The Postgraduate Pathway
You have a degree or you are on your way to graduation… Congratulations, you have taken the first steps to a successful career in sport. But is this enough?
Employers might still think you don’t have sufficient experience or you need to enhance your skillset, or even narrow down what you want to focus on in the working world.
So, what are the next steps when it comes to postgraduate study to better prepare you for the job market?
Why do a postgraduate degree?
Employers are on the look-out for those with further qualifications and so the courses on offer are ever changing.
Nick Passenger, Academic Lead for Sport, Physical Education and The Outdoors at the University of Central Lancashire, explains: “The postgraduate market has been particularly competitive for a number of years and, with the change in sporting trends, the need to have flexible postgraduate programmes is key for attracting many sport professionals in a variety of fields.”
For Jonathan Reid, a former postgraduate student at Loughborough University London, and now working at Chelsea FC, the lure is different: “Postgraduate education makes you think more about the world and forces you to be more observant. It teaches you to develop what you’ve found and make a difference in the world. I feel privileged to use my academic knowledge every day.”
Where to study?
It’s often a minefield but, for a generalised view, last year’s QS World University Rankings tailored its rankings system to zoom in on sports-related subjects.
While the subject matter in sports can vary enormously, Loughborough University came out on top - level pegging with the University of Sydney - both scoring five out of five stars in all eight of the categories.
Predominantly, the highest-ranked nations for postgrad courses were the UK, US, Canada and Australia, and, while Asian nations did not, as a rule, feature too prominently, both Japan and South Korea had three entries in the overall list.
Who can qualify for postgraduate courses?
In short, the world is your oyster, and there’s something to cater for every age range, ability or interest.
For example, Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany last year graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration.
The only general guidance qualification is a 2:1 at Bachelors level or equivalent qualification.
What courses to go for?
The aforementioned Loughborough University has a postgraduate campus in London – befittingly at the scene of the 2012 Olympics some 130 miles from the university’s traditional home.
Among the stand-out courses is the Sport Business and Leadership MSc - one year full-time or up to four years part-time.
It is aimed at “individuals who wish to improve their impact and effectiveness in leading and managing individuals, teams and organisations within the sport business industry”, working in close association with the Sport Industry Group.
Loughborough postgraduate Lauren Estwick explains “There’s so many opportunities and ways to move forward in the business of sport. It [the course] has opened my world.”
Loughborough University London prides itself on working with industry experts, so too Leicester Castle Business School at De Montfort University in Leicester.
Leicester Castle Business School enjoys close links with former Premier League champions Leicester City, rugby team Leicester Tigers and Leicestershire County Cricket Club as well as the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association.
The business school’s Business Management in Sport MSc explores the evolving and multi-faceted area of management in sport focusing on ethical considerations, major competitions, sports marketing, heritage and sport’s political, social, economic and cultural contexts.
Among its recent alumni is Leighton James, who stepped into a full-time role with the oldest football team in England, Notts County, after that course.
Other global leaders for postgraduates
Across the Atlantic and habitually highly regarded is Ohio University, which came out on top of last year’s Sports Business Postgraduate Course Rankings for the fifth time in six years.
Also ranked highly there was FIFA Master, organised by the International centre for Sport Studies (CIES) in partnership with De Montfort University in Leicester, SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan and the University of Neuchatel.
It offers a unique opportunity to meet top executives from high-level international sports federations, clubs, agencies and organising committees, enabling students to build up their own network of contacts, key to a successful career in sport.
What employees say? A case study
Lena Schoeps is an alumni of the aforementioned FIFA Master, and now works as a hospitality and events executive with the Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, which celebrated a fourth straight Formula 1 constructors’ championship at the end of last season.
Of the FIFA Master, she said: “The unique learning environment of the course, which clearly extends beyond the classroom, facilitates working in an international company and easily adapting to its respective requirements.”
As for advice for would-be students, she added: “Be open minded and always curious to ensure you take in everything you learn, hear and experience during the course. Ask your professors, classmates and guest speakers any questions which come to mind.”
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