Flexibility, direct and personalized advice, being able to choose your own itinerary, and the constant updating of content that responds to the latest market trends in the sports industry, are the best arguments for choosing to study online at Johan Cruyff Institute
Johan Cruyff Institute burst onto the scene of professional training in sport management in 2002 with the clear objective of breaking with all the canons of what business schools had been until then. The model that Johan Cruyff wanted to apply in his academic initiative was to bring sporting excellence, professionalism, experience and practice to the business world. Not only by giving athletes an opportunity to be leaders in sport management, but also so that every sports manager would dare to, as he said, “think from the field of play” and to translate the reality of the sports industry into decision-making. In 2009, the institution took another step forward by adapting its methodology to online training. Over these last 14 years, studying online at Johan Cruyff Institute has become a different experience and, true to the character of its founder, a totally disruptive model.
Lukas Dorda, eLearning manager and director of online programs, summarizes how and why Johan Cruyff Institute’s online training has evolved over time to become the second best in the world, according to the rankings of the prestigious magazine SportBusiness International.
“With our online offerings we always seek to adapt to new trends, incorporating new topics as the needs of the industry evolve; flexibility and adaptability are some of our strengths”
What you need to know
- Online programs we offer and how they are structured
- The programs attracting the most attention today
- What makes us unique
- How do we achieve this complicity with students?
- Tailor-made programs and flexibility
- New specialized courses that respond to market demands
- Aspects to take into account when choosing an online program
- Specific skills that a person who decides to study online must have
- How to enter the sports industry
Online programs we offer and how they are structured
Our online programs cover the three main areas of the sports industry: sport management, sport marketing and sponsorship, and football business. From there, with our online offerings we always seek to adapt to new trends, incorporating new topics as the needs of the industry evolve. Flexibility and adaptability are one of our strengths.
As for the type of program, there is a choice between: master’s, postgraduate diplomas, specialized diploma programs, specialized courses and basic courses
The master’s and postgraduate programs, obviously, require a greater dedication and workload. The specialized diploma programs are a new product that we have recently incorporated, focused on key topics in a particular area. They are a good option for those who intend to continue with a postgraduate or master’s degree because, while they get a specialization, they obtain credits that they will already have covered if they follow the postgraduate or master’s degree cycle. The specialized courses are short programs focused on different areas of the sports industry. And finally, the basic courses are an introduction to sport management or football business. These are basic courses that are often very helpful for athletes who want to make the transition to the business world once they retire, but maybe they haven’t studied for 15 or 20 years and want to start with something lighter.
The programs attracting the most attention today
The new Master in Football Business Online is working very well. We had an on-campus Master in Football Business, but we needed to be able to offer an online program as a continuation of the Postgraduate Diploma in Football Business that we already had, and it has attracted a lot of interest. The Master in Sport Management, both in English and Spanish, is the one that has historically always had the highest enrollment. And both the master’s degree and the postgraduate diploma in sport marketing and sponsorship are traditionally in high demand because they are very attractive job options and we have many students who choose that path.
“We are not only approached by students who would like to enter the sports industry; qualifications can be very important and there are profiles that are looking for that certification that validates or confirms the experience they have”
We are not only approached by students who would like to enter the sports industry, but also by professional who are already working and want to update their knowledge or simply certify that they have been more than 20 years of marketing or sponsorship experience. We live in a world in which qualifications can be very important and there are profiles that are looking for that certification that validates or confirms the experience they have.
What makes us unique
Beyond the content, what definitely makes us unique is the human potential we have within the team and how it is transmitted to our online students. Studying online is usually perceived as being cold, distant, passive and an environment where it is difficult to see the process. We offer them the ‘human touch’. Even if they are on another continent, far away from us, and we do not see each other, not even on the graduation day because many cannot attend, we want to make them feel that we are here for them, we want to help them, accompany them, and guide them throughout their learning path.
How do we achieve this complicity with students?
By adapting to them—it’s that simple, and that complicated. We have taken the time to research what works and what doesn’t. We have had group discussions with former students, we’ve sent out a lot of questionnaires to identify what they liked and what they didn’t like.
“We have taken the time to research what works and what doesn’t; about four years ago we went a step further in our methodology and allowed our students to customize their academic training and choose the itineraries”
Also, from my own experience, as a former online student of Johan Cruyff Institute and later as an online teacher, and more recently as eLearning manager. It is always clear to us that we must adapt the studies to the students and not the other way around; that they are the protagonists and the center of everything. For that reason, about four years ago we went a step further in our methodology and allowed our students to customize their academic training and choose the itineraries. If they opt for a master’s degree, they must complete 60 credits made up of 39 compulsory subjects and 21 elective ones that they can choose.
“What I love about Johan Cruyff Institute is how much they believe in athletes working after their career in the management side. They really help you to study and achieve your goals and be confident to take the next steps.”
Representative of Olympic Athletes at the Brazilian Olympic Committee (Master in Sport Management Online)
“I had done other online programs and I was not satisfied. On this one, I had fun studying; I really liked the system you use and the forums with people from all over the world with different experiences was for me the best part of the program.”
Former professional football player (Master in Sport Marketing and Sponsorship Online)
“During the program, I already started to apply the knowledge obtained in the subjects. It really helped me to develop my organization at the level of a professionally managed national federation.”
Rugby Europe competitions coordinator (University Master’s degree in Sport Management Online)
“It is important to study something that you like and that you know; when you see that you are improving and learning new things it is very rewarding.”
Former professional football player (Master in Sport Management Online)
“Now I feel prepared to continue to be linked to the world of sport in the field of management.”
Former Spanish professional tennis player (Master in Sport Management Online)
“Studying this master’s degree gave me new job opportunities. It has been the best academic experience of my life.”
Ecuadorian athlete (Master in Sport Management Online)
“What an experience the master’s degree was! It has helped me a lot in my current job and I have generated new contacts that I will always value.”
New business manager at PSV (Master in Sport Marketing and Sponsorship Online)
“There were a lot of things in the classes that I could apply directly to my work. And, even though they were far away, my classmates and professors were never more than a Zoom call away.'”
Communications consultant and digital artist at World Rowing (Master in Sport Marketing and Sponsorship Online)
“I would describe this program as an essential experience for any marketing and communication professional looking to work in sport.”
Sport marketing consultant at Graffiti PR (Master in Sport Marketing and Sponsorship Online)
Tailor-made programs and flexibility
These are two key aspects that distinguish us from other online programs. We treat our students as adults and give them a lot of responsibility because it is up to them to choose their elective subjects and organize their own itineraries. We have adopted this approach based on our experience with professional athletes who have studied with us. For a cyclist, for example, competing in the Tour, the Giro or the Vuelta, who is on the bike six hours a day for three weeks, it is impossible to follow a ‘set’ schedule. So, we give our students that freedom, whether they are athletes or not. If they know that in certain months they are going to be competing or will have a very high workload, in the case of other professionals, they can start those subjects or courses at another time and, basically, organize their itinerary to suit them. This is directly related to the flexibility we are talking about and it is the most relevant feature of our online training.
New specialized courses that respond to market demands
We are attentive to changes in the industry to keep our students in touch with reality and up to date with new trends in the sports industry. In the last three years, we have developed new courses in, for example, fan engagement, eSports or sustainability in sport, which have also been incorporated into some of our programs. In the Master in Football Business, for example, we have also added modules related to commercial management, branding and digital transformation and revenue generation.
These are subjects that are developing very fast and are becoming more and more important. It is not only a way to update them on what is happening, but also to show them all the possibilities they have to choose from, according to their skills, knowledge or previous experience and areas of interest.
Aspects to take into account when choosing an online program
It depends a lot on each individual. You have to start from the premise that studying online is totally different from studying on campus. If they are looking for contact with students and professors every day, as if they were going to university, online studying is not for them.
When I do admission interviews with our master’s students, I always ask them ‘why us?’ They start by making a comparison after reviewing the different possibilities on the market. Then, obviously, they take into account the rankings, in which we have been climbing steadily in recent years to second in the world according to SportBusiness International, which is very good. For many students, another aspect to take into account is how they feel they are treated and here the admission and pre-enrollment process in the program is very important. We always try to respond as quickly as possible and make them feel welcome.
So, what you have to decide first is whether you want to study online or face-to-face and which area you are most interested in. Then, compare the programs that are on the market, contact the different sport management schools offering the program you are interested in, and see which one treats you better and you like the most. That is what I did in my student days and what I recommend.
Specific skills that a person who decides to study online must have
You must be communicative, proactive, organized, committed and responsible. While a person who studies on campus is used to reacting to what happens in class, whether it comes from classmates or the teacher, a person who studies online must be proactive. It is understood that, in a program in which hundreds of people from different parts of the world enroll, it is practically impossible to maintain daily contact with each student. Therefore, the online student has to communicate, and feel free to ask for anything they need.
“In online training, communication is key; online students have to feel free to ask for anything they need and also being organized, committed and responsible”
They should know that we are here to help them in any and every situation. We have had the example of the pandemic and we also learned from that. All of a sudden, bright students who had got incredible grades disappeared either because they lost their jobs or because they were going through very difficult times, and we tried to get in touch with them, to see how we could help them and look for a positive solution for both parties.
Therefore, communication is key and also being organized, committed and responsible. We understand that, for some student profiles, education cannot be their top priority, they have their work commitments, their professional life, their private life, and they have to fit their studies into it. But the master’s degree is not a sprint. It is a marathon and at the same time a roller coaster. So, we want you to understand that, if you decide to start studying with us, you have to commit and find a way to dedicate a certain number of hours a week to your studies because there are readings, podcasts, videos and live sessions that we advise you to read and watch for their academic value.
At the end of the day, the more time you devote to your learning, the more you will get out of it. Another big difference between studying on campus or studying online is that you are the one who must find the time to dedicate to the program.
How to enter the sports industry
The most important thing is to have a good network of contacts. The more contacts you have, the better. And I mean real contacts, really getting to know people, meeting with them, having a chat, even if it’s a short one at a sports congress. It’s something that can help you in the future.
You also need to know what you’re good at. Working in the sports industry offers you a very wide range of possibilities, but you will enjoy, and do your best, doing what you are really good at and passionate about. That happens in all industries, but in sport, it’s perhaps more concrete. If you know you have a creative background, possibly marketing is for you; if you’re good with analytics, focusing on anything related to market analysis or strategic management would be a good option.
Therefore, identifying your strengths and focusing on them is highly recommended, as well as keeping other options open. Once you have decided what you would like to do, go for it and find your way: meet with decision-makers, make a list of companies you would like to work for, try to get in touch with the human resources department of those companies and try to connect with them.