Get in the Game: What You Can Expect from a Master's in Sports Management

I sat down for a 1 on 1 discussion with Amie Prichard, who holds a master's degree in Sports Management from The University of San Francisco.

1.  Where did you go earn your undergraduate degree? What was your major?  Why did you choose that particular major?

First off, it is a pleasure answering your questions! I really enjoy sharing my experiences with current students as well as with those who are deciding what the next step in their career or education will be.

Before I went to a four year university, I attended Foothill Junior College in Los Altos Hills, CA for two years. In order to transfer after two years, I stayed in close contact with academic advisers to make sure I was taking transferable classes that would be accepted by a University.  I also had a personal goal to play water polo at the varsity level; in order to maintain NCAA eligibility, I needed to stay focused on excelling in the classroom so I could transfer.

In the middle of my second year at Foothill Junior college, I was approached by the incoming head water polo coach at UC Irvine. After a recruiting trip down to Southern California, I made my decision to become an Anteater! Once I was at UC Irvine, I elected to become a Social Sciences major.

I chose Social Sciences as my major because I enjoyed the types of subjects we studied throughout our coursework, such as political science, sociology and psychology.

2.  From which school did earn your Master's degree?  What does your Master's Degree focus on?

I earned my Master's degree at the University of San Francisco (USF). My Master's degree was in Sports Management.  What is appealing about this particular degree program is that classes are offered in both San Francisco and Orange County. We worked in Cohorts through the 23-month program.

3.  Can you go into more detail about what a "cohort" is?

Sure, no problem.  When you enter the Sport Management program at the University of San Fransisco, you enter the program as a "cohort" with your other peers starting at that time. You are grouped together with everyone who is entering the program at that time.  You go through all of the classes together. Basically, every night that you go to class, you are with the same people; you then work on one course at a time together. The only time we were split was when elective classes were offered.

My cohort in Orange County had coinciding classes with the San Francisco Cohort, just on different days.  This gave me the flexibility to make up classes in San Francisco if necessary, since at the time, I had a job where I was traveling quite a bit. Class was also only once a week in the evening, which allowed me to work full time and explore several internships.

4.  Which factors influenced you to earn your Master's Degree? What was your motivation for earning these advanced, graduate  credentials?

The year after I graduated from UC Irvine, I earned a spot in a community relations internship with the Anaheim Ducks. One of my fellow interns had recently enrolled in the master's degree program in Sports Management at USF.  Hearing about her positive experience earning her master's inspired me to look into the program. Naturally, the sports  industry in both a literal and business sense is extremely competitive; I felt that pursuing my Master's degree would give me an edge on the competition when applying for future positions in the Sports Management industry.  Having a master's degree on my resume would prove that I was serious about working in this industry.

5.  Describe your master's degree program.  What was a day in the life like? Did you have a lot of reading, studying?  Group work vs. individual work?

Ahh, a day in the life...many Master's degree programs these days are becoming more and more flexible for working individuals. Classes within the USF Sports Management program are one night per week.  This is one of the many reasons why this particular program worked well with my schedule. Not working and going to school full time was not an option for me financially.  This particular master's degree program allowed me to fit all of my personal and professional  goals on my plate, while maintaining a balanced lifestyle.As far as reading and studying goes, there was definitely enough to go around for each day not spent in class. There were a few classes that were a little bit overboard on the reading, but for the most part, it was very manageable. I also wrote a fair amount of papers.. Some classes had papers due each week, while other classes assigned papers that were due every couple of weeks.

With regard to classes I took, earning your master's degree in a particular subject gives you the precise tools you need to succeed in that industry.  The classes I took taught me the skills I would need to work in the sports industry.  Classes covered topics like:

  • Public Relations
  • Leadership
  • Sponsorship - professors challenged us to create promotions for sports team in hypothetical situations

    What I liked most about the curriculum is that I developed management skills and tools that can be used in any industry. Having the material presented within sports industry scenarios made it easy to learn, understand and apply. Because this particular program is only one night a week, another important facet of earning your master's degree in sports management is getting real work experience in the industry.  You have to get your hands dirty! Many students including myself spend our days working and applying our knowledge from the classroom to our careers as soon as the next day! Many students bounced from internship to internship to gain knowledge and grow their personal network. However, when I entered the program I already had a yearlong internship in the motorcycle industry managing and marketing trade shows.

    6.  Did your Master's Program offer online courses? If not, do you know anyone who has earned an online degree? What are your thoughts about earning your degree online?

    At the time that I attended USF (2004-2006), the University did not offer any online courses within the Sports Management program.I believe they still do not offer any for this particular program; however, USF does have a few classes offered online in other master's degree programs.  One of my best friends has just began her journey to earn her online master's degree in Library and Information Science through San Jose State. Although she just began, it is really convenient for her to enroll in online courses because she has recently relocated to Seattle.

    7.  Has earning your Master's Degree helped your career? Pay-raise, more respect?

    Having my Master's degree has been a great resume builder.With the marketplace being so competitive during these tough economic times, it is definitely beneficial to have a master's degree in sports management to help me gain an edge over potential candidates for jobs I am interested in pursuing.

    8.  Any other tips for those considering pursuing their master's degree in sports management?

    Network, network, network! Everyone you come in contact with--whether through teachers, classmates, employers, friends--take time to get to know them.  You never know who they may know!  Also, take advantage of all possible scholarship opportunities.  This is something that I did not do and I wish I had!