Best Online Master’s in Sports Management Programs of 2021

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Published on July 30, 2021

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While athletes may receive the bulk of the attention, the world of sports depends on the work of countless managers and other professionals operating behind the scenes. From coaching to event management to marketing, sports managers support athletic organizations in many ways.

As with many industries, a graduate degree often serves as the best way to advance your career in the sports management field. This guide to master's in sports management programs includes information on typical courses, available concentrations, and potential career prospects after graduation.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Sports Management Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
#2 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX
#3 University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
#4 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
#5 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
#6 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#7 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
#8 Baker University Baldwin City, KS
#9 Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR
#10 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville, AL

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Professional experience and connections play valuable roles in the sports industry, but a master's in sports management can improve your career prospects greatly. Earning a graduate degree helps build the knowledge and skills necessary to advance to top positions in the field.

Management jobs also offer significant growth potential. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for postsecondary education administrators — which includes college athletic administrators — to grow by 7% from 2018-2028. This growth rate is higher than the national average for all jobs.

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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Sports Management Programs

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University of Florida View School Profile Gainesville, FL

UF Online's master of science in sport management trains students to plan, organize, lead, and evaluate the goals of sports organizations. Students learn to develop financial strategies, apply fundamental marketing concepts, and understand legal issues important to the field.

Required courses include evaluation and research methods in health and human performance, sport event management principles, and mass media. Students may select a specialization in athlete development, high-performance coaching, sport law, or director of racquet sports. The program also offers two certificate options in social media and event management. The curriculum includes a practicum or internship opportunity and a required capstone.

Located in Gainesville, Florida, UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its sport management program is one of the first in the U.S. to receive accreditation from the Professional Association of Athlete Development Specialists.

Program Snapshot

Program Name Master of Science in Sport Management
School Status Public
Tuition $586 per credit
Credit Requirements 36 credits
Program Length 1 year
Format Online
Instruction Style Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA Minimum 3.0 recommended
Standardized Tests Not specified

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Texas A & M University-College Station View School Profile College Station, TX

Located in College Station, Texas A&M's online master of science in sport management teaches students the skills needed to succeed in administrative and leadership roles in sports organizations. Graduates may qualify for positions in athletics departments, health clubs, and professional and youth sports organizations.

The program comes with thesis and nonthesis options. Core courses focus on research methods and statistics. Other required classes include sport marketing, sports sales and revenue generation, communications, and personnel management. The program also features an internship.

Texas A&M is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Management
School Status: Public
Tuition: $454 per credit (in-state, 12 credits per term); $984 per credit (out-of-state, 12 credits per term)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: Not required

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University of Miami View School Profile Coral Gables, FL

Taught by experienced faculty, UM's online master of education in sport administration program prepares students for administrative and management careers in scholastic sports, professional athletics, or youth sports.

Learners complete 10 required courses, and studies focus on topics like sport leadership skills, ethical decision-making, and fiscal management. Courses last seven weeks and students take one class at a time. Distance learners may attend the UM Sport Conference to connect with industry leaders and meet their classmates.

Based in Coral Gables, Florida, UM is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Education in Sport Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $2,170 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE required

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Georgia Southern University View School Profile Statesboro, GA

Georgia Southern's online master of science in sport management provides academic preparation and practical experience for those interested in the sports business and leisure fields. Graduates can pursue roles with professional or collegiate teams, in sports marketing and promotion, or with regional leagues and commissions.

Studies focus on core topics like sport administration trends, law and risk management, and marketing. The program also includes 12 credits of guided electives. There is no thesis or capstone requirement. Students take two classes each semester, including during summer terms, and graduate in two years.

Georgia Southern, located in Statesboro, is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Management
School Status: Public
Tuition: $358 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not specified

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Drexel University View School Profile Philadelphia, PA

Taught through its LeBow College of Business, Drexel's online master of science in sport business program integrates sports-related applications of law, economics, finance, marketing, and media with a strong business curriculum.

Along with business core requirements, classes cover topics like financial performance, sports economics, and media and public relations. Students must also complete an experiential component, choosing from options like a graduate internship, business consulting project, or international business seminar and residency.

An optional summer residency program features tours, guest speakers, and industry networking opportunities. It is recommended that applicants have at least two years of professional experience.

Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Business
School Status: Private
Tuition: $949 per credit
Credit Requirements: 45 quarter credits
Program Length: 24 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum preferred
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT optional

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Liberty University View School Profile Lynchburg, VA

Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty oversees a master of science in sports management program that prepares students for new developments in sports. Faculty incorporate biblical principles into the curriculum.

Classes cover sports marketing and public relations, ethics, and economic and financial management. Students may select thesis or nonthesis track specializations in coaching and athletic administration, outdoor adventure sports, administration, or tourism.

Liberty — an evangelical Christian institution — is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its sports management program holds accreditation from the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sports Management
School Status: Private
Tuition: $565 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1.5 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Western Carolina University View School Profile Cullowhee, NC

WCU's online master of science in sport management helps students understand the business of sports. Participants learn to administer sports programs, manage organizations and people, and plan and execute projects. The program includes a certificate in project management.

Studies focus on topics like economics and finance, sport administration and governance, sport marketing, and project planning. Students must also complete a 200-hour sport management internship within the industry. Full-time learners can finish the program in a year, while part-time students typically take two years to graduate.

Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, WCU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Management
School Status: Public
Tuition: In-state: $291 per credit (in-state); $845 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 1 year
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum recommended
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT optional

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Baker University View School Profile Baldwin City, KS

Located in Baldwin City, Kansas, BU offers an online master of science in sport management. Experienced faculty create an experiential learning community centered on the industry's current trends. Graduates can pursue many leadership positions in the field, including roles with colleges and sports marketing organizations.

Core classes cover topics related to sport leadership, marketing strategies, and facility and event management. Other coursework focuses on human resource management, policy and governance, and organizational culture. The program also includes an internship requirement, helping participants gain hands-on experience.

BU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Management
School Status: Private
Tuition: $618 per credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 18-20 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Arkansas State University View School Profile Jonesboro, AR

A-State's online master of science in sport administration program prepares students for leadership roles at all levels of sports organizations, as well as for careers related to parks, recreation, and leisure. The program links students with experienced faculty and provides strong networking and internship opportunities.

Required courses include research design, sport finance and budgeting, and sport communications. Participants can also take advantage of internship opportunities with athletics or recreational organizations.

A-State is based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Its sport administration program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $317 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 12 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Request more information about this program.

Jacksonville State University View School Profile Jacksonville, AL

Based in Alabama, JSU's master of science in sport management program prepares students for various careers, from athlete management and development to advertising, journalism, and facility management. The program has partnerships with several professional sports organizations, including the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, and Nashville Predators.

Classes cover topics like sport finance, human resources management, and law and ethics. The program also requires an internship. Students have the option to prepare for a Class A Teacher Certification Option as part of the program.

JSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Management
School Status: Public
Tuition: $400 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30-33 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.7 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT required

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Ohio University View School Profile Athens, OH

Located in Athens, Ohio Online's professional master of sports administration program helps working professionals advance their education without putting their careers on hold. In addition to a flexible online format, the program connects students with symposiums and networking opportunities.

Coursework taught by industry experts investigates sports-related leadership, governance, and marketing topics. The program also requires a capstone seminar. Students may take advantage of on-campus residency opportunities. Faculty deliver courses through seven-week blocks, and most students take one class at a time.

Ohio is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Its sports administration program holds accreditation through the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Professional Master of Sports Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $824 per credit (in-state); $843 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 21 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Missouri Baptist University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

MBU's online master of science in sport management program trains students to manage sports-related enterprises, such as interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics, amateur and professional sports, and sport marketing firms. The program's faculty provides instruction with a Christian perspective, and students have access to networking opportunities.

Core classes go over research methods, as well as sports-oriented topics like sport marketing, leadership and management in sport, and exercise psychology. The capstone requirement comprises an internship or a thesis proposal and defense.

MBU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sport Management
School Status: Private
Tuition: $593 per credit
Credit Requirements: 31 credits
Program Length: 18-24 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Upper Iowa University View School Profile Fayette, IA

The online master of sport administration administered by UIU covers organizational, financial, personnel, and technology concepts involved with managing successful sports organizations and businesses. The program teaches students the skills and knowledge necessary to assume administrative, coaching, and leadership roles in various scholastic and sports business settings.

Taught through the School of Business and Professional Studies, the degree's core requirements include sport administration, communication and marketing, and law coursework. To finish their program, learners complete a capstone seminar. Students can also choose a sport management emphasis that examines international sport management and current industry issues. Students can take 1-2 courses during each eight-week session.

UIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Sport Administration
School Status: Private
Tuition: $512 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.75 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE or GMAT required

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Southeastern Oklahoma State University View School Profile Durant, OK

Based in Durant, Southeastern offers an online master of science in sports administration through its School of Education and Behavioral Sciences. The program offers multiple start dates throughout the year.

The curriculum's core courses include sport in society, administration of athletics, and fundraising. Students select one of four degree specializations: business, educational leadership, Native American leadership, or a general track.

Six credits of the 30 required credits are dedicated to specialization classes. Examples of these classes include Native education (Native American specialization), marketing management (business), and school operations management (educational leadership).

Southeastern is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Sports Administration
School Status: Public
Tuition: $330 per credit
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 12 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.0-2.75 minimum required, depending on professional experience
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Belhaven University View School Profile Jackson, MS

Based in Jackson, Mississippi, Belhaven's online master of sports administration program teaches students the academic, practical, and technical skills required to assume a successful sports management career. The curriculum is taught from a Christian worldview. Graduates can qualify for management and executive jobs in athletics organizations, sports venues, and industry-specific law and accounting firms.

Classes include sports financing and budgeting, leadership and sports ethics, and legal and regulatory environment for sports. The program also includes courses in human resources and organizational and strategic leadership. Students complete a capstone seminar at the end of their program.

Belhaven is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Sports Administration
School Status: Private
Tuition: $535 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.5 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Online Master's in Sports Management Program Overview

Many sports management programs take an interdisciplinary approach to the field, exploring topics such as administration and management strategies, marketing and media, sports management research, finance and economics, and the role of sports in society. Programs also build leadership and management skills, preparing graduates to lead sports organizations.

Many programs offer concentrations that focus on particular sectors of the sports industry, such as college athletics, sports law, event and facilities management, and coaching. These concentrations develop a student's skills for specific career paths, emphasizing specialized knowledge and competencies.

A master's in sports management typically serves as the highest level of education necessary for most careers in the field. While Ph.D. programs in sports management do exist, they typically focus on academic research and are not necessary for employment in most traditional sports management positions.

Common Master's in Sports Management Degree Courses

Management of Sports Organizations

This course may explore organizational design, finance, labor relations, ethics, and general operations. Some courses focus on the increasingly globalized nature of the sports industry, including techniques for international expansion of sporting organizations.

Sports Marketing

Sports organizations at all levels — high school, college, and professional — employ marketing techniques. This course examines topics like marketing and communication strategies, media relations, market analysis, and public relations campaigns.

Sports and Society

This course considers sociocultural factors that affect sports participation and spectatorship (e.g., money, politics, race, sex, and commercialization). Students in this class may also investigate the complex relationship between sports, society, and politics.

Sport Finance and Economics

Students in this class receive an overview of major financial and economic concepts relevant to sports industry professionals. Common topics include budgeting, financial plans, economic theories, and sources of revenue. Some courses may also examine the impact of globalization on sports finance principles.

Internship

Given the professional nature of the degree, many sports management programs include an internship component. Typically occurring in a professional setting, such as with an athletic organization, internships enable students to draw relevant connections between coursework and the sports industry. They can also provide valuable networking opportunities.

Related Master's in Sports Management Degree Concentrations

Sports Administration/Management

Sports administration/management focuses on the business of sports and trains students to oversee operations for sports organizations. This concentration may encompass topics such as finance, marketing, analytics, leadership, and public relations.

Coaching

A coaching concentration prepares students to train and oversee athletes at various levels, including high school, college, and professional sports. Focused on management strategies and methods for athletic improvement, this concentration typically covers topics like physical training, energy systems, athlete health and safety, and athletic program development.

Sports Analytics

Emphasizing the intersection of data, information technology, and strategic thinking, a sports analytics concentration trains students to collect and interpret sports data for use in organizational decision-making. By using data tools and technology, sports analytics increasingly informs how teams use players and develop playing strategies.

Sports Law

Sports law concentrates on laws affecting and regulating the sports industry. Well suited for students with legal knowledge or those looking to enter positions related to collegiate compliance, sports law typically explores topics like fair competition, antitrust laws, consumer protection, and intellectual property.

Athlete Development

Focused on direct interaction with players, an athlete development concentration trains specialists who can help players navigate personal and professional demands on and off the field. This specialization prepares students to assist athletes in developing and maintaining a variety of skills, such as financial literacy, professionalism, media literacy, and mental and emotional health.

Online Master's in Sports Management Admission Requirements

Master's in sports management programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Most programs accept applicants of all academic backgrounds; however, some may require specific coursework or other prerequisites.

Many graduate programs require applicants to submit standardized test scores, such as the GRE or GMAT. Specific score requirements vary widely, but these scores can indicate general preparedness for advanced, graduate-level coursework. Some schools may offer GRE or GMAT waivers based on an applicant's professional background or undergraduate GPA.

Graduate programs require applicants to submit undergraduate transcripts. Many programs maintain a general minimum GPA requirement, though schools may be willing to make exceptions for students based on their professional experience or background. Requesting transcripts from your undergraduate institution usually requires a small fee.

Most graduate programs require applicants to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation from supervisors, professors, and/or other professionals familiar with an applicant's work. Schools use letters of recommendation as another way to gauge a student's readiness for graduate work, and these letters may not need to come from professionals in the field of sports.

Some programs may require applicants to hold professional experience in the sports field, while others may simply require some level of professional experience that demonstrates a capacity for graduate-level work. However, many programs accept students without any professional experience.


Online Master's in Sports Management Career Paths

Earning a master's in sports management online prepares you for a variety of mid-to-upper-level career positions in the field, such as athletic director, head coach, collegiate compliance office, sports agent, and director of player engagement.

The management skills gained during a graduate program translate naturally into an assortment of leadership positions, and a master's is almost always the highest degree necessary to advance in the field.

Sports managers can also earn professional certificates to further progress in their careers, such as the athlete development specialist certificate.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with a master's degree in sports management?

Earning a master's in sports management prepares you for managerial, leadership, and specialist roles in athletics. Graduates can pursue careers as athletic directors/administrators, sports marketers, directors of player engagement, and collegiate compliance directors.

How long does it take to get a master's in sports management?

Exact completion time varies between programs; however, in general, most graduate programs require about two years of full-time study to complete. Many programs offer part-time enrollment options that enable you to complete a lighter course load over a longer period of time.

How much can I earn with a master's in sports management?

As with any degree, earnings potential depends on a variety of factors, including a worker's position, experience, and location. Sports management graduates can expect strong earnings in many positions, including athletic directors. These professionals earn an average salary of more than $60,000, according to PayScale.

Is sports management a good career?

Depending on the specific field, sports management can offer strong career prospects. For example, the BLS projects that the number of coaches and scouts will grow by 11% from 2018-2028 — a rate much faster than the national average for all jobs.

What bachelor's degree do I need to get a master's in sports management?

Many master's in sports management programs do not require applicants to hold a specific academic background. However, candidates should have a strong interest in sports. Additionally, professional or academic experience in the field may help distinguish applicants from the competition. Many schools take a holistic approach to applications, evaluating a student's overall potential for success rather than looking at specific criteria.

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