Best Online Master’s in Sports Management Degree Programs
Do you love sports, but aren't cut out for the pros? Work behind the scenes with an Online Master's in Sports Management degree from a top-ranked school. Our higher education experts have analyzed and ranked the best online master's in sports management programs; read on to learn more.
Earning an online master's in sports management offers a great pathway for individuals passionate about the business side of the sporting industry. Whether working with PGA players, collegiate soccer stars, or up-and-coming high school tennis champs, a sports management degree provides the training needed to begin various in-demand positions.Students on a budget typically opt to study at a public college in their state, as tuition rates at these institutions averaged $9,000 during the 2021-2022 academic year. Private students paid an average of $29,670 during the same year.
When deciding whether to attend graduate school, prospective learners should note that many jobs in the industry feature expansive projected growth in the coming years. Most professionals earn between $40,000-$70,000 per year, depending on their title, but top workers can earn six-figure and even seven-figure salaries.
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Keep reading to learn about the top online schools for sports management, commonly required classes, professional outcomes, and opportunities for continuing education.
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Sports Management Program?
Before enrolling in a master's in sports management program, prospective students should think carefully about if their skill sets and personality traits align with jobs for graduates. Sports management professionals tend to be outgoing, engaging individuals who enjoy negotiating and do not feel intimidated by tense situations or confrontational moments.Most programs consist of 30-40 credits and require about two years of full-time study. Part-time learners may need up to three years, while accelerated programs can sometimes be completed in a year. Aside from general core coursework, many programs offer a variety of specializations to help students focus their classes in the areas in which they hope to work. Each school has its own unique offerings, but common options include:
- Sports Project Management
- Sports Law
- Athlete Management
- Sports Marketing
- Sports Media and Communications
- Event Management
When preparing for graduate school, prospective learners should note that these programs often require an internship. This experience allows them to gain in-demand skills and network with others in the discipline before graduating.
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Popular Online Master's in Sports Management Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Sports Management Program?
History of Sports Management
This introductory course looks at the trajectory of sports management. Coursework starts with the English Club system and moves through to the American League structure, the National League, and the creation of sports management as an academic subject.
Entrepreneurship in Sports Management
Designed for students who anticipate owning a sports management firm in the future, this course looks at how to structure and frame entrepreneurial ventures within the sports management world. Students also learn how agent fees work.
High School and Youth Sports
This course provides the knowledge needed for those who plan to work in coaching or scouting. It looks at topics around the history of high school athletics and the role of high school athletic directors.
This class provides an overview of all that goes into college sports. Topics include the various sporting divisions, financing for student athletes, athletes' right to compete, and the role of intramural sports teams.
After providing a timeline of sports broadcasting, this course looks at current issues and challenges within the discipline. It also covers the role of data and analytics in conducting audience research, forecasting ratings, and widening the share of viewers.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Sports Management Program?
Online master's in sports management degrees set different graduate admission requirements based on individual programs. That said, most look similar. Some programs may look for students with a background in sports or sports management, while others accept students from all academic disciplines. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree. Some will need to sit for an interview when applying to a particularly competitive program.
All master's in sports management programs require prospective students to complete an application, whether they intend to study online or in-person. These can usually be submitted through the department's website. They ask for information such as the candidate's full name, mailing address, date of birth, and citizenship status.
As students review prospective sports management master's programs, they may notice that some require GMAT or GRE test scores. These tests help assess a student's preparedness for graduate-level study. But some schools have canceled this requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Letters of Recommendation
When asking for letters of recommendation, applicants should approach people who can speak to their readiness for the rigors of a master's degree. Those who commonly write recommendation letters include current or former college professors, supervisors, volunteer coordinators, or faith leaders.
Resume and Work Experience
Some master's in sports management programs look for candidates with relevant work experience, as this helps them better understand the topics of study. Others accept students with no relevant experience but a history of working in professional settings.
Essays provide the opportunity for candidates to express why they want to earn a master's in sports management online. They can also share how they plan to use the degree after graduating and why a particular school or program appeals to them. Essays also allow applicants to distinguish themselves from others.
Admission officers use official transcripts in many ways. These documents help confirm stated GPAs and that all prerequisite coursework has been completed. They also help in admitting transfer students. By reviewing official transcripts, registrars can identify which classes will transfer to the new program.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Sports Management Degree?
Jobs in the sports administration world are projected to grow expansively based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, jobs for coaches and scouts are expected to grow by 26% between 2020-2030. The BLS projects jobs for sports competitors to grow by an astounding 38% during the same years. The amount that master's in sports management program graduates earn can vary widely based on their title, clients, location, and the type and level of sports they represent. For instance, someone managing a professional golfer on the PGA tour can make more than an athletic director for a local high school.
See where a master's in sports management degree can take you. Learn more about sports management careers.
Athletic directors usually work at high schools or universities, overseeing the institution's athletic activities. Rather than focusing on individual sports, they oversee the various coaches of individual sports, set budgets for the sports department, and handle staffing issues as they arise. They may also handle disciplinary measures for student athletes.
Median Annual Salary: $61,270
Sports competitors play amateur and professional sports across various games, including golf, football, tennis, soccer, and baseball. While a master's in sports management is not required, some athletes decide to pursue these degrees to better understand their career and management approach.
Median Annual Salary: $50,850
Coaches and Scouts
Coaches and scouts work with amateur and professional athletes to develop their playing skills. They also seek out new players for amateur, collegiate, and professional teams. Coaches organize practice sessions, create strategies for gameplay, and offer motivation. Scouts travel to recruit new players and keep track of their stats.
Median Annual Salary: $36,330
Athletic trainers work with athletes to create rehabilitative programs and those that help prevent muscle and bone injuries during play. They develop individualized training programs for each client. They also use devices such as braces, tape, and bandages that can either help prevent injury or manage an ongoing injury.
Median Annual Salary: $49,860
Athlete Agents and Business Managers
These professionals manage a portfolio of athlete clients and negotiate contracts between the client and their team. They act as a business manager by keeping track of earnings from both playing and endorsements. They also work to gain new athletes as clients to expand their portfolio.
Median Annual Salary: $75,420
Sports Management Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
While most professionals in this arena finish their education with a master's in sports management, a select few may decide to pursue additional degrees. Those who work towards a doctorate in sports management typically either want to conduct academic research in the field or teach the discipline to the next generation of sports managers at a college or university.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Sports Management Program?
The amount a student pays for an online master's in sports management degree can vary, making it important that they understand the true program cost before enrolling. Learners should also compare costs between online and on-campus programs to see which one works best for their budget.
Because many students work while completing their master's in sports management, most schools provide synchronous and asynchronous learning formats to support busy schedules. Students can also commonly choose between full-time and part-time options based on how much time they can devote to their studies.
Fully online master's in sports management programs allow students to choose from more schools, since location does not play a determining factor. When deciding whether to go to school online or on-campus, prospective students must consider what role location plays in their decision-making process.
In addition to finding an online college that holds proper institutional accreditation, students should also look for a master's in sports management with programmatic accreditation. Within this discipline, the Commission on Sports Management Accreditation (COSMA) accredits programs. Learners can find a list of currently accredited options.
The best sports management master's programs provide student support services. Top-tier programs offer access to mentorship opportunities with successful sports managers, and meaningful internship opportunities. If studying through distance learning, degree-seekers should ask about online-specific student services.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Sports Management Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Sports Management Programs
Is a master's in sports management worth it?
When deciding whether an online master's in sports management is worth it, prospective students should think carefully about what they want from their advanced education and whether this particular degree leads to their anticipated outcomes. Those who know they want to work specifically with athletes as managers, agents, trainers, or coaches often find this program provides the training and credentials needed.That said, someone who wants to manage various well-known figures, including athletes, may find that another program more closely aligns with their aspirations. Think carefully through this question and more before making a final decision.
What can I do with a master's in sports management?
Graduates of a master's in sports management program can take their careers in many directions based on their interests and professional goals. Some decide to work as scouts, finding the next generation of great athletes to represent at the collegiate and professional levels.
Other graduates feel most drawn toward the business side of the industry and want to negotiate contracts and endorsements for their clients as a sports agent and business manager. This degree provides versatility within the sports world.
Are sports management graduates in demand?
Sports management master's degree graduates are projected to be in demand over the coming years, with jobs for coaches and scouts projected to grow by 26% between 2020-2030. Meanwhile, jobs for athletic trainers are projected to expand by 23% by the end of the decade, leading to 7,000 new positions.
Given that the BLS projects that athlete and sports competitor jobs will grow by 38% over the coming years, many jobs for managers, agents, coaches, trainers, and other sports professionals should continue to expand to meet these needs.
How much money can I make with a master's in sports management?
Earnings for master's in sports management graduates vary based on occupation and title. Athletic trainers earned median annual wages of $49,860 in May 2020, while those in the top 10% of earners made over $75,810.
Meanwhile, athletic directors at high schools and colleges currently earn an average base salary of $61,270 as of Feb. 2022. That said, Payscale reports that bonuses for these professionals can reach up to $24,000 annually based on winning statistics for their teams.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in sports management?
The highest-paying jobs for sports managers can vary widely based on the types of athletes they work with, at what level they work (e.g., amateur, collegiate, professional), and how long they have been in the business.
For instance, the BLS reports that sports agents and business managers earned median salaries of $75,420 in May 2020. That said, sports agent Scott Boras earned $160 million in commissions in 2020 alone. How much experience an agent possesses, and who they have on their client roster, goes a long way in determining earnings.
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