Online Sports Management Degrees

Sports is huge business both in the U.S. and internationally, and experts estimate that the industry has grown by over $145 billion in just the last five years. Part of that growth stems from the influx of business expertise in the industry; today, organizations need business-savvy executives as much as they need star athletes. If you’re a sports enthusiast with strong leadership skills, an eye for business development, and a knack for strategic planning, an online sports management degree can give you the expertise you need to land a lifelong career in the field.

Aspiring sports professionals can pursue an associate degree and continue their education all the way to the PhD level. This formal training introduces athletics as a business, delivering complex economic and financial concepts in the context of sports. Specialized academic programs not only allow you to focus on a particular area of sports business, but a degree in the field also enhances your career mobility and marketability in a competitive industry.

Succeeding in sports administration takes passion and focus. It helps to be somewhat competitive, and a strong work ethic can help you stand out from the pack. Professionals in this field should have an affable personality, a willingness to network, and they must be flexible; travel and long hours at odd times are common in many positions in the industry. If you want to turn your passion for sports into a lucrative career, read on and learn about how an online sports management degree can get you there.

Meet our expert

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Brandon Schroth Sports Management

“I currently work from home in the digital world, so online learning helped me tremendously with my career.”

Online Sports Management Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $13,502 17% 2 years N/A N/A 5.6%
Bachelor's $17,171 10.56% 4 years $37,000 $72,000 4.3%
Master's $19,658 7.2% 1+ years $58,000 $94,000 4.5%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Many employers in sports administration prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s in sports management, even for entry-level jobs. While it isn’t impossible to break into the industry with an associate degree, the field is very competitive and you’ll need something alluring on your resume to entice a hiring manager. As with nearly all industries, salary levels rise in conjunction with education and experience.

Choosing Your Sports Management Careers

Average Sports Management Salaries

$124,850
$30,080
$104,140
$95,810

Sports Marketing Manager

Salary: $124,850
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
9% 225,200 Bachelor's N/A

Sports marketing can take many forms in this business, whether promoting an individual team, a particular event, a league, a sport, an individual player, or a retail product. By combining the popularity of sports with savvy marketing strategy, these professionals drive much of the industry’s growth. Sports marketers sell advertising space, airtime, athlete endorsements, team merchandising, and corporate sponsorships. Success in sports marketing requires not only enthusiasm for the industry, but also a background in business, sales, or marketing.

Sports Broadcaster

Salary: $30,080
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
-11% 52,500 High School Diploma or Equivalent N/A

Broadcasting is a popular career choice for retired athletes and people with a background in communications. Requiring an extensive knowledge of sports, broadcasters work in news media as announcers or reporters. Color commentators or sports hosts conduct game analysis in real time, explaining the intricacies of particular game plays or strategy, and offering their professional opinions on the game. Other broadcasters are employed by news agencies that cover spectator sports, providing after-the-fact coverage of sporting events. Most sports broadcasters work in television, though a growing number are branching out into internet-based outlets. Broadcasters must know the sport(s) they call intricately, and should feel comfortable working in the public eye. It’s worth noting that there’s a projected drop in growth rate in the field over the next decade.

Public Relations Manager

Salary: $104,140
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
7% 65,800 Bachelor's N/A

By serving as the liaison between a team and the media members who report on it, sports PR managers control the flow of information between an organization and the public. PR managers generate public interest by increasing the team’s visibility. In some cases, the job includes an element of damage control when unsightly behavior from within the organization comes to light. PR managers should expect to work long hours during the season, and they’ll need to work hard to develop amiable relationships with local media members. Other duties include overseeing print materials like game programs and press guides, arranging press conferences, and issuing press releases. An effective PR manager is able to work well with many professionals in different roles and is skilled in writing and marketing.

Sports Agent

Salary: $95,810
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
5% 8,750 Bachelor's N/A

A sports agent represents professional athletes. An agent may identify an athlete based on their performance or statistics, and they operate independently of teams and their management. Agents help their clients maximize their earnings by negotiating contracts and recruiting endorsements. A successful agent communicates well and is adept at forming relationships with athletes, families, coaches, and professional representatives from teams and brands.

Online Sports Management Degree in Action

Brandon Schroth Sports Management

Brandon Schroth graduated from James Madison University with an online degree in Sports and Recreation Management. He is currently a Digital Analyst on behalf of Florida Virtual School.

Why did you pursue sports management coursework online?

A large contributing factor for me doing online courses was the ability to maintain my full time employment. This ensured that my student loans would be minimal since I could pay most of each semester upfront without needing financial assistance.

What were the biggest advantages to studying online?

The hours were very flexible and based on my own schedule. While I did have deadlines and due dates for coursework and projects, I could learn and study at any hour of the day. Another great benefit was that all my lectures were recorded, so I could pause, rewind, and take notes without having to interrupt anyone. Lastly, I feel like I got more one-on-one time with the professors than I would sitting in a packed lecture hall. I was able to freely ask questions and receive detailed answers.

What challenges or obstacles did you face when taking online coursework?

Collaboration with other students was difficult because everyone’s schedule was different. But with good planning, it was still possible to have group meetings with other students through Skype.

How did the online format help prepare you for your career?

I currently work from home in the digital world, so online learning helped me tremendously with my career. The use of technology to effectively communicate with people all over the world is something that will continue to become more advanced and utilized by successful companies.

Online Sports Management Degrees

Associate

An associate degree in sports management can be an excellent introduction to sports administration and management, and in some cases can lead to entry-level employment. While most positions we profile here require a bachelor's degree, an associate degree can prepare you for four-year study or internships in the field. Sports enthusiasts or student athletes interested in formal training in the business of sports learn basic business principles and their application to sports. Like any associate degree, sports management programs take two years to complete. Accredited online associate degree curricula should transfer easily to a four-year online bachelor's in sports management program.

Sample Courses
History of Sports, Introduction to Facilities Management, Introduction to Sports Law, Sports Administration, Sociology of Sports
Common Majors
Associate of Science with Sports Management Concentration, Associate of Arts in Sports Management, Associate of Arts in Sports Administration, Associate in Sports Marketing Management
Potential Jobs
Team Manager, Educational-Level Sports, Assistant Team Manager, Professional or Semi-Professional Sports, Manager; fitness center, health club, or athletic center, Associate Agent, Marketing Coordinator, Advertising Sales Associate
Average Income
Scout: $31,000, Agent: $97,560
Employment Prospects
In general, the career outlook for most sporting management positions is good. Associate degree holders are qualified to apply for a range of internship opportunities and entry-level positions.

Bachelor’s

In sports management and administration, a bachelor's degree qualifies you to pursue a variety of full-time employment opportunities. Graduates leave school with a well-rounded business background and can apply their knowledge in context. Typical curricula also explore the role of sports in our culture, ethical conduct on and off the playing field, and the sociology of relationships between athletes, organizations, and the public. Internships and other required practical experiences familiarize students with the inner workings of a professional organization. Students can study in a traditional program or take courses online.

Sample Courses
Sports Organizations Governance, Sports Marketing, Ethics in Sports Administration, Fundamentals of Management, Sports Finance, Facility Design
Common Majors
Sports Management, Event Management, Sports Media, Sports Law, Sports Coaching, Sports Strength and Conditioning
Potential Jobs
Media Relations Assistant, Tournament Director, Athletic Director, Sales Manager, Guest Relations Coordinator, Merchandising Manager
Average Income
Sports Marketer: $76,000, Public Relations Associate: $56,770, Advertising Sales Manager: $48,490, Merchandising Manager: $59,620
Employment Prospects
The BLS projects a 6% increase in jobs throughout the industry over the next few years, which is roughly in line with national averages. In some specialty areas, the projections vary slightly but also reflect trends that cross all industries: careers in marketing should increase by 9%; public relations, by 7% and merchandising by 2%.

Master’s

A master’s of sports management degree is tailored towards students who want to work in leadership roles in the industry. Building on the fundamentals established in a bachelor's in sports management program, master’s degree candidates focus their studies on a particular segment of the sports business. While honing their leadership and critical analysis skills, master’s students are thoroughly trained in the business concepts that drive decision-making, including marketing, finance, business development, and promotions. Because the sports administration industry is competitive, the additional schooling can help graduates stand out in a crowded field. Traditional campus-based programs can take up to two years to complete; students may be able to graduate in less time through an accelerated online offering.

Sample Courses
Psychology of the High-Performance Athlete, Risk Management in Sport, Leadership and Management in Sports, Health and Human Performance, Social Responsibility in Sport
Common Majors
Sports Analytics, Intercollegiate Athletics, Global Sport, Digital Media & Marketing, Athlete Development, Sport Law
Potential Jobs
Director of Marketing, Senior V.P. Advertising & Sales, Promotions & Events Manager, Director of Revenue Development, Recruitment Manager
Average Income
Public relations: $104,140, Marketing and Advertising: $124,850, Financial Management: $117,990
Employment Prospects
The BLS projects a 6% increase in jobs throughout the industry, which is roughly in line with national averages. Careers in marketing are projected to increase by 9%, public relations by 7%, and merchandising by 2%. Advertising sales positions are projected to dip slightly.

The Top 5 Online Sports Management Master's Degrees

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost
1

Texas A&M University

College Station
  • in-state tuition: $8,506
  • out-of-state tuition: $25,126
2

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond
  • in-state tuition: $12,002
  • out-of-state tuition: $29,473
3

Canisius College

Buffalo
  • annually: $33,332
4

Concordia University - Irvine

Irvine
  • annually: $29,630
5

Liberty University

Lynchburg
  • annually: $20,768

See full rankings

Doctorate

A PhD in sport management is the highest level of formal education available in the industry. Geared towards aspiring researchers and academics, the degree can also benefit senior executives seeking additional career mobility. In addition to rigorous coursework, doctoral candidates are expected to conduct and defend an original research project in the form of a dissertation. Students examine policy in sports decision-making, the social and cultural impact of sports, and risk management in sports administration. As with most doctoral degrees, these programs should take between two and six years to complete.

Sample Courses
Olympic Games: Structure and Function, Psychology of Elite Performance, Advanced Coaching Theory, Labor Relations in the Sports Industry, Organizational Theory & Behavior
Common Majors
Human Performance, Kinesiology, Educational Leadership, Sports Leadership, Consumer Behavior
Potential Jobs
Principal Researcher, Professor, Assistant Professor, V.P. Collegiate Athletics, Director of State or Regional Services, Public Health Officer
Average Income
Public relations: $104,140, Marketing and Advertising: $124,850, Financial Management: $117,990
Employment Prospects
The BLS projects a 6% increase in job growth throughout sporting administration industry, which is roughly in line with national averages. In some specialty areas, the projections vary slightly but also reflect trends that cross all industries: careers in marketing should increase by 9%; public relations, by 7% and merchandising by 2%. Advertising sales is projected to experience 3% fewer jobs than currently exist.