Sports Journalism: Degrees at a Glance
If you want a career in the world of sports but don't have the desire to be the person on the field making the plays, then studying sports journalism may help you fulfill that goal. Common careers that sports journalism programs could lead to include sports reporting, writing, announcing and editing.
Even with the proper training, you may face strong competition for many jobs in the sports journalism field. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that editors were projected to see little to no change in employment from 2010-2020, while employment of broadcasters and reporters was expected to decrease by eight percent over the same decade. The best job prospects for reporters and correspondents were likely to be found by candidates who have the most experience from internships or school newspapers/media outlets, according to the BLS.
|Who is this degree for?||Individuals seeking entry-level positions within the sports media industry||Students seeking advanced training in sports journalism and hoping to gain a broad understanding of the sports industry|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary)|| - Reporter or correspondent ($35,000)*|
- Editor ($52,000)*
- Radio and television announcer ($27,000)*
|Students are prepared for the same careers as bachelor's degree holders in this field, although master's degree holders may have more advancement opportunities.|
|Time to Completion||About four years, full-time||1-2 years, full-time|
|Common Requirements|| - About 4-9 core journalism/communications courses|
- Anywhere from 4-8 sports journalism courses
- Media internship
- Journalism seminar/capstone course
| - Roughly 10-12 graduate-level journalism courses|
|Prerequisites||- High school diploma or equivalent|| - Bachelor's degree|
- Examples of previous media work
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Bachelor's Degree in Sports Journalism
Sports journalism studies at the bachelor's level are typically found as a concentration or emphasis within a journalism or communications degree program. Some programs cover more than just writing sports articles; you may have the chance to get experience in sports commentary, anchoring and video production. Students may have the opportunity to attend multiple sporting events throughout the program and learn how to write content for various media platforms, such as newspapers, podcasts and magazines. Some schools encourage students to take non-journalism electives during the program, which can teach them about sports economics, marketing and sports promotion.
Pros and Cons
- Bachelor's degree is typically the standard requirement to become an editor, announcer, reporter or news analyst
- Writing skills taught in the program are useful for non-sports writing and editing careers
- Gives you a chance to attend sporting events and get experience before hitting the job market
- You may not make as much as bachelor's degree holders in other fields; radio/television announcers earned a median salary of about $27,000, and reporters/correspondents earned roughly $35,000 in 2011. The national median for bachelor's degree holders in general in 2011 was approximately $55,000.*
- You'll likely face strong competition for careers in sports journalism
- Sports journalism concentrations are not available at every school that offers a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications, potentially limiting your program/school options
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 median salary figures).
Courses and Requirements
The first part of a sports journalism program usually consists of standard journalism, communication and media courses, such as broadcast writing, reporting, photo journalism and media ethics. Courses specifically focused on sports journalism may consist of sports reporting, sports information, play-by-play announcing and sports show hosting. In addition to completing a journalism seminar or capstone course towards the end of your studies, you may be expected to complete a sports journalism internship. Depending on your school, you could cover many different sports over the course of the program.
Online Course Options
Although some standard journalism programs are available completely online, there currently aren't any programs with sports journalism specializations available over the Internet. On-campus programs in sports journalism are different from standard journalism programs because of the experience students can gain from attending sports events at the school. Students typically must be in close proximity to the campus to attend most of the sports events, which may not be possible in an online program.
Getting Ahead with This Degree
If you're looking to start preparations for a sports journalism career, you may want to consider joining a journalism club at your school. Some schools may even have a local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which can give students extra research assistance from professionals. Standard journalism clubs at schools may offer networking opportunities with professional journalists and give members additional internship and experience opportunities. Since most programs already require students to complete an internship, students who participate in a club could potentially gain more experience than their non-member peers, which may give them an edge after graduation.
Master's Degree in Sports Journalism
You can also find sports journalism studies within journalism programs at the master's level. This program gives students opportunities to work on producing content for a variety of media platforms and attend many college sporting events. You can expect to learn about the different types of technologies commonly used in sports reporting, in addition to advanced writing techniques. Although the subjects you'll explore are similar to what you'd find in a bachelor's program, the master's program offers more in-depth training specifically designed for sports media professionals and may allow you to tailor your learning specifically to the type of media career you intend to pursue.
Pros and Cons
- May give you an advantage over candidates who hold only a bachelor's degree
- Could give you more in-depth sports journalism training than a bachelor's program
- The writing skills you learn can be useful for media careers outside of the sports industry
- Sports journalism positions do not usually require a master's degree
- Even editor positions may pay less than what master's degree holders in other fields make (the national median salary for master's degree holders was about $66,000, and the median salary for editors was only $52,000 as of 2011)*
- You may face strong competition for the jobs this degree is intended for
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 salary figures).
Common Courses and Requirements
The majority of your program is made up of journalism courses, some of which may focus on general journalism concepts and others that are centered on sports media. Some of your sports journalism concentration courses may include topics in:
- Sports analytics
- Sports producing
- Sports communication
- Presenting radio sports
- Online sports reporting
- Covering professional sports
Internships are often included in the program, either as elective options or as part of the curriculum requirements. You may need to complete a thesis or reporting project towards the end of your studies as well.
Online Course Options
You won't currently find any sports journalism programs offered over the Internet. Some schools have standard journalism master's degree programs available, but you may need to travel to campus on a regular basis. The amount of on-site sports reporting that's required of students in a sports journalism program may make it necessary for students to live near the campus.
Stand Out with This Degree
You may want to find ways to gain more experience than what you'd get from the optional or required internship that is offered in your master's degree program. Interning at a sports radio station or television network during the summertime or shortly after graduation could make a difference when landing a job. Students may also find internship opportunities at smaller local news stations. Internships at large networks may only be available in particular cities, so you may need to move away for a short period of time if you obtain one of these internships.