Nabbing 50-yard line seats at your college’s football game isn’t the only way to integrate sports and academia.
Do you love to nerd out on player stats? Are you part of a bracket or fantasy league? Do you wish there was a way to earn a living just through love of the game?
Good news—we’ve got a solution for you! A degree in sports management won’t just give you an excuse to literally talk sports all day, it’ll pay you upwards of $127K a year to do so.
Sports management is a broad field of study that allows you to specialize according to interest, skill, and ambition. While some are drawn to the strategies and public face of sports marketing and others are excited by the raw data and analytics of human performance, a degree in sports management can help you attain your vocational goals through a curriculum that combines business and health with public relations and statistics.
Despite earlier attitudes toward distance education, earning a degree online is not only affordable but it’s just plain smart. Online learning offers all the rigor and prestige of a “traditional” degree, but at half the cost and with a greater amount of flexibility.
Study when and wherever is most convenient, and earn your degree at your pace. Online education means you can maintain your career while advancing your career! So even though online degrees once held a stigma, they are now considered an equal to “traditional” education. If you’re looking at other paths in online education, head over to College Choice’s ranking of the Best Online Colleges and Universities.
What are the Best Online Bachelor Degrees in Sports Management?
While some of the online sports management degrees on our list come from elite, research universities and others from smaller, liberal arts schools, they all share similar ground in providing excellent education in sports management. These schools will prepare you for a successful career in business, administration, marketing, management, and more.
To collate such an exhaustive and definitive list, we first researched the academic reputation of each program in the nation. And from there we examined student retention (a reflection of student satisfaction), the early salaries of graduates, and the affordability of each program. What we concluded with is a list of those programs that are the absolute best in the nation at providing a foundational education in sports management. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
University of Florida
College Choice Score: 100
Credit Hour Cost: $552
Kicking off our list of the best online bachelor’s degrees in Sport Management, the University of Florida (UF) stands above the rest. Especially when it comes to affordability ($552 per credit hour), early pay scale after graduation ($68,100), retention rate (96 percent), and overall online bachelor’s degree ranking (20th in the nation), UF delivers! Based in Gainesville, the University of Florida is a highly respected public university that frequently ranks among the top 50 in the nation.
The Bachelor of Science in Sport Management program at the University of Florida blends together the essentials of the field—marketing, law, sports organization, and more—in an accessible online format. Within the 120 required credits, students receive elite training by the same professors who teach on the main UF campus. Capping off the experience at the University of Florida, all Sports Management graduates must fulfill a 12-hour internship that gives you full-time, hands-on work experience in the industry. This internship is informed by previous study in some of the following classes:
- Sport Marketing
- Ethical Issues in Sport
- Sport Facility Design and Management
- Sport and Business Finance
In the college sports’ world, the University of Florida performs quite well. It was home to Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow, who led the Gators to a championship in 2008, as well as a nationally-known men’s basketball team that has won a number of NCAA championships. With a degree in Sport Management, you’ll be dealing with the big leagues at the University of Florida!
College Choice Score: 99.25
Credit Hour Cost: $420
Coming in close second, Concordia University is a small, liberal arts school in Saint Paul, Minnesota that provides degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Out of its nearly 4,000 students, about one-third of them are enrolled in the Adult Undergraduate and Continuing Studies program, which offers 100 percent online education in a number of areas. Concordia is affiliated with the Lutheran church and advertises a Christ-centered learning experience.
Within the 120 required credit hours, 45 credits are devoted to the BA in Sport Management at Concordia University, all of which can be completed online. This program incorporates a few classes related to kinesiology and physiology in order to give students a working knowledge of the body’s physical performance. In addition, Concordia students are placed in a 8-credit-hour internship that puts their knowledge to the test in a real-life setting. Other courses in this program include:
- Sociology of Sport and Exercise
- Sport Business
- Marketing and Fundraising in Sports
Concordia University in Saint Paul is one of ten schools in the Concordia University System—located across the country and all operated by the Lutheran Church. The Saint Paul location delivers strong results when it comes to life after college: 92 percent of graduates find a job in their field, and early graduates earn on average $45k right out of school.
College Choice Score: 97.75
Credit Hour Cost: $338
A public university with an impressive 130-year history in the state of Alabama, Troy University is a flagship university that hosts nearly 8,000 students annually (with a total enrollment of 18,400 students in its collective campuses). Beyond its 46 bachelor’s degrees and 22 master’s degree on its main campus, Troy University offers a number of online degrees in Computer Science, Business, Criminal Justice, Psychology, and the Social Sciences.
Within the larger online Bachelor of Science in Hospitality, Sport, and Tourism Management degree at Troy University, students can specialize in Sport Management. Overall, students must complete the 123-credit-hour program, though 21 credit hours are set aside for Sport Management classes. Nationally accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation, the program at Troy University offers only the best preparation in the field. You can look forward to taking a few of the following classes:
- Sport Administration
- Legal Aspects in Sport Management
- Sport Finance
- Current Issues in Sport Management
Troy University holds a strong presence in its home state, and pulls in impressive rankings among schools in the South. For example, this year Schools.com named Troy University the number 1 four-year college in Alabama, and US News & World Report listed it as the 23rd top public school in the South for 2017.
American Public University
College Choice Score: 97
Credit Hour Cost: $270
American Public University (APU) is a fully online, private educational system that encompasses two separate schools: American Military University and American Public University. Out of the nearly 99,000 students at American Public University, over 50 percent of them are either active military personnel or veterans. The university offers around 200 different degree programs or certificate programs, and it maintains a number of educational partnerships with programs that benefit service members.
The online Bachelors of Science in Sports Management at American Public University aims to give students the biggest reach when it comes to the job market post graduation. The program—designed for students looking to go into coaching, sports administration, or management—weaves together economics, law, management, and communication classes, giving you a truly versatile degree. Throughout the four-year online program, students complete the general education classes as well as 48 credits in core requirements, including classes like:
- Sports Law, Risk, and Regulation
- Sports Finance
- Athletic Programs Administration
Notable for its affordability, American Public University is the cheapest program on our list, costing students just $270 per credit hour. Since the university is largely made up of active duty or past military personnel, APU goes the extra mile to welcome them in; a large percentage of students use GI benefits and military financial aid. The university is also understood to be one of the top providers of higher education to the US military.
Southern New Hampshire University
College Choice Score: 96.25
Credit Hour Cost: $320
A private university based in Manchester, New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is home to over 80,000 students. However, its main campus only houses around 3,000 students, with the majority of its population attending through online learning. Southern New Hampshire University is made up of six unique schools and colleges—including the College of Online & Continuing Education—as well as a thriving Honors Program, designed specifically for business students.
Unique to the program at SNHU, students are offered either the general online BS in Sport Management, or an accelerated BS-to-MS Pathway Option, which allows high-achieving students to get on the fast-track to earning their MS in Sport Management. Split into three sections—General Education, Business Core, and Experiential Learning—this degree program takes a specific focus on the business side of sport management. It requires not only a practicum in sport management, but also two internships. You’re guaranteed to be ready for the working world with some of these additional classes under your belt:
- Global Sport Business
- Sport, Society, and Ethics
- Sales within Sport
- Brand Management
Across both educational and business sectors, Southern New Hampshire University is widely known for being one of the fastest growing universities in the country. It also has been recognized for its ingenuity. In fact, US News & World Report gave it the number 1 spot in its list of Most Innovative Schools. Additionally, SNHU’s School of Business has earned numerous awards, including a “Best of Business” honor.
Grand Canyon University
College Choice Score: 95.5
Credit Hour Cost: $470
Founded in 1949 by a group of Southern Baptists in Arizona, Grand Canyon University (GCU) is now a large, for-profit research institution located in Phoenix, Arizona. In 2004, it was purchased by Grand Canyon Education, though it still holds on to some of its core liberal arts and religious tenets. Today, it offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. Over 60,000 of Grand Canyon’s total student population attend classes through the online platform.
The Colangelo School of Business at Grand Canyon University has curated a specific degree program for students looking to earn an online Bachelor of Science in Sports Management, which is a 120-credit-hour program organized in 7-week classes. The degree combines business tactics with real-life applications, sometimes even drawing in assignments and practicums that incorporate GCU’s NCAA Division I sports teams. Within the 56 credits of core classes, you can anticipate taking the following:
- Sports Law
- Sports Event Planning
- Sports Marketing
- Strategic Management
With over a decade of online education under its belt, Grand Canyon University knows the ins and outs of distance learning. The university provides not only a top-notch online learning management system, but it also holds a trove of online resources that students can access at any time. In fact, Forbes magazine recently named Grand Canyon University as a top-five online school for business students (which means you!).
Missouri Baptist University
College Choice Score: 93.5
Credit Hour Cost: $395
An evangelical university located on an 80-acre campus just outside of Saint Louis, Missouri Baptist University (MBU) is a small, private institution. The religious university, founded in 1956, still holds to their evangelical beliefs and incorporates theology classes into their general education requirements. Home to both traditional students as well as adult and evening students, MBU enrolls around 4,800 students.
Missouri Baptist University’s online bachelor’s degree in Sport Management draws together all the essential elements of the field—from physiology to psychology to law. Unique to this program, students have the option of tacking on a Business Administrator minor to their degree, which would give them access to higher status jobs in the field. With the Senior Seminar and a 400-hour Sport Management Internship classes, you’ll be able to combine all of your previous knowledge in an applied setting. Beyond that, here are some other core classes this program offers:
- Sport Psychology
- Sociological Aspects of Sport
- Tournament and Event Management
- Legal Issues in Sport and Physical Activity
At Missouri Baptist University, whether you’re attending online or in person, you can be assured that you’ll find a tight-knit community; the average student to faculty ratio is an impressive 14:1. Even more, MBU is known for its affordable online programs; it was recently ranked 17th for “Best Online Colleges in Missouri” by Affordable Colleges Online.
University of Minnesota—Crookston
College Choice Score: 93
Credit Hour Cost: $908
One of the six campuses in the larger University of Minnesota system, the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) is a public institute that emphasizes a close community and high-quality education. Located on a beautiful 108-acre campus, UMC follows the motto, “Small Campus, Big Degree,” and has been devoted to following this philosophy since 1905.
Offered completely online, the Bachelor of Science degree in Sport and Recreation Management at the University of Minnesota Crookston combines crucial elements in business (like finance, law, marketing, and economics) with the basics of sports management. UMC uniquely gives online students the chance to travel globally with the abroad program. Additionally, the program includes an internship as well as a seminar in sport and recreation management. Some of the core classes you’ll take include:
- Sport Finance and Economics
- Sport Law and Governance
- Psychology of Sport
- Socio-Cultural Dimensions in Sport
The University of Minnesota Crookston is well-known in the midwest among other area four-year colleges. US News & World Report ranked it number 2 in its list of “Best Midwest Public Regional Colleges” in 2016. Even more, Princeton Review named it among the “Best Midwestern Colleges” for seven years in a row.
College Choice Score: 92.75
Credit Hour Cost: $350
Established in 1873 as a women’s Baptist college, Shorter University is now a private, coeducational university that is based in Rome, Georgia. In addition to several undergraduate and graduate programs, Shorter University hosts an adult education and a distance program online. Around half of the student population attends classes via the online adult education program.
At Shorter University, students enrolled in the online Bachelor of Business Administration in Sport Management degree are not just taking sports courses. Rather, the degree program draws from a number of different categories: general education classes, computer classes, religious classes, business core classes, and sport management classes. Throughout the 120-credit-hour program, you’ll get a chance to take a number of unique courses in the major, like the following:
- Legal Aspects of Sport
- Ethics in Sport
- Olympic Games
- Sport Psychology
One of the cheaper universities on our list, with a tuition of $350 per credit hour, Shorter University maximizes on not only affordability, but also flexibility and ease. Using Moodle as its learning management system, Shorter gives special attention to its online students. In addition, Shorter University also proudly supports its NCAA Division II sports teams.
United States Sports Academy
College Choice Score: 92.25
Credit Hour Cost: $395
The United States Sports Academy is one-of-a-kind in a number of regards. For one, it was originally founded in 1972 to bolster the United State’s athletic performance in the Olympics. However, it now also provides accredited degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level in sports-related programs. Around 500 students attend this elite institute, based in Daphne, Alabama.
At the United States Sports Academy, students can complete the Bachelors in Sports Science degree, which provides a basic understanding of sports management, coaching, and physiology all wrapped into one program. For students who decide to major in Sports Management, they will jump into the daily tasks of managing a sports team or individual athlete at the professional level. Some of the courses that will help them achieve this goal include:
- Olympic Culture
- Sports Marketing
- Managing Personnel
- Sports-Agent Business
Since the United States Sports Academy is specifically designed for students interested in the sports world, it’s no surprise that over 67 percent of the graduates end up working in the sports industry in some capacity. The United States Sports Academy also supports and produces two top journals in the field—The Sport Digest and The Sport Journal.
College Choice Score: 92
Credit Hour Cost: $570
An institution with a long and international history, Post University’s current standing is as a private, for-profit university that caters to both online and traditional students, with a campus located in Waterbury, Connecticut. Post University enjoyed a 14-year partnership with Teikyo University in Japan, and has continuously exposed its students to new ideas and experiences throughout its 125-year history.
At Post University, the online Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management splits the credit requirements about 50/50 between foundational general education classes and core major classes in business and sports management. The program culminates in a Sport Management Capstone class, which brings together all of the crucial goals of the degree—learning how to be adaptable, innovative, and business-savvy in the sport management world. Some other classes include:
- Malcolm Baldrige Quality Standards
- Sport Law
- Sport and Athletic Administration
- Sport in Society
Post University is often listed among US News & World Report’s list of online bachelor programs (this year it ranked 156th in the nation), though the university stands out the most when it comes to its performance with veterans and military personnel. Over the past five years, Post has earned a Military Friendly School Award, and this year, it was awarded a Military Spouse Friendly School. Good for the whole family!
Toccoa Falls College
College Choice Score: 91.75
Credit Hour Cost: $889
Nestled at the base of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Toccoa Falls College is a four-year, Christian liberal arts school. Aside from the gorgeous area—it’s located very close to the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Toccoa Waterfall—the college offers undergraduate programs (34 in total) in both the online and traditional format to its student body of 1,200 students.
The online Sport Management bachelor’s program at Toccoa Falls College boasts an impressive 100 percent graduation rate, as well as a National Coaching Certificate opportunity that students can achieve at graduation. Beyond offering the major in Sport Management, students can also choose from an impressive list of related minors: Marketing, Non-Profit Business Administration, Organizational Leadership, Physical Education Coaching, and Management. In this 126-credit-hour program, students will complete 42 hours related to the major, some of which include:
- Prevention & Care of Injuries
- Organization & Administration of Sport
- Sport Financial Management
- Policies & Issues in Sport Management
Toccoa Falls College has a lot of good things going for it. For one, it’s understood to be the number 2 “Best Online College” in the state of Georgia. Second, it incentivizes local students who want (or need) to get their education online. For example, any online learner who is living in the surrounding counties to Toccoa Falls receive their third online class completely free!
Colorado Mesa University
College Choice Score: 91.25
Credit Hour Cost: $406
A public university with three locations throughout Colorado, Colorado Mesa University (CMU) started as a two-year college in 1925 before growing into a multi-campus organization that enrolls over 10,000 students across the state. Colorado Mesa University was recently named the 6th best public school in the West by US News and World Report.
The online Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Management at Colorado Mesa University prepares students to not only know and love the history and culture of sports, but also be able to navigate the world of business, through all of its laws, agencies, and finances. This program heavily emphasizes the final internship, which takes up the entire final semester in the 4-year plan. Previous to the internship, students gradually build up their sport management portfolio through some of the following classes:
- Survey of Economics and Finance in Sport
- Sport Operations
- Legal Considerations in P.E.
- Leadership and Ethics in Sport
Colorado Mesa University students compete in NCAA Division II athletics, and the students enrolled in the Sports Management program get first-hand access to managing teams at the university. Alumni of Colorado Mesa University have gone on to become professional athletes in the NFL and MLB, as well as finding careers in other professional sports franchises.
College Choice Score: 91
Credit Hour Cost: $602
A private institution based in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Mercy College enrolls over 11,000 students between the five schools at the college—Education, Health and Natural Sciences, Liberal Arts, Business, and Social Sciences. The New York university is known for its excellence in research, and maintains a number of academic centers, such as the Strategic Consulting Institute, the Center for Global Engagement, and more.
Offered completely online, though with a number of optional in-person “check-ins,” Mercy College’s Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a focus in Sports Management takes a particular angle on business in the field. One of the requirements in this program is an internship experience in companies that are related to sport management, like the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Club of America; oftentimes, students end up getting hired in their internship locations. Other highlight classes include:
- Sport Facility and Event Management
- Sport Finance and Administration
- Organizational Behavior
- Sport Marketing
For its size and academic status, Mercy College’s strong suit comes in its affordability and overall return on investment. For example, Mercy falls under the top 15 percent of schools in New York for its return on investment. Additionally, according to Barron’s, Mercy College is considered a “Best Buy” college. The school also hosts a unique PACT program (Personalized Achievement Contract), which pairs up students with mentors to help them succeed.
College Choice Score: 91
Credit Hour Cost: $425
Until recently, Midway University—located in Midway, Kentucky—was an all-women’s college, and Kentucky’s only female college. But just last year, the liberal arts university (associated with the Disciples of Christ) opened its doors to admit male students. The university also hosts a coeducational program for adult learners through Midway Online and the School for Career Development.
At Midway University, students have the chance to earn an online bachelor’s degree in Sport Management that launches them into a variety of potential jobs—athletic directors, coaches, business administrators for sports teams, and more. Students at Midway are automatically well-connected in the field because of the impressive network of resources cultivated by the faculty members in this program. Some of the other courses in this program include:
- Managing Sport Events
- Facility Management & Design
- Sport Psychology
- Socio-Cultural Dimensions in Sport
Other than being Kentucky’s only historical women’s college (previous to 2016), Midway University is also known for its affordability in the region. It even got a shout-out from Washington Monthly for being the 16th “Best Bang for the Buck” college in the Southern United States. Midway University also ranks 10th in the state overall, according to USA Today.