best online masters programs in sports managementThe best online masters in sports management degrees help to “level up” both current coaches and those seeking to break into the business side of sports management.

Sports are big business, but the importance of sports goes further. Sports teams are communities (nations, even) unto themselves, and proper management can either grow a franchise’s sway or incite fans to “call for the heads” of an organization.

Into these management positions, it’s important that individuals both truly understand the game at hand as well as business fundamentals. Besides needing to be the right candidate, a quality degree in sports management can take you a long way.

Today there are more sports management degrees than ever before. And as relatively new types of degrees, many are innovative. Some of the most innovative offerings in current sports management programs include in-depth mentorship with current industry pros, research opportunities, flexible scheduling, and top-notch networking opportunities.

We looked at close to 50 masters-level online degree programs focused on sports management. These degrees had many focal areas, and if you’re looking for a specific type of sports management degree, we recommend you read through all of the degree types below. Some of the most common degree types we saw included the following:

  • online masters degree in sports managmentMasters in sports management
  • Masters in coaching and sports management
  • Masters in sports management studies
  • MBA with a sports management concentration
  • Masters in fitness and recreation management
  • Among others

Before you go, you may be wondering how we determined which programs should be placed in our ranking.

Our ranking methodology for Masters in Sports Management degrees draws on the same tenets we try to rely on in many of our academic rankings. We get that choosing a degree program is a mixture of values including how good a program is, what the program will return to you (ROI), and how accommodating a program can be of your work and life needs.

We also looked at programs that help to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge of sports management and landing a job in the industry. Many sports management organizations are small, and you really have to have the right strategy to break into the field. Choosing the right program can help.

For this particular ranking our methodology may be seen below:

  • Academic Quality (33.33%): a range of metrics including admissions selectivity, whether or not a program is nationally accredited, and the research profile of the parent university
  • Support Measures (33.3%): range of events, support services, and flexibility granting program elements such as accelerated courses, asynchronous courses, mentorship opportunities and so forth
  • Return on Investment (33.3%): cost-related metrics including cost per credit hour, whether in-state and out-of-state tuition is available, and overall cost

The estimated annual costs reported below are obtained from the Niche or NCES websites.

  1. MERIT: 99.7
    View Profile Average Cost: $40,977

    Online Master of Science in Sports Management

    drexel university, Online Master of Science in Sports ManagementOur top online masters program featured in this ranking is the sports medicine degree at Drexel University. Recently, Drexel made a vast improvement to this program seeking to match industry expectations. This truly innovative school is known to change with the times, and that is apparent once again with this degree. The degree mixes essential sports management courses with their world-renowned business curriculum preparing you for a vast number of career opportunities- something you will need in this evolving and competitive field.

    The degree itself is flexible in that you can tailor your programming to match your needs. There are many dual degree options like for example their MBA/MS in Sports Management, and their MBA/MS Business Analytics. The curriculum is organized into 10-week quarters, for a total of 45 credits. You will have an opportunity to select from a wide range of electives for 12 of those credits and all students complete an “experimental component” such as a seminar in international business, research project, or a sports industry practicum. You will gain experience working with all four major league sports organizations as well as with sports organizations across the globe. We selected this program because of the high-quality academic offerings.

    About Drexel University

    Drexel University is a private research university located in Philadelphia that was founded in 1891. Today Drexel enrolls over 24,000 students and offers nearly 50 online degrees and professional certifications. This rigorous institution currently ranks as the 102nd best school in the nation and does require the GRE/MAT and TOEFL scores for admittance.

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  2. MERIT: 99.4
    View Profile Average Cost: $13,442

    Online Masters in Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Sports Management

    North Carolina State University, online masters degree in sports managementOne of our top choices for the best online masters in sports management is this program from North Carolina State University- Raleigh. Over 90% of students are able to complete this online program in just two years. Each semester is 7-weeks and courses are taken one at a time. Students generally complete 2 courses in 15 weeks for a total of 31 credit hours. No GRE is required for admittance to this degree. We like this program for the accelerated course format.

    The program is divided into two main parts- core components and electives. The majority of the 31 credit hours are core courses and include course material in foundations of recreation, fiscal management, and marketing among others. This program has a strong focus on business and the program aims to equip students with advanced management skills to help them further their careers in parks, recreation, and sports management. Though a GRE is not required for entrance into this program, a GRE score from the last 5 years may be used to substitute the 2 years of relevant work experience that are required for entry. We like this degree not only for its flexibility but also for the affordable tuition rate, particularly for North Carolina residents.

    About North Carolina State University- Raleigh

    North Carolina State University Raleigh is a public research university that currently ranks as the 80th best school in the nation according to US News. NC State is notable for its engineering school, education school, and for the Jenkins Graduate School of Management. Additionally, NC State is known for its innovative programming and support of its military students.

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  3. MERIT: 99.3
    View Profile Average Cost: $27,925

    Online Master of Science in Sport Management

    Adelphi University, Online Master of Science in Sport Management
    Third on our list is the online masters in Sport Management from Adelphi University. Students have the option to follow one of two specializations in either Sport Marketing or Athletic Administration. No GRE or GMAT is required for entry into this program. The course takes about 24 months to complete and is a great option for students who like to work at an accelerated pace.

    This program includes a strong foundational core in business management including course material in mass media, marketing, public relations, and sales. The aim of the program is to teach students about Sport branding and empower students to become leaders in the field of sport management. We like this program for the personalized attention students receive as the student-to-faculty ratio remains low at just 10:1. This is a great option for an individual who is looking to change careers or advance in the field of sports management.

    About Adelphi University

    Adelphi University is a private university located in Garden City, New York. There are satellite locations in Manhattan, Hudson Valley, and Suffolk County. Originally, Adelphi was founded in 1863 in Brooklyn, New York. Today Adelphi offers a number of online degrees and ranks highly for value and their business programming.

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  4. MERIT: 99.0
    View Profile Average Cost: $34,085

    Masters in Sport and Athletic Administration

    Gonzaga University, Masters in Sport and Athletic Administration
    The masters in sport and athletic administration at Gonzaga University made it to the 4th spot on this year’s list. We like Gonzaga because the programming is flexible and the university offers interesting internship opportunities. The university offers internships at franchises across this nation including for the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Orioles, and Cleveland Indians. The stats about Gonzaga reveal that students are engaged, as this school ranked first for full-time retention. This program is also flexible as students may select to study this course online or in person.

    The course itself is just 31 credits in length and may be completed in 2 years. You will learn how to make a career in the industry through courses in marketing and communication, leadership development, financial analysis, media relations, risk management, community outreach, team building and more. Their curriculum is a good match for individuals making a career change or advancing in their careers. Some of the jobs this course prepares you for including academic director, marketer, team and game operator, and sports facilities manager among others. If you are looking for an exciting opportunity in the field of sports management, definitely consider the programming at Gonzaga.

    About Gonzaga University

    Gonzaga University is a small private institution located in Spokane, Washington. Their student-to-faculty ratio is just 11:1. Gonzaga currently rolls around 7,500 students and accepts credit for life experience. They are ranked third in their region for best colleges for veterans, 7th for innovation, and 4th overall in the region.

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  5. MERIT: 98.7
    View Profile Average Cost: $21,281

    Master of Business Administration with a Focus on Sport Management

    Umass Amherst, Online MBA with a focus in Sports Management
    The Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has made it to our list for a number of reasons. This program is offered through the Isenberg School of Management and works well for individuals who are looking to switch careers or for individuals who are ready to take their career in sport management to the next level. The courses through UMass Amherst are experiential in nature, meaning that no matter where you are in your career with sports management you will receive highly valuable hands-on experience.

    The program was recently ranked 3rd in the world by Financial Times. We like this option for anyone who is looking for hands-on rigor. To satisfy program requirements, students will need to complete 9 credit hours from the following areas: Sport Analytics, Consumer Sales Strategies, Applied Sport Market Research, Data Management for Business Leaders, Negotiations Theory and Practice, Project Management, and Advanced Negotiations for Managers. The total required credit hours with the MBA and the focus are 45. Though not the most accelerated program, this online degree will likely be a good fit for anyone seeking comprehensive knowledge of sport management.

    About UMass Amherst

    UMass Amherst is a public research university that has recently emerged as one of the leading schools in the world for online education. Aiming to fill the needs of today’s workplace, UMass Amherst offers online programming that focuses on fields with high demand for skilled employees. Their most sought-after online degrees are in the fields of business and health.

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  6. MERIT: 98.4
    View Profile Average Cost: $20,592

    Masters in Sports Administration

    Canisius College, online Masters in Sports AdministrationThe Masters in Sports Administration from Canisius College ranked highly for its flexible and accelerated programming. Students have the option to complete this course online or in-person meaning you have the flexibility to choose a delivery style that best suits your own personal learning needs. The online degree is much quicker only requiring 33 credit hours for completion and may be completed in as little as one year. If you need an accelerated program, the program at Canisius may the most accelerated program offered.

    If you study in person you will receive additional MBA core course materials though not necessary to advance your career. The online program is more of a set course of action where you complete 9 courses and one internship. Some of the online courses include courses in intercollegiate athletics, sport finance and business, and professional sports. This is a fantastic course for individuals who are not honing in on one area or another but looking to work in the industry no matter what the level. It appears that alumni from this program get hired as there are hundreds working in this very competitive industry. One downside of such an accelerated program is the rigor of maintaining a full-time job and a full-time course load. Over 80% of their students are successful which is high considering the commitment required. If you need to knock out this requirement to advance your career, look no further this is the program for you.

    About Canisius College

    Canisius is a small private Roman Catholic college. There are currently just over 3,000 students enrolled, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1. The college makes a point of supplying degrees in high-demand fields like education, health, and business. Canisius offers credit for life experience as well as support for military students and veterans.

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  7. MERIT: 98.1
    View Profile Average Cost: $21,607

    Online Master of Athletic Administration

    Ohio University, Online Master of Athletic Administration
    The Online Master of Athletic Administration from Ohio University was one the first of its kind. We selected this online degree because of the current and relevant information included in the curriculum. Ohio University has had over 50 years of experience in the industry to develop this curriculum and adjust with the times. Students who select this program are likely to find information relevant to what is happening right now in the sports industry.

    The course descriptions really say it all. In addition to your common sports administration courses, you will learn about the current ethics and legality that individuals and franchises face in the business. Though perhaps not the most attractive aspect of sports admin, these issues permeate the business and are absolutely crucial to master to obtain and secure a job in the industry today. This online degree will take approximately 2 years to complete and also includes course material in facility management and sport marketing among others. The faculty for this course are as diverse as the industry including athletes, business persons, and lawyers. You really will get a taste of what’s to come in the industry. This is a no-nonsense program with 50 years of experience in the changing field to back it. Don’t hesitate to check out Ohio University for anything related to sports and sport management.

    About Ohio University

    Ohio University has its main campus in Athens, Ohio and is a 4-year research university with satellite campuses located across the state. The university offers a wide range of degrees though their most popular programs are in the field of business. Ohio University shines in the areas of administration and marketing.

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  8. MERIT: 97.8
    View Profile Average Cost: $26,954

    Master of Science in Sports Management

    Liberty University, affordable online degrees
    The Master of Science in Sports Management from Liberty University made the cut for their high-quality academic programming and convenient format. This program is certified through the Commission on Sports Management Education (COSMA) and is offered 100% online at an accelerated rate. The total credit requirements are just 36 and the degree takes on average just 18 months to complete. Each course is only 8-weeks long meaning you can accelerate through this program.

    This is a non-thesis degree that may be customized with any one of the Liberty’s specializations. The core courses focus on contemporary issues in the workplace such as discrimination against women, violence, and more. You will learn to navigate the tough social issues facing the field of sport and gain knowledge of the overarching ethic of the field. Some of their additional featured courses include Sports Marketing and Public Relations as well as Economic and Financial Management. Some of their related areas of specialization include programming in coaching and athletic administration as well as adventure sports. This is a fun well-rounded program.

    About Liberty University

    Liberty University is an evangelical university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Over the years, Liberty has made a name for itself as a serious innovator in online education. Right now the university enrolls nearly 80,000 students and offers literally hundreds of online programs ranging from an online masters program in ethnomusicology to an online MBA.

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  9. MERIT: 97.5
    View Profile Average Cost: $20,741

    Master of Sport Leadership

    VCU-logo, online masters programs in sports management
    The Master of Sport Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is one of two programs like it in the United States. We selected this degree for its flexible format- students may take this either entirely online or in person. The program is divided into three main components; courses, an externship, and a comprehensive examination. Students who elect to take courses in person must attend full-time where the online option works well for individuals who would like to complete this class part-time.

    The courses are divided into two categories- required core and electives. The required core includes research methods, sociology of sport, sport business, marketing of sport, leadership models in sport, and sports law. The electives are a great opportunity for students to tailor their degree to meet their specific needs. Some of the electives include classes like Sport Ethics, NCAA Collegiate Coaching, Sport and Entertainment Event Development, Independent Study and much more. VCU has done a great job designing a very flexible and fun program. Who doesn’t want to tailor their degree in sports? Whether you have your heart set on a specific focus area or are looking for a wide range of options to stretch their opportunities, there’s something for everyone at VCU.

    About Virginia CommonWealth University

    Virginia CommonWealth University is a public research university with very high research activity according to Carnegie. US News ranks VCU highly for its online education programs, online engineering programs, and online MBA programs. VCU was founded in 1838 and now enrolls over 30,000 students.

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  10. MERIT: 97.2
    View Profile Average Cost: $15,213

    Master of Science in Sport Management

    online college degree, online masters degreeThe Online Master of Science in Sport Management from Old Dominion is ranked near the top of the list because this program is a great fit for individuals looking to study online. This is relatively affordable for both in-state and out-of-state students. The degree in itself is just 36 credit hours in length along with a capstone initiative. The capstone options include an internship or a thesis. Those who pursue an internship are required to complete a comprehensive exam before starting their internship.

    The program is divided into three main components: core courses, research core, and capstone. The sport management core includes programming in Sports Finance, Strategic Marketing in Sport, Sports Law, and Management and Leadership in Sport. 12 credit hours are devoted to electives and include courses that focus on youth development, sponsorship and event planning, ethics in sport management, and social issues in sport. If you are looking for a well-rounded and affordable program in sports management Old Dominion is a great option.

    About Old Dominion University

    Old Dominion University (ODU) is a public research university located in Norfolk, Virginia. ODU accepts credit for life experience and supports military students. In recent years, ODU has greatly expanded its online education presence and currently offers online programming in health, psychology, engineering, education, business, and so much more.

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  11. MERIT: 96.9
    View Profile Average Cost: $14,235

    Master of Arts in Sports Management

    logo-Fresno-Pacific-UniversityOne of our top picks is the Master of Arts in Sports Management from Fresno Pacific University for a number of reasons including their comprehensive academic programming. Whether you are ready to advance your career or start afresh in sports management, this program is a great fit. The program is just 30 credit hours long and is divided into two main parts- 21 credits of sports courses, and then 9 credit hours to satisfy the master of arts requirements. Those courses are strongly centered around kinesiology including the legal aspects of kinesiology and sport.

    This program is affordable and delivered entirely online. What’s more, there’s a strong focus on professional development. You will have an opportunity to truly hone the type of manager you will be in a workplace setting. Fresno also offers two related programs one in athletic training and the other in physical education.

    About Fresno Pacific University

    Fresno Pacific University is a private four-year university that enrolls just over 4,000 students. This school is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren Church and focuses on degree offerings that in high-demand fields like business, education, and health. The student-to-faculty ratio is 13:1.

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  12. MERIT: 96.5
    View Profile Average Cost: $16,864

    Master of Education With a Specialization in Sports Management


    A great option is the online Master of Education with a Specialization in Sports Management. This online degree is perfect for coaches or other athletic educators who are looking to expand their leadership potential into the realm of sports management. If you can be a teacher you can be anything. The program aims to focus on contemporary issues that you will have to face in the field. We selected this program because it is accelerated.

    The entire degree is just 10 courses long and 30 credit hours in length. If you move rapidly you can complete this program in just 15 months. Working adults will take longer to complete this program. You have up to 5 years to complete this program. 18 credit hours are devoted to the specialization including courses like Legal Aspects in Athletics, Ethics in Sport, Leadership and Administration of Athletic Programs, Marketing in Athletics and others. This program is taught through their school of education.

    About Northcentral University

    Northcentral University (NCU) is a regionally accredited private university that offers online degrees. There are currently just over 10,000 students enrolled at this professional university that aims to equip individuals to fill careers that are highly in demand. NCU offers online programming in the fields of business, IT, education, health, homeland security, law, psychology, and public administration.

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  13. MERIT: 96.2
    View Profile Average Cost: $12,506

    Master of Science in Sport Management

    University of Southern Mississippi, online masters programs
    The Master of Science in Sport Management from the University of Southern Mississippi was selected for its generally affordable tuition rate and convenient online format. The program is just 33 credit hours in length 24 of which are core courses. All students are required to complete a comprehensive exam. This is an excellent option for military veterans or service members. This program works well for individuals who have at the very least a knowledge of business management. It is designed to build upon past skills and course materials.

    The core courses focus on current trends and issues in sport, sports venue and event management, as well as applied research among other issues. This program does include a sports management practicum. Those who wish to apply must submit GRE scores along with three letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose. Classes begin on the same schedule as classes that take on campus.

    About the University of Southern Mississippi

    The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is a public institution located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. US News ranks USM among the top 300 schools in the nation, and highly for their business programs, online MBA programs, and online graduate nursing degrees. USM currently enrolls over 14,000 students and maintains a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1.

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  14. MERIT: 95.8
    View Profile Average Cost: $17,098

    Master’s in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration

    online masters in sports management, mississippi college
    We selected the online Master’s in Intercollegiate Athletic Administration from Mississippi College for its excellent curriculum sequencing. The college offers this program online although the final examination must be completed at their campus. Students are required to fulfill 36 credit hours of course material. If you have an undergraduate GPA above a 3.0, you do not need to take the GRE. All others must submit GRE scores for admission to this program.

    The curriculum is divided into two main components, 12 credit hours of intercollegiate classes and 24 of athletic administration. The athletics administration classes include courses in NCAA rules and regulations, media sales, public relations in college athletics as well as research and one elective. All students participate in a graduate practicum. This is a 36 credit hour degree.

    About Mississippi College

    Mississippi College is a private university located in Clinton, Mississippi. The college enrolls just over 5,000 students and offers support to military students. This is a Southern Baptist institution.
    Mississippi College is classified as a professional university with a large concentration of its degrees in high-need fields like education, health, and business. Mississippi College is regionally accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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  15. MERIT: 95.4
    View Profile Average Cost: $14,955

    Master of Science in Management with a Specialization in Sports Management

    Wilmington University, Master of Science in Management with a Specialization in Sports Management
    We selected the Master of Science in Management- Sports Management from Wilmington University for its flexible programming. You can customize your degree to match your needs. Wilmington offers 11 specializations of which sports management is just one. Wilmington also accepts credit for previous work experiences and course work meaning that you have the opportunity to save time and money when enrolling with this program through Wilmington.

    The MS in Sports Management includes 18 core courses and 18 in sports management. You will learn about organization theory, business strategy in sports management, sports service and events marketing and more. There are two elective courses taken with this program which enables you to further tailor this degree to match your interests. If you have credits and life experience and need an affordable as well as an accelerated route towards your master’s in sports management do not hesitate to check out this fully online program from Wilmington.

    About Wilmington University

    Wilmington University is a professional university located in New Castle, Delaware and enrolls over 14,000 students. The university is student-focused which is made apparent through their many exciting student support services such as their credit for life experience offerings and academic as well as career counseling. Nearly all of their courses are available online and their most popular programs are in the field of business as well as computer information sciences.

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  16. MERIT: 95.1
    View Profile Average Cost: $16,264

    Online Master of Science Sports Management

    Georgia southern university, Online Master of Science Sports Management
    This spot in our ranking on the best online masters in sports management goes to Georgia Southern University. This university has an established history of providing sports-related degrees as well as online programming. Some of the metrics supporting Georgia Southern’s placement in this ranking include quality academic support measures, the school’s nationally known name, and an established network of alumni in the sports management program.

    This two-year 36-credit hour program has a proven track record of helping to prep a wide range of graduates, from local youth league coordinators through working on the United States Olympic Committee. The program offers a hybrid take on sports management that could lead to future coaching jobs, to work in business offices, in marketing, or in management related to sports organizations.

    About Georgia Southern University

    Georgia Southern University is a public university with campuses across the state of Georgia (and online). The university offers degrees at the bachelors through doctoral levels to a student body of close to 27,000 students. The school is a member of the University of Georgia System of schools.

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  17. MERIT: 94.8
    View Profile Average Cost: $23,754

    Online Master of Sports Administration

    One of our favorite online masters in sports administration degrees for this year may be seen in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s program. We like this program for its nationally known name, the fact that students may choose between different specializations and rigorous admissions standards within the program. Additionally, a 50% scholarship is available to all applicants, talk about a great deal!

    Students starting the program today can take advantage of three concentration options within the program including:

    • A sports administration concentration
    • A coaching theory and strategies concentration
    • And choose your own electives concentration

    Unlike some of the programs on the list that focus primarily on coaching or on the business of sports, this program allows you to pursue either one with great depth and pre-built programs to guide you along your way.

    About Fairleigh Dickinson University

    Fairleigh Dickinson University is the largest private university in New Jersey and home to over 11,000 students. The University is known for its several international campuses as well as its growing platform for online courses.

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  18. MERIT: 94.5
    View Profile Average Cost: $17,783

    Online Master of Business Administration – Sports Administration Concentration

    Belhaven University, online masters in sports managementOne of the unique offerings in our ranking of the best online masters in sports management is presented by Belhaven University. This MBA with a sports administration concentration provides a great choice for the right kind of candidate due to the slight program differences in an MBA and MS, the nationally known name of Belhaven, and the adult student support services in place with the program.

    While this degree program likely won’t directly enhance your ability as a coach, MBAs are known as a way to gain exposure to a wide range of business disciplines at the graduate level. This makes this a great degree for future advances within a sports organization, or support for starting your own. A lenient transfer policy in which prior experience can lead to credit, as well as a lenient admissions policy,  makes this a good program for many students.

    About Belhaven University

    Belhaven University, located in Jackson, Mississippi, is a mid-sized, private, Christian university. Known for their programming in Christian ministry, as well as pre-professional programs in nursing, medicine, law, and other fields, Belhaven is a great choice in-person or online. The university presently serves close to 4,000 students in-person and online.

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  19. MERIT: 94.1
    View Profile Average Cost: $14,116

    Online M.S. in Sports Science

    online MS in sports Science, jackson state universityJackson State University provides a unique entrance into sports administration without a masters in sports management degree. Their program in sports science with a concentration in sports management blends science behind the players themselves as well as conditions surrounding “the field” such as marketing, finance, and governing bodies.

    We like this program for its breadth of focus similar to an MBA yet more tailored to sports organizations. A wide range of business and research disciplines are covered in the degree, which teaches research methods, statistics for business, marketing for sport organizations, and psychology and sociology for sports. At the end of the course of study, students may elect to pursue either a capstone or a thesis.

    About Jackson State University

    Jackson State University is one of the largest historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States. Located in Jackson, Mississippi, close to 8,000 students are served by the University today. A range of noteworthy alumni have called the University home, which has played a critical role in the social fabric and culture of the state and region.

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  20. MERIT: 93.7
    View Profile Average Cost: $28,441

    Online M.S. in Sports Management

    Lasell University, Online Masters ProgramsOne of our favorite picks for this year’s best online masters in sports management degree is offered by Lasell University. This program caught our eye due to the well-known name of the parent institution, flexibility-granting program components, support for adult learners, and the range of specializations offered within the program.

    With a course of study that can be completed in as little as 12 months, this is certainly one of the (potentially) fastest programs we encountered in this year’s ranking. Of course, students wishing to proceed at a more typical pace can complete the program in 2 or more years. A range of specializations offers students more freedom in choosing their courses than most programs we surveyed. Some specializations include sport tourism and hospitality management, sport leadership, athletic administration, and parks and recreation.

    About Lasell University

    Lasell University is a small private college with a main campus located in Auburndale, Massachusetts. Though home to just over 2,000 students, the college offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as some online offerings. A top school in the region, Lasell University is particularly well known for its fashion program.

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  21. MERIT: 93.2
    View Profile Average Cost: $16,029

    M.A. in Sports Leadership

    MA in sports leadership, wesley collegeWesley College offers one of the best online masters in sports management degrees of this year’s ranking. We liked this program due to its highly customizable nature, accelerated courses, and the fact that students may choose from several related academic programs depending on their needs. Additionally, the program is one of the more affordable for those surveyed for this year’s ranking.

    Accelerated seven-week courses allow students to plan “sprints” of school work around their busy schedules. For students not looking for an entire master’s degree, graduate-level certificates are also available. Two concentrations allow students to pursue either “side of the court” through coaching and sports administration tracks. Relatively lenient admissions requirements allow a wide range of students to (potentially) gain entrance into this high-quality program.

    About Wesley College

    Wesley College is a private liberal arts college located in Dover, Delaware. Home to around 2,000 students, primarily at the undergraduate level, the school also boasts 14.3% of its student body as non-traditional students over the age of 25. Several online programs are available through this otherwise liberal arts college.

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  22. MERIT: 92.8
    View Profile Average Cost: $12,146

    Online Master of Science in Sport & Fitness Management – Sports Management

    Troy University, online masters programsTroy University provides one of our top picks for this year’s online masters in sports management degree program ranking. Their unique program broadens sport to focus also on the range of support services in fitness management. This well-established program has alumni working in many of the most prestigious sports management settings in the US (and abroad) including the NBA, the NFL, and numerous Division I collegiate departments.

    Some reasons we really like this program are that it is highly customizable as well as academically rigorous. The only required courses within the course of study include research methods, foundations for sports and fitness management, and statistics. Beyond that students get to tailor their course of study to a great degree, and then end their study with a two-course thesis preparation period. For online as well as peer degrees, Troy University’s program certainly gives the appearance of being one of the more academically rigorous options out there.

    About Troy University

    Troy University is a large (student body-wise) public comprehensive university with a main campus in Troy, Alabama. In recent years, Troy University has opened a wide range of online degree programs, growing the student body to some extent. The school is regularly placed as one of the best schools in the region with a particularly strong department of journalism.

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  23. MERIT: 92.4
    View Profile Average Cost: $20,552

    Online MBA in Sports Business

    online mba in sports business, saint leo universitySaint Leo University’s MBA program places in this year’s ranking of the best online master’s in sports management degree programs. While MBAs are lacking in courses on coaching (in an athletic way), they’re one of the most versatile degrees you can get for advancing in a business and management organization such as many large sporting bodies are.

    Elements that we really like about this program include the name recognition of Saint Leo’s online MBA along with the support services and flexibility for adult learners that entails. With a handful of general MBA courses tailored towards sporting contexts, the degree is a great way to gain exposure to the wide variety of business disciplines that are involved with successful sporting franchises. An optional six-credit internship with a sporting organization can additionally be a great “in” for some candidates looking to switch fields.

    About Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University is a Roman Catholic, private university with a main campus located in St. Leo, Florida. The University is one of the five largest Catholic Universities in the United States, and today is known for its wide array of online degree offerings.

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  24. MERIT: 92.1
    View Profile Average Cost: $11,817

    Online Master of Science in Recreation & Sport Administration

    WKU, online masters degree programs in sports managementOne of our favorite programs we’ve seen in this year’s ranking of the best online masters in sports management is offered by Western Kentucky University. This recreation and sports administration degree (with a focus area in both athletic administration and coaching) has everything you could wish for in joining either “side” of an athletic organization.

    This two-year program provides courses three trimesters a year. Coursework is offered on facility development, legal issues in sporting, fiscal management in sporting, public relations, large events, and a sports medicine course. A unique aspect of this degree is that no thesis nor capstone is required, making it potentially a good option for students wishing to gain practical knowledge without having to perform a large original research project.

    About Western Kentucky University

    Western Kentucky University, located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a large public university with close to 20,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Degrees are offered from the bachelor’s through doctoral levels of study. In recent years, more and more degrees have also been offered online through Western Kentucky University as well.

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  25. MERIT: 91.7
    View Profile Average Cost: $11,443

    Online M.S. in Sports Management

    Indiana state university, Online M.S. in Sports ManagementIndiana State University’s master’s sports management program is one of our picks for this year’s ranking of the best online masters in sports management. Elements of this program that we like include good financial aid support, the nationally-known name of the parent university, and quality academic programming. Students must complete an internship at the end of their course of study, helping to bridge the gap between theoretical and real-world sports management work.

    One particularly unique element about this program is how thorough and well-rounded the course choices are. Though there are no concentrations or electives to choose from, students proceed through a rigorous curriculum that touches on nearly all of the subjects one would need to know to enter sports management. Topics include finance, marketing, analysis, facility design, law, leadership, compliance, public relations, and more.

    About Indiana State University

    Indiana State University is a mid-sized, public research university with a main campus located in Terre Haute, Indiana. Hundreds of degrees are available at the school from bachelor’s through doctoral levels. In recent years Indiana State University has also expanded its base of online degrees available for distance learners.

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  26. MERIT: 91.1
    View Profile Average Cost: $26,673

    Online MBA in Sports Management

    Franklin Pierce University, online masters programs in sports managementFranklin Pierce University offers one of a handful of MBA’s to make our list of the best online master’s in sports management. Sports management comprises many roles from coach through marketing, finance, public relations, leadership, and so forth. MBAs are some of the only degree types that give graduates exposure to such a wide range of disciplines. In short, they prepare students to join a sports management organization and excel in nearly any role. The same can be said of Franklin Pierce’s sports management MBA.

    Some specific elements we really like about this program include the wide range of subjects taught within the program as well as the presence of a pared-down certificate option for students for whom an MBA might be too much. Topics covered in the full MBA include the following (as they relate to sports management): finance, marketing, strategy, operations, facilities management, economics, behavior, legal issues, and more.

    About Franklin Pierce University

    Franklin Pierce University is a relatively small (student body-wise) private liberal arts university with a main campus located in Rindge, New Hampshire. The university has quality student support and student-to-faculty ratios and is also known for its professional academic programming. In recent years, Franklin Pierce has expanded its presence in online degree programs also.

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  27. MERIT: 89.9
    View Profile Average Cost: $17,865

    M.S.S. Sports Management Among Others

    master of sports science, sports managementFew online masters in sports management rankings would be complete without mention of the United States Sports Academy. While not a traditional school with degrees in a range of other topics, this specialty school is regionally accredited and offers a range of top-notch master’s level degrees related to sports management.

    While the main degree we’re highlighting here is the sports management degree, we know that sports management can take many forms. Some sports managers are also on the field coaching athletes, some work in rehabilitation, or recreation, or tourism. Thus the range of degrees including masters in sports management, sports coaching, sports health and fitness, and recreation management really is a great spread for future sports management workers. All degrees offer thesis options, non-thesis options as well as a range of electives to tailor your degree program as you need.

    About the United States Sports Academy

    The United States Sports Academy is a private, regionally accredited specialty school that focuses on sports-related topics. With a home base in Daphne, Alabama, the university also offers a wide range of online sports-related degrees and has provided these degrees in over 60 nations. Degree programs are available at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels.

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  28. MERIT: 89.5
    View Profile Average Cost: $20,799

    Online MBA in Sports Management

    online mba in sports management, tiffin universityTiffin University provides one of the final MBA with sports management concentration programs we’ve included in this year’s ranking of the best online master’s in sports management programs. For many graduates seeking jobs in sports management, MBAs are great “fits” because they allow students to gain their footing in a wide variety of subjects. If your end goal is to work in sports management, you may need to be adaptable and be willing to take a job in a range of business positions related to sports management. MBAs can prepare you for just this.

    Particular elements we like about Tiffin University’s MBA in sports management include the mentorship course as well as the rigorous quantitatively strong core MBA program. Students may graduate from this program in as little as 2 years, with 5 start dates annually that allow students to jump into the program when it is most convenient for them. Additional perks include the wide range of mentors who students can be assigned, as well as Tiffin University’s connection with the Summer Olympics. Read more about both on their program’s site.

    About Tiffin University

    Tiffin University is a small to medium-sized student body, private, coeducational university. The university provides courses from their home campus in Tiffin Ohio, at satellite campuses around Ohio, at the University of Bucharest in Romania, and online. In recent years the percentage of courses offered by the university as online courses has risen by a good deal.

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  29. MERIT: 88.9
    View Profile Average Cost: $17,755

    Online M.S. in Sports Management Studies

    California University of Pennsylvania, online masters degree in sports managementCalifornia University of Pennsylvania offers one of the most unique offerings we’ve seen in this year’s ranking of the best online masters in sports management degree programs. CalU notes that their program is the first 100% online sports management studies program. The key difference between sports management and sports management studies is that the second option is more interdisciplinary. This fact shows through the range of specializations available in the program.

    Customizability and depth of academic study are what we love about this program. Three specializations include intercollegiate athletic administration, sports management generalist, and strategic sports analysis. Students may elect to pursue a cohort model of study and graduate in as many as 17 months or accelerate their degree even more with a non-cohort based 13-month course of study. Finally, a vibrant mentorship program allows students to gain connections and insights into currently working sports management professionals.

    About California University of Pennsylvania

    California University of Pennsylvania is a public mid-sized university with a main campus located in the town of California, Pennsylvania. Over 160 degrees are available in a wide range of subjects from the university. At the graduate level, a great deal more degrees are available online, including a range of sports-related degrees.

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  30. MERIT: 88.6
    View Profile Average Cost: $34,984

    Online Masters in Sports Management

    online masters degree in sports managementSouthern New Hampshire University rounds out this year’s ranking of the best online masters in sports management degree programs. We like this program due to its interdisciplinary nature and nationally-known name. Some additional selling points of the program include reports of great networking opportunities as well as many alumni who have succeeded in sports management roles at the highest levels.

    Courses for this degree program may be tailored slightly with a choice of electives. The general core, however, is well rounded and provides a multidisciplinary look at sports management. Courses within the core include internationalization in sports, sports and society, sports marketing, sports finance, research methods, and a final capstone project. Many start dates, slightly accelerated courses, and a lenient transfer-in policy make this program particularly adult learner friendly.

    About Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonsectarian university with the main campus in rural New Hampshire. While courses are taught on campus, the university has the designation as being one of the largest not-for-profit online universities. With a student body of over 90,000 students, over 87,000 of these students actually attend 100% online.

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online masters in sports managementWhat Can You Do With a Master’s in Sports Management?

In general, there are two sides to sports management organizations. There are those involved directly with the performance, strategy and management of athletes, and those working within sports from a business perspective. In smaller organizations, these roles may overlap. But in larger organizations, they’re separated. Below we’ll highlight some of the roles in both of these camps.

Coaches, nutritionists, fitness instructors, and analysts work alongside athletes to enhance performance and manage outcomes. Roles such as coaching often depend on past experience with the sport in question, an issue separate from gaining a master’s degree. For other roles within this “camp,” however, a master’s in sports management may help you to gain employment. This is particularly the case if you can find a sports management degree with a specialization in coaching, fitness, or the role you’re seeking.

The roles that a master’s in sports management typically prepare graduates for are roles within the business office of a sports organization. These roles mirror those of many organizations and may include public relations, marketing, logistics, operations, finance, accounting, and so forth. With that said, sports, recreation, and hospitality and separate from other industries. Taking coursework that applies directly to sporting situations can give you a leg up over competition for the same positions.

How Much Do Sports Administrators Make?

online masters in sports management, online master's programs

First off, what is a sports administrator?

As is the case for business “administration” degrees, sports administrators perform administrative tasks in a wide range of disciplines for a sporting organization. Administrative tasks could deal with raising funds, or marketing, or public relations, and so forth. Basically, sports administrators are businessmen (or women) who help to keep sports organizations relevant, profitable, and on-mission.

Because there is such a wide range of tasks performed, as well as sizes of different sports organization operations, the answer to how much sports administrators make varies widely. As one may expect, an administrator (likely also a coach) selling ads for a high school baseball team won’t make close to an advertising manager for an MLB team.

What we can provide, however, are ballpark estimates. Typically, roles for professional teams and leagues are in line payment wise with work for other corporations within the region of employment.

For some of the most popular roles, major salaries include:

  • online masters in sports managementMarketing Manager for MLB Team: $90,000
  • Finance Manager for NBA Team: $97,000
  • Public Relations Manager for NCAA D1 Football: $60,000
  • General Manager NFL Team: $2,000,000

What Schools Offer Sports Management Programs?

Historically there have been coaching, fitness, and recreation degrees, and then there have been business-centered degrees. In recent years, however, with many schools growing the number of specialty degrees they offer, a range of sports management degrees have cropped up.

Sports management degrees are typically most common at the graduate level, particularly as master’s degrees. The most common degree types that can be broadly construed as sports management include the following:

  • Masters in Sports Management
  • MBA in Sports Management
  • Masters in Sports Marketing
  • Masters in Coaching
  • Masters in Sports Leadership
  • Masters in Recreation Management

While sports management degree programs still aren’t the most common of degrees, and many working within sports management fields will have instead opted for general management or business degrees, there are a growing number of programs. That we’ve seen in our year’s researching higher education at OnlineCollegePlan, there are likely close to 100 colleges and universities that offer sports management programs. This means that while not every school has a program (or even close), typically there are sports management programs at least close to every state and metro area.

What Kinds of Jobs Can You Get With a Sports Management Degree?

online masters programs in sports managementSports management jobs are divided into field-related duties and a sports organization’s “front office.” In smaller organizations, there is often a great deal of overlap between these types of positions. Coaches will also market their organization, or assistant coaches may also help with fitness or nutrition. Or general managers may perform routine accounting tasks.

In larger organizations, roles are more specialized. Among college and professional athletic organizations, some of the most common roles related to on-the-field performance include:

  • Player Scouts
  • Performance Analysts
  • Coaching Staff
  • And Health Support workers

While a sports management degree may help within all of these roles, and many in these roles do hold sports management degrees, these degrees are more directly tied to “front office” jobs. Common front office jobs:

  • Marketing Manager
  • online masters programs in sports managementFinance Manager
  • Fundraising Manager
  • Accounting Manager
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Project Managers
  • Business Analyst
  • General Manager

As all of the roles listed above are positions that apply one business or management discipline to a sporting context, a degree that blends the two worlds (such as sports management) is a great choice. There are of course other things you can do with a sports management degree, such as starting your own business or fill a role unrelated to sports, but above are some of the main options.

How Much Money Can You Make With a Sports Management Degree?

online master's degree in sports management

Sports are big business, and some of the top managers in the game make millions of dollars a year. While no single degree can prepare you to be a general manager of a major franchise, sports management degrees are one of the most surefire ways to get your foot in the door at a sports organization, or to advance further into management within a sports management vertical.

We’ll take a look at some of the most common roles within sports management organizations below. Just keep in mind that there are wide ranges for salaries depending on the level of organization you are working at (youth, college, professional, etc.) as well as the location in which you are working.

Common “Front Office” Sports Management Salaries

  • Marketing Manager for MLB Team: $90,000
  • Finance Manager for NBA Team: $97,000
  • Public Relations Manager for NCAA D1 Football: $60,000
  • Fundraising Manager for NCAA D1 Football: $97,891
  • Business Analyst for NBA Team: $94,000

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