Top 5 Online Associate in Sports Management Programs for 2019

Behind every top athletic team is a dedicated sports manager. The study of sports management combines business savvy with sports science, athletic marketing, and field-specific management techniques. Rather than coaching, a sports manager works behind the scenes to promote the team and meet the needs of players. Earning an online associate degree in sports management can lead to a number of bachelor's programs that emphasize specialty skills in sports medicine, athletic training, wellness coaching, athletic scouting, sports marketing, and public relations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for athletic scouts, coaches, and other sports workers will increase of 6% through 2024 as interest in high school and college sports continues to rise in the United States.



SUNY at Albany Albany, New York


Located in New York's capital city, SUNY at Albany is a tri-center learning complex that includes uptown, downtown, and health sciences campuses. SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors, including an online associate degree in sports management through its Open SUNY online division. The 64-credit degree is designed to be completed in two years and prepares graduates to apply business principles to sports industry occupations.

Aside from developing student's knowledge of the sports industry, the program hones skills in accounting, marketing, and management that can be applied to jobs in a number of other business disciplines. Coursework is offered asynchronously and is taught by the same faculty that teach on-campus courses. The program requires no campus visits.


Shorter University Rome, Georgia


Throughout Georgia, Shorter University is known for upholding its commitment to academic excellence, spiritual growth, Christian leadership, and global service. Shorter offers numerous associate, bachelor's, master's, and professional degrees across six schools and colleges, including an online sports management degree. Major courses in the 60-credit program include sport psychology, sport coaching, and contemporary issues in sports.

Students must complete an online learning orientation course along with foundational courses in religion, effective communication, historical and social perspectives, artistic expression, and quantitative and scientific reasoning. To be eligible for graduation, students must have earned a minimum 2.0 overall GPA and a "C" or better in lower-division English courses.


University of Northwestern Ohio Lima, Ohio


Located on 200 acres in the small midwestern township of Lima, UNOH offers an online associate degree in sports management that includes coursework in facility and event management, sport law, and the history of U.S. sports. The 108-credit program aims to maximize students' contact with industry professionals while educating them in the management and business skills they need to succeed in today's global sports industry.

On top of classes in sports management, students must take courses in accounting, international business, and finance. To graduate, students must also complete internships with local or national sporting organizations. Graduates are prepared for entry-level employment in sales, communication, account management, and game operations and promotions.


Cowley County Community College Arkansas City, Kansas


Cowley is home to over 4,500 students and offers more than 80 degree programs. Among the 30 programs offered entirely online is the associate degree in sports management. Coursework in the two-year, 66-credit program includes two sports management practicums and a class in sport psychology. The curriculum is designed to be easily transferable to a bachelor's degree in sports management.

Aside from sports-related classes, students in the major must complete general education requirements in the humanities, social sciences, and physical education. The program also recommends taking several electives that build career-oriented skills in management and computer literacy. Online learning is offered through Blackboard.


College of Southern Maryland La Plata, Maryland


Spanning four campuses in a tri-county area, the College of Southern Maryland offers more than 100 degrees and programs, including the college's . The 60-credit degree is designed for students who want to transfer into a four-year university. While enrolled in the two-year program, students receive a comprehensive introduction to sports in relation to business, society, leadership, human development, and management.

The degree is appropriate for individuals who want careers in the fitness industry, athletic administration, retail marketing, or college and professional sports. By the time they graduate, students will be capable of explaining the physiological and psychological components of sports performance and how they factor into the success of athletes and businesses. Applicants may apply a maximum of 45 credits toward the online degree.

How to Choose an Online Associate in Sports Management Program

As a somewhat obscure major to many college-bound students, sports management programs may seem few and far between. Today, however, there are many high-quality degrees available. To start narrowing your search, make sure your short list includes only nationally or regionally accredited colleges and universities. Next, compare tuition prices, keeping in mind that there are many factors that affect the price and completion time of your degree. For example, your school may offer an online associate degree in sports management in an accelerated format, which could help save time and keep costs low.

One of the most important factors to consider when deciding between schools is a program's curriculum and available concentrations. Be sure that the program you choose offers classes that meet your professional goals. Another important step is to start looking into financial aid options, which could include scholarships specifically for sports management students. Online sports management degrees may also offer lower in-state tuition and financial aid exclusive to students in a particular city or county.

Educational Paths for Associate Degrees in Sports Management

Earning an online associate degree in sports management is not only beneficial to aspiring sports managers, it can lead the way to a lucrative career in a variety of fields, including sports science, marketing, and public relations. An associate-level sports management degree provides a comprehensive introduction to the business and management skills needed to be successful in the athletic industry. Building on these skills, a bachelor's degree allows students to specialize in a particular sports subfields that leads to even more career opportunities. Below are just a few of the bachelor's programs commonly pursued by sports management majors.

  • Sports Management

    Earning a bachelor's in sports management prepares students to manage and promote sports organizations, arenas, and stadiums. These professionals can also plan major sporting and athletic events. The curriculum for this program typically emphasizes leadership, finance, development, management, law, marketing, and media skills.

  • Sports Science

    Some graduates with an associate degree in sports management choose to study sports science at the baccalaureate level. In addition to exposing you to organizational athletics at the amateur and professional levels, this degree option will teach you about sports conditioning, nutrition, and fitness programming.

  • Sports Marketing and Media

    Bachelor's programs in this speciality take advantage of the skills learned in an associate-level online sports management degree and train students to produce creative content, engage fans, and build athletic branding opportunities through sports marketing and media campaigns.

Career Paths for Sports Management Graduates

Sports management graduates are well-versed in a combination of business and leadership skills. Whether you are seeking a position as an athletic director of a sports facility or aspiring to become a personal trainer, sports management graduates can find their own personal niche in the industry. These professionals must also understand the distinct needs of athletes, athletic administrators, and other colleagues in the field. Below are just some of the most common careers for sports management graduates.

Athletic Director

Athletic directors are responsible for coordinating all athletic activities for a school or organization. Tasks typically include budgeting, marketing, fundraising, and overseeing special events. Most positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Some employers also require experience in sports administration.

Median Salary: $59,045

Athletic Scout

Athletic scouts identify and recruit talented athletes. Many scouts gain experience by starting as representatives for a particular region and gradually expanding their jurisdiction or specialty. Athletic scouts are typically required to have at least a bachelor's degree in sports management, business, marketing, or sales.

Median Salary: $31,460

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers are sports medicine professionals who specialize in treating athletes and athletic injuries. They are often employed by sports teams, school-based athletic programs, and advanced fitness centers. While not always required, postgraduate education is often preferred by employers. Trainers must also be certified in most states.

Median Salary: $40,448

Athlete Agent

who represent athletes are responsible for promoting their clients to prospective employers and in all business dealings, which often involves contract negotiation and arranging public relations opportunities. While minimum degree requirements vary for this occupation, marketing, communications, and public relations experience is beneficial.

Median Salary: $86,560

Job Outlook and Salary for Graduates of Sports Management Associate Degrees

Fueled by public interest in collegiate and professional sports, sports management offers relatively steady job growth in most areas. In fact, BLS projects jobs for athletic scouts will grow by 6% by 2024. Even in the face of potential market fluctuations and budget cuts affecting sports organizations, the demand for scouts, agents, trainers, and managers is expected to remain stable to match the seasonal rotation of new players and retirees in and out of the athletic system. Salaries for these professionals depends on several factors, including career path, location, education, and level of experience. As in any occupation, those with extensive education and specialty skills will be in high demand.

Salary Growth by Experience for Graduates of Sports Management Associate Degrees

As shown below, sports management occupations offer a range of salaries depending on years of experience in the field. While athletic coaches earn modest salaries at the start of their careers and peak at just under the national salary average for recent college graduates, theirs is one of few occupations to decrease slightly in earning potential after 20 or more years. Athletic trainers earn a starting salary similar to athletic coaches, but their earnings increase by up to 50% in the later stages of their careers. Generally, athletic directors are among the top earners in the industry, bringing in as much as $78,000 a year if they have 20 years of experience in the field.

To determine the best online associate 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 best online associate 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.