Who is the graduate certificate for?
The 15-credit graduate certificate in sports leadership is designed for professionals who would like to strengthen their leadership skills and advance their career within the exciting $440 billion 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.

Marquette's sports leadership program was developed in consultation with Marquette's National Sports Law Institute and Department of Athletics. Utilizing sports-specific courses and proven leadership studies, the program is designed to challenge students who aspire for leadership positions at all levels within the athletic industry.

While internships are not a required part of the Sports Leadership curriculum, we do work with interested students to help them find an internship experience that’s right for them. The Milwaukee area is thriving with sports organizations that offer student work opportunities, including professional and collegiate teams.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the certificate in sports leadership will:

  • Learn how to apply leadership principles and practices to the business of athletics.
  • Understand the depth and unique character of the business of athletics.
  • Gain the ability to identify trends, current events, and innovations within the world of athletics and recognize how they impact managerial decisions.
  • Understand the inter-relationships of athletics to the larger institution and the community that it serves. 


  • To earn the certificate students will complete five of the sports leadership courses noted below and earn 15 graduate credits. As of Fall 2013, students will complete a reflection paper during the last semester of coursework.
  • On average, students complete the program in one to two years. The certificate must be completed within three years.
  • In addition to class time, students spend an average of 12 hours a week on course work outside of class for every three-credit course.
  • All 15 credits earned may be applied to Marquette's master in leadership studies with a specialization in sports leadership. To find out more, visit www.marquette.edu/cps/graduate_programs_leadership_studies_index.shtml


Required Courses (12 credits)
Class No. Course Title Credit Hours
SPLE 6001 Introduction to Sports Leadership - Required 3 credit hours
SPLE 6200 Sports Communication - Required 3 credit hours
SPLE 6400 Sport Management - Required 3 credit hours
SPLE 6931 Athletic Leadership Special Topics: Sports Finance - Required 3 credit hours
Elective Options (3 credits)  
Class No. Course Title Credit Hours
SPLE 6100 Legal and Ethical Athletic Leadership 3 credit hours
SPLE 6300 Social-Historical Foundations of Sports 3 credit hours
SPLE 6931 Athletic Leadership Special Topics: Strength and Conditioning for Coaches and Administrators
3 credit hours
SPLE 6931 Athletic Leadership Special Topics: Sport Facility Management 3 credit hours


Reflection paper due during the last semester of coursework.


SPLE 6001: Introduction to Sports Leadership - 3 credit hours

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 credit hours

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. Risk management, legal status and rights compliance issues, crisis management, liability, gender equity and other current issues will be examined.

SPLE 6200: Sports Communication - 3 credit hours

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 credit hours

Examination of the historical and sociological foundations of athletics in the United States. Important areas of emphasis include historical development of athletics, sports as a cultural product, social relations, organizational structures, and contemporary issues.

SPLE 6400: Sport Management - 3 credit hours

Analysis of the foundations of the sports industry including amateur and professional organizations. The multi-faceted elements of a successful athletic operation will be statistically analyzed and evaluated, inclusive of consumer psychology, discretionary-spending patterns, and other contributing critical ingredients.

SPLE 6931: Athletic Leadership Special Topics:  Strength and Conditioning for Coaches and Administrators

Examines the theory and proper execution of strength and conditioning for athletes at various levels.  Emphasis will be placed on preventative conditioning against injuries as well as increased performance for individual sports.  Primarily aimed at coaches and administrators to demonstrate to their teams, the class requires participation in strength and conditioning exercise and drills in the weight room as well as classroom discussion and assignments.  

SPLE 6931 – Athletic Leadership Special Topics: Sport Facility Management

This course examines the critical components of sport facility management including, but not limited to: facility planning and construction, system design and operation, marketing, budgeting, maintenance, risk and event management. Primarily aimed at individuals aspiring to or working in the sport management field since there is no game without a facility in which to play!

SPLE 6931 – Athletic Leadership Special Topics: Sports Finance

This course will examine the various techniques that can be utilized when financing a sports program regardless of the level of competition or type of program. Using active class discussion, research, mini-projects, and the text, students will determine how to budget for and continue to finance various sports enterprises.

Application Requirements

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Marquette University College of Professional Studies
707 Building, Room 403
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee WI 53201-1881
Phone: (414) 288-3153 or (800) 793-6450, extension 2
FAX: (414) 288-3298