July 4 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park (2012)
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Colorado Rapids partner with university to launch first “soccer-specific” business degree in United States

The Colorado Rapids and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs College of Business are making US soccer history.

The MLS club and their university counterpart have partnered to launch the first business degree in the United States with a dedicated soccer “track,” featuring a hands-on practicum and interactive classroom at the Rapids' Dick's Sporting Goods Park home.

Effective this fall, 23 UCCS College of Business students per year will have the chance to pick up real-world learning experiences in areas like marketing, digital media, ticket sales, sponsorship sales and soccer operations.

“We are delighted to launch such an innovative sports business program with UCCS,” said Rapids president Tim Hinchey in a club statement. “We feel that the blend of the Rapids' practical know-how and the academic reputation of UCCS could help create some of the sports business leaders of tomorrow.”

Located about an hour south of Denver, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs is one of the fastest growing universities in Colorado, offering 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master's and five doctoral degrees to about 13,000 students overall. The UCCS College of Business was established half a century ago and is currently home to more than 1,000 undergraduates and 350 MBA and distance MBA students.

“We have worked diligently to build our relationships with the Colorado Rapids to provide the type of rigorous professional learning experience students need to launch successful careers in the soccer industry,” said Eric Olson, director of UCCS's Sport Management Program, in a club statement. “In the ultra-competitive world of sports business, this is the kind of education and experiential training that opens doors and sets you apart as a sports professional.”

The Rapids kicked off their 2015 campaign with a 0-0 draw at Philadelphia last weekend; their home opener is against New York City FC on March 21 (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE).