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Program getting students into big leagues

Adam Travis / The Brunswickan

Adam Travis / The Brunswickan

A master’s of business administration (MBA) program offered at UNB is not only getting students prepared to work in the sports industry, but also landing them jobs and internships in the field.

Jonathon Edwards, a professor in the program who also reviews applications and sets up student internships, says the MBA in sport and recreation management program is the only one its kind in Canada after programs at the University of Alberta and Laurentian University came to an end. There are 10 or so similar programs offered at schools in the United States.

The program is a 50-50 split between the faculty of kinesiology and the faculty of business administration, giving students both business and sports management courses.

“This is purely course-based and purely MBA,” said Edwards. “The unique part about it is that we offer the internship route and we also take [students] to the Primetime Sports Conference. Those are the two big selling points and the uniqueness of the program.”

Graham Welsh is wrapping up his MBA SRM graduate degree with an internship at Tennis Canada’s head office in Toronto. Welsh completed his bachelor’s degree in recreation and sport studies at UNB, choosing the management stream of the undergraduate program. Having difficulties finding a job, Welsh decided to get his MBA.

“I looked at other MBA programs specifically but the fact that this one was directly in sport management really drew me in,” he said.

Welsh will be helping the organization create a fresh look.

“They’re doing a big marketing rebrand for the country right now,” said Welsh, noting the huge increase in popularity the sport has had in Canada over the past few years thanks to stars Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard.

Tennis Canada is just one of many high profile organizations that hired MBA SRM students as interns. Other notable organizations in the past include the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Commonwealth Games, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers, ParticipACTION, Bobby Orr Hockey Group sports agency, CFL head office, Los Angeles Kings and a number of different sports marketing firms.

Edwards said UNB is starting to become well known in the sports industry as a school that produces solid sport management interns and graduates.

“The quality of the work these students are producing … [UNB is] starting to produce a reputation for sending great grad students.”

The hiring rate for MBA SRM graduates has been good. Edwards added that two years ago, five out of six interns got jobs within the sports industry.

“Probably 90 to 95 per cent of our students may not get hired by that organization but they are working in the sport field within six months. That’s a pretty good rate.”

There are five first-year students currently enrolled. Edwards said, considering the number of professors they have, the program could probably hold a maximum of 12 first-years with eight being an ideal number.

“Enrolment has been up and down in it but we are starting to get a steady flow of at least five to six per year. It’s kind of a unique application procedure in that you have to take a GMAT — which can be more beneficial but, on another side of it, it limits the enrolment.”

Admission requirements include an undergraduate degree from a recognized university, a minimum GPA of 3.0, a score of 550 on the GMAT (an exam used by many graduate business programs) and successful completion of a university-level economics course, and applicants must be accepted into both the business administration and kinesiology faculties.

The program was originally the idea of Dr. Ian Reid, a former UNB professor.

“He just recognized the industry need and worked with the faculty, developed a relationship with the business faculty and from there came up with the idea,” said Edwards.

Another unique aspect of the program is the diverse background of its students. Applicants are not required to have a business or kinesiology background and its attracting students from all over the world.

“There’s the unique factor. That’s really what it comes down to — there’s a uniqueness about this. When you come out of it, yeah you have the sport management, but you are certainly not limited and you’re still getting all the business courses. What it does do is that it gives you two options as opposed to one option and that sets you apart.”

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