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Top 24 Best Sports Management Degree Programs

By Albert Fontenot

Sports Management Degree Guide - Best Degree Programs 2014“The economics of the game have never been better, [which] proves that investment in players, star players, is the way to go. The fact is if an owner wants to win there are premium players out there. And we know the revenues are there for them to pursue them.”
~Scott Boras, sports agent

This article considers the top sports management degree programs available to students. What is the outlook for those considering a career in sports management?

According to the latest estimates, the entire sports industry in the United States is worth over $485 billion, and globally, approximately $1.5 trillion. That figure is across the board, and includes the revenue and value of all professional sports teams and leagues – Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and NASCAR. It also includes all divisions of NCAA sports, amateur and semi-pro spectator sports, the revenue from sporting goods stores and health clubs, and the money that companies spend on sports advertising.

To put that number in a proper perspective, the United States auto industry has an annual revenue of about $230 billion, real estate generates over $330 billion, and the restaurant industry brings in just over $470 billion. Furthermore, analysts project that the industry as a whole will enjoy a healthy growth rate of 4.8% over the next five years, with some major sectors such as media rights and corporate sponsorship growing at a rate of around 7%.

With such a rosy numbers, it is no surprise that the job outlook is likewise very appealing. Currently, the leading sports jobs databases showed that there are nearly 8000 employers in the United States hiring for jobs that are in some way sports-related. At this very moment, there are approximately 5000 openings and over 700 internships available for interested and qualified applicants.

For individuals who love sports and want to savor a piece of this lucrative pie, a degree in Sports Management is an excellent way to enter the sports industry, and there are a large number of career paths available. According to the 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median national yearly salaries for some of the top careers within the sports management field are as follows.

  • Coaches and Scouts – $28,360, 15% projected growth rate through 2022
  • Sports Agents – $63,370, 12% projected growth
  • Sports Promoters – $88,590, 12% projected growth
  • Athletic Director, Higher Education – $99,585, 15% projected growth
  • Sports Marketing Manager – $119,480, 13% projected growth

When choosing a college where you can pursue your dream of earning a Sports Management degree, the first thing to remember is that all schools are not created equal. There is an overwhelming plethora of programs that claim to offer some sort of degree or certification in Sports Management or a related field, but only the right programs at the right institutions can actually be of benefit by giving its students the requisite skills, experiences, internships, and information that are valuable in the eyes of the top sports employers.

Some things to look for include –

Accreditation/Reputation: without the proper accreditation, the degree/diploma/certificate is often of no value whatsoever. A school’s place among regional or national rankings can also be important, because it will describe the quality of the overall education achieved.

Location: although you can work anywhere with a degree in Sports Management, the most plentiful and lucrative opportunities are found in major markets.

Local Sports Teams: professional, college, and amateur sports teams provide excellent opportunities for students in the Sports Management program to meet athletes, coaches, broadcasters, and others in the sports industry.

Internships/Networking: this is the opportunity for students to gain valuable and practical experience in a real-world setting. Many employers hire first from those applicants who have served as interns in the field. For our purposes, the schools that require the longest internships ranked the highest.

Level of Degree Offered: the more advanced a degree is, the more career opportunities that become available.

Cost: as with any college major, the overall financial cost of achieving that education should come into play.

Student: Teacher Ratio: class size is an important factor when it comes to the overall quality of an education.


Using a point system based upon the above criteria, we have gathered together the best Sports Management degree programs in the country. This list can serve as an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to pursue a career in the exciting and lucrative sports industry.

Each school on the list is rated in each category as it compares to the other schools. The comparative ranking equals the awarded points, 1-20. At the final tally, the school with the lowest number of points is the school that offers the top Sports Management degree program in the United States.

To start things out on an even footing, all of the schools were tied at #1 in two categories – Accreditation and Level of Degree Offered. Every school on this list is a member of the North American Society for Sports Management. Also, every school on this list offers Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates in Sports Management or some closely-related field.

#24 – Troy University (105 points)

The School of Hospitality, Support and Tourism Management

Sport Management Concentration


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Annual Cost – $20,995
Student/Teacher Ratio – 19:1
Academic Rank – #76 regional (South)
Troy, Alabama (Pop. 18,000)

The Program at Troy University

Internships are required for both undergraduates and graduate students, with a minimum 270-hour requirement over the course of the semester. In recent years, students in the program have volunteered at the Super Bowl in New Orleans, the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic in Montgomery, Alabama, and studied abroad in Australia and Costa Rica.

The Troy Sports Scene

The Troy Trojans field 18 varsity teams and compete in the Sun Belt Conference in Division I-A of the NCAA. The university is ranked as one of the top collegiate rodeo programs east of the Mississippi River.

That Little Bit Extra

Since 2005, Troy University has been host and home to the Southern Sport Management Association, a trade organization that seeks better academic scholarship in sports management and which focuses on career development for students who wish to pursue careers in the sports industry.

For more information: Troy University

#23 – University of Connecticut (96 points)

Neag School of Education

Sports Management


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Annual Cost – $29,141
Student/Teacher Ratio –17:1
Academic Rank – #58
Storrs, Connecticut (Pop. 10,996)

The Program at the University of Connecticut

This program is designed to prepare graduates for careers in college or professional sports, facility management in sports clubs and resorts, the sporting goods industry, and event management. At any given time, the Undergraduate program will have approximately 35-40 students, the Master’s program 20-25 students, and the PhD program 4-6 students.

Students are also strongly encouraged to join the UConn Sports Business Association, which provides both valuable networking opportunities and practical experience in the field. Students must fulfill a requirement for a Directed Observation and Participation experience and a full Summer Internship. The University is located a short 20 miles from ESPN’s studios in Bristol.

The Storrs Sports Scene

The UConn Huskies have won three National Championships in field hockey, three in men’s soccer, four in men’s basketball, and nine in women’s basketball. In 2004 and again in 2014, UConn won both the men’s and women’s titles in basketball.

That Little Bit Extra

Storrs is nicknamed “the Center of the College Basketball Universe”, and is the only Division I school to win the men’s and women’s basketball National Championships in the same year.

For more information: University of Connecticut

#22 (tie) – Louisiana State University (91 points)

College of Human Sciences & Education

Sports Administration – Sport Leadership/Sport Commerce


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Annual Cost – 23,112
Student-Teacher Ratio – 23:1
Academic Rank – #129
Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Metro Pop. – 820,159)

The Program at Louisiana State University

There is a prerequisite of 24 earned semester hours with a 2.2 GPA. Students seeking a Bachelor’s Degree in either of these concentrations will learn the fundamentals and best practices used by management professionals in the sports industry. Courses will include marketing strategies, how to organize and administer sporting events, management procedures for sports facilities, and legal and ethical issues in sport, to name a few.
In the recommended eight-semester plan, undergraduate students will earn three credit hours for a practicum in the 4th semester, and six credit hours for a practicum in the 8th semester.

The Baton Rouge Sports Scene

The LSU Tigers compete in the Southeastern Conference in Division I of the NCAA, and field a total of 21 varsity teams – 9 men’s and 12 women’s. LSU’s teams have cumulatively won 46 National Championships in baseball, men’s basketball, boxing, football, men’s golf, and both men’s and women’s track and field, indoor and outdoor. Baseball, basketball, and football are also played collegiate by the Southern Jaguars and Lady Jaguars of Southern University.
Baton Rouge is also home to several minor-league sports teams, including the Baton Rouge Redfish 7 (rugby), the Baton Rouge Tigers (Australian Rules football), the Capitals (soccer), and the Baton Rouge Blazers (hockey).

That Little Bit Extra

At one point, the LSU stadium was nicknamed “Deaf Valley” because of the crowd noise made by the same, routinely registering over 100 decibels. In one famous game, a roar from the crowd registered 4.7 on a seismograph and actually shook the ground, just like a small earthquake.

For more information: Louisiana State University

#22 (tie) – St. Thomas University (91 points)

School of Business

Sports Administration

st thomas sports management

Annual Cost –$37,873
Student-Teacher Ratio – 19:1
Academic Ranking – #65 Regional (South)
Miami Gardens, Florida (Metro Pop. 5,564,634)

The Program at St. Thomas University

This program prepares students for a managerial role in the sports industry, combining business principles and industry-specific aspects of managing in a collegiate, professional, or corporate environment. Although it is not a graduation requirement, students who meet certain requirements are encouraged and assisted in locating for-credit internship opportunities with various organizations – public and private, amateur and professional.

The Miami Sports Scene

Miami has a major sports scene, home to the Miami Marlins (MLB), the Miami Heat (NBA), Miami Dolphins (NFL), and the Florida Panthers (NHL). Those franchises have accounted for two Super Bowl victories, two World Series titles, and three NBA championships. Miami also expects to have a Major League Soccer team by 2017.
Other local professional sports include venues for professional tennis, NASCAR and other professional auto races, golf courses, greyhound racing tracks, and facilities for jai alai.

Miami also is the home of several college teams, including the University of Miami Hurricanes and the Florida International University Panthers. The St. Thomas University Bobcats compete in baseball, basketball, cross country, dance, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball.

That Little Bit Extra

Miami is one of only 12 U.S. cities to have teams in the four major sports.

For More Information: St. Thomas University

#20 – Florida State University (87 points)

College of Education

Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $20,853
Student/Teacher Ratio – 28:1
Academic Rank – #95
Tallahassee, Florida (Metropolitan Pop. 375,371)

The Program at Florida State University

This program helps students acquire and develop their knowledge, ability, and skill to enable them to work with athletes at every level, manage sports within community programs, and work in the corporate sector of the sports industry. Although practicum opportunities exist, participation is not a requirement for graduation.

The Tallahassee Sports Scene

FSU is the home of the Seminoles, and the program fields 20 varsity teams that have won 13 National Team titles, and to Florida A & M, a Historically-Black College/University that has won the black college football National Championship 11 times, men’s HBCU tennis National Championships five times, and the women’s HBCU tennis title once.

That Little Bit Extra

FSU has ranked in the top 50 best NCAA Division I athletic programs in the country for over 20 straight years.

For More Information: Florida State University

#19 – University of Illinois (86 points)

College of Applied Health Sciences

Department Of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, Emphasis in Sports Management


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Annual Cost – $30,855
Student-Teacher Ratio – 19:1
Champaign, Illinois (Metro Pop. 231,891)
Academic Rank – #42

The Program at the University of Illinois

The University of Illinois is unique among colleges that offer a degree in Sports Management, because it lays a foundation that ensures a fundamental understanding of how sports is categorized as a form of entertainment and as a leisure pursuit. Once that foundation has been laid, students may move into a specific area of interest.
All students in the program must garner a minimum of 300 hours of industry-related work experience, using a minimum of two agencies and working a minimum of 40 hours per agency.

The Champaign Sports Scene

The athletic teams at the University of Illinois are known as the Fighting Illini, and they field 21 varsity teams comprised of 10 men’s and 11 women’s programs. The school can claim 25 National Championships since 1900, including basketball, fencing, football, golf, men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis, and track and field.

That Little Bit Extra

Although some schools have a different opinion, the University of Illinois claims to have sponsored the first “homecoming” game in the country, when they defeated a Chicago team 3-0 in 1910.

For More Information: University of Illinois

#18 – Indiana University (79 points)

School of Public Health

Sport Marketing & Management


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Annual Cost – $14,823
Student-Teacher Ratio – 18:1
Academic Rank – #76
Bloomington, Indiana (Metro Pop. 175,506)

The Program at Indiana University

Indiana University Sports Marketing and Management Program accepts only 60 students per year, and they must apply during their sophomore year. It is offered as a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a major in Sports Marketing and Management. Fourth-year students serve an internship or practicum of a minimum of three credit hours.

The Bloomington Sports Scene

The Indiana Hoosiers athletic teams have won 24 NCAA national championships, and school athletes have one another 140 individual national championships. Titles include – men’s soccer (8), men’s swimming and diving (6) men’s basketball (5), men’s cross country (3), and one each in track and field and wrestling.

That Little Bit Extra

For over 70 years, 1932-2004, there was at least one alumnus of Indiana earning a medal at the Summer Olympics.

For More Information: Indiana University

#17 – University of Georgia (78 points)

College of Education

Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $23,943
Student-Teacher Ratio – 18:1
Academic Rank – #62
Athens, Georgia (Pop. 192,551)

The Program at the University of Georgia

The foundation of this degree program uses the principles of business, human resources management, finance, law, budgeting, economics, marketing, governance and policy, event operations, and even facility design. This base is wide enough to encompass several different facets of the sports industry. The MS professional track program has a requirement of 36 credit hours, including a practicum for tenure as an intern

The Athens Sports Scene

The University of Georgia Bulldogs field 21 varsity sports teams in both the men’s and women’s programs. Together, those teams have won a total of 28 NCAA Championships and over 150 Southeastern Conference Championships. UGA almost invariably ranks as having the top collegiate varsity equestrian recruits in the country, and the team has won six national titles since its inaugural 2002-2003 season.

That Little Bit Extra

Atlanta, approximately one-and-a-half hours away, is a major sports city, with several professional teams – the Atlanta Braves (MLB), the Hawks (NBA), and the Falcons (NFL). In addition, Atlanta has hosted a Summer Olympiad, two Super Bowls, the NHL All-Star Game, NCAA bowl games, Wrestlemania, and golf’s Tour Championship and the PGA Championship.

For more information: University of Georgia

#16 (tie) – University of Kansas (75 points)

School of Education

Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $21,415
Student-Teacher Ratio – 18:1
Academic Rank – #106
Lawrence, Kansas (Metro Pop. 112,864)

The Program at the University of Kansas

The Sport Management program has a stated goal to prepare students to search for managerial positions at all levels of the sporting industry, including manufacturers and retailers of sporting equipment, and in private and commercial fitness companies and facilities.
Fourth-year students must complete a 15-credit internship at an approved site that is within a 50 mile radius of Lawrence. Interns must work a minimum of 40 hours a week for 16 weeks, and GPA of 2.75 is required before application

The Lawrence Sports Scene

The University of Kansas Jayhawks varsity teams compete in Division I of the NCAA, in six men’s sports and ten women’s sports. Altogether, the Jayhawks have won 11 National Championships – men’s basketball (3), man’s track and field (3 each, indoor and outdoor), men’s cross country (1), and women’s outdoor track and field (1).
The City of Lawrence also hosts the Kaw Valley Kickball League, which fielded 32 teams during the 2014 season.

That Little Bit Extra

The Jayhawks’ first basketball coach was the inventor of the game, James Naismith.

For More Information: University of Kansas

#16 (tie) – University of Massachusetts (75 points)

School of Management

Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $17,315
Student-Teacher Ratio – 18:1
Academic Rank – #76
Amherst, Massachusetts (Pop. 37,819)

The Program at the University of Massachusetts

Unlike the majority of similar programs, this program is actually part of a business school, reflecting the University’s commitment to prepare its students for the competitive and rewarding sports industry, using a curriculum that is specifically designed to be experience-based.

Undergraduates can earn 12 credit hours by satisfactorily completing an internship of at least 13 weeks in length and 40 hours a week of commitment. The roster of sponsors is very extensive, including professional, collegiate, high school athletic programs, sports marketing firms, sports facilities and clubs, and even amateur sports organizations.

The Amherst Sports Scene

The UMass Minutemen and Minutewomen compete in Division I of the NCAA as part of the Atlantic 10 Conference. The school fields 21 varsity teams, 10 in the men’s division and 11 in the women’s. The women’s lacrosse team was NCAA champion in 1982, and has won the conference championship for the past six years.

That Little Bit Extra

In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked Amherst as one of the “10 Great College Towns in the US.”

For more information: University of Massachusetts

#14 – The University of Arkansas (73 points)

The College of Education and Health Professions

Recreation and Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $21,295
Student/Teacher Ratio – 19:1
Academic Rank – #135
Fayetteville, Arkansas (Metropolitan Pop. 463,204)
The Program at the University of Arkansas

Students are required to gain three practicum experiences with three different agencies, each totaling 45 hours, in addition to serving an internship with a minimum 400-hour requirement.

The Fayetteville Sports Scene

The University of Arkansas Razorbacks compete in the Southeastern Conference in Division I of the NCAA, and the “Hogs” have won more national championships than any other school in the SEC. The University of Arkansas fields 8 men’s and 11 women’s varsity teams in 13 sports. The area is also home to a (AA) minor-league team, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals Baseball Club.

That Little Bit Extra

Fayetteville is also known as the “Track Capital of the World.”

For more information: University of Arkansas

#13 – Clemson University (71 points)

College of Health, Education, and Human Development

Community Recreation, Sport and Camp Management


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Annual Cost – $25,635
Student-Teacher Ratio – 18:1
Academic Rank – #62
Clemson, South Carolina (CSA Pop. 1,438,550)

The Program at Clemson University

This program focuses on preparing students to assume management positions in a variety of fields, including collegiat

e recreation programs, youth agencies, municipal parks, camping management, or sports director.

Students will also gain a wealth of practical experience by participating in a 400-hour internship with agencies tied into amateur sport or recreation.

The Clemson Sports Scene

The Clemson Tigers field 18 1/2 varsity teams and compete at the Division I level of the NCAA, primarily in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The “half” team is because the women’s division has a diving team, but not a swimming team. Clemson teams have won NCAA national championships in football, soccer, and golf.

That Little Bit Extra

College football’s award for the most outstanding football player is named after a former Clemson coach, John Heisman.

For more information: Clemson University

#12 – Concordia University (70 points)

College of Business

Sports Management


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Annual Cost – $41,733
Student-Teacher Ratio – 10:1
Academic Rank – #77 Regional (Midwest)
River Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago (Metro Pop. 9,522,434)

The Program at Concordia University Chicago

This degree program focuses on both business and sports, offering courses in business law, finance, marketing, economics, sports and contract law, sports management, ethics, and strategic policy, among others.

Concordia has a “supervised work experience” program, where students are afforded the opportunity to earn academic credits while gaining real-world experience in the sports industry.

The Chicago Sports Scene

The Sporting News has named Chicago America’s “Best Sports City” three times – 1993, 2006, and again in 2010. The Windy City is home to several professional teams – the Bears (NFL), Bulls (NBA), Blackhawks (NHL), Sky (WNBA), Fire (MLS), and both the Cubs and the White Sox (MLB). Between these franchises, Chicago can claim nine NFL championships (including one Super Bowl), five World Series titles, five Stanley Cups, six NBA championships, and one Major League Soccer Championship Cup.
In addition, five local colleges play in Division I – Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul, Chicago State, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Concordia University Chicago Cougars compete in Division III of the NCAA, fielding teams in seven men’s and six women’s sports.

Finally, Chicago has hosted its own marathon since 1977, and the Chicago Marathon is considered to be one of the World Marathon Majors.

That Little Bit Extra

Both of the final two remaining at the original charter members of the NFL got their start in Chicago, the Bears and the Chicago Cardinals, which are now based in Arizona.

For more information: Concordia University

#11 (tie) – Texas A & M University (69 points)

College of Education and Human Development

Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $21,391
Student-Teacher Ratio – 21:1
Academic Rank – #68
College Station, Texas (Metro Pop. 236,819)

The Program at Texas A & M University

Under this program, students prepare for a career in the sports industry by combining a business-focused curriculum with real-Word opportunities with some of the leading sports organizations in the country and abroad. This degree prepare students for such diverse careers as agents, business managers, athletic directors, marketing and promotion, corporate sales, program directors, and sporting goods.

To solidify and emphasize the real-world experience, students participate in a 13 week, 520-hour internship that is worth 12 credit hours. Internship categories can possibly be in college or professional to him to save document sports, health and fitness, minor-league, media, and even the Olympics.

The College Station Sports Scene

The Texas A & M University Aggies compete in Division I of the NCAA, as of late, in the Southeastern Conference. A & M fields 20 varsity teams, nine men’s and eleven women’s, and these teams have won a combined total of 11 National Championships. In recent years, Sports Illustrated has rated Texas A & M as having the “best college baseball venue” and the third-best “college football experience”.

College Station is also home to the Texas World Speedway, one of only seven racing “superspeedways” of 2 miles or greater in the country. Although it is no longer currently used for any major races by NASCAR or IndyCar, it is still popular with a number of national amateur racing clubs. The stadium has a total capacity of 23,000.

That Little Bit Extra

Texas A & M has produced two Heisman Trophy winners, John David Crow in 1957, and most recently, Johnny Manziel in 2012.

For More Information: Texas A&M University

#11 (tie) – University of South Carolina (69 points)

College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

Sports and Entertainment Management


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Annual Cost – $24,160
Student-Teacher Ratio – 18:1
Academic Rank – #113
Columbia, South Carolina (Metro Pop. 793,779)

The Program at the University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina is the only major college in the nation with a completely separate department for the study of entertainment and sports within a business-focused curriculum. The degree is focused upon teaching students about the demands and conditions that are specific to the sports/entertainment industries.
As part of the graduation requirement, students will participate in an immersive practicum that lasts a minimum of 13 weeks and 520 hours, as well as a final internship that will earn six credit hours for all who successfully complete it.

The Columbia Sports Scene

The University of South Carolina Gamecocks fields 19 varsity teams and competes in Division I of the NCAA, primarily as part of the Southeastern Conference. USC teams have won a total of eight National Championships, including baseball, women’s equestrian, and women’s track and field. To date, George Rogers in 1980 remains the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner.

The Columbia area is home to a number of professional sports teams, including the Inferno (minor-league hockey), the Blowfish (minor-league baseball), the Olde Grey (rugby), the Palmetto Bantams (soccer), and the QuadSquad (roller derby).

That Little Bit Extra

Columbia also offers world-class athletic venues, especially the Colonial Life Arena, which can accommodate 18,000 college basketball fans and is the largest arena in the state, and Williams-Brice Stadium, which has a capacity of over 80,000 and is the 24th-largest college football stadium in the country.

For more information: University of South Carolina

#9 – University of Louisville (67 points)

College of Education & Human Development

Sports Administration


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Annual Cost – $21,895
Student-Teacher Ratio – 17:1
Academic Rank – #161
Louisville, Kentucky (Metro Pop. 1,262,261)

The Program at the University of Louisville

The focus within this program is to prepare students for rewarding careers in the sports industry. Because of Louisville’s rich sports heritage, the University is uniquely positioned to offer guest lectures from many prominent industry professionals with local ties. Students can learn how the theories that they learn in class can be applied to achieve success as a business professional in the sports industry.
Undergraduate students must complete two four-credit hour internship sections, each requiring the student to work 200 hours as an intern, for a total of 400 work hours. Graduate students must also work 400 hours as an intern to earn three credit hours.

The Louisville Sports Scene

The University of Louisville Cardinals are represented by ten men’s and thirteen women’s athletic teams that compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Division I of the NCAA. Louisville’s sports program is among the most successful in the country, and they are the first school to ever appear in the College World Series, both the men’s and women’s basketball Final Fours, and win a Bowl Championship Series bowl game in the same year, a feat they accomplished during the 2012-2013 school year.
Louisville is the fourth-largest city in the country without a major league professional sports team, although there are six professional or semi-professional teams located here – the Louisville Bats (minor-league baseball), the River city Rovers and the Louisville City FC (soccer), the Kentucky Stickhorses (indoor lacrosse), and the Kentucky Xtreme (indoor football).

Horse racing is a major sports attraction, and the Kentucky Derby, the state’s largest sporting event, is held at Churchill Downs.

That Little Bit Extra

Louisville also has one of the highest-ranked collegiate cheerleading squads in the country, and has won 15 National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate National Championships.

For More Information: University of Louisville

#7 (tie) – Penn State University (66 points)

College of Health and Human Development
Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management


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Annual Cost –$31,517
Student-Teacher Ratio –17:1
University Park, Pennsylvania (Pop. 155,403)
Academic Ranking –#48

The Program at Penn State University

Under this program students are prepared to be supervisors or administrators in the sports industry, event management companies, sport club programs, park systems, and recreational services, to name a few career options. Focus options include commercial and Community Recreation Management, Outdoor Recreation, and Golf Management.

Students can complete an internship for a full academic load 12-credit by completing an approved internship which involves working 40 hours per week for a period of 12 consecutive weeks.

The University Park Sports Scene

The Penn State Nittany Lions and Lady Lions compete in 29 varsity sports, primarily in the Big Ten conference of Division I of the NCAA. The athletic program overall is regarded as very successful, and has been ranked in the top 25 in the final poll of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics “Director’s Cup” every single year, one of only 10 institutions to do so. According to several sanctioning organizations, Penn State has won a total of 68 national collegiate team championships, including 10 in five different sports since 2007.

That Little Bit Extra

Penn State’s Beaver Stadium has a capacity of 106,572, the second-largest seating capacity in the country.

For More Information: Penn State University

#7 (tie) – University of Tennessee (66 points)

College of Education, Health and Human Sciences

Recreation and Sport Management, Sport Management Concentration


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Annual Cost – $24,799
Student-Teacher Ratio – 17:1
Academic Rank – #106
Knoxville, Tennessee (Metro Pop. 852,715)

The Program at the University of Tennessee

This program integrates sports and recreation with the principles and theories of management. The concentration teaches how to apply the business skills of organization, leadership, and planning/evaluating to companies where the primary product/service’s sports or recreation. Areas of study include marketing, communication, management, finance, economics, and law.

In addition, students are required to participate in a semester-long internship by working full-time under expert supervision at an approved affiliate. The goal is to gain valuable real-world work experience while at the same time making future contacts.

The Knoxville Sports Scene

The University of Tennessee Volunteers compete in Division I of the NCAA in the Southeastern Conference Eastern division. Tennessee fields 18 varsity teams and has won 23 National Championships in a number of sports, including women’s basketball, football, men’s swimming and diving, and both men’s and women’s indoor/outdoor track and field. The women’s basketball program, in particular, has been awarded eight national titles, tied for the most in the NCAA.

The city of Knoxville also has several minor-league teams, including the Force (soccer) the Ice Bears (hockey), the Nighthawks (indoor football), and the Tennessee Smokies (AA baseball).

That Little Bit Extra

Because of the success of the Lady Volunteers basketball program, Knoxville is also home to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

For More Information: University of Tennessee

#5 (tie) – University of Florida (63 points)

College of Health and Human Performance

Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $20,218
Student-Teacher Ratio – 20:1
Academic Rank – #48
Gainesville, Florida (Metro Pop. 268,232)

The Program at the University of Florida

Students in this program will learn how the concepts of law, finance, marketing, and management can be applied within the sports industry. During their final semester of instruction, students are required to complete a 15-credit internship.

The Gainesville Sports Scene

The University of Florida is routinely ranked as perhaps the top collegiate athletic program in the country, and the Florida Gators field 21 varsity teams in nine men’s and twelve women’s sports. Counting all sports, the University’s teams have won 33 National Championships, and 267 NCAA titles in individual sports.

That Little Bit Extra

The Florida Gators are the only Division I team in the history of the NCAA to hold both the football and men’s basketball championships during the same school year.

For More Information: University of Florida

#5 (tie) – University of Michigan (63 points)

School of Kinesiology

Sport Management


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Annual Cost – $28,408
Student-Teacher Ratio – 15:1
Academic Rank – #29
Ann Arbor, Michigan (Metro Pop. 344,791)

The Program at the University of Michigan

After taking prerequisites as underclassmen, students apply for this program during their sophomore years. The coursework includes such diverse topics as ethical and
legal issues, organizational strategy, marketing and promotion, fund-raising, finance, economics, media, and facility management.
Although it is not required for graduation, students are encouraged to take advantage of the many internships and field experiences that are available. Students can receive academic credit for successfully completing an approved internship. An intern must work a minimum of 50 hours, and each 50 hours worked will earn one credit hour.

The Ann Arbor Sports Scene

The Michigan Wolverines compete in 27 varsity sports, with 13 men’s and 14 women’s teams, and the athletic program overall is one of the most successful in the nation. Through 2013-2014, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics has ranked Michigan as one of the top five institutions for collegiate sports 11 out of the past 19 years. Cumulatively, Michigan has won multiple National Championships in men’s swimming and diving (12), football (11), men’s hockey (9), men’s gymnastics, (6), men’s golf (2), and baseball (2). The University has also won one title apiece in each of these sports – men’s basketball, field hockey, softball, men’s tennis, and men’s outdoor track and field.

Ann Arbor is less than an hour’s drive from Detroit, one of 12 American metropolitan areas that are home to professional teams representing the four major sports – the Red Wings (11 Stanley Cups), the Tigers (4 World Series), the Pistons (3 NBA Championships), and the Lions (4 early NFL titles).

That Little Bit Extra

In addition to its National Championships, the University of Michigan has also been the runner-up 36 separate times in 36 sports. The football program is the winningest in college history, both in terms of games won and in percentage of games won.

For More Information: University of Michigan

#3 (tie) – University of Minnesota (58 points)

College of Education and Human Development

Sports Management


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Annual Cost – $26,585
Student-Teacher Ratio – 16:1
Academic Rank – #71
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota (Metro Pop. 3,459,146)

The Program at the University of Minnesota

The sports management major focuses on the sports industry as a product of society, psychology, and the economy. Students in this program have a choice of two areas of emphasis – sport management or youth services and development. Areas of study include socio-cultural issues, law, marketing and promotions, and event and facility management.

One of the core requirements for the degree is and 8-credit practicum offered every year in a variety of sports settings. Students will be able to take advantage of research resources such as the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, the Sport Marketing Research Group, and the Sports Business Institute.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Sports Scene

Professional sports are very well-represented in the area – the Twins (MLB), Vikings (NFL), Wild (NHL), Timberwolves (NBA), and Lynx (WNBA) all represent the four major sports. The Twins, Vikings, and Lynx have all won championships. Other local professional teams compete in a variety of sports – indoor lacrosse, women’s American football, minor-league baseball, soccer, and even Ultimate Frisbee.

The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers compete in the Big 10 conference of Division I of the NCAA, fielding 23 varsity teams. Over its long history, the University has won National Championships in football, men’s basketball, baseball, men’s golf, men’s ice hockey, men’s outdoor track and field, wrestling, and most recently, women’s ice hockey.

That Little Bit Extra

Minneapolis is a major center for women’s sports. The WNBA’s Lynx and the University of Minnesota’s Golden Lady Gophers ice hockey team have won championships, and the city of Minnesota has at least three semi-professional women’s football teams.

For More Information: University of Minnesota

#3 (tie) – University of North Carolina (58 points)

Department of Exercise and Sport Science

Sport Administration


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Annual Cost – $22,783
Student-Teacher Ratio – 13:1
Academic Rank – #30
Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Pop. 57,233)

The Program at the University of North Carolina

This program prepares students for careers in highly competitive settings within the sports industry. Course offerings include sociology, sales, community relations, economics, finance, communication, law and governance, licensing and marketing.

University of North Carolina has over 50 organizations affiliated with the internship program with Sport Administration majors. Interns typically work 10-20 hours per week during the term, and may receive academic credit of 1-3 credit hours for successful completion of the internship.

The Chapel Hill Sports Scene

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference of Division I of the NCAA in 27 varsity sports, 12 in the men’s division and 15 in the women’s division. Across the board, UNC has won 40 National Championships in team competition and 51 titles in individual competition. Championships include women’s soccer (21), women’s field hockey (6), men’s basketball (5), men’s lacrosse (4), men’s soccer (2), and women’s basketball (1).

That Little Bit Extra

Over the years, 10 different UNC athletes have been recognized as the Collegiate National Athlete of the Year.

For More Information: University of North Carolina

#2 – University of Texas (57 points)

College of Education

Sport Management


Annual Cost – $25,587
Student-Teacher Ratio – 18:1
Academic Rank – #53
Austin, Texas (Metro Pop. 1,883,051)

The Program at the University of Texas

This major prepares students for managerial, marketing, or administrative careers in in a variety of settings within the sports industry – business, education, or entertainment. Areas of study include the structure/organization of sport programs, revenue/budgeting in sports, event promotion, and sports law.

As a degree requirement, students must participate in a semester-long internship with an approved organization within the sports or entertainment industries, with a minimum requirement of 270 hours worked during that semester.

The Austin Sports Scene

The University of Texas Longhorns compete in Division I of the NCAA in the Big 12 conference. The school fields 18 varsity teams, nine in the men’s division and 11 in the women’s division. The Longhorns have won a total of 50 team National Championships, including – football (4), baseball (6), men’s golf (3), women’s track and field (6), volleyball (2), and the men’s and women’s swimming and diving (19).

The city of Austin is the most populous city in the United States without a team from a major sports league, but the city does have a number of professional minor-league teams. Local teams include the Aces (tennis), the Gamebreakers (football), the Outlaws (women’s football), the Toros (basketball), the Aztek (soccer), and the Texas Stars (hockey). In addition, the city is slated to host the Formula One United States Grand Prix until 2021.

That Little Bit Extra

The baseball team is the winningest team in college baseball history, in total wins, winning percentage, appearances in the College World Series, and most CWS games won. The football program is the second-winningest team in college history, in terms of total wins and winning percentage, both second only to the University of Michigan.

For More Information: University of Texas

#1 – Temple University (45 points)

School of Tourism & Hospitality Management

Sports and Recreation Management


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Annual Cost – $28,826
Student-Teacher Ratio – 14:1
Academic Rank – #121
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Metro Pop. 6,034,678)

The Program at Temple University

This program is extremely heavy on experiential/internship requirements, in no small part because a degree in this field can be used in so many different sectors of the sports/leisure industry. Foundation requirements for the School are two internships of 180 hours and 600 hours apiece, worth 3 and 12 credit-hours each, respectively. Additionally, there is a non-credit requirement of a minimum of 250 hours of participation in an experience related to the sports industry.

The Philadelphia Sports Scene

Philadelphia is one of 12 American cities that are home to teams from the four major sports – the Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), the 76ers (NBA), the Flyers (NHL), and the Eagles (NFL). The city also has a Major League Soccer team, the Union, an Arena Football League team, the Soul, a pro lacrosse team, the Wings, and the Spinners, a professional Ultimate Frisbee team. The major league teams have brought nine World Championships to Philadelphia.

The city is also a major center for collegiate athletics because of the presence of the so-called “Philadelphia Big 5”, five Division I basketball programs – Temple University, Villanova University, La Salle University, the University of Pennsylvania, and St. Joseph’s University. The Big 5 has had a representative make the NCAA tournament for more than 40 years.

The Temple Owls compete in Division I of the NCAA, primarily in the American Athletic Conference, fielding 22 varsity teams. The basketball team has the sixth-most wins all-time among American colleges, including the first-ever National Collegiate Championship, which they won in 1938.

That Little Bit Extra

Both the Golden State Warriors of the NBA and the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball were originally founded in Philadelphia.

For More Information: Temple University

Further Reading:

20 Great Small Colleges for a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management


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