The Charger Blog

University’s M.S. in Sport Management Program Again Ranked Among Best in the World

The University’s graduate program in sport management was the only program in Connecticut to be included on SportBusiness’s list of top graduate programs worldwide. The organization lauded the University’s robust alumni network, supportive faculty, and job support.

December 13, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

An aerial view of the University of New Haven’s West Haven campus.
An aerial view of the University of New Haven’s West Haven campus.

For Ilias Giannakopoulos ’23 M.S., the University’s graduate program in sport management offered a variety of unique opportunities to build his skills, apply what he learned in the classroom, and network. He developed strong connections with his faculty and alumni mentors, as well as with leaders in the field.

Giannakopoulos now works as an account executive for RevUp Hospitality Consultants and Property Representation. He earned his master’s degree in sport management with a concentration in business analytics, which the Department of Homeland Security designates as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math)-program.

An international student who came to the University from Greece, Giannakopoulos says the relationships he cultivated as a Charger were invaluable. He says faculty helped him adjust to life in a new country while also preparing him to excel in a competitive field.

Ilias Giannakopoulos ’23 M.S.
Ilias Giannakopoulos ’23 M.S.

“In today’s world where companies and sports teams are struggling to manipulate the data to make informed decisions and reduce the risk, it is crucial to understand how to read the data and justify your proposals,” he said. “The program offers not only the knowledge to achieve this, but also the necessary connections. It offers unique opportunities to stand out in the sports market.”

Student-first, hands-on learning

The quality of the faculty and the job support offered are just two of the areas in which the University stood out in SportBusiness’s 2023 postgraduate program rankings. SportBusiness, which works with sports organizations worldwide to provide them with information to add value and grow their businesses, ranked the University’s graduate program in sport management 28th in the world and 18th in the U.S.

For Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D., chair of the University’s sport management department, the rankings reflect the University’s student-first approach and dedication to hands-on learning – especially given that the University was the only one in Connecticut to be represented on this year’s list. For Dr. Mumcu, supporting students and creating opportunities for them to succeed is personal.

“It means quite a lot in terms of the effort we put in and the emphasis we put on our students,” she said. “The rankings very much show that our main program perspective goes hand in hand with the Pompea College of Business’s focus on being student-first and offering opportunities for hands-on learning. That makes me really proud.”

‘A high-quality program with exceptionally strong student outcomes’

The 2023 rankings are based on two surveys completed by course leaders and alumni who graduated three years ago – the Class of 2020. The rankings assess criteria such as students’ opportunities to engage with an institution’s alumni network, employment status, and ability to network with industry professionals, as well as the program’s value.

Data were collected during the pandemic, before Dr. Mumcu was named the department chair. At that time, Dr. Mumcu was teaching three of the program’s five required courses.

Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D.
Ceyda Mumcu, Ph.D.

“Since I was involved in teaching these courses and engaging students, this ranking has a lot of meaning for me,” she said. “During the pandemic, we were able to maintain the quality of the teaching in the classroom. What changed in my mind is that as a faculty member, when I was in the classroom, I was really involved in communicating to students the need to experience, and to build a resume and to network. What I stand for is trickling down to other faculty members in the classroom.”

The program has continued to grow, expand, and evolve since those data were collected. The program, which was ranked among the top programs nationwide in job support, offers students unique mentorship opportunities, including with the University’s Athletics program. It also offers a mentoring program that brings students and alumni together. Students are paired with alumni who are working in the area of the sport management industry that they are interested in.

“The M.S. Sport Management program is a high-quality program with exceptionally strong student outcomes,” said Brian Kench, Ph.D., dean of the Pompea College of Business. “SportBusiness’s ranking provides third-party recognition of the program’s success over many decades. Being ranked number one in the United States for alumni placement is perhaps the most important metric. It is a clear signal of the value-added to graduates of the M.S. in Sport Management Program at the Pompea College of Business.”

‘We are stronger as a Charger family’

Dr. Mumcu and her colleagues have been continuing to engage and expand the program’s alumni network. Alumni are frequent guest speakers in classes, and they are involved in the department’s sport management mentoring program. Many alumni have been actively engaged in connecting with and supporting students.

“I can tell if someone from the industry gets an application from a Charger,” said Dr. Mumcu. “They quickly recognize where these applicants are coming from. It makes me really proud of our alumni and our students. Our alumni come back and give their expertise and time to the University and to our program. I think it’s really powerful how much they care and how much they want to contribute to us.”

SportBusiness recognized that commitment, including the University in the top ten nationwide for professional mentorship. It acknowledges the variety of unique ways the University is connecting alumni and current students, such as through participation in national competitions. Chargers are now taking part in half a dozen competitions, including the National Collegiate Sports Sales Championship, enabling students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and to network with industry professionals.

“It shows that we are stronger as a Charger family,” said Dr. Mumcu. “It is showcasing that Charger Nation is united in supporting our students.”

‘The University offered me so much more’

Not only do these competitions offer students hands-on opportunities, they also directly connect them with alumni, who serve as the students’ mentors and coaches. Several alumni have been charged up to give back to their alma mater and to the program that gave them so much.

For Giannakopoulos, the recent grad, that support was invaluable. He was among the students who took part in the National Collegiate Sport Sales Competition. With the support of his alumni mentors, he ranked in the top 10 in the nation, advancing to the championship in Atlanta. He also was a member of the University’s Gaia Initiative – the student-led environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment fund – which he says was a wonderful opportunity.

“Dr. Mumcu was always there for us and is always going above and beyond for her students,” he said. “Her passion was inspiring!

“Being a part of the Gaia Initiative gave me the opportunity to learn more about ESG investing and to meet extraordinary people,” he continued. “This is the reason my experience at the University of New Haven was unique. I came to study sport management, and the University offered me so much more. I am grateful for everything, and I hope as an alum to give back as much as I can.”