Top 25 Online Master's in Sports Management Programs for 2019

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.

Featured Online Schools

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


University of Florida Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida, based in Gainesville, FL, offers an MS in sports management that prepares graduates for positions in collegiate, amateur, and professional athletics. This school’s online program provides a “behind-the-scenes” introduction to sports management, which develops administrative duties that maintain a successful organization and keep players on the field. Courses are offered completely online with no on-campus requirements.

Sports management is a broad field; therefore, the University of Florida offers a diverse set of classes so students can tailor their education to their interests, including finance for sport organization, risk management and legal issues in sports and athlete training/development. Students can also specialize their degree with certificates in athlete development, high performance coaching, or sport law. This 36 credit program culminates with either a professional internship or practicum to apply hands-on learning. Graduate-level courses from other accredited institutions may be eligible for transfer.


Gonzaga University Spokane, WA

Gonzaga University’s MA in sport and athletic administration curriculum emphasizes marketing and communications, team building, community outreach, Title IX compliance, and more. Students tailor this degree to their interests, and find careers in athletic direction, sports facilities management, media management, among others. This master’s in sports management online degree also requires an internship experience through real-world immersion programs with the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, Spokane Chiefs, and many other organizations.

Classes are accessible to students both online and on campus, and cannot be completed through a hybridized format. Students complete this online master’s program in sports management in an average of two years. Gonzaga also offers many scholarship and loan programs to qualifying students.


Drexel University Philadelphia, PA

Drexel University’s MS in sports management is a fully online program that develops the next generation of leading sporting management professionals. Drexel’s master’s in sports management prepares students for collegiate athletics, professional sports, and health and fitness industries. While core coursework is completed online, students attend a week-long residency program in Philadelphia. These residency programs occur once a year during the summer, and students work in teams to ground their online learning.

The program is divided into four 10-week quarters per year, which allows students to take more classes per term than a traditional two-semester system. This online master’s in sports management requires applicants to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 from an accredited institution.


Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southeastern University offers an MA in management and administration of educational programs with a specialization in athletic administration. This degree trains sports managers and athletic directors for careers in educational institutions. The 37 credit program is fully online, and requires 25 credits in the specialization. Classes are interactive and include community outreach internships to promote integrated learning. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required in all coursework.

The Abraham S. Fischler College of Education offers comprehensive and fully accredited coursework. NSU boasts an alumni network of more than 60,000 students from campuses all over the United States and internationally.


Concordia University Irvine, CA

Concordia University-Irvine’s (CUI) master’s in coaching and athletics administration is a nationally accredited program designed for the working professional. By integrating faith and service-learning with sports management, students develop their teaching, coaching, and administrative abilities from a distinctly religious perspective.

Students may select either a master of arts or a master of science degree in coaching and athletics administration. Both degree options consist of 20 credits of core classes, with an additional 16 credits of electives. Coursework is taken entirely online, on campus, or as a hybrid online and on-campus program. Students can begin coursework during summer, fall, or winter. This sports management master’s degree online also offers seasonal intensives to further customize the learning experience.


Liberty University Lynchburg, VA

Liberty University offers a master of science in sports management accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Education (COSME). The 36 credit program is offered fully online and provides a comprehensive overview of the sports management industry. Core classes cover marketing, public relations, financial management, and more. Students may also transfer up 18 credits earned at other accredited institutions.

In addition to earning an MS degree, students specialize with concentrations in outdoor adventure sports, sports administration, or tourism. Liberty also offers concurrent and related master’s programs in teaching, education, and exercise science, which further enhances one’s marketability in the field.


Canisius College Buffalo, NY

Canisius College’s master’s in sports administration is offered its School of Education and Human Services. A master’s in sporting administration prepares students for careers in intercollegiate athletics, sports marketing, and event/facility management. Canisius pairs traditional coursework with hands-on internship programs, while offering students study abroad opportunities and access to industry events. The program’s emphasis on real-world experience provides hands-on business experience essential to the sports management industry.

Most students earn their online master's in sports administration in one year. Coursework is completed either fully online, on campus, or as a hybrid of the two. Students also pursue their own research with the goal of eventually publishing their work.


Grace College and Theological Seminary Winona Lake, IN

Grace College has partnered with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and the Canadian Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (CIAAA) to offer an MS in athletic administration program. Prospective students must be a member of the NIAAA or CIAAA, be involved in an interscholastic athletic program, and possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

Classes are offered fully online, and begin at multiple times throughout the year to accommodate busy schedules. Students work at their own pace, and complete practically-oriented projects to apply their classroom learning. No entrance exam is required for admission, nor is there a minimum GPA requirement for admittance.


Texas A & M University College Station, TX

Texas A&M’s MS in sports management prepares graduates to enter the world of professional sports, media and communications operations, health and country clubs, and more. Coursework is offered fully online, on campus, or as a hybrid, and students choose a thesis or non-thesis degree program.

This 36 credit online master’s in sports management features core coursework in sports marketing, revenue generation, and sports law; Students also complete up to eight electives in topics like health and kinesiology, among others. Admissions is only in the fall and is traditionally very competitive; most students possess a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and over four years of professional work in the industry.


Ohio University Athens, OH

Ohio University’s master’s in athletic administration program leans on over five decades of experience in the field, and boasts the prestigious Commission of Sport Management accreditation. First offered in 1966, the university has an extensive history of preparing the next generation of professionals leading athletic departments and student athletes.

This online master’s in sports management features coursework in human resource management, facility management and programming, ethics in sports, and sports marketing. Classes are taught by experienced faculty with top notch education and professional backgrounds. This degree program prepares students for careers in college athletic administration and the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) certification. Students can complete their degree in less than two years, and no GRE is required for admissions.


Belhaven University Jackson, MS

Administration.htm" target="_blank">master’s of sports administration is rooted in a Christ-centered education. Blending sports management skills with Christian values, the degree can be completed fully online, on campus, or as part of a hybrid online/on-campus format.

Coursework includes leadership and sports ethics, advanced organizational leadership, venue and event management, and a capstone seminar in sports administration. Graduates of this master’s in sports administration find careers as athletic directors, associate directors of marketing, media relations directors, sports writers, and more. Students complete the degree in approximately two years, and terms are divided into eight week segments. Group-work is an essential component of the program, as students will complete multiple group projects. Prospective students must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.


California University of Pennsylvania California, PA

California University of Pennsylvania’s master of science in sports management studies prepares students for this highly competitive field through coursework in sports law, critical thinking, and research. Courses are delivered in a modular format via Powerpoint presentations and online forums, while discussion groups and other peer-to-peer connections foster interaction among the cohort. This 36 credit program requires 24 credits in core courses, with the remaining 12 credits completed in one of three available concentrations: sports management, intercollegiate athletics administration, or strategic sports analysis. Cal U also has a certification in sports counseling program.

Classes begin each year during winter and summer sessions, and full-time students can earn their degree in as little as thirteen months. All classes are delivered fully online, and part-time options are available.


Adelphi University McCaysville, GA

With a main campus in Garden City, NJ and several satellite campuses, Adelphi University enrolls roughly 8,000 students from 43 states and 45 foreign countries. Students in their MS in sports management program work with almost every professional team in the greater New York metropolitan area. This MS degree lets students tailor their degree with concentrations in sports marketing or collegiate athletic administration. Since AU’s online master’s in sports management is entirely online, distance learners from different states or countries provide a chance to interact and share ideas with students of many backgrounds. AU also has a large alumni network that assists recent graduates with networking within the industry.

This 36 credit master’s program can be completed in as little 24 months. GRE or GMAT scores are not required for admission, nor is there a minimum GPA requirements.


Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA

Georgia Southern University offers a fully online MS in sports management that prepares graduates for careers in professional or collegiate athletic departments, sports marketing and promotion, and sports information/media/communications. This 36 credit online master’s in sports management can be completed in two years, and there are no on campus or residency requirements.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, and GRE or GMAT scores less than five years old. International students must have their prior transcripts evaluated by the NACES accreditation evaluation service. Classes begin only once a year in the Fall, and all application materials must be submitted by March.


Southern New Hampshire University Hooksett, NH

SNHU has offered an MS in sports management for 25 years, and is one of the oldest sports management master’s programs in the country. Students develop excellent written and verbal skills, develop critical thinking, and gain hands-on experience through an available internship. Degree-seekers may also gain further certification in the form of a sports management athletic administration graduate certificate. Courses are offered fully online and are accessible 24/7. You can complete your graduate degree in 15 months as a full-time student.

Alumni from this master’s program can be found working for teams such as the Boston Celtics, the Boston Bruins, The US Olympic Committee and more. Instructors blend real-world experience with classroom instruction, and the school offers a broad network of alumni in which students may network.


Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA

Virginia Commonwealth offers its MS in sports management as a concentration of a master’s in education. This sports leadership program is available 100% online, though courses are only available on a part-time schedule; you may only undergo three classes at a time via the school’s online portal. VCU believes that this part time basis allows you to gain a deeper understanding of class subjects by giving you less to focus on at one time. You must complete a minimum of 36 credits to earn your master’s in sports management online.

To apply to VCU, you must have earned your bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. You must also have a relevant GRE/GMAT score (scores from within the last five years). This school does not have any residency requirements; applicants are admitted from across the country and internationally.


Coker College Hartsville, SC

Coker offers an MS in College Athletic Administration; unlike other schools with a more generalized master’s degree in sports management, CC’s program is tailored to students interested in embarking on a career based in college athletic programs.

This master’s program consists of a minimum of 30 credit hours for completion. These credits can be earned entirely online with no residency or on-campus requirements. Throughout your time at CC, you must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 grading scale. Internship/work experience may also be applied toward your total credit hours after receiving approval from the appropriate committee. In fact, you will be encouraged to take on an internship; Coker believes that hands-on work is beneficial for helping you to apply your knowledge as you learn it. The total cost of earning your MS in College Athletic Administration at Coker is approximately $18,000.


Lasell College Auburndale, MA

Lasell College offers a flexible and highly customizable MS in sports management degree program. Delivered fully online with no on-campus requirements, full-time students earn their degree in 12-24 months. Lasell keeps class sizes small to ensure each student receives individual attention from instructors. Classes are provided through online learning platforms, which provide lecture videos, reading material, homework assignments, and student-led discussion boards.

Students in this MS in sports management degree select one of four specialized concentrations: sports leadership, sport tourism and hospitality management, parks and recreation, and athletics administration. Lasell College does not require any GRE or GMAT scores for admissions, however the process is competitive.


University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS

The MS in sports management at University of Southern Mississippi (USM) prepares graduates for careers in industries as varied as business management to sports event security management. USM has no residency requirements, and the program is completed entirely online. Full-time students are enrolled in at least nine credits per semester, and complete the degree program in roughly two years.

This 24 credit master’s in sports management features a blend of core coursework with an additional nine credit hours in elective courses. These elective courses let students tailor their degree toward the field in which they are most interested. Terms begin three times per year -- fall, spring or summer. While GRE/GMAT scores are required for admissions, there is no limit on how old an applicant’s scores may be.


Fresno Pacific University Fresno, CA

Fresno Pacific University’s (FPU) master’s in sports management degree prepares graduates for the front lines of athletic office management. Students find careers at all levels, from elementary school athletic directors to professional/private sector athlete managers. This degree is offered completely online and includes courses in business, marketing, management, finance, and more. Admissions requirements include an earned undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 and no GRE or GMAT test scores.

FPU has no on-campus orientations or residency requirements, and students pay the same tuition regardless of their home state. Classes have multiple start dates throughout the year: two start-dates in spring, one in summer, one in fall and winter. This online master’s in sports management consists of 30 credits, and full-time students graduate in five semesters.


Franklin Pierce University Rindge, NH

The online MBA in sports management at Franklin Pierce University (FPU) is business-focused degree that prepares graduates for leadership, PR, marketing, finance, and other related positions in the field of sports management. This program is designed to accommodate the schedules of busy working professionals; classes are available fully online, 24 hours per day. For full-time students, the program can be completed within four terms.

Admission requires an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and an average GPA of 2.8 or higher. The application process also requires completion of a specified “admissions portfolio” to determine your level of relevant knowledge prior to admission. Note that some credit may be granted for relevant part-time or full-time work.


Midwestern State University Wichita Falls, TX

The master’s of education in sports administration degree program at Midwestern State University (MSU) is grounded in the theories and applications of education. Graduates of this program advance to athletic management in grade schools and colleges, and even PhD work.

The 36 credit online master’s in sports management at MSU requires core classes in organizational leadership, management, and culture, while electives let students tailor their education to their area of interest. Most students earn their degree in less than two years. Admission requires an earned undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, and GRE/GMAT test scores from within the last five years. MSU does not have residency requirements for its online students.


Arkansas State University Jonesboro, AR

The online MS in sports administration at Arkansas State University (ASU) prepares graduates for careers in health and fitness clubs, collegiate athletic departments, country clubs, and professional sport organizations. In addition to classroom coursework in sports and marketing, ethics, and sport law, distance learners are required to complete relevant internships. The program is entirely online, and offers the flexibility demanded of busy working professionals.

This 36 credit degree program can be completed in as little as 12 months if taken full-time. Applicants must have earned an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution, and there are no residency or on campus requirements for distance learners. Additionally, ASU does not require graduate GRE or GMAT test scores.


Mississippi College Clinton, MS

A master’s in athletic administration from Mississippi College prepares graduates for careers as athletic administrators, especially in a secondary school or college settings. Students blend sports, finance, and human resources during their coursework. An interscholastic concentration is also available, which enhances a student’s skills in leadership and personnel management. The intercollegiate management concentration develops a student’s knowledge of finance, law, and higher education athletic administration.

This 37 credit program can be completed in two years or less if taken full-time. This fully online program is available during the evenings and during regular class hours, and students finish coursework with an internship. Students spend a minimum of 60 hours at an approved, on-site location. On-campus meetups allow students to meet one-on-one with professors and each other.


Troy University Troy, AL

Troy University offers a master’s degree in sport and fitness management that prepares you to work in recreational, elementary, and high school sports management careers, as well as professional sports. Alumni from this program have been placed in the NBA, the NFL, and in minor league sports. Students select from numerous concentrations and specializations, including coaching, exercise science, and sports management. Thesis and non-thesis tracks are available.

Troy’s online school is ranked as one of the most affordable in the country. The class’s online portal is accessible 24/7. The portal includes lecture videos, reading material, and classmate discussion boards. Most students complete this program in 16-weeks if enrolled full-time.

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.

Business Development Director

In athletics, business development directors report directly to team owners. As the title suggests, they handle the business end of their organization, which includes everything from marketing to forging new business partnerships. Due to the importance of this position, many openings require both a master's degree and 7-15 years of experience.

Median Salary: $62,539

Public Relations Manager

Public relations managers help develop and maintain their organization's image. In athletics, public relations managers routinely craft press releases, manage social media accounts, and interact with local, state, and national press. Many of these managers have a bachelor's and/or experience in public relations.

Median Salary: $62,858

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers create advertising campaigns with the goal of attracting new customers. In athletics, marketing manager are often responsible for promoting the team or its merchandise. In addition to a degree in sports management, many marketing managers have bachelor's degrees in marketing.

Median Salary: $62,913

Athletic Director

Athletic directors are responsible for managing athletic programs, generally at a high school or college. They also ensure that their teams abide by all laws, rules, and regulations set by local, state, and federal governments.

Median Salary: $59,274

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers work one-on-one with athletes, ensuring that athletes stay in top shape for every game. Athletic trainers routinely travel with their teams. If a player suffers an injury, athletic trainers evaluate the injury alongside medical professionals. Athletic trainers report directly to their team's athletic director, and the two work together to keep their players healthy.

Median Salary: $40,598

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


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.


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.