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Program Director: Jay L. Caulfield, Ph.D.

Degree Offered


Program Description

The College of Professional Studies offers a 15-credit, non-degree graduate program leading to a certificate in sports leadership. This certificate is designed for professionals who would like to strengthen their leadership skills and advance their career within the athletics industry. This graduate certificate studies critical topics within the industry including leadership, sports communication, ethics, sports law, media events and historical events that help set the context for where the industry is today.

Students completing the certificate in sports leadership will:

  1. Learn how to apply leadership principles and practices to the business of athletics.
  2. Understand the depth and unique character of the business of athletics.
  3. Gain the ability to identify trends, current events, and innovations within the world of athletics and recognize how they impact managerial decisions.
  4. Develop the insight to understand the inter-relationships of athletics to the larger institution in which it belongs.

Prerequisites for Admission

Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from a college or university of recognized standing.

Application Requirements

Applicants must submit, directly to the Graduate School:

  1. A completed application form and fee online at
  2. Official transcripts from all current and previous colleges/universities except Marquette.
  3. Three letters of recommendation.
  4. A statement of purpose.
  5. Official test scores from the GRE (preferred), GMAT or LSAT. Waived if the applicant has completed any advanced degree from any school - M.A., M.S., M.B.A., Ph.D., J.D., or M.D.
  6. (For international applicants only) a TOEFL score or other acceptable proof of English proficiency.

Sports Leadership Certificate Requirements

The certificate program requires completion of 15 credits from the following list of courses:

SPLE 6001Introduction to Sports Leadership3
SPLE 6100Legal and Ethical Athletic Leadership3
SPLE 6200Sports Communication3
SPLE 6300Social-Historical Foundations of Sports3
SPLE 6400Sport Management 3
SPLE 6931Topics in Athletic Leadership3

Students must complete the certificate program within three years. To demonstate achievement of the certificate learning outcomes, students are required to write a reflective paper during the final enrollment term for the certificate. Students are expected to earn a grade of B or above in all courses and must maintain a 3.000 cumulative grade point average to earn the certificate in sports leadership.


SPLE 6001. Introduction to Sports Leadership. 3 cr. hrs.

Overview of the diverse leadership opportunities within the sports industry. Discussion of current athletic issues and challenges from a leadership and managerial perspective.

SPLE 6100. Legal and Ethical Athletic Leadership. 3 cr. hrs.

An introduction to the basic legal system's terminology and principles as applied to amateur and professional sports, as well as the ethical and moral issues involved. Examines risk management, legal status and rights, compliance issues, crisis management, liability, gender equity and other current issues.

SPLE 6200. Sports Communication. 3 cr. hrs.

A study of the various components of communication skills within the industry including: special events, research, corporate sponsorship, media, media events, computer systems and constituent relations through technological and traditional means.

SPLE 6300. Social-Historical Foundations of Sports. 3 cr. hrs.

Examination of the historical and sociological foundations of athletics in the U.S. Important areas of emphasis include: historical development of athletics, sport as a cultural product, social relations, organizational structures, and contemporary issues.

SPLE 6400. Strategic Governance in the Sports Industry. 3 cr. hrs.

Analysis of the foundations of the sport industry including amateur and professional organizations. Statistically analyzes and evaluates the multifaceted elements of a successful athletic operation, including: consumer psychology, discretionary-spending patterns, and other contributing critical ingredients.

SPLE 6931. Topics in Athletic Leadership. 3 cr. hrs.

Examination of topics related to contemporary issues in athletic leadership.

SPLE 6964. Practicum in Sports Leadership. 3-6 cr. hrs.

Supervised experiences in sports leadership. Each student must negotiate an appropriate practicum plan and location with the graduate sports leadership faculty and the sports leadership practicum coordinator. Prereq: Cons. of dept. ch.; cons. of prog. dir.

SPLE 6995. Independent Study in Sports Leadership. 1-3 cr. hrs.

Prereq: Cons. of dept. ch.; cons. of prog. dir.