MBA vs MS in Sports Management

Published: March 22nd, 2016

Category: Careers

What’s the Difference between an MBA and an MS in Sport Management?

A career in sport management is a great choice for anyone who is passionate about athletics, both on the field and on the sidelines. If your goal is to succeed in the sport management industry, you may be wondering about the difference between a master’s degree in business administration, possibly with a specialization in sport management, and a Master of Science in Sport Management. Below are a few differences you can consider as you apply to the best program for you.

MBA vs MS in Sport Management: Core Curriculum

An MBA with a specialization in Sport Management will teach the general knowledge you need to understand the processes and operations behind running any business or being a manager in a large corporation. In most cases, the core will include subjects related to overarching business disciplines like finance, marketing, accounting, statistics, operations, and human resources.

An MS in Sport Management takes a multidisciplinary approach, teaching you to examine the sports industry from a variety of particular operational and business perspectives. Core courses usually cover some of the same key foundational knowledge in finance, marketing, management, and legal concepts as an MBA. However, instead of being general, a master’s degree in sport management examines these topics through the lens of a sports administrator or executive. An MS in Sport Management can also cover behavioral topics that impact athletics, including sociology and human performance.

MBA vs MS in Sport Management: Specialization

Typically, if you are interested in sports and you’re enrolled in an MBA program, the specialization courses are where you can be sure to learn content related to the industry. An MBA specialization in sport management usually involves 3-5 courses that apply the general business information learned in the core to sport issues. There may also be electives offered in specific sport industry topics like law, coaching, and marketing.

Many sport management master’s degrees, offer concentrations or specializations — all designed to help you tailor your degree even further around your particular field of interest in the industry. MS in Sport Management programs also usually offer elective courses specific to sports and athletic issues. These could be in sport ethics, international sport management, coaching, sport mass media, sport psychology, and more.

MBA vs MS in Sport Management: Network

A general MBA will pull in professionals from a variety of backgrounds. While the faculty teaching courses in sport management may have experience, those leading all other coursework likely will not. Your network will primarily consist of individuals who are interested in a variety of industries.

In a sport management program, your fellow students across all courses will share in your passion and faculty will have sport business and administration experience. This can help exponentially increase networking possibilities in the industry post-graduation when compared to a general MBA.

MBA vs MS in Sport Management: Practical

Depending on the school’s curriculum, an MBA degree may offer an internship at a business, but there is no guarantee that it will be sports-centric.

An MS in Sport Management typically offers an internship/practicum component in a sports-related organization for students looking to build their experience in the field and meet like-minded people with a passion for sports.

Based on the experience of our own UF faculty, in general enrolling in an MS in Sport Management is recommended if you have little to no experience in the sport industry and are looking to break in to the field, develop a tailored body of knowledge, and build your contact list.

Careers with a Sports MBA vs. MS in Sport Management

Careers in sport management are competitive, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing your goal. You can distinguish yourself as a job applicant by applying for an MS in Sport Management. Although the world of business and sports intersect, there are several careers that you can obtain with a master’s in sport management that would be less feasible with only an MBA and no job-related experience.

For example: marketing. As a sports marketer, it can be most beneficial to have in-depth knowledge relevant to the sports industry in order to promote your client. In a master’s program, you may study how various institutions’ (NFL, NBA, NCAA, etc.) strategies change year-to-year, delving deeper into the analytics and branding behind the scenes using the specific metrics and terminology of the industry.

Because ticket sales are an important component of any career in sports, it is important to learn the fundamentals of finance and marketing while also honing your relationship management strategies. If you are unsure of whether an MBA or an MS in Sport Management is right for you, consider your future goals. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for a sport agent in 2014 projected to be $98,750, while a career in sales could earn approximately $61,960 per year. With such high competition in the industry, an MS in Sport Management could likely set you apart from other applicants who may be MBA candidates without experience and give you the tools you need to thrive in the fast-paced world of sports business.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in sport management, learn more about the University of Florida’s online Master of Science in Sport Management program.

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