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Top 25 Online Master’s in Sports Management Programs

For dedicated fans, the chance to work in sports could be the professional thrill of a lifetime. Fortunately for those who want to turn a passion into a vocation, sports organizations require thousands of sports managers to serve in roles ranging from training athletes to launching advertising campaigns. And with a median annual salary of $62,000, there is ample potential for professional growth and advancement in the field.

To help you transition from fan to professional, a number of universities offer master’s in sports management online programs. These programs help nontraditional students earn a degree while working part- or full-time, and many universities allow students to take classes at an accelerated pace.

WHAT ARE THE BEST Online Master’s in Sports Management Programs?

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Sports Management Program

When evaluating master’s in sports management online programs, prospective students should consider several factors, including program length, the focus of the curriculum, tuition, and on-campus requirements. As you evaluate various schools, be sure to ask a couple of questions at each. Below, we’ve listed a few sample questions you should ask each school under your purview:

  • Does this school offer a curriculum that matches my strengths and professional interests?
  • How expensive is tuition?
  • Does this school charge tuition by credit, or a flat fee?
  • Do I need to complete any classes on-campus, or can I study entirely online?
  • Does this program have a history of placing students or graduates in internships with teams or sporting organizations?
  • Is this school accredited regionally or nationally? (The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation is a reputable national accreditation agency that accredits many programs in the field.)

Careers for Graduates of Master’s in Sports Management Programs

For those interested in earning a sports management master’s degree online, the degree can prepare you for a variety of careers in sports and athletics. Whether you want to work in the training room or the boardroom, a sports management master’s degree online can prepare you to take the next step in your career. Below, we’ve listed a few positions that graduates can pursue.

Job Outlook and Salary

Many sports management positions are located in a handful of states. In 2016, the greatest concentration of sports management jobs were in New York, California, and the District of Columbia. Los Angeles has the highest number of sports managers in the country.

Sports managers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia earn a higher salary than employees in the field do in other states. Overall, the Rocky Mountain states, along with certain areas of the Midwest, have the fewest sports management jobs. Between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects careers in sports management field to grow at approximately two-and-a-half percent.

Projected Employment for Sports Management Careers
Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
19,700 20,000

Source: BLS

SALARY GROWTH BY EXPERIENCE

An online master’s in sports management can help you stand out in a crowded field of job applicants. Earning an impressive salary, however, requires years of experience. In sports management, hard work pays off, and employee can expect steady salary increases throughout their careers. The table below demonstrates how experienced professionals in sports management will earn more money as they grow throughout their careers.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

After earning an online master’s in sports management, it helps to network with other professionals in the field. Membership in one or more organizations can connect you with thousands of experienced sports managers and potential employers. Membership also signals your passion and commitment to the sports management field. Joining a professional organization can over benefits as well, as these organizations provide industry professionals with a variety of resources, including annual conferences and career services.

North American Society for Sports Management (NASSM)

Supporting sports management professionals throughout North America, NASSM offers its members a private job board and networking service. In addition, members can apply for a NASSM grant to fund academic research into sports management.

Sports Marketing Association (SMA)

Since 2002, SMA has sponsored an annual career fair open to its members and the public. Besides helping recent graduates find work, SMA routinely works with colleges’ sports management programs to improve their curriculum.

College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA)

For sixty years, CoSIDA has given sports management professionals an outlet to advance their careers, share advice, and keep up to date with the latest changes in the sports management field. Its 3,000 members are a valuable resource for new professionals in sports management.


To determine the best online master’s in sports management programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the 25 best master’s in sports management programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.