SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Rankings 2019

SportBusiness' annual survey of the world's best postgraduate sport administration degrees returns for an eighth year.


Welcome…to the 2019 SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Rankings.

This year is not only the most expansive and wide-ranging edition of the rankings to date, but has also seen some of the biggest changes to the format since we began this project back in 2012.

As ever, our aim is simple: to provide students and course leaders alike with the most reliable and respected rankings system for postgraduate sports management courses across the world. That simple task, however, has become increasingly complicated with each passing year as the sector has grown and expanded at a rapid rate.

Read Post Graduate Rankings 2019 Report

For 2019, we have made significant alterations to our methodology to ensure that the rankings keep up to date with the latest developments in sport business education and remain the most in-depth and detailed in the industry. We would like to offer our sincerest thanks to this year’s advisory panel, who provided feedback on how we could adjust our criteria to improve the reliability, validity and credibility of the rankings.

“One of the things we were concerned about was ensuring we were comparing apples with apples,” says Bill Sutton, founding director of the Sport and Entertainment Management MBA Program at University of South Florida and a member of the SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Rankings advisory board. “We worked hard to create a level playing field that the questions were written in a certain way everyone understood the criteria. We were trying to make sure everybody understood how they were being evaluated and, and making sure those standards were fair.

“When talking about employment, are you talking about full time employment or are you talking about an internship? There’s a big difference there. We wanted to make sure that if the question was asking you how many students were employed full time after graduation, that you were answering how many people were employed in a full time job, not in internship. And we thought that was a really important criteria to stress.”

As such, under the new criteria, internships that lead to a full-time job in the sport industry contribute a full point to a school’s score, while those that don’t are awarded half points.

Based on input from the advisory panel, we also adjusted and clarified the diversity criteria, adding a measure for the number of students from a minority ethnic background, while reducing the weighting given over to gender and international students. Both SportBusiness and our advisory panel felt that this was a better way of measuring diversity across courses as it is seen in 2019.

Furthermore, we no longer award points to courses which offer teaching in more than one language.  

The course leader survey and peer review section remains a core component of the rankings. While student feedback and employment outcomes comprise the majority of the scores, we understand the importance of peer review and how courses are viewed across the industry by those with the greatest understanding of the sector.

 “It’s great that faculty members participating in the survey have an opportunity to be part of the process,” says Sutton. “I think that was really important. Each year that we’ve been part of this, we’ve all learned something. We’ve learned more about the process in the equity of the process. And you contribute to the process. So it’s been a very good educational process for all of us on the advisory board.”

Finally, we are now providing visibility of the alumni response rate to offer full transparency on the number of graduates our figures are based on. We require at least a response rate from a graduating class of at least 20 per cent or 15 alumni responses for a course to qualify to be included in the rankings.

“These rankings are really crucial to prospective students,” concludes Sutton. “We live in a world where you can access everything and students need the opportunity to access feedback from neutral parties and look at standards and look at criteria that help them make a decision as to where to go to school. It’s important that we have a standard that we’re held to and that people can see that we’re working to improve”

And the winners are…

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst has followed up consecutive second-place finishes in 2017 and 2018 by topping the rankings for the first time.

UMass improved on its performance in almost all of our criteria in 2019, with particularly strong showings on diversity – with a third of its students coming from a minority ethnic background and over a quarter from overseas – while it also received top marks on the course leader measure, demonstrating the high esteem in which the course is held by other educators across the sector.

Ohio University falls to second place for only the second time in the eight-year history of the rankings, having placed top in every other year. Its performance once again in 2019 is a testament to the consistency and strength of its Master of Sport Administration course, the world’s oldest postgraduate sports administration degree.

The Fifa Master, at the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is the only other course to have finished in first place in the overall rankings, in 2014, and returns to the podium this year with a third-placed finish. Its dominance in the European rankings continues, with its seventh victory there in eight years. 

The Russian International Olympic University’s move up one place into tenth also means that there are now two European schools in the top ten, against just one last year. Once again, eight of the top ten are US-based, however, as Australia’s Deakin University – the only entrant from outside the North America and Europe – dropped out of the top ten.

In the online rankings, Ohio once again showed its strength in the field and ability to evolve with the times, with its Professional Master of Sport Administration claiming the top spot.

Over the following pages you will find interviews with course leaders from the top three ranking courses as well as the usual breakdowns of the overall top 40 and the best performing schools from North America and Europe. 

There is also insight from representatives of the likes of New York University on creating a future-facing sports administration degree, Liverpool and Coventry on the growing sports education sector in the UK, and Centro de Formación Fundación Valencia CF and Real Madrid Graduate University on the benefits of their connections with the LaLiga giants. 

As well as our advisory panel, SportBusiness would like to offer our thanks to all course leaders and alumni who participated in this year’s surveys and contributed to maintaining the preeminence of these rankings.

Read Post Graduate Rankings 2019 Report

The advisory panel

Our sincerest thanks go out to the following, whose help and input has been invaluable in defining and compiling the 2019 SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Rankings.

Bill Sutton, Founding Director, Sport and Entertainment Management MBA Program at University of South Florida

Rui Biscaia, Senior Lecturer in Sport Marketing & Deputy PG Course director at the University of Coventry

Jess Dixon, Associate Professor & Graduate Coordinator at the University of Windsor

Scott Rosner, Academic Director of the Master of Science in Sports Management at Columbia University 

Steve McKelvey, Associate Department Chair & Graduate Program Director at Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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