Best Online Master’s in Sports Management Programs

Sports management is a broad interdisciplinary field that covers the different aspects of athletic organizations, including finances and budgeting, marketing, human resources, and facilities management. A bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum educational requirement for most careers in sports management. For this reason, students who earn an online master’s in sports management are highly valued as job candidates and stand to advance in their careers more quickly than those with less academic experience.

Students who earn a master’s degree in sports management typically enjoy higher salaries and lower unemployment rates than those with just a bachelor’s degree.

Students who wish to obtain an advanced degree in sports management usually choose from one of two options: a Master’s in Sports Management, or a Master of Business Administration with a sports management concentration. The best online sports management master’s programs emphasize the importance of law, ethics, and professional conduct in the athletic industry. Students who enroll in these programs are often able to earn a degree specialization in areas like sports marketing, athletic training, and sports leadership; these concentrations are designed to prepare students for careers in niche areas of sports management. Many sports management programs culminate in a master’s thesis or capstone project that allow students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have gained through their master’s-level coursework. Other programs require students to gain supervised hands-on training through an internship and/or practicum course.

Learn more about what you stand to gain from pursuing a sports management master’s degree online and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.


The best online master’s in sports management programs prepare students to enter the workforce after graduation and obtain top-level positions with varied employers. The curriculum will introduce students to the industry’s latest tools and technological platforms. Depending on their specialization, students may be required to complete courses or course sequences in areas like marketing, analytics, and/or theories of management. Graduates leave school with a deeper understanding of their role as leaders in the sports management field, with highly developed communication skills, a complete understanding of the inner-workings of athletic organizations, essential administrative skills, and real-world experience.


Online sports management master’s programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional classroom learning. Students are able to access course lectures and readings, turn in written assignments, take exams and contact their professors any time of day. The latest educational technology also enables them to study on the go using a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other device with Wi-Fi compatibility. For added convenience, students are usually allowed to fulfill their internship or practicum requirements at a site close to their home.


Graduates who earn a sports management master’s degree online leave school prepared for most entry-level roles in the industry, as well as some managerial positions normally reserved for candidates who have an advanced degree. They commonly find work in places like college athletic departments, the front offices of athletic organizations, and major sporting goods retailers. Graduates with a specialization in marketing or public relations often go on to work with athletes as agents or business managers.


Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online master’s of sports management programs in the United States. If you are considering pursuing an online sports management master’s degree, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 University of Florida 81.05 3/5 53% Gainesville, FL

UF's online master's in sports management covers the "behind-the-scenes" facets of the sports industry. Courses explore finance for sports organizations, sociological principles of sport, psychology and physiology of athletes, and much more. Students have the option to specialize their degrees in either sport law or athlete performance and development; degree-holders with this specialization are qualified to apply for certification by the Professional Association of Athlete Development Specialists. Students of the program are encouraged to take part in an advanced practicum or graduate internship. Non-thesis students must complete a capstone project.

UF is home to 36 national championship teams, 60 intramural and club sports, and more than 1,000 student clubs and organizations. Its natural history museum is the largest in the Southeast. UF's ocean research initiatives work to preserve Florida's coastlines, and its Emerging Pathogens Institute serves as a national model to protect the country's population from disease.

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2 Texas A & M University-College Station 68.76 3/5 5% College Station, TX

The master of science (MS) in sport management at TAMU-College Station is part of the Department of Health & Kinesiology, and is available as a fully online program totaling 36 credits. It is delivered through online course management systems including Moodle, eCampus, and eLearning. Coursework includes a research core, a sport management core, and electives. An internship is required, but a thesis is not. While this online sports management master's can be pursued part- or full-time, admittance is limited and therefore competitive; admitted students typically have at least a 3.0 GPA and around four years experience in the sport industry. Only COMPLETE applications will be considered (see requirements here).

Texas A & M was ranked #17 in research by the National Science Foundation. It is home to three Nobel Prize recipients. The College Station campus has nearly 61,000 students, and is located two to three hours from both Austin and Dallas.

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3 Canisius College 65.40 3/5 24% Buffalo, NY

Buffalo, New York's Canisius College offers an online sports management master's degree within its School of Education. Core courses for the online master of sport administration (MSA) include leadership in sport, strategic sport marketing, risk management/contract negotiation, and more. Elective courses cover management sport facilities, organizational behavior, and rules compliance. A sports internship is required for online students, but it can be completed anywhere within the U.S. or abroad. For students with initial physical education certification, completion of this graduate degree satisfies the requirements for teacher certification in the State of New York.

Canisius College is a Jesuit, Catholic school founded in 1870 and located close to Niagara Falls and the Buffalo Zoo. Its Institute for Autism Research is working to improve the lives of high functioning children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. On-campus students have more than 140 student organizations to select from, and enjoy a 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

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4 Nova Southeastern University 64.27 4/5 54% Fort Lauderdale, FL

The sports management online master's degree at NSU is tailored to physical education teachers, athletic administrators, and coaches. The MS in education with a focus in athletic administration trains participants to advance their careers within athletic directorship, teaching, or sports managerial roles. Core courses cover educational research for practitioners, ethical school leadership, and more. Specialization courses include essentials of sports law, socio-cultural & ethical foundations of sport, and event planning & PR in athletic administration. The degree meets the standards of the Sports Management Program Review Council.

The campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, just minutes from the beach. Courses are only taught by qualified professors, never by teaching assistants. The school has approximately 24,000 students, with 1,200 international students hailing from 116 countries. Its Health Care Centers provide medical, dental, and psychological care to residents of South Florida. Benefit packages are available to veterans.

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5 United States Sports Academy 64.04 3/5 22% Daphne, AL

The U.S. Sports Academy is a non-profit sports university headquartered in Daphne, Alabama. However, all courses are administered online. "America's Sports University" was founded in 1972 to address the growing demands of the U.S. sports industry. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education. The academy provides online master's degrees in sports management with rolling registrations, making the process convenient for students. There are three degree options for the master of sports science degree: a thesis option, non-thesis option, and mentorship option.

Students of the program choose from five majors: sports coaching, sports health and fitness, sports management, sports studies, and recreation management. Dual major degrees can be pursued. Emphasis areas are available in: NCAA compliance, olympism, personal training, sports psychology, sports hospitality management, and recreation management. The academy is a military-friendly school and offers a military discount.

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6 Liberty University 62.67 4/5 90% Lynchburg, VA

Known as the "World's Largest Christian University," Liberty instructs its students with a Christian worldview. The school hosts more than 94,000 online students, and distance learners enjoy a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school's master's in sport management online degree totals 36 credits and is a non-thesis program. Courses include foundations of sport ministry, marketing and public relations, and social & legal issues in sport. Specializations are available in outdoor adventure sport, sport administration, and tourism. Graduates of this program are prepared for careers as athletic marketers, sports broadcasters, event planners, and more.

The university has more than 30,000 military students and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. On-campus students can participate in 20 NCAA Division I Athletic programs, 37 club sports, weekly campus community worship, and service opportunities. The campus features an astronomical observatory, a new Science Hall, and new baseball and softball stadiums.

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7 Gonzaga University 62.51 4/5 22% Spokane, WA

Gonzaga's sports management master's online degree is offered as a master of arts (MA) in sport and athletic administration. With a liberal arts basis, the program prepares students for a wide variety of career opportunities in professional sports leagues and franchises, sporting goods manufacturing, sport consulting firms, and college and university athletic departments. The degree holds the prestige of being conferred by a Top 10 NCAA athletic brand. The program comprises 31 credits and can be completed in two years either completely online or fully on-campus.

Located in Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga is a Jesuit, Catholic institution accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. All classes are taught by professors. On campus, 58% of students participate in 31 intramural sports teams. The university's Jundt Art Museum is one of the largest art museums in the Northwest and features traveling art exhibits. The university has been ranked among the "Top 3 Regional Universities in the West" by U.S. World & News Report.

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8 Mississippi College 62.13 3/5 54% Clinton, MS

The oldest higher education institution in Mississippi, MS College was founded in 1826 and is affiliated with the MS Baptist Convention. Its sports management master's degree online is offered as a master's in athletic administration. The degree program comprises 37 credit hours and two six-week practicums, which can be completed at a location approved by the school. Students can choose between the interscholastic concentration (focusing on leadership skills and legal issues) and intercollegiate concentration (emphasizing issues related to higher education). The intercollegiate concentration is exclusively available online; core curriculum in this concentration includes finance in higher education, concepts of personnel management, and law and higher education.

On-campus students in Clinton, MS can participate in service-learning initiatives, the Equestrian Program, the Table Tennis Team, and more. Traditions include the Christmas Festival of Lights, Choctaw Cheer-Off, and the Follies variety show, which is held during Homecoming Week.

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9 Troy University 60.78 3/5 36% Troy, AL

Troy University in Troy, Alabama provides an online sports management master's degree as an MS in sport and fitness management. Concentrations in sports management and coaching are available. The degree program is unique in that it is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation. It can be pursued as a thesis or non-thesis option, and internships are not required. Graduates of this program have gone on to work for the NBA, the NFL, Division I athletic departments, minor league sports, and more.

The university uses TROY Online to administer its online courses. There are four Troy campuses, and the Montgomery campus features the Rosa Parks Library and Museum and the W.A. Gayle Planetarium. Students can participate in more than 150 clubs, Greek organizations, and philanthropic groups. The university is recognized by national organizations for its dedication to military students.

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10 Drexel University 59.49 5/5 22% Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 1891, Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the U.S.'s 15 largest private educational institutions. With nearly 26,000 enrolled students, more than 5,000 of them are online students. Drexel Online is one of the country's original online degree programs. It offers an MS degree in sports management online, with courses ranging from globalization of sport to sports ticket sales and strategies.

This online sports management master's degree is designed to apply business fundamentals, law and labor relations, and emerging technology to the sports industry. Online students must attend a week-long summer residency in Philadelphia once the core curriculum is completed. The residency includes both educational and work sessions. Students must also submit a research project or thesis to graduate. Drexel promotes civic engagement, and holds research partnerships with China and Israel. It offers more than 300 student organizations and 18 NCAA Division I sports teams on-campus.

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11 Virginia Commonwealth University 59.01 4/5 53% Richmond, VA

VCU offers a master of education (MEd) degree in sport leadership. The degree is administered through the School of Education and the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU, which was founded in 1999. The center regularly hosts guest speakers from professional sports teams, the Olympics, and the media -- including former NBA player Charles Barkley and PGA golfer Peter Jacobsen. This sports management online master's degree takes an interdisciplinary approach and focuses on leadership, interpersonal skills, and collaboration. Students have the option of participating in externships and independent studies. This degree can be paired with an MBA so that students graduate with a dual degree.

VCU has six branch and satellite campuses, including the first U.S. campus in Qatar. The VCU Medical Center is the top hospital in the Richmond metro area. More than 31,000 are enrolled at VCU, and can participate in 17 varsity sports and more than 500 student organizations.

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12 Concordia University-Chicago 58.79 3/5 13% River Forest, IL

The online master's in sports management at CUC is an MBA with a sports management specialization. The core curriculum is the MBA, with an additional four courses in sports management, including economics of sports, sport finance, the essentials in law of sports, and diversity in sports. Students may also opt to pursue dual specialization. Career opportunities for graduates include positions in sports media, sports marketing, events management, and more.

CUC has more than 3,500 online students. It is part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and provides a wide range of opportunities for service, worship, and ministry on campus. Student organizations range from the Ping Pong Club and Women in Engineering to the CUC radio. The school is located 10 miles west of downtown Chicago in River Forest, Illinois. It awarded $17 million in financial aid during the 2015-16 academic year.

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13 Fresno Pacific University 56.93 3/5 28% Fresno, CA

Headquartered in Fresno, California, Fresno Pacific's degree programs include an online MA in kinesiology with an emphasis in sport administration. The MA core includes three kinesiology courses, while the sport administration courses range from sport career development to sport sales and sponsorship. Two practicum units are also required. Students must be working or volunteering in the sport administration field while pursuing their online sports management master's. Those who apply don't need a background in sports administration, however, they should hold a BS/BA in kinesiology or business.

With five locations, including the Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, Fresno Pacific is the only accredited Christian university in the Central Valley region. All degree programs focus on values, ethics, and character development. Many enrolled students are the first to attend college in their families. The university is one of the Top 10 Hispanic Serving Institutions for graduating Hispanic students.

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14 Adelphi University 56.92 5/5 66% Garden City, NY

The online master's in sports management at Adelphi University allows students to specialize in either sports marketing (which focuses on product branding and marketing strategies) or collegiate athletic administration (for careers in athletic departments and coaching). Students have the opportunity to develop an extensive network with their peers and faculty. Faculty members include professional sports business leaders, notably from the Major League Baseball Players Association and New York Islanders. Program alumni include Kevin Mawae, former president of the NFL Players Association; and Ann Rina, Director of Community Relations for the New York Islanders.

Located in Garden City, New York, the school has more than 2,400 graduate students and is recognized as being military-friendly. Its 23 NCAA Division II athletic teams have won 15 national championships. GRE or GMAT exams are not a requirement for students who apply to this master's program.

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15 Northeastern University Global Network 56.63 4/5 56% Boston, MA

The online master of sports leadership degree at Northeastern teaches students to build and maintain effective teams, handle ethical challenges, navigate legal and financial issues, and foster diversity. Students pursuing their master's in sports management online can choose from two concentrations: professional sports administration or collegiate athletics administration. Courses include the ethical leader, sports law, the power of social media, bystander strategies for the prevention of gender-based violence, and more. This degree is part of the College of Professional Studies.

In addition to its main campus in Boston, Northeastern has campuses in Toronto and Silicon Valley. It also has graduate campuses in Charlotte and Seattle, and holds partnerships in 150 countries. In 2016, it entered the top tier for research activity of U.S. colleges and universities by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Boston campus students have access to more than 400 student organizations and traditions like Fall Fest, The Husky Hunt, and Interfaith Harmony Week.

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16 University of Southern Mississippi 56.09 3/5 33% Hattiesburg, MS

Southern Miss offers an online master's degree in sports management that prepares students for careers as stadium events coordinators, recreation specialists, special events coordinators, and more. Students have the option to concentrate in sport event security management, the first such program in the country. Courses for the concentration include threat and risk assessment for sport venues, sport event emergency response planning, and more. Students in the program must complete 24 hours of core courses and nine hours of elective courses.

Southern Miss is home to the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, which opened in 2006 and is the only research and solution center of its kind in the U.S. Located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Southern Miss has 16 NCAA Division I teams and is one of only 36 U.S. universities accredited in all four arts disciplines (theater, dance, art, and music). More than 15,000 students from 47 states and 72 countries are enrolled. On-campus students enjoy the annual Crawfish Fest and groups like the African-American Student Organization, recreational sports teams, and Greek Life.

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17 Concordia University-Saint Paul 55.99 3/5 49% Saint Paul, MN

CSP in Minnesota offers a popular online MA in sport management degree program. This 100% online sports management master's program is accelerated, so students can complete their degrees in as few as 18 months. The program focuses on management, strategic planning, and law; required courses include ethics & policy in sports management, sports sales, and managerial finance, among others. There are 33 credits required. All professors are active professionals and lend real-world experience to their courses.

CSP is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and encourages spiritual growth and development among its student body. There are more than 1,600 graduate students enrolled at this military-friendly university. On-campus students are 10 minutes from downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis. They can participate in the Writing Club, Concordia Gallery (featuring student artwork), full-production plays, ministry groups, Bible studies, and more. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0.

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18 Concordia University-Irvine 54.92 4/5 27% Irvine, CA

The sports management master's online at CUI has a special focus -- it is offered as an online master's in coaching and athletic administration degree. Students work to advance their coaching and administrative skills with core and elective courses, while further developing their characters and growing professional networks. To fit into existing coaching schedules, Concordia offers four program start dates. Students have the opportunity to participate in seasonal intensives, which provide a semester's worth of learning in three days on site (locations vary). Students are also encouraged to vacation near the Irvine, California campus in order to take a week-long intensive. A capstone project is required for graduation, along with the completion of a professional portfolio.

A faith-based environment, Concordia is affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. On-campus students can participate in an "Around-the-World Semester" (service learning in 10 countries), live in one of six "Living Learning Communities", or join student groups like the Global Citizens Club and Athletes in Action.

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19 Georgia Southern University 54.10 3/5 58% Statesboro, GA

With nearly 2,500 graduate students, GSU is recognized for both affordability and online program efficacy. It offers a sport management master's degree online that strives to put students in the business of sports. This is a 36-credit program that prepares students for a wide range of athletic careers, from sport event management and sport marketing to professional, collegiate, and local athletic leagues and sports facilities management. Courses include revenue generation in sport and sport administration.

The university is located in Statesboro, Georgia and has more than 20,459 enrolled students. On campus, the school boasts more than 200 student organizations, and 17 varsity athletic teams participating in NCAA Division I. Its 900-acre campus has a performing arts center, a planetarium, the Center for Wildlife Education, and the Garden of the Coastal Plain. The university's golf course was named to Golf Digest's "2014 Best New Golf Courses" list.

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20 California University of Pennsylvania 53.43 3/5 20% California, PA

CAL U is located in California, PA. Its online MS in sport management studies offers three program tracks.The sport management and intercollegiate athletic administration tracks both prepare students for leadership positions in the public, private nonprofit, and commercial areas of the sport industry. The strategic sport analysis track teaches students to analyze and determine the potential success of sports teams, and prepares them for careers as coaches, scouts, athletic directors, and more. Each track in this online sports management master's degree program has different requirements. For instance, students pursuing the sport management concentration must participate in a 12-credit mentorship.

Students can choose to begin their program in the summer or winter. Military tuition discounts are provided to online active military or veteran students. Located 35 miles from Pittsburgh, on-campus students have access to outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking, fishing, and rafting, and events and entertainment produced by the Student Activities Board. The Big Event is a day of community service to local residents in need and students also participate in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

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21 Coker College 53.01 3/5 27% Hartsville, SC

The sports management master's online at strategic sport analysis is focused on administration. Offered as the MS in college athletic administration, this 100% online degree offers a robust curriculum that covers theory, analysis, real-world experiences, and current issues in NCAA compliance regulations and recruitment. The program comprises 30 semester hours of core courses; courses may only be taken one at a time, and include fundraising in college athletics, sport communication, and NCAA compliance. Internships are optional.

Coker College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The campus is located in Hartsville, South Carolina, two hours from Charlotte and Myrtle Beach. Students can participate in more than 30 student organizations like the Astronomy Club, Choral, and intramural sports. The athletic teams are part of NCAA Division II. Students in this program must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

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22 Belhaven University 50.34 3/5 49% Jackson, MS

The online master of sports administration at Belhaven is a 36-credit program with courses offered in eight-week terms over two years. Courses include leading high performance teams and coaching, mentoring, and resolving conflict. Each course in this online sports management master's program requires team projects and activities to foster a team mindset. Graduates of this program are prepared to pursue careers as athletic directors, media relations directors, advertising sales representatives, sports writers, and more.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its Jackson, Mississippi campus provides a variety of ministry organizations, honor societies, and intramural sports to its students. The science curriculum is one of only two Christian universities recognized by the White House STEM initiative. Upon applying, students must have a professional resume demonstrating 2+ years of relevant work experience (or full-time military enlistment for those serving).

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23 Ohio University-Main Campus 49.99 3/5 37% Athens, OH

Ohio University created the country's first specialized academic sports program in 1966. Today, it offers an online master's in athletic administration, which is the first of its kind to be focused on interscholastic sports. The program advances interscholastic athletic directors by teaching them skills to manage successful departments and develop athletes. Courses include ethics in sports and human resource management in sport organizations. Graduates are prepared for membership in the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

This sports management online master's program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation. More than 40,000 students are enrolled at Ohio University and nearly 6,000 are e-Learning students. The campus in Athens, Ohio offers 32 club sports and more than 450 student organizations. Notably, students who apply to the master's program are not required to have taken the GRE.

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24 Arkansas State University-Main Campus 49.94 3/5 25% Jonesboro, AR

A-State has a master's in sports management online degree that can be completed in as few as 12 months. It is an MS in sport administration that requires both research and internships for graduation. The school boasts great networking and internships opportunities with professional teams, collegiate athletics, amateur sports organizations and more. Courses last for seven weeks and range from sport in society to sport law. Graduates are prepared for careers in athletic administration, facility management, sports marketing and sales, marketing, and sales, and more.

In 2015, 2,911 graduate degrees were completed through A-State. Headquartered in Jonesboro, Arkansas, A-State also has the first residential campus in Mexico. On-campus Jonesboro students have access to more than 150 organizations, including the Young Investors, Art Education Club, and the Hippotherapy (physical therapy with horses) Program.

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25 Missouri Baptist University 48.78 3/5 35% Saint Louis, MO

The online sports management master's degree at MBU was one of the institution's first online degree programs. It is an MS in fitness management, which requires 34 credits and can be pursued full- or part-time. The degree combines business skills with the science of exercise physiology and fitness. An internship as a coach or in a rehabilitation or athletic facility is necessary for graduation. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers as personal trainers, wellness counselors, health and phy. ed. teachers, physical therapists, and more.

Online classes are administered through myMBULearn. MBU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and delivers a Christian perspective to all courses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, MBU has a total of 12 locations in Metro-St. Louis. MBU offers 71 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. On-campus students enjoy the annual "Hanging of the Green" Christmas tree lighting and Christmas concert, as well as various clubs, formal events, trips to St. Louis Cardinals games, and more.

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A sports management master’s degree online program will vary from school to school. As you consider which program to enroll in, think about what concentrations the program offers, the program’s curriculum, and the learning format of the program. These details will affect your career prospects and how quickly you’ll be able to earn your degree.


Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
Sport Marketing Learn about marketing theories and apply them to the world of sports, including how to parse contract proposals, arrange product and sponsorship endorsements, and market sports events. Students gain the skills needed to develop and execute an integrated marketing plan for teams, events, or athletes. Team marketing director, brand account manager, ad agency executive
Sport Law Uncover the ins and outs of contracts and negotiations, labor relations, and even anti-trust law. Learn how to negotiate sponsorships, product deals, and broadcast rights on behalf of athletes, teams, or leagues. You may also explore how to interpret and influence public policy as it relates to sports. Player representative, contract administrator, team lawyer
Sport Media & Communications Develop the skills needed to run a coordinated media campaign for sports figures and teams. Learn about public relations, advertising, and managing crisis communications. Study how teams or leagues can develop healthy relationships with the press. Team media director, sport journalist, PR coordinator


From finance to marketing, the courses you take while pursuing a master’s in sports management online will prepare you for many careers. The courses available to you will differ based on what area of sports management you decide to concentrate in. Sample curriculum for popular sports management courses are listed below:

  • Event Management: Learn how to organize major sports events, from the development stage to day-of management. This course covers how to plan sport events, what factors affect an event’s budget, and how to evaluate the success of an event. You’ll also learn how to manage entertainers for a sports event and how to integrate a marketing plan into your event rollout. This course prepares you for a career as an event manager or planning coordinator for sports teams or facilities.
  • Sport Finance: Study the intricacies of finance as it applies to the world of sports. You’ll learn how to manage finances for players, teams, leagues, and sport facilities. You’ll also examine the financial models used by sporting good manufacturers, college athletic outfits, and other sports-related businesses. This course is a good stepping stone for students with an accounting background who want to work in the finance department of major sports organizations.
  • Sport Facility Management: How do you take care of huge stadiums, fields, arenas, and other major sport facilities? Learn how in this course. Sport facility management covers the basics of designing a well-thought-out facility, budgeting, and managing a facility’s operations. You’ll also learn how to market the events that take place at a facility.


Typically, you can earn an online sports management master’s degree in two years or less in programs that require you to complete 30 to 40 credit hours. The length of an online sports management master’s program will depend on a number of factors, including whether the program requires an internship, whether it allows you to transfer credits from another institution, and whether it offers courses year round.

Another factor that may influence how long it will take you to earn your online master’s in sports management is whether or not your program follows a cohort model. In a cohort model, you will start your graduate program at a set time (like the fall semester) and work through the program at a predetermined pace with peers that started at the same time as you. By contrast, some online master’s programs in sports management allow you to work through the program at your own pace, so you may be able to earn your credits quicker.


Certified Sports Event Executive (CSEE): Sponsored by the National Association of Sports Commissions, a CSEE certification recognizes expertise and professionalism in the sports tourism industry. To earn the certification, professionals must complete curriculum developed by the NASC, which is offered live and online.
Certified NFL Players Agent: To become a sports agent for an athlete in the NFL, you must be certified by the NFL Players Association. Certification requires a $2,500 fee, attendance at a two-day seminar, passing an exam and background check, and holding a graduate degree. A similar certification process is required to represent players in other sports leagues.

As you explore your options for earning a master’s in sports management online, be sure to narrow your list down to schools that are accredited. Accreditation indicates that a school has met certain standards and delivers a high quality education. Typically, a school is either nationally accredited or regionally accredited. National accreditation is usually reserved for institutions of higher learning that focus on a specific type of education, like distance learning or vocational training. Regional accreditation is given to an institution that has met the standards of a regionally accredited association. A degree from a regionally accredited institution is valid in any state. Schools offering a master’s in sports management online are more likely to be regionally accredited.

You may also want to look for sports management master’s programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (CSMA). CSMA recognizes programs at the undergraduate and graduate level that provide excellence in sports management education.

Accreditation associations work in tandem with other organizations to establish the standards that institutions of higher learning must meet. For example, the Department of Education (DOE) approves accreditors deemed reliable by the Secretary of Education. The DOE can only provide financial aid to students who attend accredited institutions. Another organization related to accreditation is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The CHEA advocates for self-regulation among accredited institutions of higher learning to maintain high standards. Over 3,000 colleges and universities are members of the CHEA. To learn whether a school you’re interested in is accredited, you can check the list of schools on the websites of the DOE and CHEA.

Sports Management Salaries

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Placement: Master’s vs Bachelor of Sports Management

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth rate for jobs related to sports management is roughly on par with the projected 8% growth rate for all industries. Candidates with a master’s degree stand to enjoy more favorable employment rates than other applicants who have ended their education with a bachelor’s or less. Using BLS data, the following table includes the projected growth rates of four common career pathways for students who earn a master’s in sports management.

Professional Title Projected Growth Rate (2014-24) Expected Increase in Number of Jobs (2014-24)
Administrative Services Managers 8% 23,500
Postsecondary Education Administrators 9% 15,200
Coaches and Scouts 6% 14,800

Current BLS data indicates that master’s degree-holders face an average unemployment rate of 2.4%; by comparison, those with a bachelor’s degree face a 2.8% unemployment rate and those with an associate degree face a 3.8% unemployment rate.

Earning a Living

In addition to better job placement rates, students who earn an online master’s in sports management also stand to increase their career earnings potential. The BLS notes that the median salary for master’s degree-holders is $1,341 per week, compared to bachelor’s degree recipients who earn a median weekly salary of $1,137. This amounts to a difference of more than $10,000 in annual salaries between the two groups.

However, it’s also important to note that the salary of a sports management professional will increase over the course of his or her career. Master’s degree-holders often advance in their careers — and raise their annual earnings — at a faster rate than their counterparts with lesser credentials. The following table uses PayScale data to reveal the expected salaries for different sports management personnel at four career benchmarks.

Profession Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Athletic Director (College/ University) $61,000 $70,000 $86,000 $100,000
Assistant Athletic Director $42,000 $53,000 $65,000 $71,000
Facilities Manager $52,030 $60,551 $66,865 $71,715
Athletic Coach $31,000 $38,000 $45,000 $51,000

As the table indicates, employees in all four professions experience a significant salary increase during their careers. Assistant athletic directors saw the most growth — 69% between the entry-level and late-career marks. The salaries for athletic directors (college/university) and athletic coaches also enjoyed 64% and 65% career earnings growth, respectively.

PayScale also reports a median annual salary of $62,627 for sports agents at all career levels. Additionally, The Houston Chronicle notes that agents typically receive a commission based on the yearly earnings of each client, which include both player salaries and endorsements. The size of commissions will vary by sport; the National Football Association and National Basketball Association impose a 3% commission limit for agents, while major league baseball and hockey do not restrict commissions. The most successful agents earn millions of dollars per year in commission fees alone.

Career Opportunities

Students who earn an online master’s degree in sports management will qualify for dozens of positions after graduation, although individual eligibility will depend on their degree specialization and level of professional experience. Some of the most common career pathways for recipients of a master’s in sports management are listed below.

Administrative Services Managers: These managers oversee inventories, logistics, recordkeeping, and other supportive services of their organization. In the sports management industry, administrative services personnel typically handle matters like athletic equipment, away-game travel, and facilities management.

Postsecondary Education Administrators: College athletic teams and departments are typically managed by postsecondary education administrators who specialize in student affairs. Their duties include scheduling games and practices, managing equipment, and handling internal team issues.

Coaches and Scouts: Coaches lead athletic teams during practice sessions and games, and work with individual players to improve specific skills. Many teams are managed by a head coach with a supportive coaching staff. Scouts identify promising players who have not yet committed to a particular organization, and work with coaches to help recruit these candidates.

Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes: Agents and business managers represent notable figures (including amateur and professional athletes) and promote them in the media. They also assist their clients with financial matters, such as contract negotiations and endorsement deals.

Profession Median Annual Salary
Administrative Services Managers $86,110
Postsecondary Education Administrators $88,580
Coaches and Scouts $31,000
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers and Athletes $95,810

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to sports management is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for sports management professionals. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates. Resources like these often prove invaluable as you complete your degree requirements and prepare to enter the job market.

  • World Association of Sports Management Founded in 2012 at the University of Taiwan, the WASM represents chapters on six continents (Antarctica is excluded). The organization follows a mission to “facilitate sport management research and teaching and learning excellence worldwide.”
  • North American Society for Sports Management: The North American offshoot of the WASM, the NASSM is dedicated to supporting, promoting and educating athletic managers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and Caribbean countries. Members receive complimentary issues of the Journal of Sports Management and a discount on NASSM conference fees.
  • National Alliance for Youth Sports: NAYS represents after-school athletic programs available to more than 30 million boys and girls in the United States. The organization often partners with other community-based youth agencies, including YMCA, YWCA, and Boys and Girls Clubs.

Despite the relative affordability of online sports management master’s programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.


Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online Master's in Sports Management Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
2 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
3 United States Sports Academy Daphne, AL
4 Canisius College Buffalo, NY
5 Concordia University - Chicago River Forest, IL
6 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
7 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
8 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
9 Missouri Baptist University Saint Louis, MO
10 Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
11 Troy University Troy, AL
12 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS
13 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
14 Concordia University - Saint Paul Saint Paul, MN
15 California University of Pennsylvania California, PA
16 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
17 Concordia University - Irvine Irvine, CA
18 Coker College Hartsville, SC
19 Belhaven University Jackson, MS
20 Lasell College Newton, MA
21 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
22 University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, MO
23 Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN
24 Franklin Pierce University Rindge, NH
25 Fresno Pacific University Fresno, CA