CHICAGO — Sports in the U.S. is a major force for economics,
entertainment, education and culture with PricewaterhouseCoopers predicting
that the industry will reach $75 billion in revenue by 2020. For college
students that means a variety of career opportunities that require a sophisticated
application of communication, business and digital skills.
DePaul University is one of the pioneers in higher education
to offer a sports communication bachelor’s degree — a fusion that balances
communication and business classes. Classes are slated to begin this fall.
“There is a clear need in the industry for higher education
to serve the major professional sports franchises and related network of sports
organizations and businesses. And with Chicago’s championship teams, global
sports organizations and world-class media just out DePaul’s front door, a
sports communication degree is a good fit for the industry, the market and our
students,” said Salma Ghanem, dean of DePaul’s College of Communication.
“This degree will be grounded in relevant communication and
business theory-driven skills that will prepare our students for job
opportunities in journalism, sales and marketing, public relations,
advertising, community relations, media relations, media production and social
media,” Ghanem noted.
Believed to be the only undergraduate sports communication program in one
of the nation’s top three media markets and only the second one at a university
in Illinois, the degree will be offered by the College of Communication with
core classes also from DePaul’s Driehaus College of Business.
“This program will help students understand sports as a
business and how companies and sports organizations communicate and manage
relationships with their fans, sponsors and the media,” said Andy Clark, a
visiting assistant professor and director of DePaul’s sports management program
at the College of Business.
“Sports is a very outward facing business. The reason it's
so popular is people read about it, talk about it and watch it. It's continuing
to grow as a business, and communication is a growing enterprise,” Clark added.
Communication and business in the sports industry is
becoming so intertwined that it makes sense to combine the areas into one
academic field, said Greg Miller, a 1988 DePaul graduate and vice president of content
and innovation for the Chicago Bears.
“The current business model for teams and leagues requires
them to produce their own content on the same level as media companies, while
keeping that content on brand and using that content to achieve marketing and
communication goals,” said Miller. “This is one of the reasons why a degree of
this kind will be so important to students looking to enter the sports field.”
Students will take 16 credit hours of business courses, 20
credit hours of communication core classes and 32 hours of sports communication
classes. Concentrations within the major will include sports journalism, sports
promotion and publicity, and sports and society.
“Professional opportunities in sports are greater than
ever,” said Carolyn Bronstein, a professor of media studies and an associate
dean in DePaul’s College of Communication. “When students think of sports
careers, they may be thinking of the most visible careers, such as a
professional athlete or sports broadcaster for ESPN. However, there are
multitudes of sports-related jobs that offer tremendous hiring potential, such
as working in public relations for a sports team as a media relations
professional, website manager or social media expert.
“Our students will take classes in journalism, public
relations and advertising, critical media studies and organizational
communication, among other subfields, and will be prepared to assume management
positions in professional, university and amateur sports, public relations,
advertising and journalism-related positions in traditional and emerging sports
media, and careers in the growing sports data and analytics fields,” Bronstein
While there has been a tightening of job opportunities along
traditional journalism paths in sports, there is growth in journalism-like communication
careers for professionals to work with teams, organizations and leagues, noted
Jason Martin, an associate professor and chair of the journalism program at
“The appeal of a sports communication undergraduate degree
is that it combines business and strategic communication skills and courses
with the journalism skills — writing, reporting, fact checking, digital media,
audiovisual editing, etc. — to prepare students for new and developing career
opportunities in the sports industry,” said Martin.
Another field that should be more accessible to sports communication
graduates is sports public relations, said Jim Motzer, a professional lecturer
in the college’s PR program who has decades of experience in brand marketing,
issues management and corporate social responsibility.
“To land a sports PR job post-graduation, relationships are
even more important than in traditional PR. This degree will introduce students
to a vast array of sports communication pros, many of whom are DePaul alums,
and help them gain valuable internship experience while in school. That will
set students in our new program apart from others in the hyper-competitive
field of sports communication,” said Motzer.
The idea behind this type of degree is to provide students
with a wide understanding of communication as a discipline, in addition to the
business classes, according to Michaela Winchatz, an associate professor and an
associate dean in DePaul’s College of Communication.
“We hear from employers all the time that communication
skills are at the top of their wish list when looking to hire. We believe that
this degree will position our students for fantastic opportunities,” Winchatz
For additional information on the sports communication
degree, email firstname.lastname@example.org.