Sports is a massive industry, with an estimated revenue between $440 and $470 billion per year. There is demand for nearly every type of role in the sports industry, especially managers and business professionals. An online degree in sports management prepares graduates for a wide variety of career paths in academia, retail, and community and professional sports. With a degree in sports management, you can go from a high school athlete to a qualified employee who understands the sports industry from the ground up.

What are the best sports management programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida - Online Gainesville, FL
2 Florida International University Miami, FL
3 Bellevue University Bellevue, NE
4 University of Minnesota Crookston Crookston, MN
5 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
7 Toccoa Falls College Toccoa Falls, GA
8 Averett University - Non-Traditional Programs Danville, VA
9 Shorter University Rome, GA
10 McKendree University Lebanon, IL

Choosing a Program

Most online bachelor's in sports management programs include core classes that cover the fundamentals needed to start a career in the industry, such as principles of management, accounting, economics, and physical science. Beyond these common core classes, sports management curriculums vary greatly depending on the specialization of each program. As such, students should select a program that includes a specialization or concentration that will prepare them for their desired career path.

For example, a student who aspires to work at a major sports network might consider a sports media specialization. Sports media programs explore the ways that television, radio, and the internet are used as promotional tools. You can also study sports events and facility management, which focuses on planning and hosting sporting events, or sports accounting and finance, which provides students with in-depth knowledge of the business side of professional sports organizations.

One thing to keep in mind when choose a program is location. Attending a program that is located near a major sports organization could help you when it's time to find an internship or a job.

Accredited Online Sports Management Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of Florida - Online

Gainesville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

The University of Florida delivers distance education to over 5,600 students each year. The university's online catalog contains 24 undergraduate programs, including a fully online bachelor of science in sport management. This flexible program prepares graduates to work in sports media, franchise operations, and intercollegiate athletics.

Coursework explores topics like sport marketing, legal issues in sport and physical activity, and sport facility design and management. Students also develop practical skills for public speaking and financial accounting. They round out the program by completing a full-time internship during their final semester, which requires 40 hours of participation per week.

UF maintains fall, spring, and summer entry dates. To enroll in this online bachelor's in sport management program, incoming first-year students must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.


Florida International University

Miami, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

Located in Miami, Florida International University is a public research institution that offers over 190 academic programs. Options include an online bachelor of science in recreation and sport management that prepares students for careers as athletic directors, marketing specialists, and special event coordinators. Distance learners can pursue a general sport management track or a pre-recreational therapy/adaptive recreation option.

Both degree plans contain a required class in leisure and recreation in America. Students in the generalist track take major coursework related to program development, leisure services marketing, and care maintenance and design. Pre-recreational therapy candidates delve into client assessment and complete a required internship.

Both online bachelor's in sport management programs require applicants to possess an associate degree or at least 60 credits of lower-division coursework. FIU offers a variety of institutional scholarships.


Bellevue University

Bellevue, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 0%

Bellevue University was founded in 1966 as a public access higher education institution. The school now provides over 80 types of degrees, including an online bachelor of science in sport management. This 127-credit program teaches learners the business acumen needed to face the technological and operational challenges of sport-related enterprises.

Major requirements consist of applied statistics, facility and event management, and business communication. Candidates also critically analyze the values promoted by sporting and the ethical dilemmas raised by the industry. Participants end the program by completing an internship under the guidance of a faculty advisor and an on-site supervisor.

Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores. BU offers a variety of financial aid opportunities, such as scholarships for student athletes and transfer candidates. The university also provides funding specifically for military personnel.


University of Minnesota Crookston

Crookston, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

The University of Minnesota Crookston serves about 1,800 students annually, half of whom obtain certificates and degrees remotely. The school's academic programs include an online bachelor of science in sport and recreation management that enables graduates to work in community, collegiate, and professional sport organizations. In lieu of a fully remote curriculum, learners can also create a hybrid learning experience by taking some courses on campus.

Classes include athletics administration, sport psychology, and sport law and governance. The curriculum also covers finance and economics, teaching students about budgeting, revenue acquisition, and the broader impact of the industry. Candidates complete remaining credit requirements with elective classes.

UMC operates a holistic evaluation process that considers an applicant's GPA, previous coursework, and professional experience. Prospective students answer a series of short essay questions and have the option to submit recommendation letters.


University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

The University of Iowa offers more than 600 remote courses through its ICON learning management platform. Distance learners can also enroll in one of the 39 online academic programs, earning degrees like a bachelor of science in sport and recreation management. Through a career-focused curriculum, students gain the skills necessary to pursue careers related to municipal recreation and college athletic administration.

Degree candidates take required classes like sales in sports, managerial operations, and liability in sport and recreation. Participants personalize their curriculum by picking one of eight concentrations, with options like entrepreneurship and journalism/communication public relations. This online bachelor's in sport management program requires students to complete a guided or independent field experience.

UI maintains fall, spring, and summer entry dates. Applicants must submit ACT or SAT scores. In addition to conventional financial aid, the university provides distinct scholarships for online students.


Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, NH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Based in Manchester, Southern New Hampshire University enrolls over 100,000 students in its campus-based and remote academic programs. Distance-based offerings include an online bachelor of science in sport management that focuses on a global view of the industry, emphasizing the interrelationships between business and culture. With six start dates each year and eight-week courses, candidates can complete degree work largely at their convenience.

Courses cover topics like sport marketing, brand management, and governance of sport organizations. Students develop the administrative skills needed to oversee stadiums, arenas, and sport complexes. Participants round out the program by gaining on-the-job training through an internship experience.

This bachelor's in sport management program holds specialized accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. SNHU does not require ACT or SAT scores. Additionally, for students who want to expand their education, the university delivers a convenient bachelor's-to-master's pathway.


Toccoa Falls College

Toccoa Falls, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Toccoa Falls College is a Christian liberal arts institution that serves about 1,700 undergraduate students each year. Learners can pursue a variety of offerings, including an online bachelor of science in sport management program that boasts an exceptionally high success rate. Nearly 100% of graduates gain employment in the field within six months of graduation.

The curriculum includes classes like financial management; first aid, CPR, and life fitness; and sport law and ethics. Students develop coaching and injury prevention skills, resulting in a coaching certificate upon program completion. They can also augment their education by pursuing a minor in marketing, organizational leadership, or nonprofit business administration.

To enroll in this bachelor's in sport management program, applicants should submit official academic transcripts and ACT, SAT, or CLT scores. They must also send in a 200-300-word personal testimony about their spiritual journey.


Averett University - Non-Traditional Programs

Danville, VA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

Averett University maintains a flagship campus in Danville, Virginia, and offers seven online degrees through its Individually Designed Education for Adult Learners (IDEAL) Program. By enrolling in an IDEAL track, students can combine asynchronous coursework with independent learning experiences to earn a bachelor of science in physical education: sport management.

The curriculum covers topics like sporting good sales, facility management, and conventional and new media marketing strategies. Candidates also learn about law and finance as they pertain to the sport industry. This program enables students to extend their education by minoring in fields like leadership, sociology, and business administration.

Applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA. Averett accepts up to 60 transfer credits. The university provides a variety of financial aid, including institutional scholarships.


Shorter University

Rome, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

Based in Rome, Georgia, Shorter University offers 19 online academic programs through Canvas, including a bachelor of business administration in sport management. The university prioritizes professional development, connecting candidates with internship and employment opportunities through industry partners.

Distance learners take required classes such as financial accounting, management principles, and leadership in sport. The curriculum allows students to pick from a catalog of advanced coursework, with course options like social media in sports and the Olympic Games. Candidates can also delve into sport psychology to learn about exercise motivation and applied aspects of performance enhancement.

Applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA and adequate standardized test scores (i.e., at least 19 on the ACT or 900 on the SAT). This online bachelor's in sport management program is recognized by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.


McKendree University

Lebanon, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Founded in 1828, McKendree University is the oldest higher education institution in Illinois. Today, the school enrolls about 2,500 students in 68 academic programs, including an online bachelor of business administration in sport management. Distance learners take asynchronous, eight-week classes through Blackboard.

The curriculum of this bachelor's in sport management includes classes like sport and health psychology, facilities management, and finance and budgeting. Candidates also learn to develop and implement sport marketing campaigns that engage diverse consumers. MCK graduates go on to oversee fitness centers, sport stadiums, and community organizations.

Application materials include official school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. MCK offers ample financial aid opportunities, including scholarships for first-year students, transfer candidates, and international citizens. The university also delivers dedicated career services, with 98% of undergraduates reportedly achieving their post-graduation goals.

What Else Can I Expect from an Online Bachelor's in Sports Management Program?

All online bachelor's in sports management programs have their own specialities. Specialized concentrations, unique internship offerings, and professional development opportunities can play a huge role in helping a student pursue their dream job. If you know what type of career you would like to have, then make sure that you find a school that gives you the best education to prepare you for success.


Even though no two sports management programs are the same, every program will offer the same foundational courses. The following are classes that you can expect to find in any online sports management program:

Sport Marketing: In this course students learn about the marketing techniques used in current sports advertising campaigns. This course can be the first step towards a career in a sports organization's marketing team or as a sports marketing manager.

Finance and Economics of Sports: This course teaches students the ins and outs of the financial and economic tools that are used in the sports industry today. Students who enjoy this foundational course may wish to pursue careers as the controller of a sports organization or as a chief financial officer.

Management of Sports Organizations: This course prepares students for managerial roles within sports organizations by teaching common management concepts. Students who enjoy this course may have the necessary skills to become the manager of a sports team.


To earn a sports management degree online, most programs require the completion of 120 credits over four years of full-time study. However, there are some factors that could lengthen how long it takes to earn your degree. For example, certain programs have an additional internship or a capstone requirement. Another factor that can impact the length of a program is whether you choose to study with a cohort of over students or at your own pace. Programs that include a cohort tend to follow a fixed sequence, while a self-paced program can allow motivated students to earn their degree in less time if they enroll in more classes at once or study during the summer term.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Sports Management Degrees?

When choosing a school for your sports management degree, be sure to select one that has been properly accredited. Attending an accredited school is important to future employers because it tells them that you have received a standard level of education as approved by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Both the DOE and CHEA are agencies that establish and implement educational policies and standards so that all schools meet the same criteria for excellence. These agencies hold educational institutions accountable and advocate for quality education, ensuring that your degree is worth the time and money you've invested in it.

Schools can either be regionally or nationally accredited. Programs with national accreditation are often less expensive and will accept transfer units from a wider selection of schools. However, the majority of U.S. colleges are regionally accredited, which tends to have stricter qualifying standards. Graduate programs often only recognize undergraduate degrees from regionally accredited schools, which is something to keep in mind if an advanced degree is a part of your plan.

The DOE is in charge of assisting schools, creating education laws, and administering student financial aid. CHEA is one of the larger college accreditation organizations in the country. They are recognized by the DOE for their accreditation standards and the quality they demand from their accredited schools. You can search for CHEA-accredited schools on their website database.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Sports Management Graduates


While some athletes make their way into sports management after successful careers on the field, most sports managers follow a different path, earning a degree and starting in an entry-level role. A degree in sports management shows potential employers that you have learned the business and economic side of the sports industry. This helps employers trust that you have more than just a deep appreciation for sports. A degree can also make it easier to obtain management-level roles that offer higher wages.


Just like many industries, careers in the sports industry increase in salary as you gain more experience. The table below includes a few examples of the salary growth potential in common sports management careers:

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Strength and Conditioning Coach $40,025 $36,568 $42,139 $52,116
Athletic Trainer $40,125 $38,679 $41,934 $52,280
Event Manager $49,609 $44,830 $51,926 $60,194
Athletic Director $57,256 $49,593 $58,789 $78,236
Marketing Manager $62,650 $54,369 $65,768 $77,213

Source: PayScale


An online bachelor's in sports management prepares students for a variety of careers. Marketing and finance roles are common, but there are also several unique positions that cannot be found outside of the sports industry.

Financial Manager: Financial managers are responsible for the financial aspects of a sports organizations, including budgets, investments, and overall financial health. To become a successful financial manager, you'll need a strong understanding and love of math and accounting. The median annual wage for financial managers is $121,750 with a projected employment growth of 7% from 2014–2024.

Coach: Coaches are the head of any sports team. They are responsible motivating their team and for teaching athletes how they can improve their performance. Many coaches earn their position by having played a specific sport, but earning a degree can give you an edge by proving that you're trained to work with and motivate athletes. The median annual wage is $31,460 and employment is projected to have a 6% growth from 2014 to 2024.


Joining a professional sports organization is a great way to get more out of your college years than just a degree. As a member of a professional organization, you'll be able to make valuable professional connections that can lead to future internships or jobs. You'll also have access to job boards created by member organizations. Overall, joining a professional organization as a student can be your first glimpse into the sports industry with conferences, programs, and career opportunities that you may not have otherwise. The following are a few of the major professional organizations that all sports management students should consider:

The North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM): The purpose of NASSM is to promote professional development in the sports industry. The NASSM Student Board is responsible for organizing an annual conference that gives students the chance to network with active professionals.

Sport Marketing Association (SMA): This organization aims to expand the knowledge of sports marketers by providing forums and professional development opportunities. SMA holds an annual conference that allows students to network with sports marketing professionals and learn about innovations in the field.

College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA): The CoSIDA consists of more than 3,000 member organizations in the realm of sports public relations, media relations, and communications. CoSIDA offers members access to professional development and continuing education resources, including an annual convention.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Sports Management Program

As with any other college program, many students worry about the cost of earning their degree. Luckily, there are several sources of financial aid that can make earning an online bachelor's in sports management more affordable. The first thing you should do is fill out a FAFSA form, which will qualify you for basic federal funding opportunities. There are also scholarships and grants designed specifically for sports management students. You can find these scholarships and grants at your chosen school or through private organizations, such as the Institute of Sports Management and the Women's Sports Foundation.


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