University of Florida has always been known for its research, but students who are enrolled in the BS in Sport Management will get unique access to the Laboratory for Athlete and Athletics Development and Research, which places sports in the lens of research to improve innovation in the field (some current projects are in Youth Sports Program and Physical Literacy Research). Even more, UF has a strong showing in sports with the Florida Gators, who compete at the NCAA Division I level.

  3. University of Michigan
    Location

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Overview

    One of the more prestigious schools on our list (in both reputation and research), the University of Michigan (UM) is a public university in Ann Arbor, Michigan that holds the honor of being one of the state’s oldest educational institution. Alongside their academic excellence, UM’s football program is one of the best in the country, ranking number 1 in NCAA history for total wins.

    Features

    The Bachelor of Arts in Sport Management program at the University of Michigan is refined, well-connected, and competitive. Early on in the degree, students choose between two tracks: Sport Marketing and Management or Sport Policy and Analytics. Later, you’ll complete an internship experience in one of those areas, too. On top of all that, UM boasts a 98 percent job placement rate for their 2015 graduates of the program immediately out of school. Graduates have gone on to work for the NFL, ESPN, Under Armour, and more. Some of the classes that will get you there include:

    • Sport Marketing Analytics
    • Sport Tourism
    • Historical and Sociological Issues in Sport and Fitness
    • Sport Real Estate

    Notables

    You really can’t go wrong in choosing UM for your Sport Management degree. Despite it’s somewhat spendier price tag for tuition, it has the highest return on investment of any on this list (early grads earn around $110,000 right out of school). Even more, you’re set up for success by the student-run organizations in the major like Michigan Women Empowerment in Sport and Entertainment, Michigan Sports Analytics Society, and more.

  4. Indiana University
    Location

    Bloomington, IN

    Overview

    Considered one of the nation’s “Public Ivy” schools, Indiana University Bloomington is one of the beacons of public education in the United States. The flagship university of the larger Indiana University System, IU Bloomington has long been recognized for its academics; in fact, US News & World Report ranked 40 of its programs in the top 25 in the nation. A member of the Big Ten Conference, Indiana University’s athletic program is one of the strongest in the country, especially in men’s basketball.

    Features

    Students at IU Bloomington will take a different approach to sport management through the university’s Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a major in Sport Marketing and Management. This gives you the best of both worlds: a deep understanding of the body and movement as well as the tools to run a business. The 120-credit-hour program splits its coursework between the School of Public Health and the renowned Kelley School of Business with classes like:

    • Sport in America: Historical Perspective
    • Financial Principles of Sport
    • Strategic Management in the Sport Industry
    • Legal Issues in Sport Settings

    Notables

    Unique to the program at IU Bloomington, you’ll have the chance to collaborate with other students studying sport management through the Sport Marketing Alliance, which was created to develop connections between students and professionals in the sport industry. You’ll be exposed to dynamic speakers, internship opportunities, resume-building workshops, and more.

  5. University of Texas
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Overview

    Located in its state capitol, the University of Texas at Austin is one of the biggest universities (by enrollment) in the nation, with close to 51,000 students each year. As a hub for research in the area, UT Austin is one of the leading institutions in computer science and engineering studies. Undergraduate students choose from over 100 degree programs, as well as a number of honors programs.

    Features

    Nestled under the Kinesiology & Health Education department, the bachelor’s program in Sport Management at the University of Texas Austin enables students to apply their learnings in a variety of settings, not just in the sports arena. In addition to the 120 required credit hours, students will take either take a semester-long internship or complete fieldwork, whether that’s in sports business, entertainment sports, administrative work, or agenting. Beyond that, students will take some of the following courses:

    • Sport Industry in America
    • Sport Law
    • Media & Public Relations in Sport
    • Sociological Aspects of Sport & Physical Activity

    Notables

    The winners of four NCAA Division I championships for football, UT Austin is ranked 9th in the country among other Division I schools. The Longhorns excel particularly in college football, basketball, and baseball. UT Austin also is considered one of the nation’s best public university; US News & World Report listed it at number 18 in the country this year.

  6. University of Connecticut
    Location

    Storrs, CT

    Overview

    Founded in 1881 as a land-grant college, the University of Connecticut (or UConn) is now a large, flagship research university that stands on par with some of the other Ivy Leagues on the East coast. Ranked the number 1 public university in New England, UConn was also one of the top ten producers of Fulbright Scholars this year, proving its status among other research communities.

    Features

    Offered through the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education, the BS in Sport Management program has been assembled to deliver a range of tools for students in the field — from youth sports to sport law and ethics. Similar to other programs on this list, UConn students are required to fulfill a summer-long internship. Even more, students in this program stay connected through the UConn Sport Business Association, a great built-in network of students, faculty, and alumni in the sport industry. Some of the classes in the program include:

    • Financial Management in the Sport Industry
    • Sport Based Youth Development
    • Sport in Society
    • Sport Facility and Event Management

    Notables

    Particularly known for their men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Huskies at the University of Connecticut have a fantastic record. The women’s team has clinched a record-winning 11 NCAA Division I championships. Even more, UConn athletes are respected as well-rounded students, too; statistically, the student-athletes at the university graduate at a higher percentage than the rest of the student body.

  7. Florida State University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    Overview

    Not to be confused with the University of Florida (which is located in Gainesville), Florida State University (FSU) is a somewhat smaller public research institution that is located just west of UF on the panhandle of Florida. It makes a big splash, though; US News & World Report ranked it as the 38th best public university in the country this year. The 41,800 students at Florida State have access to numerous scholarships, honors programs, Rhodes scholarships, and more.

    Features

    The undergraduate program for sport management at Florida State University is fully set up for students to continue onto their master’s and/or doctoral degrees. While the Bachelor of Science in Sport Management degree lays the foundational knowledge, students are encouraged to specialize through the master’s program. Florida State University also freely shares a thorough directory of Sport Management alumni, which encourages students to make lasting, beneficial connections in their field. Some of the unique classes that FSU offers include:

    • Cross-Cultural Sport
    • Sport and Literature
    • Human Resource Management in Sport
    • International Sport Venues

    Notables

    Members of NCAA’s Division I and the Atlantic Coast Conference, FSU’s Seminoles sports teams are a competitive force. The football team has three national championships under its belt, and always enjoys a good rivalry game with the University of Florida Gators. Florida State has had a number of graduates go on to the NFL, MLB, and other top positions in athletic franchises.

  8. University of Minnesota at Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Overview

    Known as the oldest and biggest school in the state, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (located in Minneapolis and Saint Paul) also holds the prestigious distinction of being a “Public Ivy” university. Its student body of over 48,000 chooses majors from its 19 different schools and colleges (among them, the College of Education and Human Development, which houses the Sport Management Bachelor of Science).

    Features

    The Sport Management program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities is unique in its graduation requirements; students only need to complete 8 credits of the core courses (like Business of Sport, Sport Marketing, and Event Management), and then are left to fill in an additional 20 credits of focused electives. In their last semester, students will also complete a practicum called “The Sport Experience.” Some of the other popular electives include:

    • Law of Contracts and Agency
    • E-Marketing
    • Sport Sales and Fundraising
    • History and Philosophy of Sport

    Notables

    The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is not only highly ranked nationally, but also globally! It nabbed 33rd in the world by Academic Ranking of World Universities, and US News & World Report listed it as 38th in the world. The Minnesota Golden Gophers are NCAA Division I competitors and have won numerous national championships in both football and basketball.

  9. University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Overview

    The largest public university in New England, with over 30,000 students, the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) found its early beginnings in 1863 as an agricultural school. These days, the university is pulling in top rankings, like its 27th spot among other public universities in the country (according to US News & World Report).

    Features

    Offered through the Isenberg School of Management, undergraduate students in the McCormack Sport Management program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst get to experience the best of the best: experiential learning through organizing an annual SoccerFest, an upper-level internship, and a career fair that puts you face-to-face with ESPN and professional sports teams. Some of the classes that you’ll take along the way include:

    • Sociology of Sport
    • Sport Promotion & Sales
    • Sport Economics
    • Sport Labor Relations

    Notables

    The McCormack Sport Management degree has an amazing track record of landing their graduates in top-level positions post graduation. For example, students have gone on to work for Nike, the New York Mets, CBS Sports, Duke University Athletics, and more. Some of the student organizations to get you there are the UMass Sports Analytics Club, the Women in Sport Management Club, and more.

  10. University of Illinois
    Location

    Urbana, IL

    Overview

    Although the University of Illinois is most well-known for its engineering program (it is ranked among the 5 in the world!), this public research university also excels in numerous other areas, and is deservedly considered a “Public Ivy” school. Located in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, the school delivers over 150 degree programs to its 44,000 students each year and remains a research hub in the Midwest.

    Features

    The University of Illinois approaches the field of Sport Management from a broad scope, understanding that people love sports for so many different reasons: watching, playing, organizing, and more. For that reason, the 128-credit-hour program begins with foundational courses on sport as a “leisure pursuit,” while later getting into upper-level focus classes. A selection of some of the classes you’ll take are:

    • Leisure and Consumer Culture
    • Leisure Services Marketing
    • Legal Aspects of Sport
    • Foundations of Sport Management

    Notables

    You can’t go wrong with a school like the University of Illinois. If you’re from the Midwest, you can be rest assured that it’s one of the top schools not only in the region, but in the nation — US News & World Report ranked its undergraduate program as the 41st best national university in the United States.

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