Top 7 Sports MBA Programs:Sports Industry Revenue to Hit $145 billion in 2015, Soccer Most Popular Second American Football

sports mba programsSports as a market is constantly evolving. It was once about the 'game', but it is now a package that combines sports and entertainment. It was evident with the 2012 Superbowl, which was watched by around 166 million people around the world, and showcased performances by American Idol Kelly Clarkson, Madonna, M.I.A., Nicki Minaj, country musicians Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, LMFAO and Cee Lo Green. Not surprisingly, commercials were sold out by November 2010, at an average price of $3.5 million for a thirty-second ad. Formula One races this year have seen performances by Linkin Park, Lady Gaga and Shakira. Another case in point is in USA's National Football League (NFL) - the Dallas Cowboys is the highest earning team, with revenues of $2.1 billion, even though it hasn't been among the top-2 in terms of on-field performances for 17 years.

The revenues generated by the Sports industry have reached staggering proportions. It generated $122 billion in 2010, and is expected to hit $145 billion in 2015, an annual growth rate of 4.5%. The income is a mix of Gate Revenues, Media Rights, Sponsorships and Merchandising. While Gate revenues have been traditionally the main source of income, Sponsorship revenues are expected to overtake it by 2015. Media rights revenues are also growing at a very fast rate and together with Sponsorship forms the prime income stream. While North America continues to dominate the market, Latin America with a predicted growth rate of 4.9% and Asia-Pacific with 4% are rapidly growing. Market values by 2015 are Expected to be North America - $60 billion, Europe, Middle East & Africa - $49 billion, Asia Pacific - $27 billion and Latin America $7billion.

The global sports market is dominated by Soccer, helped by its global appeal. In 2009, it was worth $26 billion, followed by American Football with $7.6 billion, Baseball with $7.1 billion and Formula 1 with $4 billion. Rugby is the fastest growing sport, followed by Soccer and Formula 1. The list of the top sports teams in the world reflects this, with Manchester United (Soccer) leading at $2.23 billion, followed by Real Madrid (Soccer) at $1.88 billion, the Dallas Cowboys (American football) and the New York Yankees (Baseball) at $1.85 billion each, and The Washington Redskins (American football) at $1.55 billion. While Real Madrid and the Yankees topped their leagues last year, none of the other teams topped their respective leagues last year. This goes to prove that it isn’t about the game anymore - it is about the total entertainment value that influences earnings. This is exactly why management professionals are in high demand. What's more, the highly competitive industry faces a dearth of top-class MBA programs that specialize in this niche field.

Job opportunities include working in management at teams, leagues & stadiums; media, marketing or finance roles, and working as an agent for athletes or sports management companies.

Here are our picks for the top 7 Sports Management MBA:

1) Columbia University Sports Management

Columbia University offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Sports Management and is the only non-MBA program in our top 7. It is a Part-time program that must be completed within 4 years in New York City, a major US sports hub. The program is designed for the US sports market. It educates students with a broad understanding of the Industry, followed by management skills in finance, law, sports personnel management, facility/event superintendence and sports marketing. Most courses last for 14 weeks, with classes on weekdays, 6:10 - 8 p.m.

The program's foundation course is Social-Historical Foundations of American Sport. This is followed by the Finance Sequence, and the Sports Marketing Sequence that includes one advanced course chosen from Sports Marketing, Sponsorship & Sales, Sports Media Marketing and Sports Business Communications and Public Relations. Students next complete the Leadership and Management course and two from Facility and Event Management, Sports Law and Ethics, and Intercollegiate Athletics Administration. Students can then do an elective, chosen from the program, or an approved elective from anywhere in the university.

Finally, students can take up an internship or a project. The Internship is meant for students who are not working in the industry, who must complete a project in a sports company. The Supervised Project in Sports Management is for students already employed in the industry. Here, student teams take up a research project under faculty supervision.

2) European University Business School

The European University Business School offers a Sports Management MBA, which is essentially an MBA with a concentration in Sports Management. It teaches management skills for the sports industry, like sports marketing, sports management, media relations, sports advertising and sports sponsorship. The university has campuses in Barcelona, Geneva, Munich and Montreux. Students can complete program terms at any of the campuses. There is also an exchange program with schools in USA, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Chile, South Africa, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Turkey, China, Mongolia, Malaysia, India and Thailand. In addition, students can get Double Degrees - a second degree from Nichols College, Massachusetts or The College of Charleston, South Carolina.

The program can be completed in 1-year on a Full-time basis, or in 2-years on a part-time basis. The Full-time program consists of 3 terms, with the first 2 terms dedicated to the core MBA curriculum, industrial visits and guest Managers' Lectures. A recent example is Pau Serrancanta, Director, Dorna Sports (MotoGP). The third term concentrates on Sports Management, covering subjects like Sports Marketing Management, Financial Management Applications to Sport, Sports Sponsorship, Sports Management Issues and Crafting Unique Sports Events. The program ends with a Research Report on the industry.

3) The University of Liverpool Management School - Football Industries MBA

The Football Industries MBA (FIMBA) program is run in conjunction with the British Football Association (FA) and is designed for a career in soccer or football in non-American terms. The program can be completed on a Full-time basis in 1 year or on a Part-time basis in 2 years. The program stresses on professionalism, business & marketing, and leadership skills for the global soccer industry. It offers careers with clubs/teams, governing bodies, soccer marketing firms, media companies or sponsoring corporates.

High profile personnel from the soccer industry who have visited campus as speakers include Peter Kenyon CEO, Chelsea, Manchester United, David Dein, Former Vice-Chair, Arsenal FC, Neil Doncaster, CEO, Scottish Premier League, Gordon Taylor, CEO PFA & President of FIFPro, Steve Nuttall, Communications Manager, BSkyB, Dan Jones, Deloitte's Sports Business Unit and Andy Korman, Partner, Sports Law Unit, Couchman Harrington.
The curriculum is made of subjects like Managing Financial Resources, Managing the Environment, International Football Industry, The Organization in the Strategic Context, Becoming a Football Executive, Sports Operations Management, Change and Innovation, Football & the Law, and Football & Finance. Students are also involved in a Dissertation and a Work Based Project in the soccer industry.

4) Coventry University - International Sport Management MBA

The International Sport Management MBA is a 1-year program on a Full-time basis, or a 2-year program on a part-time basis. It is designed to take advantage of developed markets such as USA, Canada and UK as well as emerging economies like China, India and South Africa. The program equips students with knowledge of sports law, sports broadcasting, sport marketing & sponsorship, sports organizing bodies, event management, impact assessment, and sport operations in large facilities.

The curriculum covers subjects like economic environment of business, Strategic management, contemporary issues in international sport management, managing facilities and stadia. Students also have the option of doing a dissertation or company internship - a workplace project developed with sport industry experts in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and the Far East. The Global Leaders Program offers career workshops to develop leadership skills that work across cultures.

5) UMass Amherst - MBA/MS in Sport Management

The Isenberg School of Management teams up with the Mark McCormack Department of Sports Management at UMass Amherst to offer a dual degree that comprises an MBA and a MS in Sports Management. The program can typically be completed in 24 to 27 months. On completion, both MBA and MS degrees are offered.

Besides the core MBA program, students learn Sports Management courses like Sport Marketing, Sport Finance and Business, Sport and the Law, Sport Organizational Behavior and Development, Socio-Historical Foundations of Modern Sport, Applied Sport Marketing Research and Sport Management Electives. The highlight of the program is the opportunity to complete a 13-week internship of at least 40 hours per week in a relevant position in the sports industry.

6) USF College of Business - MBA in Sport & Entertainment Management

USF's MBA in Sport & Entertainment Management is a 2-year program developed in conjunction with Tampa Bay Lightning - A National Hockey League (NHL) team. This is a Full-time, cohort program and students who do not have an undergraduate degree can still do the program after taking 7 foundation courses.

Besides the regular MBA core programs, students study Sport & Entertainment Law, Sport & Entertainment Marketing Strategy, Sport Business Analytics, Contemporary Issues in Sport and Entertainment Management. During the Internship in Sports & Entertainment Management, students will be placed at local sports or even family entertainment companies.

7) SDSU Sports Business Management MBA Program

The San Diego State University's Sports Business Management MBA has been developed in collaboration with the San Diego Padres - a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. The program is made of two parts - a 1 year classroom schedule and a 6-month internship.

The sports related subjects in the curriculum include Statistical Analysis for Sports, Sports Economics, Sports Marketing, Sports Business Management/Sports Law and Integrated Marketing Communications. The internship allows students to work with a sports company or organization on a full-time basis, overseen by a faculty mentor.


1) Outlook for Global Sports Market - PWC
2) The Sports Market - AT Kearney

Recommended Resources

1) SDSU Sports Business Management MBA Program
2) USF College of Business - MBA in Sport & Entertainment Management
3) UMass Amherst - MBA/MS in Sport Management
4) Coventry University - International Sport Management MBA
5) The University of Liverpool Management School - Football Industries MBA
6) European University Business School
7) Columbia University Sports Management

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