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The 25 Best Online Master’s in Sport Management Degree Programs
With an expected value to exceed $73 billion by 2019, the sports industry continues to soar. With positions in advertising, talent representation, and front offices, opportunities in sports are nearly as vast as the industry itself. As the industry grows, so too does the need for qualified, innovative people. With a degree in sports management, sports and business intersect to turn one’s passion for the game into a career.
According to the North American Society for Sport Management, 243 postsecondary institutions offer undergraduate or graduate programs in the field. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that spectator sports is the third biggest employer of talent agents in the nation, with individuals earning an average of $104,530 annually. What’s more, the BLS projects 10% growth over the next decade (2016-2026) for marketing managers, public relations specialists, and athletic directors. Now is a perfect time to consider joining the lucrative and exciting field of sports management.
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An online master’s in sports management combines theoretical instruction with practical experience, preparing graduates for management and administrative roles at all levels. With a master’s in sports management online degree, students learn effective management techniques such as understanding team dynamics, motivating people, and making sound decisions.
Core courses of a master’s in sports management cover the same ground as an advanced management degree, but from the perspective of the sports industry. A typical curriculum includes classes in marketing, economics, accounting, and communication, with additional courses in psychology, social issues, and sports ethics.
Students in an online master’s in sports management program tailor their curriculum by focusing on areas such as leadership, global business, collegiate sports, or analytics. The latter has become increasingly important as professionals use data to inform on- and off-field moves.
A leadership focus, meanwhile, prepares graduates to lead from the front office as a general manager, athletic director, or marketing director. An internship is also an important component of an online master’s in sports management program, as it gives students the chance to gain important industry experience and explore a potential career track.
Online Master’s in Sports Management Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
What Are the Best Online Master’s in Sports Management Programs?
1. University of Florida Distance Learning
Located in Gainesville, the University of Florida welcomes students of all backgrounds with over 170 distance education degree programs, including an online master of science in sports management. This comprehensive graduate track combines experiential learning based on research and practicum opportunities with the flexibility of remote, asynchronous coursework delivered through the Canvas learning platform.
Students develop the administrative, marketing, and physiological skills needed to help keep athletes healthy and contribute to an organization’s growth.
The curriculum requires students to complete 36 credits; most distance learners graduate in two years. Required coursework includes sports marketing, sociology, and leadership, as well as a research core in human performance methods and evaluation. After completing 27 credits, degree candidates must also complete a capstone experience that consists of writing self-reflective essays.
This degree track stands out from many other online master’s programs in sports management in that it offers several specialization options, including athlete development, sport law, or high performance training. These concentrations provide students with more control over their degree plan, preparing them for specific careers.
UF does not require students to complete a practicum, but the school does provide placement assistance for students who want to pursue opportunities with any of the school’s institutional partners or organizations in their communities. The program admits students four times each year.
The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commision on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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2. The University of Texas at Austin
Founded in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin enrolls over 11,000 graduate students annually, many of whom earn their degrees remotely. Distance education options include an online master of education with a sports management concentration that trains students about the law, ethics, marketing, and human resources. UT Austin’s program welcomes all learners, including those without any prior business or sports-related experience. Most students complete this fully online program in two years before going on to pursue careers in diverse settings, from fitness centers and high schools to professional sports organizations and parks and recreation departments.
To earn this master’s in sports management, online students complete 30 credits of coursework. Required topics include organizational behavior, legal issues in sports, and facility and event management. Faculty deliver online courses in accelerated, six-week sessions, which students can take year-round. There is no thesis requirement.
However, as one of the top public research schools in the country, UT Austin provides ample assistance to students who elect to pursue self-directed academic and professional projects. This assistance comes in the form of faculty support, funding resources, and access to state-of-the-art software and technologies.
UT Austin offers admission in the fall and spring. To be eligible, candidates must possess at least one year of work experience and a bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
The University of Texas at Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commision on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. Georgetown University
Washington, District of Columbia
Georgetown University is located in Washington D.C. and regularly earns recognition for its academic rigor and the accessibility of its distance education programs, which include an online master’s in sports industry management.
Through a curriculum that emphasizes global perspectives in the sports field, students develop the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed to pursue careers in collegiate athletics, facility operations, professional franchises, and even in the nonprofit sector. Georgetown does not require any on-campus residencies, letting students earn their degree entirely online in fewer than two years.
This online master’s in sports management program totals 33 credits. Students take fundamental courses in business and marketing, while also pursuing advanced topics like applied ethics, social responsibility, and globalization in sports. In addition to individualized attention in the classroom, students enjoy professional guidance, mentoring, and internship support.
The curriculum culminates with a capstone project, which students complete with the help of a faculty advisor and a professional sponsor. Degree candidates present this work to a panel of industry experts. All online classes consist of 7.5-week sessions, except for the 15-week capstone experience.
Application materials include baccalaureate credentials earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Program candidates do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.
Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. Northeastern University
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a research and academic institution that offers distance education programs through its Global Network, including an online master’s in sports leadership. Grounded in experiential learning and ethical leadership, this program prepares students for careers in sports-related marketing, communication, and management.
Prospective students should note that this is a hybrid track. While most courses can be accessed online asynchronously through Blackboard, some required classes involve in-person attendance at the Boston campus over summer sessions. Part-time students generally earn their master’s in two years, while those enrolled full-time can finish in just one.
The degree plan consists of 45 quarter credits in classes such as sports law, media relations, and organizational management. Students take additional coursework to pursue either a professional sports or collegiate athletics administration concentration. Learners also complete six elective credits. The Northeastern program culminates in either an internship or capstone experience.
Both options provide students with industry experience through hands-on skill development and networking opportunities, which they subsequently document and analyze in a web portfolio. The capstone experience requires intensive research and a final paper; this choice may be more suitable for students already working in the sports industry.
To apply to this online master’s in sports management program, candidates must submit a professional resume, statement of intent, two letters of recommendation, and official documentation of baccalaureate studies. Northeastern has no minimum GPA or GRE/GMAT requirements. All distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition and gain access to scholarship opportunities and online tutoring through Smarthinking.
Northeastern University Global Network is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
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5. Washington State University
Washington State University was established in 1890 as the state’s original land grant college. Today, WSU offers over 79 graduate degree programs, including distance education options like its online master of arts in education – sport management. Through a curriculum that blends theory, research, and practical experience, students develop the business and instructional skills needed to join the ever-growing sports industry. Graduates go on to work in positions as community program directors, franchise marketing specialists, and corporate managers.
Degree candidates choose from either a thesis or non-thesis curriculum, both of which feature 34 credits. Coursework covers sport media and communication, administrative concepts, values and ethics for educational leaders, and at least nine elective credits.
All students also complete core research requirements that teach them the fundamentals of conducting qualitative inquiry and analyzing statistics. Non-thesis students finish their studies with a comprehensive examination, while their counterparts carry out original research that tackles a challenge in the field. Thesis students also defend their ideas in a culminating event open to the public. WSU delivers asynchronous online courses through Blackboard.
To apply to WSU’s master’s in sports management online program, candidates must submit GRE or LSAT scores and hold a bachelor’s degree with minimum 3.0 GPA. Those with GPAs below this threshold may still be admitted on a per-case basis. Students can pay per-credit or as part of full-time enrollment where they take 10-18 credits each term.
Washington State University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
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6. Northwestern University
Based in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University offers eight graduate degree programs to distance learners. Among these options is an online master of arts in sports administration, which strongly emphasizes the business aspects of the industry, from creating strategic and financial plans to assessing performance using statistical information.
Students may earn their degree entirely online or they can opt for a hybrid experience that integrates flexible on-campus classes. The university provides internship opportunities across the U.S. as well as resources through its career advancement office. Northwestern graduates go on to occupy positions that include corporate consultants, sports agents, and team executives.
This online master’s in sports management program consists of 11 courses, covering topics like legal and ethical issues, labor relations, and intercollegiate sports management. The degree plan also contains a perfunctory leadership class that teaches students communicative strategies and their applications in a professional setting.
Distance learners enjoy exclusive access to a sports analytics specialization that covers the programming and mathematical modeling skills needed to evaluate individual players, entire teams, and related administrative initiatives. Students round out their education by completing either a thesis project or a capstone class. Faculty deliver online, asynchronous courses through the Canvas learning management system.
This program offers entry dates in July, October, January, and April. Program applicants need not submit standardized test scores or hold a minimum GPA. However, they must demonstrate strong academic ability and a passion for the sports administration field through materials like letters of recommendation and a writing sample.
Northwestern University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
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7. Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Established in 1876 as the state’s first public institution of higher learning, Texas A&M University enrolls approximately 62,500 students annually. The school offers over 170 graduate degree programs, including distance education pathways like its online master of science in sport management.
With three entry dates in April, October, and February, as well as no thesis requirement, this program provides students with a flexible, comprehensive education that prepares them to work as administrators and leaders.
To earn their master’s in sports management, online students complete 36 credits, including a research core and advanced classes like personnel management, revenue generation, and diversity in sports organizations. The curriculum also allows students to take electives to explore additional topics in the field or complete courses in related subjects such as marketing, international business, or education.
Degree candidates finish their studies with an internship where they develop practical skills and reflect on their professional experience by writing journal entries and a final paper. Distance learners can complete this internship with one of the university’s business partners or with an organization in their area. Those already working in the sports industry may opt to fulfill this requirement through their employer, although not in the same capacity as their current job.
Texas A&M charges tuition based on residency status, but eligible out-of-state students may apply for a waiver. The average program candidate possess a GPA above 3.0 and about four years of relevant work experience. Additionally, although the university does not require GRE scores, candidates may submit them to make their application more competitive.
Texas A&M University – College Station is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commision on Colleges (SACSCOC).
8. University of Massachusetts–Amherst
The University of Massachusetts is located in Amherst and enrolls nearly 7,000 graduate students in 77 degree programs. These include distance education opportunities like the school’s online master of business administration with a focus in sport management.
With a curriculum based in the field’s best practices and current trends, this program prepares learners for careers in all aspects of the sports industry, from facilities operations and program management to consumer sales and market data analytics. Outside the classroom, students can access career advice and professional development opportunities through the university’s large network of alumni and corporate partnerships.
UMass Amherst’s online master’s in sports management program covers core business topics such as corporate finance, organizational strategies, and human resource management. With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students also take three classes of their choice in a focus area. Although the program does not require a capstone project, degree candidates (especially those who wish to work as researchers and analysts) can pursue self-directed research.
UMass Amherst has admission deadlines in June, October, and February. Faculty deliver online courses asynchronously through the Blackboard Learn platform. Candidates must submit their GRE or GMAT scores, but the program does not require applicants to have a minimum GPA. Preferred applicants should hold at least three years of relevant work experience.
The University of Massachusetts – Amherst is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The Isenberg School of Management receives specialized accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
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9. Virginia Commonwealth University
Founded in 1838 as a medical college, Virginia Commonwealth University now stands as a top public academic institution, offering more than 100 degree programs. The school’s catalog includes an online master of education in sport leadership that blends theoretical study with relevant field experiences. Through a 36-credit interdisciplinary curriculum, students learn how to develop amateur and professional athletes and manage sports programs.
Degree candidates take required courses that include research methods, leadership models, and marketing for sport administrators. Compared to many other online master’s programs in sports management, students at VCU have a greater deal of control over what advanced courses they take; half of the curriculum consists of electives, which students choose under the advisement of faculty. This enables participants to tailor their degree plans to match their career goals. For example, students who want to pursue work as trainers can take classes in field instruction and collegiate coaching. VCU’s program does not require a capstone experience, but students can access institutional support to complete research projects, independent study, and internships/externships. Although the program is largely asynchronous, some courses do necessitate live participation through video conferencing.
VCU offers three entry dates each year with application deadlines in April, November, and March. Application materials include GRE/GMAT scores, three letters of recommendation, and a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Virginia Commonwealth University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
10. Liberty University Online
Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University boasts a robust distance education platform with over 289 programs, including an online master of science in sport management. With fully remote coursework and nine specialization choices (including thesis and non-thesis options), students can work and pursue their degree simultaneously.
The curriculum combines industry best practices with business and marketing skills, enabling graduates to pursue work as event planners, athletic marketers, facility managers, and sports broadcasters.
The degree plan totals 36 credits, which most students complete in fewer than two years. Required classes cover topics in social issues, marketing and public relations, and financial management for sport industry professionals. Students take advanced courses in their specialization, choosing from tourism, sports administration, outdoor adventure sport, coaching and athletic administration, or a generalist track.
Learners do not need to complete a practicum, but they can use departmental resources to access internship opportunities. The program culminates with a comprehensive exam. Faculty deliver asynchronous, online classes through Blackboard. Students can also enroll in accelerated, eight-week courses to hasten graduation.
Liberty offers eight entry dates every year. While applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores, they must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. 87% of distance learners at Liberty receive some form of financial aid. Additionally, the university allows students to transfer up to 18 credits into this program to further reduce costs.
Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).The online master’s in sports management program is fully accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Education (COSMA).
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11. Troy University
Founded in 1887 as a normal school, Troy University is now a comprehensive institution that offers graduate students 40 distance education programs, including an online master of science in sport and fitness management with a sport management concentration.
The learning structure of this program combines seminars, lectures, and practical experiences to propel students into leadership roles. Graduates can go on to work for recreation departments, Division I athletic programs, and professional sport organizations.
The degree plan totals 36 credits and students may choose either a thesis or non-thesis track. In addition to required courses in statistical analysis and research methods, degree candidates pursue advanced topics like consumer behavior, revenue generation, and sociological aspects in sports management.
With the aid of a faculty advisor, thesis students conduct research and propose solutions to challenges in the industry. Alternatively, non-thesis students take more elective classes. Distance learners access asynchronous, 16-week courses through the Canvas platform and gain access to resources through a digital student union where they can connect with other learners from across the globe.
Admission requirements include a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Applicants must also submit MAT/GRE/GMAT scores of at least 385/286/380. Troy allows students to transfer up 12 credits toward program completion.
Troy University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).The master’s in sports management online program is fully accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Education (COSMA).
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12. Drexel University
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University stands as one of the largest private institutions of higher education in the U.S., hosting over 200 academic programs. These offerings include distance education opportunities, such as the school’s online master of science in sport management.
Designed for industry professionals and newcomers alike, this program trains students to plan, implement, and assess sports programs and carry out related administrative tasks. Offered as a part-time study plan, most degree candidates finish in fewer than two years and move on to careers in areas like corporate sponsorship, player personnel and draft analysis, and visual sports journalism.
The 45-quarter-credit curriculum includes required courses related to negotiations for leaders, sports economics, and managing the total enterprise. The degree plan also consists of 12 elective credits, which students utilize to craft a focus area related to their career interests.
Additionally, to earn their sports management master’s degree, online learners complete an experiential component, choosing from a senior seminar, internship, independent study, or research project/thesis. Although all aspects of the program can be completed remotely, students have the option of attending a four-day summer campus residency where they engage with guest speakers and network with peers and industry professionals.
Students enroll in September, January, April, or June. To be eligible for the program, applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Drexel does not require work experience or GRE/GMAT scores, but the school does prefer students with these credentials. Distance learners pay the same tuition, regardless of where they live. They may also apply for financial aid, including the Dave O’Brien Leadership Award, which is specifically awarded to sport management students.
Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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13. American University
Washington, District of Columbia
American University delivers distance education coursework through Blackboard, offering six graduate certificates and degrees as well as several individual and non-degree classes. Included among these offerings is an online master of science in sports analytics and management, which focuses on the data-driven nature of organizational planning and leadership.
With a curriculum grounded in emerging technologies and intercultural communications, students develop the skills needed to pursue the next generation of sport industry careers, from performance analysis and interactive spectatorship to e-sports gaming and virtual reality.
Totalling 30 credits, AU’s online master’s in sports management program contains required courses in data-driven decision making, project cost-benefit analysis, and client communications and professional consulting. Students round out their education with an elective class and a capstone experience.
The latter tests students’ strategic thinking and understanding of applied research and assessment, culminating in a written business plan and presentation. To facilitate professional development, AU also offers distance learners career-relevant webinars and practicum opportunities.
Learners may also seek out guidance and resources through the school’s adult career coaching center, which provides job search, resume review, and networking assistance.
This program welcomes all distance learners; applicants need not possess any prior experience in the sport industry. Admission requirements include academic credentials, a professional resume, two letters of recommendation, and a phone interview; however, applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores. This program also accepts up to six transfer credits.
American University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
14. Temple University
Temple University stands as a leader in the sports administration field, offering related degree programs since 1908. Today, distance learners can access graduate-level academics through the school’s online executive master of science in sport business program. Tailored for professionals with experience in the industry, this degree track teaches students the advanced strategic management and marketing skills needed to become leaders in their organizations.
Part-time students can earn their master’s in two years, while full-time participants can graduate in as few as 13 months. Temple graduates go on to work at sporting good companies, sport governance organizations, and athletic representation agencies.
The 30-credit degree plan covers financial management, global business strategies, and understanding sport consumers. The program does not contain any internship requirements or campus residencies, enabling students to complete all work remotely.
Faculty deliver online courses through the WebEx learning platform. While most classes feature asynchronous instruction, distance learners also participate in live weekly sessions that allow them to discuss course materials and build relationships with their teachers and peers. During these live sessions students engage in small group projects where they solve practical challenges faced by sport managers.
The two application deadlines for this program fall on June 30th and November 15th. Application materials include a resume, two letters of recommendation, GRE/GMAT scores, and academic credentials. Candidates must also possess at least three years of work experience in a sport-related field; applicants with unrelated business experience may be considered on a per-case basis.
Temple is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The executive master’s in sports management online program is fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT).
15. Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, North Carolina
Based in Cullowhee, North Carolina, Western Carolina University enrolls over 11,000 students annually, many of whom earn their degrees remotely through one of the school’s 16 distance education programs. These online offerings include a comprehensive online master of science in sport management that trains students to lead teams, administer programs, and execute and assess strategic projects.
This program emphasizes flexibility with no prerequisite requirements and fully asynchronous online coursework. Full-time students can earn their degrees in one year. Part-time learners typically finish in two years, but there is no required minimum course load as long as students complete the program within six years.
The curriculum totals 30 credits, through which students earn a certificate in project management in addition to their master’s degree. Courses include financial aspects, project planning and scheduling, and sport in the global marketplace. Students also gain hands-on experience by engaging in at least 200 hours of internships, which can be completed with their current employer or through one of the university’s corporate partners.
WCU’s online master’s in sports management program enrolls students in the spring, fall, and summer sessions. Admission materials include a personal statement, professional resume, and two letters of recommendation. Candidates must also hold a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Although the university does not require GRE/GMAT scores, individuals who want to strengthen their applications should submit these results.
Western Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
16. University of Southern Mississippi
With students from all 50 states and 72 countries around the world, the University of Southern Mississippi’s academic programming has a global reach. Distance learners can select from 30 graduate programs, including an online master of science in sport management. This program develops critical thinking and problem solving skills, exposing students to research and best practices in the sport industry.
Graduates can work as talent scouts, operations managers, and franchise marketing specialists. Distance learners may earn their master’s entirely online through asynchronous courses delivered by Canvas or through a hybrid experience that mixes in traditional classes on the Hattiesburg campus. Most students finish the program in fewer than two years.
The 33-credit degree plan consists of core classes, electives, and a practicum experience. Required coursework includes financial management, applied research methods, and socio-ethical issues in sport. USM provides internship placement assistance with its institutional partners. Students may also fulfill the practicum requirement with their current employer or at an organization in their community. The university also offers ample networking and professional development resources, including opportunities through its sport management club, the National Center for Spectator Sport Safety and Security, and a sport-specific study abroad trip to the United Kingdom.
Students can join the program at the start of the fall, spring, or summer semesters. Applicants must submit GRE scores and baccalaureate credentials, although no minimum GPA is required. All distance learners pay the same per-credit tuition.
The University of Southern Mississippi is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master’s in sports management online program receives specialized accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
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17. Georgia Southern University
Based in Statesboro, Georgia Southern University enrolls over 3,400 graduate students each year. Many of these learners enroll in the school’s 37+ distance education programs, which include an online master of science in sport management. Over six semesters (roughly two years), students develop the administrative tools needed to oversee all aspects of sporting events, from daily facilities operations and ticket sales to strategic marketing and special event management. GSU propels students to success with professional development resources that include internship help and job guidance through its career services centers. Sport management graduates can assume leadership roles at collegiate athletic departments, professional sport teams, and regional/national sport commissions.
Degree candidates take 36 credits that cover required topics like revenue generation, industry law and risk management, and research and analysis in sport. Electives comprise one-third of the curriculum, allowing students to pursue advanced topics and practicum experiences specific to their professional interests. Individuals who plan on pursuing a doctorate degree or careers as analysts may also conduct original research as part of a thesis project.
GSU offers one fall entry date for this program. Admission requirements include GRE/GMAT scores (earned within the past five years) and an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Distance learners pay the same tuition, regardless of where they live.
Georgia Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The sports management master’s degree online program is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
18. Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, Virginia, offers 54 graduate degree programs, including distance education pathways like its online master of science in sport management. This program trains students to put theory into practice in professional sport settings and utilize research skills and technology to grow their organizations. Degree candidates also partake in practicum experiences where they gain industry-specific knowledge to pursue careers in areas like collegiate athletics, health and fitness, military MWR programs, and corporate sport management and marketing.
This master’s in sports management online program consists of 36 credits and investigates strategic marketing, management, and sport finance and law. The curriculum also includes a research core and 12 credits of guided electives. Students finish their degree work with a capstone experience, completing a thesis, research project, or internship. Individuals who choose the latter two options must also pass a comprehensive exam. Although most online asynchronous courses span a standard semester, certain classes may use an accelerated, eight-week format.
To be eligible for the program, candidates must hold a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 2.8 GPA. Applicants must also earn GRE/GMAT/MAT scores of 291/400/400 or above. Transfer students receive individual guidance from admission coaches, easing the transfer process.
Old Dominion University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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19. Saint Leo University Online
St. Leo, Florida
Saint Leo University enrolls over 16,000 students annually through traditional and remote programs. Graduate students can access distance education options like the school’s online master of business administration with a sport business concentration. This program provides students with training in core communication and management skills while also teaching them about ethical business strategies. Saint Leo graduates go on to occupy leadership positions at sporting good retailers, collegiate athletic departments, and professional sport franchises.
Degree candidates take 36 credits of required coursework, including organizational behavior, financial accounting, and facility planning and management in sports. Although the degree plan does not contain a practicum requirement, students with no work experience in the sport industry can take on an internship with an organization in their community or through one of the school’s business partners. Professors deliver online classes asynchronously, and courses span eight weeks. Distance learners can earn their master’s degree entirely online using the Blackboard platform or they can opt for a hybrid experience that mixes in traditional classes at the school’s main campus in Florida or at one of the university’s 40 regional education centers spread across seven states.
This program offers six entry dates every year. Application requirements include a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree and GMAT scores. All online students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state of residence.
Saint Leo University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The online master’s in sports management program receives specialized accreditation from the the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA).
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20. Adelphi University
Garden City, New York
Based in Garden City, New York, Adelphi University offers 12 distance education programs, including an online master of science in sport management. This program covers advanced strategic management and marketing skills, enabling graduates to work as sport marketers, event managers, talent scouts, journalists, and social media specialists. Degree candidates can earn their master’s entirely online in fewer than two years. Faculty deliver online courses asynchronously through the Moodle platform.
The 36-credit degree plan consists of foundation, core, and specialization classes. Covered topics include research methods, emergent technologies, and sport management personnel and program evaluation. Students pick from either a collegiate administration or sport marketing specialization. The former focuses on facilities management and media relations specific to athletic departments, while the latter emphasizes product branding, corporate sponsorship, and promotional campaigns.
In lieu of a residency, the program culminates with a capstone course centered on in-depth research of contemporary challenges in the sport industry. The university provides online, personalized academic advising and online tutoring services. Program participants also gain access to an alumni network that helps them find internships and pursue industry certifications.
The program features start dates in the fall, spring, and summer sessions. To apply to this master’s in sports management online program, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree earned with minimum 3.0 GPA and submit two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a personal essay. However, applicants do not need to submit GRE scores. All online students pay the same tuition.
Adelphi University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
21. Gonzaga University
Gonzaga University enrolls nearly 1,700 graduate students in 23 degree programs each year. These offerings include distance education opportunities, like the school’s online master of arts in sport and athletic administration. This program teaches students practical business management skills and provides in-depth knowledge of how sport influences society. Through intensive study and experiential learning, students prepare themselves for careers involving community outreach, leadership development, media relations, and risk management.
Gonzaga’s online master’s in sports management program contains no residency requirements. Students take all of their eight-week courses remotely in an asynchronous format facilitated by the Canvas platform. Individuals typically earn their degree in two years. Totalling 31 credits, the curriculum includes sport and athletic promotion, ethical and legal aspects, and facility management.
Distance learners also fulfil an internship experience where they engage in at least 175 hours of hands-on work experience and complete accompanying writing assignments. Internships can be carried out at an approved organization in their community or with one of Gonzaga’s partners, like the Seattle Mariners. Degree candidates round out their education with a capstone project where they create a final portfolio of work, which is presented in front of peers, faculty, and industry professionals.
Gonzaga allows program entry at five points during the year: two in the fall and spring semesters and one during the summer session. Application materials include academic credentials, a resume, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. Candidates who earned a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher need not submit GRE/MAT scores.
Gonzaga University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
22. DePaul University
DePaul University offers four graduate-level distance education programs, including an online master of science in sport, fitness, and recreation leadership. Designed for sport industry professionals seeking to advance in their careers, this program emphasizes data-driven decision making, ethical management techniques, and the holistic care of individuals in recreation and fitness settings.
From a main campus based in Chicago, Illinois, DePaul provides distance learners with flexible, asynchronous coursework through the Desire2Learn platform. Students also undergo hands-on skill development by completing two residencies. Graduates stand prepared for leadership positions in corporate fitness centers, university athletic programs, and professional sport franchises.
DePaul’s online master’s in sports management program totals 48 quarter credits. Students take two courses at a time, earning their degree in two years. Required coursework includes advanced care of the athlete, psychology of sport behavior and performance, and strategic communication and marketing. Degree candidates also complete a thesis project relevant to their career interests. Distance learners must attend two three-day summer residencies where they learn from and network with industry experts, peers, and faculty. These on-campus colloquiums also feature thesis presentations by graduating students.
DePaul offers one entry date in the fall for this program, with a soft application deadline of August 15th and rolling admissions thereafter. To be eligible, prospective students must possess baccalaureate credentials and work experience in the sport, fitness, or recreation environment. Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores. The university charges all distance learners the same tuition.
DePaul University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
23. Mississippi College
Located in the city of Clinton, Mississippi College enrolls over 5,000 students every year, making it the state’s largest private institution of higher education. MC offers 19 graduate programs for distance learners, including an online master of science in athletic administration.
Through a core curriculum and specialization options that focus on strategic and financial management, students develop the skills needed to lead successful sport programs at secondary schools and college departments. Faculty deliver online courses asynchronously through the Moodle platform. Most students earn their degrees in fewer than two years.
Totalling 37 credits, MC’s master’s in sports management online program consists of required classes like media sales, public relations, and societal and ethical trends in athletics. Students choose from either an interscholastic or intercollegiate specialization, taking on advanced coursework in the operations and fiscal control of high school athletic departments or higher education law and personnel management, respectively. This program also includes two 60-hour on-site practicums, completed with an organization approved by the department. Students finish their degree track by passing a comprehensive exam.
To apply, candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA in business, education, kinesiology, or a related field. Prospective students should also have received GRE scores of 715 or higher. MC charges the same tuition for all online students, regardless of where they reside. Distance learners receive 24/7 technology support and career services, including internship and job placement through the school’s employer partners.
Mississippi College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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24. University of Northern Colorado
Founded as a state normal school in 1889, the University of Northern Colorado has grown into a comprehensive research and academic institution. UNC offers over 65 distance education opportunities, including an online master of science in sport and exercise science with an emphasis in sport administration. Designed to align with guidelines established by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education and the North American Society for Sport Management, UNC’s program provides career-relevant training as well as research and practicum opportunities. Students graduate fully prepared to pursue jobs in professional sports leagues and college programs.
The 30-credit curriculum includes required coursework in sport promotion and marketing, legal aspects of program administration, and management of sports facilities and equipment. Degree candidates choose a thesis and presentation, capstone project, or internship as a culminating experience. Individuals who select the last two options must also pass a comprehensive exam. With flexible, asynchronous courses delivered by Canvas, as well as accelerated options, students can earn their master’s in 12 months while continuing to work.
This master’s in sports management online program uses a continuous enrollment schedule, allowing students to begin degree work at their convenience. To be eligible, candidates should hold a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Individuals with GPAs below this threshold may apply for special consideration. Applicants need not submit standardized test scores. All distance learners pay the same tuition.
The University of Northern Colorado is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
25. West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Based in Morgantown, West Virginia University provides 26 distance education programs for graduate students, including two options in its online master of science in sport management program. Degree candidates can choose from a fully remote interscholastic sport administration track or a hybrid comprehensive sport management pathway. Both tracks cover the latest research and best practices in the field. By engaging in optional internship and networking opportunities, students can further enhance their marketability and career prospects. Online coursework is asynchronous and delivered through Blackboard Learn.
WVU’s online master’s in sports management programs both total 30 credits. Required courses include sport marketing, fundraising and development, and sociocultural and ethical dimensions. Students who choose the interscholastic sport administration track pursue advanced topics preparing them for careers at middle and high schools; participants can complete the program in 12 months and graduate prepared for the National Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association Certification exam. Alternatively, students who pick the comprehensive sport management track take mostly online classes but spend their summer sessions on campus collaborating with peers, faculty, and industry professionals, including Big 12 Conference athletic administrators. These degree candidates can graduate in 15 months.
To apply for admission, candidates submit a professional goals statement, resume, and baccalaureate credentials earned with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants need not submit their GRE scores. Due to the applied nature of these programs, WVU prefers applicants who have past experience in and current access to sport industry settings. All distance learners pay the same tuition.
West Virginia University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
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What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Sports Management Program?
While details of a master’s in sports management online degree depend on the school and program, the overall curriculum will be broad-based, with room to learn a specific skill set for the student’s chosen career path. A sports management master’s degree online program prepares graduates for jobs at all levels of sports, including professional, amateur, recreational, collegiate, and interscholastic.
The Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Sports Management
Ethics in Sports: This course reviews ethical issues in sports, such as gender equity, spectator behavior, and performance-enhancing drugs. Students evaluate their own ethics while using theoretical frameworks to examine issues of ethics and morality in sports. Common topics in this sports management master’s degree online course include cheating, betting, sportsmanship, coaching, youth sports, injury, and health.
Sports Finance: Students explore principles of financial management and apply them to the financial situations relevant to sports teams or clubs. In addition to GAAP (generally accepted account principles), a sports finance course also tackles cash flow, balance sheets, capital budgeting, debt and equity, and supply and demand in the sports industry.
Analytics in Sports: This course examines the sporting ecosystem and how data is used to inform strategic decisions. Students examine revenue streams, fan engagement, and the metric challenges posed by fragmentation. Market segmentation, consumer behavior, and revenue projection are also topics for any analytics course in a sports management master’s degree online program.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Sports Management Prepares For
NBPA Certification: To represent talent in one of the four major leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL), a sports agent must obtain league certification with each league. Pro basketball agents must apply for an NBPA license, which requires applicants to hold a degree from an accredited college or university and successfully pass a 50-question proctored exam covering the NBA CBA, the NBPA Regulations Governing Player Agents, plus other issues relevant to player representation in the league.
NIAAA Certification: This voluntary certificate is awarded upon completion of a PD program in interscholastic athletic administration. There are five NIAAA certification levels, each requiring a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (a master’s in sports management online program would also satisfy this requirement). For the Certified Athletic Administrator certificate, or CAA, applicants must have at least two years of experience as an athletic administrator.
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Online Master’s in Sports Management Careers
In an industry as broad as sports, there will always be several career paths to pursue. Graduates from an online master’s in sports management degree have the skills and knowledge to compete for positions at all levels of the sports industry and in various areas of focus, from marketing and promotion to finance and analytics. A sports management degree can lead to opportunities as a public relations professional, a digital marketer, athletic director, recruiter, sports agent, or team manager.
Athletic Director: An athletic director, or AD, wears many hats. Schools, universities, and clubs task ADs with coordinating athletic programs, which includes hiring coaches and support staff. An AD’s responsibilities also involve managing budgets (allocation, forecasting), fundraising, ensuring compliance with league and conference rules, and upholding the academic standards of student-athletes. While ADs can begin their career with a four-year degree, most larger institutions require an advanced degree in sports management, business, kinesiology, or education.
Median Annual Salary: $92,360
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
Marketing Manager: Marketing managers focus on creating campaigns that run alongside sporting events like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, or Olympics. They also build campaigns for teams and brands at the professional and/or collegiate levels, working with members from creative, research, and sales teams. Most managerial roles in marketing or promotions require a bachelor’s degree, and those enrolled in a master’s in sports management online degree can tailor the curriculum for a marketing focus.
Median Annual Salary: $129,380
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
Sports Agent: Sports agents represent sports figures in all professional leagues, from the NFL to golf to soccer. Agents advise clients on contracts, public image, building their brand, and endorsements. There are no minimum requirements to become an agent, as agents can operate independently. League certification in the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL may require a four-year degree (an online master’s in sports management would also satisfy this requirement).
Median Annual Salary: $64,940
Projected Growth Rate: 4.7%
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Accreditation for Online Master’s in Sports Management Degrees
A voluntary process of peer review, accreditation is an assurance that a school has met acceptable levels of quality established by a recognized accrediting body. There are two types of institutional accreditation: regional and national. Regional accreditation is the older of the two and, given its standards, is regarded as the more prestigious designation. In general, regional accreditation serves nonprofit, degree-granting institutions of higher learning, while national accreditation is more widely associated with for-profit colleges and careers schools, such as trade or technical colleges.
There are six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA): the ACCJC, HLC, MSCHE, NEASC, SACSCOC, and WSCUC. As a member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education, CHEA recognizes approximately 60 accrediting organizations total. When researching an online school, keep in mind that accreditation can impact federal aid, transfer credit, and certification or licensure.
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Professional Organizations for Sports Management
Joining a professional organization can be a critical step in one’s career, as membership could lead to a job, a new skill, or a bit of inspiration to keep pushing forward. A professional organization brings together people bound by their chosen field and careers, and presents a natural opportunity for networking — a proven path to raising one’s profile. Professional organizations offer valuable insight born from experience and readily shared with members through CE workshops, annual conferences, mentorships, and career services.
North American Society for Sport Management: In support of the sports, leisure, and recreation industries, the NASSM furthers research, study, and academic writing on sports management. The organization’s official research journal, the Journal of Sport Management, focuses its papers on the governance, management, and marketing of sport organizations.
Sport Marketing Association: Founded in 2002, the SMA develops and expands the knowledge of sports marketing through networking, forums of professional interaction, and career opportunities. The SMA also supports sports marketing as a field and academic discipline.
National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics: With more than 12,500 members, the NACDA is the largest association of collegiate athletic administrators in North America and provides members support through CE opportunities, networking, and advocacy. Since 1984, NACDA internships have served over 190 future athletic administrators.