What Degree Do You Need to Become an Athletic Director?


Athletic directors, or ADs, are high school or postsecondary administrators responsible for the development and supervision of campus athletic programs. Entry-level AD positions require at least a bachelor's degree, but most positions demand at least a master's and relevant experience.

Necessary Schooling

  • For a high school post, you may need to have a teaching certificate in addition to a bachelor's degree. A Bachelor of Science in sports management is the best background for AD jobs. Programs like the one through the University of Southern Mississippi teach students about the basic ethical, marketing and legal concerns in sports administration. For AD jobs that require a graduate degree, a master's in sports administration is preferred. Master's programs focus on ethics, legal requirements, human resource management and sports government, building on the general bachelor's degree base with more specific, graduate-level coursework. Some, like the program through Ohio University, allow students important networking opportunities with industry professionals and lead toward a National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association certification. Position announcements may not specify a sports administration major requirement, so a degree in sports training, education or general management may be appropriate for an AD career.


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