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Doctorate in Sports Management

There is more to sports than what you watch on television; sport is one of the largest businesses in the United States. According to Forbes, the sports industry is projected to grow by $145.3 billion from 2010 to 2015. Those who are interested in seeking a career in sports management may specialize in its various fields like event management, organizational management, sports law, sports media, etc. Interested individuals are increasingly enrolling in college degree programs, as a degree may enhance their chances of employment in the sports management field. The popularity of sports management education programs can be gauged from the fact that colleges and universities offering programs in sports management have grown from 3 to over 300 between 1980-2010.

In addition to becoming sports managers, coaches and scouts, interested individuals can also pursue a career in sports academia and research. While the former requires only a bachelor’s degree, the latter requires a PhD in sports management.

Doctorate in Sports Management

Doctorate candidates of sports management concentrate on the theoretical and practical dimensions of management, sports teams and facilities, and athletic events. Sports management ethics and policy are also a research focus for many pursuing this degree.

A doctorate in sports management addresses the ethical, social, legal, and economic issues affecting the sports industry. The curriculum involves application of business principles in sports settings. Furthermore, it may also examine the role played by sports in society, along with its philosophical, psychological, sociological, and historical aspects.  PhD candidates may further examine governmental and industrial policies affecting sports.

A doctorate in sports management is a research-based degree, requiring candidates to undertake research throughout the course of their studies. Those with a master’s degree may be able to complete the program in three years. They may need to complete 60 plus hours, however, applicants with a bachelor’s degree are also accepted; the duration for them may be more than three years. They may need to complete 90 plus hours.

Admission requirements

Typical admission requirements are:

  • Graduation from an accredited college or university
  • A minimum “B” grade average
  • Satisfactory GRE score
  • TOEFL (for international applicants)


The coursework may be divided as following.

  • 18 credit hours of core courses
  • 15 credit hours of dissertation research
  • 9 credit hours in a similar area
  • 12 credit hours of courses in statistics
  • 9 credit hours of sports management core courses

The core courses may be titled as:

  • Current Research in Sport Management
  • Organizational Behavior in Sport
  • Organizational Theory in Sport
  • Social Justice Leadership, Equity, and Change
  • Organizational Learning
  • Educational Policy and Politics
  • Educational Ethnography
  • Methods and Techniques of Educational Research
  • Advanced Methods of Qualitative Research

Research topic areas

PhD candidates, in consultation and approval of their faculty members, may undertake independent research in the following areas.

  • Behaviors of sports consumers
  • Sociological and psychological principles associated with marketing strategies
  • Brand management of sports organizations

Financial assistance

Pursuing a PhD in any discipline can be a daunting task, requiring rigorous academic work, leaving little or no time to undertake a part-time job. Many universities strictly advise their students to not be employed while pursuing a PhD degree. Candidates however need money to pay for their day-to-day expenses; some may even have families. Financial assistance from university is therefore of critical importance. Eligible candidates may be offered with research and teaching oppurtunities. Those who accept may not need to pay any tuition and instead may receive a stipend along with health insurance coverage.

An assistantship typically requires 15 to 20 hours of work per week, and may be renewable each year.

Online Doctorate in Sports Management

You may complete a PhD program in sports management entirely online. The degree may be titled Doctor of Philosophy in Education – Sports Management. It may however be open only to those with a master’s degree from an accredited institute. An online PhD degree may be awarded upon successful completion of 75 credit hours, which may be completed in as many as 7 years. The program may ideally suit those with work and family commitments; professionals already in the sport management field, looking to enhance their knowledge and skills to teach in a college or university or conduct research.

While online education offers many benefits, it is advised that only self-starters and disciplined individuals enroll online, since many lag behind in their assignments and coursework.

Career options

Various career option lie in both teaching and research in universities and research institutes. PhD holders in sports management apply current sport management theories and practices to conduct research for their clients in the industry and provide them with research and business consulting services.

How long does it take to complete a Doctorate in Sports Management?

A Doctorate in Sports Management prepares students for the competitive and fast paced world of sports. The coursework usually takes 2 years to complete (if the individual is a full time student) and the dissertation takes a further 1-2 years to complete. Thus, the degree can be completed in 3-4 years. Both on campus and distance learning options are available to students.

What are the requirements to complete a Doctorate in Sports Management?

The students are required to complete approximately 124 semester hours and are expected to study modules such as Ethics in Sports, Advanced Coaching Theories, Labor Relations in Sports and Sports Entrepreneurship etc. The program is composed of seminars, lectures and comprehensive exams. Students are also expected to complete a dissertation on a topic related to the candidate’s area of specialization such as Sports Theory, Sports Health & Fitness or Sports Coaching.

How much can I make after completing a Doctorate in Sports Management?

If you are interested in pursuing a long term career in sports management, then a Doctorate in Sports Management is ideal for you. After completing this program, individuals can pursue their careers as sports managers/agents or teachers. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean pay for managers for athletes/entertainers was $90,930 in May 2018. Thus, this field offers lucrative career opportunities, if you choose the right direction.

Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:How long does it take to get a PhD sports management degree?

A:A PhD degree in sports management would take nearly 3 to 6 years of full time study. This includes at least 67 semester hours after the masters level or 96 hours after a bachelor's degree. After completing this degree, students can go into various directions. They could look into becoming community relations directors, financial director, event marketing manager and sales directors.

Q:What are the admission requirements for a PhD sports management degree?

A:The admission requirements for a PhD program in sports management requires at least a bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA cutoff that must be met. However, there might be some programs that require applicants to have at least a master's degree. As part of this program, you would be taught various courses such as sports law, sports organization finance, sports marketing and organizational behavior in sports.

Q:What can you do with a PhD sports management degree?

A:With a doctorate degree in sports management, you may qualify for executive and director level positions in sports firms or agencies. The program can prepare you for research-oriented careers. Some of the common job positions that fall in this category include: sports manager, coach, sports marketing manager, etc. The income level will vary from job to job.

Q:How to get a PhD degree in sports management?

A:A PhD degree is the highest level of education you can get in any academic field. The program is usually research-oriented and aims at equipping students with research skills and advanced knowledge. To successfully complete the degree, students must cover all the program components which include: coursework, research project, qualifying examination, and a dissertation.

Q:How fast can you get your PhD sports management degree?

A:A number of colleges are offering accelerated PhD programs. In an accelerated program, students can take more courses per semester and earn credits in a short time period. The duration of accelerated PhD programs is less as compared to regular PhD degrees. Some PhD programs can be completed in as little as three years.

Q:How many credits are required for doctorate in sports management?

A:The credit hour requirement of a PhD program will depend on the university you enroll in. Typically, the credit hour requirement ranges from 90-120 credits. Students can successfully earn these credits by taking courses and projects each semester. You can learn more about the program and its degree completion requirements by getting in touch with prospective schools.

Q:Where can you work with a doctorate in sports management?

A:With a doctorate in sports management, you can work in different sports organizations, research centers, sports media channels, etc. You may qualify for different jobs positions such as sports manager or coach. Please keep in mind that your area of specialization will determine your exact job position and income potential.

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