What Can I Do With a PhD in Sports Management?

Sports fans may not expect to find a doctor managing their favorite team, but in a competitive industry, a Doctorate in Sports Management is becoming a more popular option for ambitious future managers, executives, and entrepreneurs. A doctorate in sports management student will learn about the business requirements of running a sports team.  You don’t need to be an athlete to pursue this course of study, although many former athletes will that that path – after all, they already know the player side of the industry. To go into management, a doctorate in sports management is a natural progression.

Getting the Doctorate in Sports Management

Students must first obtain at least a bachelor’s degree, though it is not necessary that this be in sports management. Those who choose not to earn a sports-related bachelor’s may have to take certain courses as a prerequisite to entering the doctoral program, such as kinesiology (the science behind human movements), economics, and various aspects of management. In addition, you will need to take courses on law as it applies to business and sports; business courses in organizational behavior will feature prominently, as will finance and human resources.  (In fact, a Doctor of Business Administration [DBA] with a concentration in sports business can also be a good entry point.) Psychology is important for understanding those employed in elite athletics, and it will also be important to know about medicine and health.

The most important part of the doctorate in sports management program is developing the analytical reasoning and research skills needed for a career as a business executive, researchers, or academic. To receive your doctorate in sports management, the last step is usually a traditional dissertation (for a more academic PhD) or a capstone research project (which is usually more practical and related to your current or future career); no-dissertation doctorate programs are pretty common in this field. Students can also choose to obtain a sports management certification from a professional organization, or a more specialized graduate certificate in sports management to enhance their skill set and to qualify them for more career options.

Career Opportunities with a Doctorate in Sports Management

Sports management jobs abound for people with a sports management PhD, and this can include becoming a teacher or a professor in post-secondary education. The average salary for this profession is $64,837 per year, with the low and high ends being $46,634 and $79,838, respectively. Higher wages are paid to those in senior positions with greater than eight years’ experience, and a background in education will be necessary to pursue this career path.

Other sports management jobs can be found working as a sports manager for either an amateur or a professional team. Sports management salary figures are between $24,000 and $490,000 per year, with a median annual wage of $48,980. Duties can include helping professional athletes deal with the pressure they are under in competitive sports, or they can specialize in managing events and sports facilities. Rather than managing a team, graduates may manage individual athletes. The top ten percent of sports agents earn $194,810, making it one of the best sports management salary opportunities. Job growth in this area is expected to climb by 7% through the year 2026, and it will be necessary to cultivate connections to be effective in this position.

A doctorate in sports management also qualifies you to become a sports marketing director and earn between $72,000 and $164,000, with a median salary of $116,012. The job description for this position includes coordinating marketing efforts to garner higher ticket sales at events and crafting press kits and communicating with newspapers to facilitate news stories. They can also help design promotional materials, and ideal candidates will have exceptional organizational, oral, and written skills and will be able to work in a high-energy environment with a diverse group of people.