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Online master's program in sport management among top in U.S.

October 25, 2013 : By Ted Allen/Liberty University News Service

Overall academic excellence, course offerings, and return on investment were three of the factors that placed Liberty University Online’s Master of Science in Sport Management degree program among the top 20 in a national ranking released recently by TheBestSchools.org.

Liberty Online, ranked No. 12, was in some rather prestigious company with Texas A&M, Drexel, Washington State, and Northeastern, the top four schools listed in the survey on the online education information website.

“We’ve worked really hard over the past three years to develop and deliver the best master's-level training in sport management in the country,” said Dr. Clark Zealand, an associate professor and director of graduate studies for Liberty University’s Department of Sport Management. “This ranking is one of many good signs that our work is paying off.”

In a previous ranking, Liberty Online was named the No. 1 Online Christian College in America. Liberty has pioneered distance education since 1985 and is now the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online educator. More than 90,000 students from all 50 states and 90 countries around the world are enrolled in more than 160 programs of study.

Liberty’s sport management curriculum covers sociological, psychological, ethical, financial, and legal aspects of the discipline. Students choose from four cognates: General, Sport Administration, Outdoor Adventure Sport, and Tourism.

“The Sport Administration cognate is centered on the management of traditional or mainstream sport and is the mainstay of our program,” Zealand said. “The Outdoor Adventure Sport cognate prepares students to position themselves for a successful future within the rapidly growing $646 billion outdoor industry where we are seeing a merging of adventure/action/extreme sport with traditional outdoor recreation. The Tourism cognate helps students to understand the intersection of sport management with sport and event tourism.”

The program prepares graduates for a variety of careers in the field, including sports broadcasting, athletic facility management, and athletic marketing and public relations. Graduates are also qualified for jobs in advertising, administration, and communication, with areas of specialty including event and ticket operations, fitness and health management, outdoor recreation and park planning, and resort management.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates certain areas of the sports industry — which will generate $470 billion in revenues this year in the United States alone — will continue to experience a 22-percent growth in jobs available through 2020.

Zealand said globally, the travel and tourism industry accounts directly or indirectly for 1 in 12 jobs and generates more than $21 billion in Virginia alone.

Liberty’s residential undergraduate program in sport management is fully accredited by the Commission On Sport Management Accreditation and the department is currently seeking the same accreditation for its online graduate program.