Best Online Sports Management Master's Degree Programs

Sports management master's degree programs help prepare graduates for a variety of careers in the sports industry. Explore some of the top degree programs in the field, common coursework, and career option details. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Sports Management

Online master's degree programs in sports management are specialized management degree programs that aim to help students further develop their leadership and management skills. Some of the best of these online programs are affordable, provide hands-on learning experiences, offer unique culminating experiences, and/or are taught by expert faculty in the field. Compare some of these top programs and learn about sports management degree programs in detail.

1. Concordia University-Saint Paul

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Saint Paul, MN$8,550

Concordia University in Saint Paul offers an online Master of Arts (MA) in Sport Management that can be completed in about 18 months. The program requires 33 credits and includes a final capstone course. Despite being online, the program still provides students with hands-on experiences and helps prepare them to apply their knowledge to the field. The school ranked near the top in the state for graduate program alumni making the highest earnings, with graduates taking home 44% more than the national average.

2. Texas A&M University-College Station

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
College Station, TX$9,812

Texas A&M University in College Station has an online Master of Science (MS) in Sport Management. TAMU's on-campus faculty teaches its distance ed courses and that's a major plus -- its faculty includes 19 members of National Academies, 3 Wolf Awards winners and 3 Nobel Prize recipients. Students doing the thesis option must complete 32 credits, while those in the non-thesis option must complete 36 credits. Students are also required to complete a final exam and the entire program must be completed in 7 years (limit).

3. Virginia Commonwealth University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Richmond, VA$14,496

Virginia Commonwealth University provides an online Master of Sport Leadership degree program that totals 36 credits. The program includes an optional externship option and one on-campus evening course each semester for working part-time students. Students can choose from multiple start dates for flexibility and the online courses utilize Zoom and Blackboard to provide courses in real-time. The Center for Sport Leadership, where the degree program is housed, is ranked globally in graduate satisfaction.

4. University of Southern Mississippi

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Hattiesburg, MS$8,624

The University of Southern Mississippi has an online MS in Sport Management that requires 33 credit hours. The program offers a unique emphasis in sport event security management, which is the first program of its type in the nation, and the school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools of Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The program also includes a sports management practicum experience and multiple start dates for flexibility.

5. Baker University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Baldwin City, KS$10,368

Baker University provides an online MS in Sports Management that can be completed in 18 to 20 months and totals 33 credit hours. Students in the program can choose from concentrations in human resources, finance, leadership and organizational change, or healthcare administration, and must maintain a 3.0 GPA. The program is known for its affordability and even offers a 10% tuition discount for Baker University alumni who continue to another degree level at the school.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Fresno Pacific UniversityFresno, CA$17,112
7Ohio University-Main CampusAthens, OH$9,720
8University of Southern IndianaEvansville, IN$9,820
9Lasell CollegeNewton, MA$10,960
10Duquesne UniversityPittsburg, PA$23,112
11Indiana State UniversityTerre Haute, IN$7,616
12Washington State UniversityPullman, WA$12,802
13Troy UniversityTroy, AL$8,506
14Central Washington UniversityEllensburg, WA$11,116
15Hardin-Simmons UniversityAbilene, TX$11,875
16Henderson State UniversityArkadelphia, AR$6,126
17Clemson UniversityClemson, SC$10,602
18Arkansas State University-Main CampusJonesboro, AR$6,210
19Concordia University-IrvineIrvine, CA$7,774
20University of FloridaGainesville, FL$12,737
21Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$34,995
22Concordia University-ChicagoRiver Forest, IL$9,180
23University of South AlabamaMobile, AL$8,156
24Temple UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$17,378
25University of Mary Hardin-BaylorBelton, TX$17,650
26Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityMadison, NJ$23,802
27Morehead State UniversityMorehead, KY$10,512
28East Central UniversityAda, OK$4,964
29Campbellsville UniversityCampbellsville, KY$10,380
30Georgia Southern UniversityStatesboro, GA$8,728
31Barry UniversityMiami, FL$17,820
32Nova Southeastern UniversityFort Lauderdale, FL$20,620
33Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH$18,810
34Colorado Mesa UniversityGrand Junction, CO$9,540
35Jackson State UniversityJackson, MS$8,051
36Southeastern Oklahoma State UniversityDurant, OK$5,022
37SUNY CortlandCortland, NY$12,756
38Adelphi UniversityGarden City, NY$42,085
39Keystone CollegeLa Plume, PA$15,600
40Wayne State UniversityDetroit, MI$17,661
41Franklin Pierce UniversityRindge, NH$17,200
42Liberty UniversityLynchburg, VA$8,333
43Western Carolina UniversityCullowhee, NC$7,361
44Belhaven UniversityJackson, MS$10,350
45Minot State UniversityMinot, ND$8,873
46Jacksonville State UniversityJacksonville, AL$10,080
47Tiffin UniversityTiffin, OH$13,000
48Delaware State UniversityDover, DE$5,510
49Wesley CollegeDover, DE$10,800
50Coker CollegeHartsville, SC$15,032

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Degree Overview of Online Master's in Sports Management

Online master's degree programs in sports management are typically available as MA or MS degrees, but there are also closely related degree programs available, such as Master of Sport Leadership programs. These degree programs usually range from 33 to 36 credits and usually take 18 to 24 months to complete, but there are some programs that can be completed in as little as 12 months. Many of these programs offer multiple start dates for flexibility and can be completed fully online.

Some online master's degree programs in sports management may require students to maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program and/or for graduation. Several of these degree programs require or offer a culminating experience of some kind, whether it be a thesis option, capstone course, practicum experience, or comprehensive exam. There are also some programs that may allow students to further focus their studies by offering various concentrations. Some of the available concentrations for these programs may include:

  • Finance
  • Sport leadership
  • Athletic administration
  • Human resources
  • Parks and recreation
  • Leadership and organizational change

Common Courses

Online master's degree programs in sports management typically require some core courses, a range of electives and specialization courses when concentrations are offered. There are also some programs that may offer an optional study abroad experience for interested students. Some common course topics for these degree programs include:

  • Sports marketing- These courses examine marketing strategies and consumer behaviors particular to the of world sports. Some of these courses may also incorporate topics in public relations and business strategies with sponsorships, event management, and more.
  • Sports finance- Courses in sports finance generally focus on the financial and accounting principles important for managerial positions. Topics may include cash flow management, budgeting, sports economics, and financial performance.
  • Sport facility and event management- Students in these courses explore the various theories and principles of sport facility design and maintenance, as well as all of the planning and administrative duties that go into supervising a sporting event. These courses usually examine the various challenges and unique features of different kinds of stadiums/arenas and events.
  • Policy/ethics in sports- Courses in ethics and policies of sports usually focus on the role of sports administrators. These courses may utilize case studies as they help teach students about ethical considerations when developing policies.
  • Leadership in sport- Leadership courses generally focus on organizational leadership and the various leadership styles that are effective for sports organizations. Students in these courses further develop their communication and decision-making skills, as well as other management and leadership techniques.

How to Choose an Online Master's in Sports Management

Students interested in earning an online master's degree in sports management have many factors to consider when choosing the right program for them. Since programs in this field can be so different, they may want to begin by finding a program that offers a particular concentration area or courses that may align most closely with personal interests and career goals.

The next factor to consider may be the formatting. Some programs can be completed much faster than others, which may allow students to enter the workforce earlier. There are also some programs that offer more hands-on learning opportunities, such as an optional practicum experience or study abroad experience. Below, we discuss a couple other important factors to consider when choosing an online master's in sports management.

Accreditation

Students should be sure to search for accredited schools and/or programs in sports management. Typically, schools that offer online master's degree programs in sports management are regionally accredited by an educational organization to ensure that the institution is meeting high academic standards and providing quality programs. For example, some schools may be regionally accredited by groups like the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools of Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. This institutional accreditation is required to receive federal financial aid.

In addition to institution accreditation, some online master's programs in sports management may be accredited by business or sport management-related organizations. This kind of specific accreditation helps ensure that programs in a particular subject meet quality academic standards set for that field. Some sport management programs might be accredited by groups like the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Cost of Program

Although tuition rates vary from school to school, and some schools offer various kinds of discounts, such as a discount for alumni, there are several online master's programs in sports management that cost at least $600 per credit hour. When calculating the total cost of a program students also need to consider any additional fees a school may have, such as a graduation fee, technology fee, and/or registration fees. Some students may also need to spend additional funds to meet technology requirements for online programs and/or on books and materials.

Career Options in Sports Management

Graduates with a master's degree in sports management are generally prepared to take on leadership and/or managerial positions in a wider range of roles in the sports industry. For example, graduates may work in sports marketing, sport facility operations, sports administration, coaching, and more. Some examples of job titles for graduates of this degree program may include:

  • High school athletic director
  • Sports marketing director
  • Recreation specialist
  • Event manager
  • Stadium events coordinator
  • College head coach
  • Operations director parks and recreation

Coaches

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups coaches and scouts of all levels of competition together and reported that as of 2018, these professionals had a median salary of $33,780. However, salary varies greatly with the level of competition. For example, college coaches typically make more than secondary school coaches. Coaches and scouts had a job outlook of 11% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than average, according to the BLS.

Coaches are responsible for managing practices, helping athletes further develop their skills in the sport, and making game-time decisions. These professionals generally develop the team's or individual's strategies for competition and suggest ways for improvement. Coaches generally need to encourage and motivate their athletes to help push them to the next level of competition.

Agents and Business Managers for Athletes

Graduates from sports management programs might choose to become agents or business managers for athletes. In this role, they would negotiate contracts for the clients and manage all the business aspects of an athlete's career so they can focus on the field. According to data reported in 2018 by the BLS, agents or business managers for athletes make an average annual salary of $90,930.

Education Administrators

O*Net Online groups athletic directors under education administrators for elementary and secondary schools. According to the BLS, these professionals made a median salary of $95,310, as of 2018. These administrators had a job outlook between 4% and 6% from 2018 to 2028, per the BLS.

Athletic directors and other education administrators are responsible for supporting other school administrators and staff, as well as helping student-athletes. They may need to help set policies for the school's athletic department, plan events, and evaluate available programs.

Event Planners

The BLS does not provide information specifically for sports event managers, but does provide data on meeting, convention, and event planners. These planners had a median salary of $49,370, as of 2018, per the BLS. The BLS also reported that these planners that worked in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry made a median salary of $42,500. Meeting, convention, and event planners had a job outlook of 7% from 2018 to 2028, per the BLS, which is faster than average.

In general, event planners are responsible for planning and implementing various kinds of events. They need to understand the requirements of each event and may help plan the time, date, and location of said event. They commonly need to coordinate activities with various parties/vendors involved in the event and ensure that the event stays within budget. For sports event managers, this might include managing the logistics of a sporting event, catering to fans at the venue and ensuring profitability.

Professional Licensure and Certification

There is not one specific license required for sports management professionals. However, some careers may require specific certifications and/or licensures. One example is high school athletic coaches. Depending on the state, most coaches in the public school system are required to have coaching certification. This certification may require training in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and/or coaching fundamentals.

Though not required, the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) from the Events Industry Council can be helpful in showing potential employers a level of expertise in event planning.

Professional Organizations in Sports Management

Due to the vastness of the field, there are many professional organizations available in sports management. These organizations help provide professionals in the field with a range of resources, including travel information, events, and professional development opportunities. A few examples of professional organizations in sports management include:

  • Sports Management Worldwide - The SMWW serves as an online learning resource for professionals and provides online courses for those looking to advance their sports career. The organization also holds conferences for different sports and provides career information for professionals. Students can even participate in sports internships and/or apprenticeships.
  • National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association - The NIAAA is specifically for athletic administrators working in middle and high schools across the nation. The organization aims to help professionals advance their careers by providing professional development opportunities and conferences. Administrators can become members of the organization and the group also offers students scholarships and awards in the field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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