Experience, reputation and a focus on potentially lucrative areas of sport business appear to be determining factors in reaching the top of the SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Rankings.
Ohio University finished top of the chart for the third successive year, with its nearest rival the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management. Fellow US schools George Washington University in Washington DC and San Diego State University were joined by Switzerland’s CIES to complete the top five.
While San Diego was a huge riser, having not finished in the top 25 last year, five schools finished in the top 10 in both 2016 and 2017.
T. Bettina Cornwell, a member of the PGR advisory board (a group of academics that SportBusiness consults annually to review and improve the rankings), believes that even following minor adjustments in the scoring system, the most established schools will continue to lead the way.
“Due to the factors involved in producing high-quality educational experiences, one will typically find some stability in the top academic rankings and this is beginning to happen in the SportBusiness International ranking system,” says Cornwell, the Edwin E. and June Woldt Cone Professor of Marketing at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business.
“The programmes clustering at the top of the list are either in business schools or have a strong tie to business. Graduates who go to work on the business side of sport, for example working with a brand in sport sponsorship, often have higher starting salaries than those working in sport organisations and this influences rankings.
Established alumni base
“The second characteristic that distinguishes those programmes clustered at the top of the list is their history; in the main, they are programmes that are more than 20 years old. They have attracted quality faculty and have a supportive and established alumni base, and this too influences rankings.”
David Shilbury, another member of the advisory board, feels that changes to the scoring system have been validated by this year’s list. In particular, he is pleased to see the congruence between final position and course leader ranking.
“2017 results show a strong performance by the generally well-recognised programmes by professors in the field,” says Shilbury, director of Deakin Sport Network and co-director at the Centre for Sport Research at Deakin Business School.
“The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s rise up the list from fourth in 2016 to join Ohio in the top two is a better match between course leader perception and standing overall. These two programmes together with the University of Oregon and Deakin University are recognised as the major players by the course leaders.”
Cornwell is also supportive of the scoring changes. As well as backing the inclusion of the number of languages category, she says the employment data is now more reflective of graduates’ success.
“The rankings this year have an extended window for job placement following graduation, which has risen from three months to six months,” she says.
“This is a positive change to the rankings approach. With this window, graduates with the confidence to hold out for the job they want are included in the data.”
Rankings will always attract discussion and disagreement. One participating course leader this year said significant year-on-year movements in position for some universities did not accurately reflect moderate changes in the standard of courses.
The closeness of scores between universities contributes to this volatility, as does the heavy weight placed on employment outcomes, which can vary a lot year-to-year.
As per the introduction article, the rankings are subject to an annual review by the team that creates them and an advisory board of course leaders. This review considers changes to improve how accurately the ranking reflects the quality of the courses.
FURTHER READING - SportBusiness Postgraduate Course Rankings 2017
- Top 40 courses
- North America - How U.S. schools continue to build on a winning formula
- Europe - Leading the way in times of change
- Future course - How schools are embracing sport’s brave new world
- Emerging markets - When will developing regions make the grade?
- Data - sports masters in numbers
- Data - career prospects for graduates
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