Business meeting

Baker Online

What Can You Do With a Degree in Sports Management?


Matthew R. Bice, PhD

Dean of Graduate and Online Education

MSSM: Diving Deeper Into the Sports Management World


What can you do with a degree in sports management? It’s a question that many students ask as they consider a master’s program.

The next time you watch a sporting event, think about all the behind-the-scenes work that happens before teams can take the field or court in a high school, community, collegiate, professional, or Olympic setting. Sports at these levels are possible thanks to those who decided to pursue sports as a profession.

Managing an athletic team and bringing their events to life requires the expertise of someone who chose a sports management career path and can skillfully create marketing plans, make financial decisions, schedule events, land endorsements, coordinate training, and even represent athletes.

If this sounds like the field for you, then you may want to consider sports as a profession.

Skills You Can Build With a Sports Management Degree

  • People skills, including strong communication and collaboration capabilities so you can work with a wide variety of people—from medical and legal experts to fans and the press
  • Analytical and ethical decision-making to improve performance of teams, facilities, and events
  • Systematic thinking to understand how outcomes affect entire sports organizations
  • Sales and marketing techniques and philosophies to convey the right messages to the right audience
  • Event management and facility planning to make sure sporting events run smoothly for teams, fans, and sponsors

Choose From Many Sports Management Career Paths

With the right degree, you can choose a sports management career path from a nearly endless list.

Once you’ve graduated, what can you do with a degree in sports management? Here are just a few examples.

Administration. Whether you’re managing finances, overseeing business operations, fostering new relationships, applying analytics to improve performance, managing software and applications, or creating new policies, sports management careers can include many types of valuable opportunities in administration.

Athlete management. If recruiting, managing rosters, signing talent, helping athletes hone skills, and negotiating contracts and endorsements align with your career interests, then athlete management could be a great fit.

Corporate sponsor relations. A big part of collegiate and professional sports organizations includes garnering financial support. Following a sports management career path that involves sponsorships will put you in charge of managing and working with individuals and companies to create sponsorship partnerships and packages that benefit the sponsor’s brand and your team or organization.

Facility operations. Fields, courses, arenas, courts, and facilities all need to be managed and maintained. Whether you’re overseeing a small gym or a mega stadium, a sports management career involving facility operations means you’re responsible for security, safety, comfort, and environmental conditions—from turf and clay to lighting, air quality, and leading the charge on new construction and renovation projects.

Event management. What can you do with a degree in sports management if you love events? Follow a sports management career path that involves event administration. These roles lead the planning, organizing, and delivery of sports experiences. From concessions and equipment to sound systems and event teardown, your expertise is what makes sporting events possible.

Marketing and communication. If you want to get people amped up about your team and upcoming sporting events, then finding innovative ways to promote and gain publicity for these experiences through sports marketing and communication is a great fit. You’ll help grow your team’s fan base and increase event attendance.


student looking at ipad on football field

Benefits of Sports as a Profession

Sports management careers come with many benefits.
First, you get to work in an industry you love. After enrolling in a master’s program, many who wonder, “What can you do with a degree in sports management?” soon discover that the industry combines the thrill of collaboration, teamwork, and game day competition with a commitment to building successful and profitable sports enterprises.

The sports industry is also thriving. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report reveals that employment in this field will grow by 13% in the next decade—much faster than other industries. This will create 95,500+ new jobs.

Plus, many emerging trends are creating entirely new types of opportunities for people who want to work in sports: Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are producing unique fan experiences, and e-sports are becoming more prominent.

Finally, sports management careers can prepare you to work in other types of competitive industries, too. The skills and experiences you gain in sports management will make you a frontrunner in almost any type of organization that needs a driven, organized, and impactful leader.

How Is an MS in Sports Management Different From an MBA?

What can you do with a degree in sports management that you can’t with an MBA?

While an MBA can provide a solid foundation of business and leadership principles, a master’s in sports management takes a deeper dive.

You’ll get not only a business education to build your knowledge of concepts like finance, marketing, accounting, operations, and human resources, but you’ll also understand how these ideas apply in the sports industry. You’ll examine these concepts through the lens of a sports executive.

Working in sports as a profession means you grasp the implications of things like business strategy, economics, leadership, and impact of change management on teams, players, coaches, sports facilities, and sports organizations.

Preparing for sports management careers by earning an MS in Sports Management also means you’ll be ready to apply problem-solving and teamwork skills to address challenges specific to the industry—from athlete injury and athletic compliance to game day technology and navigating the media landscape.