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Are you a sports fan with a knack for crunching numbers? Considering a career in sports analytics but need help figuring out where to start? This guide exists to help you explore the popular field of sports analytics. Below, we list schools with relevant programs, including quantitative sports business, sports performance analytics, sports science analytics, exercise analytics, and more. Jump into our listings to find a sports analytics degree and kickstart your career.
What is Sports Analytics?
Sports analytics involves the application of data analytics tools & techniques to sports-related data. Famously, sport analytics has been used to analyze player & team performance—the Moneyball approach that makes the best of your players’ strengths (e.g. on-base percentages) and compensates for their weaknesses. This is often called on-field analytics.
But sports data reaches far beyond the boundaries of the playing field. Sports organizations and entertainment companies are also deeply invested in metrics like ticket & merchandise sales, social engagement, fan acquisition, sponsorship & advertising spends, marketing campaigns, and more. This is usually called off-field analytics. And it’s where a great deal of revenue is being generated.
What Does a Degree in Sports Analytics Look Like?
Sports Analytics Degree Pathways
Sports analytics professionals come at the field from all kinds of directions:
- Data: Lots of folks decide to earn a bachelor’s degree in data analytics, data science, computer science, or statistics and focus on sports analytics with electives & minors.
- Business: Some start by majoring in business at the undergraduate level and then opt to pursue a graduate degree in analytics.
- Sports: Others bite the bullet and specialize in sports analytics or sports performance & analytics early.
Read up on the job market before you make a decision! Data-focused roles in sports can be highly competitive. On top of your degree, you’ll need a focused portfolio, relevant internships & work experiences, and strong networking connections to attract the attention of major league employers. Ask yourself:
- Do I want to commit 100% to sports analytics or leave my options open for better paying roles in tech, business, and finance?
- Could I get into an analytics or data science program at a top-tier university and customize the curriculum to suit my interests in sports?
- If it’s a sports analytics degree or nothing, am I choosing the right school?
If you already have a bachelor’s in a technical field, you may not require a master’s in sports analytics to break into the industry. Create your own sports-focused projects. Earn some industry certifications. Enter competitions like the Big Data Bowl. Think about a graduate certificate. Many roads lead to the Colosseum.
Popular Majors for Sports Analytics Pros
- Business Analytics
- Computer Science
- Data Analytics
- Data Science
- Sports Analytics
- Sports Management & Analytics
How to Choose a School
Although there are plenty of big names in our sports analytics listings (e.g. University of Notre Dame), we also recommend you skim through listings of standard degrees in data analytics and business analytics. This will give you the full picture of what’s available. Whatever the major, look for schools that:
- Excel in computer science, analytics & statistics—these will be the bedrock of your work
- Employ faculty in Athletics & Sports Science Departments who love using data
- Support collegiate sports teams
- Fund research institutes that are devoted to sports data
- Host sports analytics hackathons
- Encourage student sports analytics clubs
- Sponsor trips to MIT Sloan and other important analytics events
- Provide opportunities to work with sports organizations on data projects & internships
- Have an excellent track record of job placements for analytics graduates
You’ll end up with plenty of exciting choices. For example, the University of Michigan doesn’t have a specific degree in sports analytics, but it does have a Wolverine Sports Analytics student organization, a sturdy Master of Business Analytics (MBAn), and undergraduate programs in Sport Management. Step back and see the whole field.
Sports Analytics Coursework & Requirements
Admissions Requirements for Sports Analytics Majors
To make your life a little easier, we’ve included links to admissions requirements in our listings. Even if you don’t meet the GPA requirements, talk to the program coordinator. You may be able to prove your passion through work experience and industry projects.
For a bachelor’s degree in sports analytics, universities will expect to see your high school transcript. You may also be required to provide academic recommendations from your teachers. ACT & SAT scores are often optional, but check our admissions links to be sure.
Typical requirements for a master’s degree in sports analytics include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a minimum undergraduate GPA (e.g. 3.0), a current résumé, 2-3 letters of recommendation, and a statement of your goals.
- GRE or GMAT scores may or may not be required—it depends on the school. For example, Marquette only needs to see GRE scores if your GPA is below 3.0.
- Most schools will be looking for some experience in statistics & quantitative ideas. For example, Miami U wants to see evidence of college-level coursework in statistics, predictive analytics, programming languages, and college-level mathematics (calculus & algebra). But you’ll be able to take prerequisite undergraduate courses if you need them.
Sample Coursework for Sports Analytics Majors
Sports analytics is a new’ish major, so schools are experimenting with the structure of the degree. Use the curriculum links in our listings to get a sense of what we mean. For instance, if the university has a great School of Business, the degree might focus on topics like sports & entertainment marketing, business analytics, and the business of sports. Everyone is playing to their strengths.
Bachelor’s degrees in sports analytics usually contain a mix of business & technical subjects. Always check the title—BSBA programs will lean more toward corporate concerns; BS programs will usually have a lot more coursework in statistics, computing, math, and advanced analytics.
To get you started, here’s a hypothetical example of a 120-credit Bachelor of Science in Sports Analytics:
- General Education (GE) Requirements: Lower division coursework in social sciences (e.g. microeconomics), humanities/foreign languages, natural sciences, and liberal arts. Schools will often want you to earn credits in communication.
- College-Level Mathematics: Expect to take 100- and 200-level courses in statistics and calculus before moving up to more advanced topics (e.g. linear regression).
- Analytics & Computing Topics: You’ll be able to tackle data analytics subjects like programming with R & Python, data visualization, data management, and research & experimental design through the lens of sports. Some schools will take it up a notch with more advanced data science work.
- Sports & Business Subjects: As you move into your junior & senior years, you may also be exposed to ideas around sports management, sports performance, and sports economics. As we mentioned, some schools will go hard on business topics.
Master’s degrees in sports analytics follow the lead of their department. Some are offered by the College of Business; others are spearheaded by the School of Computing. In our listings, you’ll see graduate degrees that mix data analytics & data science concepts with business, sport performance, exercise, and sports media.
- Career Changers: Some sports analytics graduate programs are designed for folks who want to get into the field. So they’re covering fundamentals like data visualization, coding in R and Python, and Machine Learning (ML).
- Advanced Learners: Other MS in Sports Analytics programs allow you to go farther in your technical explorations (e.g. deep learning neural networks) and specialize in specific areas (e.g. sport gambling & analytics).
Make sure you talk to the program coordinator about your current skill level and job goals. Then ask for a list of recent alumni job placements. That will tell you if you’re aiming too high or too low.
You’ll also need to decide if you’re interested in research work or more corporate roles. Research-focused programs may offer you the option to write a thesis. Other programs will end with an industry-focused capstone project that you can include as an element in your résumé.
Can You Earn a Sports Analytics Degree Online?
Yes. You’ll find a number of online sports analytics degrees in our listings—look for the “Offered Online” tag. The vast majority of them will be 100% online, but it’s always best to check. Some schools may expect you to visit the campus for one-off events (e.g. orientation) or exams. You’ll also need to know if the program is offered in an asynchronous, “learn on your own time” format or if it contains synchronous, “real-time” classes.
- Undergraduate Advice: Online learning has become more commonplace since the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’d caution you against earning an Online BS in Sports Analytics. It’s a niche degree for a cutthroat field. In a distance format, you won’t have the opportunity to work with professors on sports industry projects, participate in sports analytics student club activities & hackathons, and volunteer to help your school’s sports teams.
- Graduate Advice: Online graduate degrees & certificates in sports analytics may be more acceptable for employers—especially if you’re already working in a data-focused job. Before you commit, ask about the logistics. What kinds of analytics software will you use (and will you have to pay for it)? How do online students access real-world data sets? Are there opportunities to collaborate with other online students or professors? Can you take advantage of career & networking resources?
What Can You Do with a Sports Analytics Degree?
What Does a Job in Sports Analytics Look Like?
There’s no simple answer to this question—data-focused jobs in sports can be all over the show. The Moneyball scenario is only one small part of the industry. Reddit threads are full of other intriguing career stories & examples. In general, you’re going to be looking at two avenues after graduation:
- Sports-Focused Analytics Jobs: People in these “front office” jobs use data to help sports teams and leagues win more games, improve their athletic performance, hone their coaching & scouting techniques, and the like. Pay is often low, hours can be long & strange (night games, anyone?), and job competition is fierce. To put it bluntly, there are far too many people applying for too few positions.
- Sports-Adjacent Analytics Jobs: You’ll find more openings for “back office” analytics jobs that deal with the business of sports. Think of data-hungry fields like sports marketing, advertising, media, ticket & merchandise sales (e.g. Ticketmaster). Analytics pros also find jobs in sports medicine and health informatics. Or they work for sports gambling & betting organizations. Or they help build software products, websites & apps for sports organizations (e.g. Sidearm).
Establish where your strengths lie and chat to current professionals before you make any decisions. Because there’s such a huge supply of job candidates, the phrase “overqualified and underpaid” is thrown around a lot in sports analytics circles. If you want to get involved on the performance side, you should be ready for a passion position that’s not going to pay as well as other fields. You may also be limiting your future career path by specializing early.
Industries Hiring Sports Analytics Grads
- Major League Sports Teams
- Collegiate Sports Teams
- Betting & Gambling Organizations
- Casinos & Sportsbooks
- Entertainment Companies
- Advertising & Media Companies
- Sports Marketing Companies
- Sports Tech Start-Ups
- Sports Consulting Companies
- Ticket Providers
- Health Informatics Organizations
- Sports Medicine & Human Performance Labs
- Wearable Device Companies
Sports Analytics Internships & Fellowships
One of the best ways to get your foot in the door for a sports analytics job is to volunteer for a team—collegiate, amateur, or minor league. You don’t have to go full “Bill James” (unless you want to). You just need opportunities to build up your analytics portfolio. If you’re interested in sports marketing, launch a few campaigns & critique the results. If you have a passion for performance, ask the athletes to start feeding you data.
Some schools are really proactive when it comes to sports analytics internships. They’ll connect you to major league teams in your area or facilitate projects with collegiate leagues. One undergraduate senior from MIT found himself interning for the New England Patriots. If you’re having trouble finding opportunities, we’ve included links to options below. This is just the start—there are a lot more out there!
Examples of Industry-Sponsored Internships
- Big League Advantage (BLA) Internships
- MLB Summer Internship Program
- NBA Business & Basketball Training Program
- NFL Summer Internship Program
- Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Analytics Internships
Examples of University-Sponsored Internships
- Charlotte 49ers’ Sports Analytics Internship Program
- Samford University Sports Analytics Internships
- Wharton Sports Analytics Research Lab
Examples of Mentorship & Fellowship Programs
- MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Mentorship Program
- Women in Sports Tech (WiST) Fellowship Program
5 Key Career Tips from the Pros
We canvassed the industry to find out what sports analytics experts had to say about the job market. Here are their top 5 tips condensed into one easy list:
- Create a Sports-Focused Analytics Portfolio: And get your projects out there on Twitter, GitHub, Kaggle, and Reddit. In addition to working on technical projects for fellow data lovers, be sure to create data visualizations & presentations for non-technical users (e.g. coaches and executives).
- Network Strategically: Attend the annual MIT Sloan conference and other key sports analytics events. Join your school’s sports analytics club. Get a team together for a hackathon. Connect with people you admire on LinkedIn. Networking is half the game in finding a sports job.
- Amass Relevant Work Experience: Employers will be looking for technical prowess, passion, and subject-specific expertise on your résumé. You can prove your worth ahead of time by interning for local teams & amateur sports organizations and working on class projects in your chosen field.
- Practice Your Communication Skills: The sports world is full of people who are suspicious of data. If you want to move up in the ranks or secure a top-paying consulting job, you need to be able to explain your findings to all kinds of audiences. Practice presenting at conferences, events, and clubs.
- Learn the Dialect: Sports analytics may be part of data analytics, but it has its own unique vocabulary, tools, techniques, and models. It’s a little like learning a dialect for a language. Explore other people’s projects and become familiar with the lingo.
Sports Analytics Job Titles & Salary Numbers
Sample Job Titles for Sports Analytics Majors
To help you get a handle on day-to-day requirements & salary numbers, we’ve listed real-life examples of job titles for sports analytics graduates below. Use them to search for openings in your area and see what kinds of skills are desired. You may also want to visit the job sites in our resources section.
- Data Analyst, Player Recruitment & Performance
- Performance Analyst & Sports Scientist
- Sports Data Analyst
- Sports Trading Analyst
- Sports Statistical Analyst
- Sports Sales Analyst
- Sports Statistician
- Market Research Analyst
- Data Scientist, Game Analytics & Strategy
- Director of Analytics (Major League Team)
- Director of Data Science (Major League Team)
- Manager of Business Analytics & Strategy
- Manager of Club Strategy
- Director of Fan Engagement Data Science
- Director of Performance Science
- Sports Data Scientist
- Principal Sport Scientist
Salary Numbers for Sports Analytics Professionals
You can find ballpark figures for salaries (pardon the pun) by exploring BLS state & city wage data for Statisticians, Operations Research Analysts, and Data Scientists. Sports analytics jobs fall under all of these categories. Websites like Glassdoor will also give you salary estimates for some of the titles we’ve mentioned above.
For more insider info, check out Reddit threads on sports analytics jobs. That’s where you’ll find long discussions about why many data analytics & data science roles in sports don’t pay as well as roles in other sectors.
- A lot of sports analytics applicants are willing to agree to lower salaries so they can work for their “passion.”
- Improving a team’s performance is just one small part of a massive marketing & sales machine. And it may not do much to affect the bottom line.
- Sports organizations are often very lean & money-conscious.
There are exceptions. Gambling tends to be lucrative (no surprise) and experienced sports consultants can command a healthy price for their analytics services.
Sports Analytics Resources & Organizations
Competitions & Hackathons
- Big Data Cup (Hockey)
- Big Data Bowl (NFL)
- Kaggle Competitions
- Milwaukee Bucks Analytics Hackathon (Basketball)
- MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Hackathon
- Women in Sports Data Hackathon
Conferences & Networking Events
- Carnegie Mellon Sports Analytics Conference
- MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference
- SABR Analytics
- UT Austin’s Texas Business of Sports Summit
- Wharton Sports Business Summit
- Women in Sports Data
Data Sources & Research
- iWorkinSport Job Fairs
- Jobs in Football (Soccer)
- MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Career Resources
- Teamwork Online