Sports Industry College and University Courses – Master Degree in Athletic Administration

Although it hasn’t been that many years since a high school education became a universal requirement for most decent jobs, a college degree is not always enough today.

This is true in sports, at least as much as in any other career. Today, a Master’s Degree is becoming the standard for advancement in athletics.

In the college arena, this means that if you aspire to be a Head Coach, the Athletic Director of the school or an administrator anywhere, you should plan on getting your Bachelor’s and spending another year or more working for that graduate degree.

Many schools now offer a Master in Athletic Administration or a similar degree. A “similar degree,” for example is the Master of Education in Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership, beginning Summer, 2006 at the University of Washington. The curriculum is guided by a national advisory board, to present a balance of issues in different sports, different types of colleges, regions of the country and the diverse backgrounds of students and leaders. It’s led by UW faculty from the College of Education, the School of Business and the Athletic Department, with the help of professional people from the sports industry.



This sport administration degree program is different from most, because it is specifically designed to prepare you for working in a college or university system.

The Program Director, Associate Professor James Antony says the UW has initiated the IAL program because nobody else is focusing on the unique working environment and cultural structure of the college setting. Even the University of North Carolina, which also has a Master’s program directed toward college jobs, uses a broader approach in this sense.

Understanding the structure of these college organizations is critical, but other areas covered include things like financial management, strategic planning, public relations and fundraising. The input of professional sports people is important, because they all have a strong relationship with the college world.

The North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) lists about 200 universities and colleges in the USA alone that offer Sport Management programs by clicking here.

NASSM also maintains lists of universities offering sport management programs in Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand on this website.

Seattle University has a new program for a Master in Sport Administration and Leadership (MSAL). Instructors come from schools throughout the university and from all around the sport industry. The program grew from a graduate track at nearby Seattle Pacific University (SPU) that began in 1986. Graduates of the SPU program have gone into these careers:

Interscholastic sports – 55%
Intercollegiate, Professional and Olympic sports – 30%
Sports production – 15%

These graduates have gone to the top in the sport industry, working for Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA and YWCA, cities and counties, health clubs, public and private schools, community colleges, universities, foundations, television, NCAA and other sports and recreation associations, sports businesses and professional teams.

“The curriculum and instruction in the MSAL program are designed to prepare graduates not only to work in the world of sports but also to have the commitment and capability to help make that world more just, ethical and humane,” says Professor Dan Tripps of the new Seattle University program.



He believes that “the sports world desperately needs ethically grounded leaders who can inspire the best performance and behavior from their athletes, coaches and staff.”

Masters degree programs graduates have experiential education, exposure to people from around the sports world and practical experience that set them apart from the ex-athlete, the coach who’s done nothing else, and the graduate of a four-year program that’s limited in scope and short on doing things. With a Master’s degree, they can choose positions like these:

  • Athletic Director
  • Assistant Athletic Director
  • Assistant Sports Information Director
  • Associate Athletic Director
  • Associate Dean
  • Business Owner
  • Director of Communication
  • Director of Development
  • Director of Operations
  • Director of Public Relations
  • Director of Programs
  • Director of Sales
  • Director of Facilities
  • Executive Director
  • Head Coach
  • Legislative Services Associate
  • Principal
  • Superintendent
  • Sports Reporter

    And more!
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