Date Updated: December 8, 2020
Sports management master's programs offer specialized study opportunities for people who aspire to work behind the scenes of the sports industry. This interdisciplinary degree combines finance, marketing, project management, and law.
Projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) signal strong job growth for sports management professionals. For instance, the BLS anticipates a robust 12% increase in coach and scout jobs from 2019 to 2029. The bureau also projects more generalized career paths, such as promotions and marketing managers, to grow at faster-than-average rates.
Read on to learn more about doing an online master's in sports management and explore the features of top-ranked programs.
The 10 Best Online Sports Management Degrees
|1||Southeastern Missouri State University||Cape Girardeau, MI|
|2||Ohio University||Athens, OH|
|3||Troy Universit||Troy, AL|
|4||Northeastern University||Boston, MA|
|5||Arkansas State University||Jonesboro, AK|
|6||Louisiana State University||Baton Rouge, LA|
|7||Temple University||Philadelphia, PA|
|8||University of South Dakota||Vermillion, SD|
|9||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, FL|
|10||University of Massachusetts, Amherst||Amherst, MA|
What Is Sports Management?
Sports management focuses on the business aspects of the sports industry. At the undergraduate level, sports management programs offer a broad survey of the roles business and management play in the sports world. Students who pursue a master's learn more advanced, specialized concepts in the field.
Many people associate sports management with the lucrative, high-profile world of professional sports. Though the major North American pro leagues offer many exciting employment opportunities, there are also other job options to explore.
Varsity and community-based athletics programs, sports marketing firms, athlete management agencies, and athletic facility owners also employ sports management professionals.
Sports management careers split into two categories: business and operations. On the business end, sports management master's graduates work in marketing, finance, and athlete management. The operations side includes positions in human resources, event planning, and facility management.
The U.S. sports industry is poised for strong growth. Deloitte, a leading international professional services firm, suggests that several trends will propel industry growth in the years ahead. These include increased interest in women's sports, the ongoing rise of esports, and the expansion of legalized sports betting.
In spite of this projected growth, many sports management roles are competitive. An online master's in sports management, then, is a valuable credential that makes applicants stand out during the job hunt.
Why Get a Sports Management Master's?
Sports management master's programs help students understand the sports industry's unique nature. These programs offer a targeted education, preparing students for the realities of a career in sports.
The best sports management degrees deliver other benefits, as well, including:
- – Networking Opportunities: In competitive fields like sports management, job-seekers need to expand and leverage their personal networks. Attending a sports management program offers opportunities to build bonds with peers, faculty members, and recruiters who can assist you in future job searches.
- – Specialized Skills: At the master's level, learners can pursue specializations, which prepare them for careers in niche areas of the sports industry. Popular coursework concentrations include sports media, sports marketing and promotions, and sports law.
- – Experiential Learning: Many online programs include experiential learning opportunities such as internships, field placements, or work-study programs. Graduates with work experiences on their resume may land jobs more easily.
Ranking the Top 10 Online Master's Degrees in Sports Management
#1 Southeast Missouri State University Harrison College of Business – Cape Girardeau, Missouri
The highly acclaimed Harrison College of Business at Southeastern Missouri State University offers an online Master's of Business Administration with Sport Management option. The Harrison College of Business is accredited by the elite Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the University hold regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission. Along with the prestigious accreditations, the business program at Missouri State University has also been the recipient of many awards and rankings including being listed 63rd in the nation by U.S. News and World reports Best Business Schools ranking. Additionally the University's sport management program holds esteemed accreditation from the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation. This convenient online degree is designed for part-time students, who are also working professionals. Students enrolled in the MBA program can complete their degree in 33 credit hours with a Sport Management concentration. Tuition rates at Southeast Missouri State are very affordable with pricing below $13,999 for the entire master's program. SEMU's MBA with Sport Management option is the perfect match for students requiring the convenience of accessing courses anywhere in the world.
Southeast Missouri State University is a four-year, public university, that serves almost 12,000 students annually and offers over 145 undergraduate majors, 100 minors, and more than 75 graduate programs. Graduate students can earn an online Master's of Business Administration in Sport Management from the Harrison College of Business. Online MBA students are given opportunities to participate in internships with marketing, healthcare, big businesses, and tech companies. Prospective students must submit an online application, copies of official transcripts, and GMAT/GRE scores.
Affordability Score: Very Affordable
TMD Ranking Score: 100.00
#2 Ohio University College of Business – Athens, Ohio
Ohio University offers a highly recognized and well respected online Professional Master's of Sports Administration. The College of Business holds prestigious accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, an esteemed designation held by only 5% of business schools worldwide. The Sport Administration program also holds accreditation from the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation and the University itself is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. This esteemed and fully online Professional Master's of Sports Administration is 36 credit hours and can be completed from anywhere in the world at any time that is convenient for the student's schedule. When compared to similar programs, this master's is above average in pricing, with tuition between $23,000 and $29,999. The College of Business at Ohio University is ranked #63 by U.S. News and World Report among the Best Business Schools in the United States. The outstanding rankings for this University make it a top choice for graduate students interested in pursuing an online Professional Master's of Sports Administration.
Ohio University is a four-year, public higher education institution with over 200,000 alumni worldwide. The University's main campus is in Athens, and multiple regional locations spread throughout Ohio. Ohio University offers over 250 programs ranging from associate's through doctoral degrees through their 11 academic colleges to nearly 30,000 students each year. Among the many programs offered, is an online Professional Master's of Sport Administration. Those interested in applying to this competitive program must submit an application, official college transcripts, a professional resume reflecting a minimum of three years professional work experience within the sports industry, three letters of recommendation, and a professional goals statement.
Affordability Score: Above Average
TMD Ranking Score: 96.25
#3 Troy University School of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management – Troy, Alabama
The School of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management at Troy University offers a highly respected online Master's of Science in Sport and Fitness Management. This distinguished program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation, and the University itself is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The Princeton Review also currently recognizes Troy University as one of the Best Southeastern Colleges in the United States. The online MS in Sport and Fitness Management is a high quality, affordable program, offered in a convenient format that makes balancing college, work, and family an attainable goal. This dynamic 36 credit hour program offers online concentration options in both sport management and coaching. The curriculum places an emphasis on providing students with a well rounded, sport focused, and competitive degree that can be completed in around a year for students participating on a full time basis. The cost of tuition for this program is affordable with pricing between $14,000 and $19,999. The knowledge and practical skills learned while pursuing an online degree at Troy University will set you apart from your peers when interviewing for management positions within the field of sport management.
Troy University is a four-year, public institution of higher learning. The main campus is located in Troy, with four additional campuses in Alabama, and 60 teaching sites in 17 U.S. states and 11 countries. In addition to the multiple campus locations, Troy was one of the first universities to establish online education program. Because of this students can study anywhere in the world. The University enrolls almost 18,000 students each year and offers 46 bachelor's degrees, 22 master's degrees, and two doctoral programs through their five academic colleges. Among the many, academically challenging programs at Troy University is the online online Master's of Science in Sport and Fitness Management offered through the School of Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management. Those wishing to apply to this highly acclaimed MBA program will need to submit an application, all undergraduate transcripts, and a recommendation form.
Affordability Score: Affordable
TMD Ranking Score: 93.42
#4 Northeastern University College of Professional Studies – Boston, Massachusetts
Northeastern University's online Master's of Sport Leadership offers a highly respected online Master's of Sport Leadership. The University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education and is also currently recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the best Northeastern Colleges in the United States. Additionally, the sport leadership program at Northeastern holds esteemed accreditation with the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation. This distinct program is 45 quarter hours in length and can be completed in, as little as, one year on a full-time basis. Courses offered include a variety of relevant topics such as Sport in Society, Developing Leadership Capability, Sport Media Relations, and Gender and Diversity in Sport. While tuition for this program is expensive compared to other programs on this ranking with a price point above $30,000, Northeastern's exceptional reputation and history of educational excellence make this a degree a great choice for the distance learner.
Northeastern University is a four-year, private, not-for-profit, research university that was founded in 1898. NEU offers a wide range of bachelor's and master's programs through nine colleges and schools at three campuses, to over 20,000 students annually. The College of Professional Studies offers students a well respected online Master's of Sport Leadership. In order to apply to this distinct program, students will need to complete an online application which will need to include a statement of purpose, professional resume, undergraduate degree documentation, and transcripts from all universities previously attended. Because of the program's focus on professional level experience, there is no GMAT or GRE requirement.
Affordability Score: Expensive
TMD Ranking Score: 92.44
#5 Arkansas State University College of Education & Behavioral Science – Jonesboro, Arkansas
Arkansas State University offers an elite online Master's of Science in Sport Administration program through the College of Education & Behavioral Science. This 36 credit hour program is very affordable with a total program cost of less than $13,999. A-State is currently listed on the Princeton Review's Best Southeastern Colleges ranking. They are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the MS in Sport Administration program holds additional accreditation through the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation. Courses offered within this degree include sport specific offerings such as Sport Law, Ethical Issues in Sport, Sport Governance and Operations, and Research Design. This program also includes internship opportunities which will help students develop a well rounded skill set so that they will be prepared for positions with in a variety of sport industries including collegiate athletic departments, country clubs, stadiums and arenas, and many more. Becoming a Arkansas State University Red Wolf is not a decision that you will regret!
Arkansas State University in Jonesboro is the flagship campus of the Arkansas State University system. It is widely known as Arkansas' second-largest university by enrollment, with over 14,000 students enrolled annually. Spread amongst nearly 1,400 acres this four-year, public school currently offers associate, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees including a distinguished online Master's of Science in Sport Administration. Those interested in this program offered through the College of Education & Behavioral Science will need to fill out an online application which will include having official transcripts from all universities previously attended sent to the University.
Affordability Score: Very Affordable
TMD Ranking Score: 81.74
#6 Louisiana State University College of Human Sciences & Education – Baton Rouge, Louisiana
At Louisiana State University, students can earn an Online MS in Kinesiology with a specialization in Sport Management through the highly acclaimed College of Human Sciences & Education. Louisiana State is regionally accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and is also currently mentioned on the Princeton Review's list of the Best Southeastern Colleges in the nation. The estimated cost of tuition for the MS in Kinesiology with specialization in Sport Management program at LSU is above average for this ranking at a price point between $23,000 and $29,999. However their program offers an incredible value and convenient online format for those looking to enter or advance their career in sport management. Louisiana State's well rounded 36 credit hour program consists of 12 courses and can be completed in as little as one year, quickly accelerating a sport management professional's career path. The flexibility of the program and holistic approach to sport management education makes this online degree an excellent choice for busy students seeking convenient higher education opportunities!
Louisiana State University Shreveport is a four-year, public university serving almost 32,000 students each year. The University offers a wide range of exceptional online and on campus bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs. Graduate students seeking a Master's of Science in Kinesiology with a specialization in Sport Management can earn their degree through the respected College of Human Sciences & Education. Prospective students interested in this fast paced program must submit an online application, copies of all official college transcripts reflecting a minimum of 3.0 GPA, and a current resume.
Affordability Score: Above Average
TMD Ranking Score: 78.99
#7 Temple University School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Temple University's School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management offers an elite online Executive MS in Sport Business. The University is currently listed on the Princeton Review's list of the Best Northeastern Colleges in the United States and hold regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Temple's School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management works hard to provide online students with a relevant, efficient, and comprehensive Executive Master's of Science in Sport Business. The program's distinguished curriculum is 30 credit hours in length and includes four core business courses and six sport industry courses. The sport industry specific courses include The Sport Workplace, Understanding Sport Consumers, Sport Financial and Economic Systems, Legal Issues in Sport, Data Analytics in Sport, and Sport for Development. The cost of tuition for this executive level program is above average compared to other programs on this ranking with a cost between $23,000 and $29,999. However, this program's notability, online format, and high quality of education make earning an Executive MS in Sport Business from Temple University a judicious decision.
Temple University is a four-year, public, university that offers over 400 academic degree programs to a student body of almost 40,000 each year. The School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management offers a competitive and well-respected online Executive Master's of Science in Sport Business. In order to apply students must complete an online application and submit GMAT or GRE scores (some students may qualify for a testing waiver), current and professional resume, two essays, and two letters of recommendation.
Affordability Score: Above Average
TMD Ranking Score: 75.23
#8 University of South Dakota School of Education – Vermillion, South Dakota
The University of South Dakota features a 100% online Master's of Arts in Kinesiology and Sport Management through their esteemed School of Education. USD holds regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission and is also currently recognized among the Princeton Review's Best Midwestern Colleges in the United States. Their 30-credit hour MA in Kinesiology and Sport Management program includes many courses specific to the Sport Management field and is tailored to meet the need of working professionals planning to advance their careers. Students enrolled in this top notch online degree have the option to enroll on a part-time basis and progress through to graduation within 24 months, or on a full-time full time basis complete the program within 14 months. When compared to other universities on our list the University of South Dakota is very affordable with total tuition costs below $13,999. USD offers students a great value in a convenient online format that makes learning from anywhere accessible.
The University of South Dakota is a four-year, public institution of higher learning which offers associate through doctoral levels degrees to over 10,000 students who enroll annually. The main campus is located on over 200 acres in the southeast corner of South Dakota near the Missouri River. Established in 1862, the university is the oldest postsecondary school in the Dakotas. In order to apply to the School of Education's esteemed online Master's of Arts in Kinesiology and Sport Management prospective students will need to fill out an online application which will include, three letters of reference, a statement of purpose, and official transcripts from all universities previously attended.
Affordability Score: Very Affordable
TMD Ranking Score: 74.71
#9 Florida Atlantic University College of Business – Boca Raton, Florida
Florida Atlantic University's College of Business offers students a well rounded online Master's of Business Administration in Sport Management. This distinguished program holds accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and is seen listed in the #45 spot on US News and World Report's Best Business Schools ranking. The University also holds regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges and is also currently recognized among the Best Southeastern Colleges in the nation by the Princeton Review. FAU's College of Business offers a 40-46 credit hour MBA that focuses on relevant topics for sport management professionals such as Financial Aspects of Sport Management, Sport Law, Sport Business Analytics, and Managing the Sport Enterprise. This full-time program can be completed in 23 months in a convenient online format and does not include the internship component. Tuition for this exceptional program is expensive with a cost of over $30,000. However, FAU's notability, accreditations, and national recognitions make their online MBA in Sport Management one that is sure to impress prospective employers.
Florida Atlantic University is a four-year, public university with a student body of over 30,000. FAU is a distinguished member of the State University of Florida System, which has over 12 campuses across the state. The University currently offers over 180 degrees through 10 colleges and schools including a well respected online Master's of Business Administration degree. To apply to this competitive program, students must complete an online application and then submit transcripts from all universities attended, current and professional resume, personal essay, and GMAT/GRE scores. This component of the application may be waived for students with four years of qualifying work experience.
Affordability Score: Expensive
TMD Ranking Score: 74.34
#10 University of Massachusetts Amherst Isenberg School of Management – Amherst, Massachusetts
The University of Massachusetts Amherst features a flexible online Master's of Business Administration in Sport Management. US News & World Report recently ranked the Isenberg School of Management #36 in the Best Business Schools category. This program is accredited by the elite Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the University is also regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. Additionally, the Princeton Review currently lists the University of Massachusetts Amherst among the Best Northeastern Colleges in the nation. The Isenberg School of Management prides itself on meeting the demands of the business industry and providing students with an up to date and relevant MBA program. Among their many successful programs is an online MBA with a focus in Sport Management. A few of the courses included within this convenient degree include Strategic Information Management, Economic Analysis for Managers, Marketing Strategy, and Leadership and Organizational Behavior. While this program's cost of over $30,000 is expensive compared to others on our ranking, the Isenberg School of Management also offers a unique partnership program provides special financial and academic benefits for those pursuing an online degree.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a four-year, public, university with an annual enrollment of over 30,000 students. They offer a variety of bachelor's and master's degrees from their nine academic colleges and schools. Among the many highly acclaimed programs is the Isenberg's School of Management MBA degree. Isenberg places a high emphasis on career readiness and offers six areas of focus including Sport Management. Prospective students must complete an application, submit official transcripts, a resume, two letters of recommendation, GMAT or GRE score, and a personal statement outlining relevant experience, future goals, and the reason for pursuing an MBA.
Affordability Score: Expensive
TMD Ranking Score: 74.01
What to Expect From Sports Management Master's Programs
Sports management students can pursue MS, MA, and MBA degrees in the field. Each degree type focuses its curriculum on a different aspect of the industry. Many schools offer concentrations to help students specialize their studies to niche job areas.
Most online master's in sport management degrees require 30-45 credit hours, often including a capstone or field experience. Full-time students typically graduate in 1-2 years, while part-time learners usually finish their studies in 2-4 years.
Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the sports management field, students may have to complete additional prerequisite courses in business, marketing, or management. These classes bridge knowledge gaps for learners with bachelor's degrees in other fields. These courses may extend students' overall program length.
Sports Management Degree Options
The sports management master's takes several forms. Many schools offer an MS or MA in sports management. Each program's curricular emphasis determines which kind of degree the school offers. MS degrees, for instance, are more technical and quantitative in their scope, while MAs focus more on applied, qualitative skills.
Some schools offer an MBA in sports management through their business college. This path appeals to learners seeking a business- or finance-based foundation. However, these programs are less common than the aforementioned MA and MS sports management degrees.
Specialized sports management programs also support several professional concentrations. In some cases, students can design their own concentrations by using their elective coursework strategically. In others, schools allow students to choose from a list of curricular concentrations emphasizing specific areas of professional practice, including coaching, sports law, and promotions.
Students can pursue their degrees in person or online.
Some of the best sports management master's degrees are offered online, often featuring hybrid delivery methods that include short campus residencies or other physical attendance requirements.
In some cases, these in-person elements apply only to experiential learning classes, which are valuable for gaining job experience and developing professional networks.
Popular Sports Management Courses
Students typically encounter three kinds of courses in an online master's in sports management: core courses, electives, and capstone or thesis courses. Core courses are the program's pedagogical backbone, while electives afford students the chance to explore their individual interests. Capstone or thesis courses ask students to apply the sum of their learning to the design and execution of a long-form, advanced research project or case study.
Exact offerings vary by program, but the following list includes common sports management classes:
- – Sports Marketing: This foundational class uses practical examples and case studies to explore techniques for marketing sporting events. Students learn to develop marketing plans, apply marketing knowledge to practical problems, and leverage digital promotional channels.
- – Finance in Sports: This class emphasizes organizational decision-making in financial contexts. Content introduces learners to core aspects of sports finance and teaches them to apply these concepts in real-world situations.
- – Athlete Career Development: This elective typically appears in concentration tracks related to coaching and athlete management. It emphasizes off-field issues athletes encounter during their careers, such as public relations and personal financial management.
- – Applied Ethics in Sports: This class asks students to engage with major ethical issues in amateur and professional sports. Topics may include recruitment, gambling, and performance-enhancing drug use.
- – Thesis/Capstone: Most sports management master's programs culminate in a thesis or capstone course. These classes ask students to do original research about a problem in the sports industry or assemble a reflective project about what they have learned in the program.
What Jobs Can a Sports Management Degree Get You?
Traditional and online master's in sports management programs provide pathways to multiple careers. Job opportunities include positions in organizational management, facility management, sports marketing and advertising, player representation, and event management. Because a master's degree is an advanced credential, students who complete a sports management master's are more likely to command higher wages than those with only high school diplomas or bachelor's degrees.
The careers described below are a selection of the jobs available to graduates of sports management programs:
Sports Marketing Manager
These executives typically work for leagues or teams, where they manage marketing campaigns to drive up live attendance and television viewership of games and events.
- – Required Education: Professionals in top management and executive roles typically hold a specialized master's degree, such as an MBA
- – Job Outlook (2019-29): +6%
- – Median Annual Salary: $135,900
Agents represent athletes in negotiations and other legal matters regarding club contracts, sponsorship, and other career monetization channels.
- – Required Education: Master's degree preferred; professional licensure and extensive on-the-job training also required
- – Average Annual Salary: $90,870
These specialized management professionals hold leadership positions in athletic facilities, where they supervise staff, day-to-day operations, and the procurement and maintenance of equipment and other assets.
- – Required Education: Bachelor's degree plus relevant experience; candidates with master's degrees generally enjoy competitive advantages for available openings
- – Job Outlook (2019-29): +6%
- – Median Annual Salary: $96,940
Selecting Your Master's in Sports Management Program
Our rankings are a good place to begin your search for an online master's in sports management, but there are other determinations you must make. Apply to programs whose curricular offerings best align with your professional ambitions. Consider other factors, too, including:
- – Extracurricular Learning Opportunities: Internship and field practicums are common even in an online master's in sports management. Look for programs that offer opportunities that align with your long-term career plans.
- – Faculty Credentials: Studying with respected, accomplished professionals ensures the value of your education.
- – Location: Even if you primarily study online, a school's location may influence available field opportunities, as some programs partner with local sports organizations to match students to internship opportunities.
Finally, ensure that every school you consider has been accredited by a national or regional accreditation agency. Accreditation ensures your degree meets standards for academic excellence. Many top programs also hold programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation, which verifies that coursework prepares students for jobs in the sports management field.
Why You Should Get Your Degree Online
As Forbes notes, online learning grew exponentially in the 2010s, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made distance learning even more common. Online learning platforms have innovative features that can enrich subject matter in ways traditional classrooms cannot. These distance methods can drive higher levels of student engagement by creating new kinds of interactive learning experiences.
Many online classes feature asynchronous schedules, so learners can engage with coursework when convenient. This flexibility makes it possible to earn a degree without interfering with existing family or job commitments. Online learning offers considerable financial benefits, as students save money on travel or relocation costs while continuing to work.
Even so, keep this caveat in mind: Networking can make a major difference in your sports management career prospects, given the fierce competition for limited job openings. Thus, many learners prefer mostly online programs that require in-person experiential learning components.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a master's in sports management worth it?
Professionals with advanced degrees tend to have more earning power and higher levels of career growth potential. In the sports industry, many upper management and executive roles strongly prefer or require a master's degree.
What can you do with a sports management degree?
Sports management master's degrees typically combine a required academic core with specialization opportunities. Specializations lead to roles in marketing and promotions, organizational management, facilities management, player representation, and the business of sports, among others.
What kind of sports management degrees are there?
Students can earn MA, MS, and MBA degrees in sports management. Learners can also earn dual master's degrees in sports management and business administration, law, and other professional practice areas.
What does a sports manager do?
Sports management professionals work behind the scenes of games, teams, and leagues. They deal with the operational and business-related aspects of the sports and recreation industry.
How much money does a sports manager make?
Average earnings vary considerably, depending on the job title, amount of responsibility, and experience level. Particularly lucrative career paths include marketing and promotions, finance, and the executive-level management of sports businesses.