SJMC Launches New Certificate in Sports Communication

In fall 2019, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication began offering a new certificate in sports communication. Open to both journalism and non-journalism majors, the certificate program combines high-quality journalism and marketing communications instruction with career exploration in a 12-credit package.

The certificate coursework provides skills training in the areas of sports journalism and broadcasting, sports marketing communications and coursework in sports, media and society. Many of the courses included in the certificate curriculum can be taken online and over the summer to maximize flexibility for student schedules.

“This certificate is like a centralized hub for journalism majors and nonmajors alike with interest in the sports world,” says Doug McLeod, journalism professor and creator of the certificate. “It will offer solid background knowledge along with professional opportunities.”

A fully online introductory course provides an overview of sports communication. Students will study sports writing and reporting, broadcasting, marketing communications and public relations. They’ll also learn about sports and society, tackling tough race issues as they explore Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics, the use of Native American team names and inherent bias in sportscasting. The course also covers career development.

The certificate requires the 3-credit introduction course, a 3-credit skills course, a 3-credit sports and society course, and 1 credit of an internship or careers class. An additional 2-3 elective credits tailor the program to the student’s interests—another skills course, another sports and society course, or an additional internship or directed study experience.

“With this sports certificate, you’ll definitely have experiential learning,” McLeod says. “And we have some amazing opportunities right here in town.”

Students can get experience in sports communication through student media such as the Badger Herald, the Daily Cardinal or WSUM. They also can intern at Big Ten Network, Rotowire or UW Athletics.

“Students will be able to network and gain a lot of connections in the sports world,” he says. “Outside of team organizations, we have great connections to high-end sports marketers in Chicago, for example, who are interested in having interns from Madison and ultimately hiring people.”

McLeod adds, “People all over campus and beyond are excited about this program. We’ve even had a hockey mom up in Canada text her son to say ‘Hey, you should do this!’”