If you want a distinctive career in athletic training, coaching or scouting, an online master’s in sports management could be for you. Distance programs in sports management typically explore a variety of leadership and organizational skills needed in the industry, including management of sports organizations, sport marketing, personnel management and sport-related revenue generation. Students looking to become a coach, manager or scout for a professional team or organization should have extensive experience as a player themselves or relevant work experience, in addition to an advanced degree in sports management; degree holders may also be eligible to work in athletic administration or officiating.
The unique world of sports management demands an equally unique set of skills. As distance education grows nationwide, pursuing an master’s in sports management online is becoming an increasingly popular way to get these qualifications. Online coursework provides the theoretical and administrative skills required in today’s booming sports management market; the program also familiarizes students with the computerized systems commonly found across the industry.
The top-ranked master’s in sports management programs in the U.S. for 2016 are listed below.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
|1||University of Florida||Gainesville||$$$$$|| |
Gainesville, FL 32611
University of Florida's (UF) online master of science in sport management offers a flexible curriculum which students can tailor to their individual interests. Learners acquire the knowledge and skills to lead a sports organization in the areas of finance, marketing, and law. Graduates pursue career paths as athletic directors, development specialists, contract negotiation managers, event coordinators, marketing consultants, and operations managers.
The 36-credit online curriculum offers specialization options in athlete development, high performance coaching, and sports law. The program follows an asynchronous format, and students can take courses in any order. Learners also complete an optional graduate internship or practicum elective and a required capstone project.
Applicants should possess a bachelor's degree and a 3.0 GPA for undergraduate coursework beyond 60 credits. Prospective students submit GRE scores, unless they earned a graduate or professional degree from a regionally accredited school.
Home to the Florida Gators, UF boasts a vibrant sports program, and is a top-ranked public research university in Gainesville, Florida.
|2||Georgetown University||Washington||$$$$$||37th and O St NW|
Washington, DC 20057-0001
Georgetown University (GU) in Washington, D.C. offers an online master of professional studies in sports industry management. This 30-credit program emphasizes networking and mentoring opportunities, teaching strategic planning, marketing and media, ethics and leadership, and project management and implementation. Students can focus their studies in one of three areas: sports communications, sports business and sales, or college sports administration.
The online, on-campus, or hybrid format allows students to study at their convenience. Most learners complete the degree in 2-5 years. The program requires a capstone project with guidance from program faculty and industry professionals, as well, which prepares learners for positions with professional teams, collegiate athletic departments, and sports agencies. Admission requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited university and a 3.0 GPA. GU also considers applicants' academic and professional experiences.
GU holds regional accreditation and was founded in 1789, making it the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university.
|3||Northwestern University||Evanston||$$$$$||633 Clark St|
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University's online master's in sports administration program focuses on marketing, operations, and sponsorship in collegiate, professional, and amateur athletics. The program consists of 11 courses and culminates in a capstone or thesis project. Part-time students typically graduate in 2-3 years.
Students can opt to specialize in sports analytics, which consists of four additional online classes. These courses cover analytical techniques used in evaluating player and team performance and in sports team administration. With courses offered online and on-campus, the flexible program lets students choose between fully online or hybrid delivery. Students can attend online classes synchronously or asynchronously.
Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school with strong academic credentials. Applicants submit a personal statement and a writing sample. Work experience, research, or an internship in the sports industry is not required, but it may bolster an application.
The program is offered through Northwestern's School of Professional Studies, located in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.
|4||Concordia University - Irvine||Irvine||$$$$$||1530 Concordia West|
Irvine, CA 92612-3203
Located in Southern California, Concordia University Irvine (CUI) boasts regional accreditation and a Lutheran tradition. The online master's in coaching and athletic administration is available 100% online and as a hybrid program. CUI's online delivery follows a synchronous format, with students and instructors interacting in virtual classrooms. In-person classes take place on the Irvine, California campus.
Five core courses -- principles of coaching and leadership, ethics and sport, research methods and analysis, legal aspects of sport, and culminating project -- plus four electives, make up this 30-credit, 15-month program. Graduates earn either a master of arts in coaching and athletics administration or a master of science in coaching and exercise science, depending on the electives they choose.
Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. The program accepts up to eight graduate-level transfer credits.
CUI is nonprofit and an NCAA Division II university.
|5||University of the Southwest||Hobbs||$$$$$||6610 North Lovington Hwy|
Hobbs, NM 88240
University of the Southwest (USW) in Hobbs, New Mexico offers a fully online MBA in sports management and recreation. Housed in the College of Business Administration, coursework includes physical education and sports administration, probability and statistics, sports management: economy and finance, and sports marketing.
The 36-credit online program follows an asynchronous format, allowing students to work on their own schedules. Learners may apply professional or military experience toward their total credits, enabling them to earn their degrees in as little as one year. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school and a 3.0 GPA. Their undergraduate degree does not need to be in business. Prospective students should also submit a 500-word essay and professional resume.
USW is a private, nonprofit Christian university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission; its College of Business Administration is a member of the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.
|6||Liberty University||Lynchburg||$$$$$||1971 University Blvd|
Lynchburg, VA 24515
Liberty University's (LU) fully online master's in sports management program takes 18 months to complete, on average. LU, a Christian University located in Lynchburg, Virginia, boasts programmatic accreditation for its sports management degree program from the Commission on Sports Management Education.
The 36-credit curriculum prepares graduates for administrative, analyst, and management jobs in sports management and sports medicine. The online delivery follows an asynchronous delivery format, allowing students to complete coursework and progress through the program at their convenience.
Core courses cover social issues, including violence and discrimination against minorities and women in the industry, as well as public relations, marketing, financial, and economic management. Specializations include coaching and athletic administration, outdoor adventure sports, and tourism. Learners may choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. LU may permit students to transfer up to 50% of their credits toward required classes. These credits can come from educational, military, or professional experience.
|7||Texas A & M University-College Station||College Station||$$$$$||805 Rudder Tower|
College Station, TX 77843-1244
NCAA Division I member, Texas A&M University offers an online MS in sports management. This vast public research institution is the home of the Aggies, who compete in 18 varsity sports. The master's program provides skills in sports industry leadership.
Applicants experience a competitive admission process. The most successful ones demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate work and an average of 4.3 years of sports industry experience. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, including at least two from professors who can speak to the prospective student's academic abilities. Other requirements include a statement of purpose and a resume. Admission does not require GRE scores, but they may help applicants.
The 36-credit curriculum offers thesis and non-thesis options. Graduate students may pursue internships in professional, collegiate, and scholastics athletics; campus or community recreation; sports media and marketing; or health and fitness. Online classes follow asynchronous and synchronous formats.
|8||Concordia University - Saint Paul||Saint Paul||$$$$$||1282 Concordia Ave|
Saint Paul, MN 55104-5494
Minnesota's Concordia University St. Paul's (CSP) interactive online master of arts in sport management is available completely online. Students can complete the 33-credit program in under two years. Students log into a virtual classroom setting to learn skills in leadership, decision-making, human resource and facility management, and finance. Online classes meet one night a week, and students complete their coursework in year-round cohorts.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. The school's transfer policy allows students to apply up to six credits from accredited graduate schools, in which students received a "B" grade or better, toward their degree. CSP also offers active duty military tuition discounts.
CSP boasts that 95% of its graduates receive job offers within a year and earn 44% more than the national average salary. The Lutheran faith-based school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
|9||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo||$$$$$||33701 State Road 52|
Saint Leo, FL 33574-6665
Saint Leo University's online master's in business administration with a concentration in sport business degree program readies students for careers with athletics departments, professional franchises, and sporting goods retailers.
The 36-credit curriculum covers topics including business management and analysis, industry-specific communications, effective collaboration, ethical and economical responsibility, and applicable technology. Students take two courses that are each eight-week terms and graduate in 1-5 years.
The flexible online program caters to adult learners. Students attend a virtual open house and can join online campus clubs and associations on a platform that supports remote networking. Saint Leo offers a $6,000 MBA online academic achievement scholarship to qualifying new students.
Graduate application requirements include a bachelor's degree, a resume evidencing two or more years of professional work experience, two professional recommendations, and a statement of professional goals. Saint Leo, a private Catholic university near Tampa, Florida, holds regional accreditation. Its sports business program is accredited by the Commission on Sports Management Education.
|10||Mississippi College||Clinton||$$$$$||200 South Capitol Street|
Clinton, MS 39058
Mississippi College's (MC) Department of Kinesiology offers an online MS in athletic administration two-year program, geared especially towards students who want to work in collegiate or secondary school athletics. The program's 37 credits cover all aspects of athletic administration, including ethics, finance, human resources, and legal structures.
Students take classes online anywhere at their convenience, and must complete two on-site, six-week practicums to graduate. Learners can concentrate their degree in interscholastic, which develops leadership skills and personnel management techniques, or intercollegiate, which covers finance, personnel issues, and legal concepts in higher education. The online delivery platform allows for class discussions, communications between students and faculty, and online quizzes.
Established in 1826, MC represents Mississippi's oldest postsecondary school and boasts regional accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The private, Christian university is a NCAA Division II member, situated in Clinton, Mississippi.
|11||Concordia University - Chicago||River Forest||$$$$$||7400 Augusta|
River Forest, IL 60305-1499
Concordia University Chicago (CUC) offers an MBA in sports management on an accelerated online platform, which allows students to complete their degree in one year. Cohorts stay together for the program's entirety. The curriculum focuses on four areas: economics of sports, sports finance, sports law, and diversity in sports. Studies culminate with compilation of a business e-portfolio, which graduates can share with their potential employers.
Graduates find positions as sports agents and events managers or in sports media, administration, operations, and marketing.
Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school and submit an objective statement, two letters of recommendation, and a professional resume. Those with a minimum 2.85 GPA qualify for full admission, while those with lower GPAs or who lack any admission requirements may qualify for provisional or probationary admission.
CUC's graduate programs hold accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The College of Business belongs to the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
|12||Bryan College - Dayton||Dayton||$$$$$||721 Bryan Drive|
Dayton, TN 37321
Bryan College's MBA sports management program is International Accreditation Council for Business Education and regionally accredited and delivered entirely online. Tailored to accommodate students with full-time jobs, students can graduate in as little as 14 months.
A Christian school, Bryan College emphasizes leadership development and career advancement in the sports industry, along with spiritual growth. The 36-credit curriculum encompasses nine weeks of accelerated classes, including courses in the biblical/worldview principles of management and business in a global environment. The flexible, asynchronous program allows students to start at the beginning of any nine-week period and take up to two classes at a time.
Active military members or veterans and their immediate families can apply to receive a $1,000 scholarship. The college's Credit for Prior Learning program may allow transfer credits based on an assessment of an applicant's prior learning portfolio.
Bryan College is located in Dayton, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountain foothills.
|13||Canisius College||Buffalo||$$$$$||2001 Main St|
Buffalo, NY 14208-1098
Canisius College in Buffalo, New York offers a hybrid master's in sports administration program. Described as flexible and hands-on, the curriculum covers emerging industry trends, communication skills, and sport administration technologies. Students in the one-year program can work on a project within the college's Institute for Research in Sport, and potentially publish their research.
They also can find internship opportunities through a network of alumni and professional associations in the sports industry. Program graduates currently work in positions such as: events manager for Penn State football, sales director for the Chicago White Sox, ticketing client group international sales director for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, and scout for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit a personal essay, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. A Jesuit and NCAA Division I school, Canisius holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
|14||Gonzaga University||Spokane||$$$$$||E 502 Boone Ave|
Spokane, WA 99258-0001
Known for its success in NCAA Division I basketball, Gonzaga offers an online master's in sport and athletic administration. The program builds skills and leadership in facilities management, marketing and communication, risk management, team-building, and title IX competency.
The two-year curriculum comprises 31 credits, which learners can earn entirely online. Most classes follow an asynchronous format. Students interact with professors on the virtual platform. On-site internships are available with professional and collegiate teams and specific events, such as bowl games and local athletic and sport organizations.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, along with two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a video in which applicants explain why they want to attend Gonzaga and how they plan to follow the school's mission. Gonzaga is a Jesuit university located in Spokane, Washington, and holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commision on Colleges and Universities.
|15||California University of Pennsylvania||California||$$$$$||250 University Ave|
California, PA 15419-1394
At this state university in California, Pennsylvania, students can earn a degree in MS sports management studies online. Cal U boasts the first online graduate program in sport management. The program is available entirely online, with the exception of an in-person mentorship. It features three concentration areas: intercollegiate athletic administration, sport management generalist, and strategic sport analysis. Students can graduate from the accelerated cohort program in as little as 13 months.
A flexible delivery platform uses videos and PowerPoint presentations, along with interactive online forums, discussion groups, and chat rooms. Notable classes in the 36-credit curriculum include research methods in sport and socio-cultural aspects of sport. Students receive supervision from a sports industry leader during on-site mentorships. Program graduates pursue jobs as athletic directors, head football coaches, and fitness center directors.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Those with lower GPAs may gain conditional admission.
|16||American University||Washington||$$$$$||4400 Massachusetts Ave NW|
Washington, DC 20016-8001
Graduate degrees available at American University in Washington, D.C. include an online master of science in sports analytics and management. Students learn sports industry analytics and evaluative technologies, which prepares them for opportunities including e-sports gaming, fantasy sports, interactive spectatorship, and virtual reality.
American University's online delivery model -- called professional studies experience -- comprises a four-phase curriculum: core, working with a cohort; innovation through new technologies; intercultural communication for professionals; and data-driven decision-making. Students work on their own schedules for most classes, but some synchronous sessions may also be included.
Classes in the 20-month, 30-credit program center on social networking and messaging, emerging technological trends, strategic and ethical decision-making, outreach, and business plans. Students also participate in hands-on workshops, field work, and a capstone project.
American University is an NCAA Division I school and regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
|17||Jacksonville State University||Jacksonville||$$$$$||700 Pelham Road North|
Jacksonville, AL 36265
Jacksonville State University's (JSU) online MS in sports management program prepares graduates for jobs in organization management, sports journalism, and athlete management and talent development. Students can also opt to earn a class A teacher certification, which opens opportunities to train coaches, sports practitioners, and trainers.
Class delivery is completely online and asynchronous, though students may participate in on-site internships. To graduate, students complete 31-34 credits, depending on whether they pursue teacher certification. All students take a class that introduces graduate education and technology.
Admission requires an undergraduate degree. Applicants also benefit from holding a bachelor's in marketing, public relations, communications, or business. Prospective students submit GRE scores, three references, a resume, and a letter of application outlining their interest in the program. Located in Jacksonville, Alabama, JSU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and boasts an NCAA Division 1 athletic program.
|18||Texas Woman's University||Denton||$$$$$||304 Administration Dr|
Denton, TX 76201
Texas Woman's University (TWU) in Denton, Texas, offers a fully online, one-year MS in kinesiology (sport management). The interdisciplinary program focuses on business, marketing, communication, and law, balanced with the concept of sport as a means of social and individual improvement. It aims to empower women to become positive change agents in the sports industry.
Online course delivery follows a primarily asynchronous format, and the university describes it as highly interactive, including synchronous elements. The 26-credit program culminates in the student's choice of internship, thesis, or comprehensive examination. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA in their most recent 60 credits of undergraduate study. They must also submit two reference letters and a resume.
Denton is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. TWU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and is an NCAA Division II school, with student-athletes participating in basketball, gymnastics, soccer, softball, and volleyball.
|19||Belhaven University||Jackson||$$$$$||1500 Peachtree St|
Jackson, MS 39202
Belhaven University's online master of sports administration emphasizes the development of strong leaders who understand both the corporate and human sides of the sports industry.
The 36-credit online program follows a fully asynchronous format, with video lectures. Students post weekly assignments to a discussion board, work on team projects and activities, and complete a capstone. Most graduate within two years, unless prior transfer credits from other accredited schools allow them to finish earlier. On-campus attendance is not required.
Graduates are prepared for careers in marketing, negotiations, research, retail, and sports regulation as athletic directors, associate or assistant directors, advertising sales representatives, and sports writers. Applicants must submit evidence of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, an essay, and two letters of recommendation.
Belhaven provides Christian liberal arts and sciences education in Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. The university holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|20||Arkansas State University||Jonesboro||$$$$$||2105 E. Aggie Road|
Jonesboro, AR 72401
Arkansas State University's (A-State) online master of science in sport administration prepares students to become sports managers in the professional, collegiate, or secondary school athletic departments. The 36-credit program serves working professionals, featuring accelerated coursework, allowing completion in one year. Students can access all their classes at any time, and do not have to visit campus. Supervised internships take place in the summer.
Course topics include sports law, research design, sport governance and operations, and current readings in physical education and sport science.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school and submit a statement of goals, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. One letter must come from a faculty member, and one from a supervisor. Some applicants may have to undergo an interview. A-State may accept up to nine graduate transfer credits toward the degree.
A-State is located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and the sport administration master's program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.
|21||University of Northern Colorado||Greeley||$$$$$||Carter Hall - Rm 4000|
Greeley, CO 80639
The University of Northern Colorado's (UNC) Extended Campus offers a 12-month online sport and exercise science MS: sport administration emphasis program, which covers events and facilities, finance, fundraising and development, law, marketing, and current issues in sports. Alumni work at organizations including the Denver Broncos, the New York Yankees, and the Air Force Academy.
The 30-credit, fully online curriculum serves working professionals and offers a thesis and non-thesis track. Those who opt for the thesis intend to pursue a doctorate. Those who elect the non-thesis direction take a comprehensive examination instead. Internships are optional.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, plus a 3.0 GPA. They do not have to submit GRE scores. Transfer students may apply up to six prior graduate credits to their degree. UNC is based in Greeley, Colorado, and is an NCAA Division I school, accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
|22||Wayne State University||Detroit||$$$$$||656 West Kirby Street|
Detroit, MI 48202
Detroit's Wayne State University (WSU) offers an online MA in sports administration. The program comprises 30 credits, including a required internship or master's thesis. In addition to core classes, students take electives in the following specializations: interscholastic, intercollegiate, professional, or commercial. Courses follow a primarily asynchronous format, though specifics may vary between classes and professors.
Prospective students should possess an undergraduate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. WSU admits students with a variety of degrees, such as those in business administration, communications, economics, journalism, marketing, and physical education. Program alumni include an NBA sales consultant with the Detroit Pistons and the head basketball coach at Roosevelt University.
The program is housed in the College of Education, which was granted probationary accreditation for two by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. WSU is a public land grant, NCAA Division II school.
|23||Fresno Pacific University||Fresno||$$$$$||1717 S. Chestnut Ave.|
Fresno, CA 93702
Classes in Fresno Pacific University's master in sports administration are available entirely online, teaching advanced topics in sports leadership and administration. Students can volunteer or work in sports administration positions while working toward their degree. Career opportunities exist at the high school, college, and professional levels, and in the private sector.
Courses in the 30-credit curriculum include sport career development, sport revenue and finance, sports marketing, and sport sales and sponsorship. The program culminates with a comprehensive exam. Applicants must submit official transcripts demonstrating a bachelor's degree in business, kinesiology, physical education, or sport administration or management. Other requirements include a letter of recommendation, a statement of intent, and a minimum 2.75 GPA or current resume and letter of explanation.
The main campus is located in Fresno, California. Fresno Pacific, a Christian university, holds accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
|24||Southern New Hampshire University||Manchester||$$$$$||2500 North River Road|
Manchester, NH 03106-1045
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), based in Manchester, offers an online master's degree in sports management that combines experiential learning and business administration. Program goals include developing strong skills in communication, critical and creative thinking, problem-solving and decision-making, strategic analysis, and business.
Online classroom delivery is asynchronous, and students taking two courses per 10-week term can graduate in 15 months. Course options include sport and society, internationalization of sport business, and research methods in sport management. A capstone project and 36 credits are required to graduate.
Admissions takes place on a rolling basis. Prospective students must contact an admissions counselor who can assist with the application process and financial options. Active military service members and their spouses receive a 25% tuition discount. SNHU is nonprofit and regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. The sport management program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
|25||Drexel University||Philadelphia||$$$$$||3141 Chestnut St|
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Drexel University's online master of science in sport management is business-focused and prepares graduates to work with big data, negotiate on behalf of athletes, and manage sports franchises.
Core courses in the 45-credit program include measuring and maximizing financial performance, negotiations for leaders, and business statistics. After completing 15 credits, students can opt to add a dual degree track, such as an MBA or MS in business analytics. The online program follows an asynchronous format, and Drexel's summer webinar series introduces the online business courses and provides information and support for prospective students.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school, preferably with a minimum 3.0 GPA and two years of work experience. Competitive applications include GRE or GMAT scores.
Drexel is a private nonprofit university and NCAA Division I member, located in Philadelphia. The sport management program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Graduates of a master’s program in sports management may be qualified for top-tier jobs involving management and administration in the athletic industry, which is today valued at over $400 billion. Though not the minimum requirement for entry-level jobs in the field, a master’s can increase eligibility for employment in athletic scouting, sports-oriented program development or marketing. Additional career opportunities include work as a sports agency representative, athletic trainer, fitness club manager and facilities manager. As participation in high school and college sports increases in the U.S., the BLS estimates the need for qualified coaches and scouts will also increase through 2022, with job growth favoring professionals educated in sports management.
An online master’s in sports management can give career candidates a competitive edge in the sports workforce. Unlike many campus programs, distance degrees in sports management often require a practicum or internship in order to understand the physical, social and participatory aspects of team sports. The digital element of classes combines administrative skills in organization and management with a comprehensive understanding of athletic activities as a developmental tool. For distance learners completing the master’s in sports management online, they can explore theoretical concepts in the virtual classroom while gaining real-world experience in the field.
After graduation, prospective sports management professionals should seek further work experience in their particular area of interest. Though requirements vary, scouts, for example, do not necessarily need to have experience playing sports themselves, but should exude a sense of passion and determination to seek out exceptional prospects. Additionally, it is recommended that students continue to develop “people” skills throughout their career, as improved communication, leadership, decision-making and interpersonal competencies are of the utmost importance in this industry.