Sports Marketing Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a sports marketing degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a bachelor's and master's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Sports Marketing: Bachelor's and Master's Degrees at a Glance

Students in a sports marketing degree program study a variety of communications, management and business courses. Schools may offer sports marketing courses as a major, or you can find marketing courses in a sports management, sports administration or kinesiology degree program.

A bachelor's degree is typically needed for most marketing and public relations careers, although some employers prefer a master's degree, particularly for managerial positions. Managerial positions also require several years of related work experience in advertising, marketing, promotions or sales.

The overall demand for marketing managers was expected to grow by 14% from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while the demand for public relations managers and specialists is expected to grow 21%. Despite a promising employment outlook, admission into degree programs remains highly competitive. Employment opportunities in this field are highly desirable and strong competition among qualified candidates can be expected.

Bachelor's Master's
Who is this degree for? People who want to begin careers in the sports marketing industry Experienced professionals who are seeking development and advancement opportunities or bachelor's degree holders
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Public relations specialist ($60,000 - entry-level, may vary depending on experience)*
- Other media and communications worker ($53,000 - entry level, may vary depending on experience)*
- Marketing manager ($126,000 - salary is more common for people with several years of experience)*
Time to Completion Typically four years, full-time Typically two years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Complete coursework (approximately 120 credits)
- Maintain GPA standards
- Complete internship, if applicable
- Complete coursework (approximately 40 credits)
- Complete internship or capstone project requirements, if applicable
- Satisfy thesis requirements
Prerequisites - High school diploma or General Education Development (GED) scores
- Complete prerequisite courses in business, economics and/or mathematics, if applicable
- Meet GPA requirements
- Provide SAT scores
- Compose admissions essay
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Meet GPA standards
- Resume
- Letter(s) of recommendation
- Personal statement
- Recent GRE scores
- Prerequisite courses in marketing and business, if applicable
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures).

Sports Marketing Bachelor's Degrees

As a student in a sports marketing bachelor's degree program, you learn to apply the principles of marketing specifically to the sports industry. The format of a bachelor's degree program in sports marketing varies with each school, but generally requires approximately 120 academic credit hours in core courses, electives and an internship. Due to the popularity of the major, admissions may be limited and competitive - some schools may require students to apply to the degree program after completing prerequisite courses during their freshman year.

Pros and Cons


  • Lower-level management positions may only require a few years of work experience, so there is the potential to rise quickly in this industry*
  • Many bachelor's programs encourage or require internships, which can provide inexperienced individuals with relevant knowledge and skills
  • Most careers in sports marketing require at least a bachelor's degree and relevant work experience


  • Some employers prefer candidates who have master's degrees; in 2010, 25% of public relations managers held a master's degree*
  • Marketing and public relations specialists may need to work in high-stress environments, often for long hours*
  • Careers in this field can be competitive, even for entry-level positions*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

Depending on the nature of your program you may be required to take prerequisite courses before you can declare a sports marketing major. Students in a sports marketing bachelor's degree program typically spend four years completing academic coursework, studying independently and participating in a relevant internship. Coursework on the following topics can be expected:

  • Introduction to sports management
  • Customer service and media relations
  • Sports marketing
  • Issues in sport communication
  • Sports marketing research
  • Business ethics
  • Sports licensing and intellectual property

Online Course Options

Online and distance learning courses are available in sports marketing. Some schools offer an online degree while others offer a hybrid option (a combination of online and offline classes). Online degree programs generally feature curriculum and coursework that are similar to traditional on-campus programs, including internships or research projects, which may require students to work on-site at a local business or organization. You can also find closely related online programs, such as a sports management program that offers sports marketing courses.

Stand Out with this Degree

Students may also want to consider joining on-campus or professional organizations, where they can benefit from membership perks, including guest speaker events and networking opportunities. Some organizations even offer discounted memberships for full-time students who are enrolled in 12 or more credits per semester. To join a professional association as a student member, you may need to provide copies of your transcript, a letter of intent and a relevant, professional reference. Membership may also necessitate previous work experience, which may be satisfied with internship or volunteer credentials.

Sports Marketing Master's Degrees

Although a bachelor's degree is required for most sports marketing jobs, some employers prefer applicants with a master's degree. Because master's degree holders often seek management positions, students should also possess management skills, such as strong communication and leadership qualities. Similar to bachelor's programs, admission into graduate school is highly competitive.

The format of a master's degree program varies with each academic institution. Some master's degree programs, such as a Master of Arts in Sports Marketing degree, focus on sports marketing. You can also find programs that allow students to choose a marketing specialization under a larger sports management umbrella, like the Master of Arts in Sports Management with a specialization in marketing.

Pros and Cons


  • Because most careers in this industry require a bachelor's degree, you may stand out from the crowd with an advanced degree
  • Many master's degree programs include an internship component, which can provide valuable professional and networking experience
  • Marketing managers will continue to be in demand as organizations seek to market their products to specific customers and localities*


  • You may be over-educated for entry-level work, particularly if you have less than several years of work experience
  • If you attend a master's program immediately after undergraduate studies, you may be delaying valuable on-the-job experiences
  • Marketing managers may need to work long and irregular hours to keep up with client demands*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

Students in typical sports marketing master's degree programs will need to demonstrate proficiency in developing marketing communication strategies and campaigns. Your studies will also require you to complete a graduation requirement, such as an original research or capstone project, a thesis or a relevant internship.

Students can expect a variety of courses, including sports and media, sport sponsorship, brand management, facility and event management, the role of sport in society and advanced market research. Master's degree programs are often designed to support flexibility and allow students to explore a variety of opportunities within the sports marketing field.

Online Course Options

Because online courses generally cater to working professionals, they are available in wide variety of formats, including full- or part-time day, evening and online studies. Online programs may include similar admissions and graduation requirements as offline programs, including internship components and research paper/project requirements. You can also find online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs in sports business and sports management that offer sports marketing courses. You can generally complete your online studies in sports marketing in less than two years.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

As Internet-based advertising and social media marketing expands in use and familiarity, job applicants with these skills may be better poised for employment opportunities. Sports marketing students may want to consider taking courses in web technologies and social media to become more marketable to future employers. Additionally, you may consider gaining practical, professional experience in your local community by inquiring whether your community's athletic department can use a volunteer staffer to manage their social media feeds or teams' website.

Alternate Degrees

If you have more than several years of work experience and prefer practical over theoretical studies, consider obtaining an MBA or master's degree in business with a concentration in sports marketing. Programs of this nature allow students to develop advanced business skills and choose electives that focus on the business of sports. Due to the broader business focus of an MBA degree, you may be suited for a wider array of job opportunities, including positions in sports administration and sports management.

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