Answer: Master’s in sports communication programs exist at various universities across the United States, although they are not as common as other specializations in the field of communication. There are dedicated sports communication programs, as well as master’s in communication and mass communication programs that offer concentrations in sports communication. Master’s in sports communication programs generally have one of three areas of focus: sports broadcasting, sports promotions, and sports administration.
Sports communication is a diverse professional field that encompasses sports broadcasting, sports content editing and production, sports journalism, sports marketing, sports promotions, sports public relations, and sports administration and leadership. Given the range of positions in this field and the wide variety of professional opportunities, there is a great need for education and career preparation that is specific to sports communication. Anyone interested in a career in sports communication or advancing their career in sports communication may want to consider pursuing a master’s in sports communication program.
Overview of Master’s in Sports Communication Programs
There are eight master’s in sports communication programs* offered in the United States. These programs vary in their focus, and generally fall into three types.
The first and most common type of program is a master’s in sports communication with a focus in broadcasting and broadcast production. Students interested in careers in sports reporting should consider attending a master’s program focused on broadcasting. These programs prepare students to become reporters, show hosts, directors, content producers, and content editors in sports broadcasting. Typical coursework includes topics like sports communication in the digital age, sports event production, studio sports broadcasting, and sports journalism. Beyond traditional coursework, students are often expected to complete practicums and internships, which allows them to develop a portfolio of work.
The second program type is a master’s in sports communication with a focus on promotions. Students who graduate from this program type can expect to pursue careers in the sports industry in design, branding, marketing, and public relations. The typical coursework in this type of program consists of courses in public relations, social media management, sports journalism, and sports media production. As students earn their degree, they will go beyond theoretical discussions about sports marketing and promotions to design and develop collateral. As a result, students graduate with a portfolio of work, which they can share with potential employers.
The third program type prepares students for a career in sports administration. Students in this program type should expect to pursue positions in sports management for universities and professional sports organizations. As a result, these programs often consist of a variety of classes related to athletic administration, leadership, persuasion, management, and negotiation. Graduates are often employed in positions managing events, teams, and operations for sports organizations.
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Common Curriculum in Sports Communication Programs
Given that a master’s in sports communication can vary in focus, it is not surprising that curricula can vary widely depending on the type of program in which a student enrolls. Below, prospective students can review the common courses found across these program types. Curricula vary across different schools, and students should investigate individual programs when making a program selection.
Master’s in Sports Communication Programs
As mentioned above, there are seven master’s in communication programs that focus specifically on sports communication or offer a concentration in sports communication. Students who are interested in enrolling in a sports communication program should review the following programs to learn more. At this time, these programs are mainly offered on-campus or as hybrid programs that include on-campus and online instruction.
Dallas Baptist University: Dallas Baptist University has a Master of Arts in Communication program with a concentration in Sports Communication. This program concentration prepares students to become skillful sports communication professionals through courses in sports marketing and public relations, sports event and facility management, strategic organizational communication, business development in the sports industry, sport communication law and ethics, and the psychology of sport. Combined with the program’s core coursework in digital media communication, communication leadership, social media communication, and advanced communication theory and research, students leave the program equipped with the knowledge and experience to excel in designing internal and external-facing communication campaigns for sports-related organizations.
Emerson College: Emerson College offers a Master of Arts in Sports Communication that prepares students to step into careers in areas such as digital sports media management, sports promotions, sports law and regulations, and athletic facilities management. Students take core courses in public affairs, emerging communication technologies, event planning and administration, and sports communication principles. From there, they can choose from a wide variety of electives in content strategy, campaign management, crisis communication, strategic communication, and project planning and management, negotiation, entrepreneurship, and more. Students complete a capstone project or thesis as their culminating experience.
Iona College: This Master of Arts in Sports Communication and Media has a specific focus on sports broadcasting and media production. Students should expect to learn about topics like video editing, radio show production, sports blogging, and live reporting. As this program is located close to New York City, students can take advantage of opportunities to gain experience working with ESPN, D-1 MAAC, and the Fantasy Sports Network. This is a 36-39 credit degree that consists of coursework like sports imaging, sports radio hosting, sports history, media law, and sports documentaries.
Mississippi College: Mississippi College offers a Master’s of Science in Professional Communication in Sports that allows students to complete part of their degree online. This program has a communication core of 16 hours, which consists of courses such as public relations, communication research, and journalism ethics. In addition to communication courses, students are also required to take four kinesiology courses in topics like societal and ethical trends in athletics, NCAA rules and regulations, and athletic administration. After completing these classes, students take one elective, choosing between negotiation and practices in public relations. This curriculum prepares students for careers in sports administration and communication.
Oklahoma State University: Oklahoma State University’s School of Media and Strategic Communications offers a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication that includes a specialty track in Sports Communication. The program has both thesis and non-thesis options. Students who plan to pursue doctoral studies or who wish to teach often pursue a thesis, while students who are looking to advance their careers in sports media typically pursue the non-thesis track. Students who select the non-thesis option must complete either a practicum, an applied project, or a study abroad experience. The curriculum consists of core courses in mass communication research methods, media theory, and media ethics, and concentration courses, which include: Diversity in Sports Media, Specialized Sports Media Applications, and Sport Media Management. Core courses are offered on the Stillwater campus, while concentration classes are offered online, in Stillwater and in Tulsa. Some courses may also be offered in a hybrid format that combines online and on-campus instruction.
Regis College: Regis College, located in Weston, MA, offers a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication program that has a track in Sports Communication. This program includes coursework in sports promotion, sports advertising and marketing, and sports journalism and publishing. Students complete five courses as part of the Strategic Communication core curriculum and four courses as part of the Sports Communication track. These concentration courses include: Sports Communication, Sports Marketing and Advertising, Sports Writing, and a Sports Capstone. As part of the capstone, students complete a 100 hour internship in sports communication and then write a final paper that reflects on the theories and skills they learned throughout the program and how they related to the student’s internship experience.
Sacred Heart University: Sacred Heart University offers a Master of Arts in Sports Communication and Media with two program options. The first track offered is in Sports Broadcasting. This program also offers the opportunity to work on a student-produced sports show. Located in Connecticut, the program is near ESPN, NBC Sports, the MLB Network and various other programs, which gives students the opportunity to earn internships at top tier sports broadcasting networks. The second curriculum track is in Athletic Communications and Promotions. This track focuses on multimedia promotions production. Students who graduate from this program will be prepared to create athletics communications material and make strategic decisions about athletic promotions. Students are partnered with specific division one sports teams to produce promotions collateral, resulting in a substantial portfolio upon graduation.
Texas Tech University: Texas Tech offers a Master of Arts in Mass Communication with a Sports Media Track. The goal of this program is to prepare students for careers in the sports media industry. The curriculum is highly flexible with only three required courses in research methods, mass communication theory, and a sports communication seminar. Beyond these foundational courses, students select 15 credit hours of elective courses in areas specific to sports media, such as sports public relations, advertising, and ethics, as well as areas related to mass communication but not directly connected to sports, such as social media, organizational communication, and journalism. Students of this program must also complete an internship and a final project.
*Note: There are seven master’s in communication programs that offer a specialization or track in sport communication. This number does not currently include any master’s in journalism programs that may have a focus on sports journalism or master’s in sports media programs.