Comparing Masters in Athletic and Sports Administration Programs: MBA vs MS vs M.Ed

Athletic and sports administration is a great field if you enjoy sports but don’t have the option to play professionally (let’s be honest – few of us get that chance!). You can get started with a bachelor’s degree in a sports administration program, but the best positions in this field require at least a master’s degree. If you’re checking out your sports administration degree options, it can get confusing – there are multiple types of degrees you can consider. Let’s take a look at the different sports administration degrees available and examine which one is best for you.

Master of Business Administration in Athletic and Sports Administration

The Master of Business Administration, or MBA, in athletic and sports administration is great for students who want a comprehensive education in the business world with a slight specialization in the sports field. Many MBA programs include general courses in fields like finance, accounting, marketing, ethics, human resources, public relations, and technology, and then later in your education, you’ll take classes more specialized to the world of sports. Your degree prepares you to work in a management or administrative position related to sports, rather than in a role such as counselor or coach. Most of these positions have little to do with winning the game, but are rather for students who want to work with bring in fans, ensuring that the facilities operate smoothly, managing a team’s budget, and more.

The advantage to earning an MBA is that your education allows you to change your career in the future more easily. Most MBA programs require you to have work experience in the field before starting the program, but requirements depend on the school you attend. Many students in MBA in sports administration programs work in sports in another capacity first or have a general undergraduate business degrees and want to move into a leadership position in sports. It typically takes two years to earn an MBA in sports administration.

Master of Science in Athletic and Sports Administration

A Master of Science (MS) in athletic and sports administration is more sports-focused than an MBA degree program, so although you wouldn’t be able to switch industries as easily, should your career path take a turn, you are able to work in the sports industry in more roles, rather than just as a straight business administrator. In addition to classes that focus on business, your MS degree may also include classes in nutrition and fitness, psychology, and even education. If you love sports, but aren’t yet sure of your ultimate career goals, an MS in athletic and sports administration is often the best option.

Like with an MBA, an MS in this field typically takes about two years to complete, though it depends on your college and whether you go to school full time or part time. Some colleges offer duel MBA – MS programs in sports administration that you can consider as well, which gives you another educational choice. With an MS in sports administration program, you typically do not have to have work experience in the field, but every college has different requirements for entry into an MS program.

Master of Education in in Athletic and Sports Administration

Although rare, some schools offer a Master of Education (MEd) in athletic and sports administration. This type of degree programs allows you to work as an educational leader to athletes. Most students who enter MEd programs in this field currently work as teachers or otherwise in education – in fact, some programs require it. The classes you’ll take as part of an MEd program in sports administration will cover both general education classes as well as classes that focus on the business side of sports, such as finance. Most programs also include leadership and management courses.

The MEd is great for students who want to work in K-12 athletics, where you’ll often be called upon to play roles of both coach and administrator. In addition, you’ll be able to work in a teaching position with this type of degree, so you could become a physical education teacher and coach sports teams after school. You could also work as a school district’s athletic director.

Choosing a Master’s Degree Program

So which program should you choose as someone interested in a master’s degree in sports administration?

  • Choose an MBA if you want a business degree that allows you to work in sports, but also consider other fields.
  • Choose an MS if you want a comprehensive sports administration degree.
  • Choose an MEd if you want to work with children in a teaching roll.

Keep in mind that there is a lot of overlap with these three types of degrees!

Top Online Master of Sports & Athletic Admin Degrees

Sports administrators include athletic directors, sports managers, sports information department personnel, and much more. Earning a masters degree in sports administration from a top-notch university will open doors to several new career opportunities. Each of the following schools offers at least one master's degree program in sports administration or a closely related subject.

Ohio University
MS in Athletic Admin

Ohio University -- An MS in Athletic Administration from Ohio University prepare students to become athletic directors. This program will help you excel in your professional aspirations assisting in promotions and other career opportunities. You will cover various topics designed to help you meet the demands of successful athletic programs like developing Olympic or professional level athletes.

Liberty University
MS in Sports Management

Liberty University -- The MS in sports management from Liberty University prepares its students for careers as sports administrators and managers at a variety of levels, including elementary school, high school, collegiate, and professional athletics. Integrated in the school's faith and ministry, this program is also well rounded in legal issues, economics, and marketing, as they pertain to sports management.

Southern New Hampshire University
MS in Sports Mgmt

Southern New Hampshire University -- Students in the Southern New Hampshire University Sports Management MS program rave about their courses that explore both the core of an MS program plus the insight of sports marketing, leveraging sponsorship opportunities, and crafting a brand. Southern New Hampshire University reports that no GMAT or GRE is required.

Northcentral University
M.Ed. in Athletic Admin

Northcentral University -- If you are interested in becoming a professional educator for athletic administrations at the kindergarten through 12th grade level, the M.Ed. in athletic administration from Nortcentral University will provide you the skills and education necessary for this field. Graduates are found through both secondary and college programs.

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