Can you envision yourself leading teams on the field and off?
How about developing exhaustive marketing and financial plans?
Are you fascinated by how sports analysis can secure future successes? Then an advanced degree in sports management may be just for you.
What kind of Master’s in Sports Management degree should you get?
There are about as many kinds of sports management degrees as there are programs, it seems. Some allow you to specialize in education and collegiate athletics while others prepare you for the business aspects of sports, even providing opportunities to earn a MBA. Whichever specialization route you take, know that these 20 programs will give you a solid introduction to sports management basics.
Though some of these degrees can be completed fully online, most require your presence on campus. However, online education is not only a flexible way to advance your education and career, but it’s affordable too. So, be sure to check out College Choice’s Best Online Master’s in Sport Management Degrees ranking.
How much money do people make with a Master’s in Sports Management degree?
A Master’s in Sports Management degree will set you up for a lucrative career in a range of diverse settings. From marketing to analytics, sports management is an in-demand industry with a high return on educational investment.
For example, those in the early years of their career make on average $45,000 annually, which is almost $10,000 more per year than those with just a BS degree. And those average salaries leap up in a big way the further you are into your career: After ten years, those with a MS in Sports Management degrees make on average $73,000 annually.
As we said above, the demand across the sports industry is high. For example, the need for coaches is projected to rise another 13 percent in the next few years. And for those who work in data and sports analytics, the demand is projected to rise another 27 percent.
What are the requirements for a Master’s in Sports Management degree?
While earning a MS in Sports Management degree you can expect to take a number of traditional core classes covering HR, finance and business, marketing, legal issues, and more. In addition to these, you’ll have the opportunity to specialize through diverse elective options. From Women in Sports to Global Perspectives, electives are a great way to gain concentrated experience.
Most of these 20 programs require at least two years to complete the degree, though for some (for example, St. Thomas University’s program) if you enroll full-time you can finish in less time, even in under a year.
Finally, most of these programs require you enroll in either a thesis or non-thesis track. The former expects you to engage in a broad research project and requires a written thesis in order to graduate. The latter is often a mix of internship and hands-on work experience.
What are the best Master’s in Sports Management degrees?
While some of these MS in Sports Management degrees were designed for those seeking leadership development and others for those desiring a business foundation, they all share one thing one common: they are the best MS in Sports Management programs in the country.
To determine the best Sports Management programs we started first with the academic reputation of each school nationwide that offers the degree. We then investigated the student retention rates—a sign of student satisfaction—the school’s affordability, and the early salaries of graduates.
After our extensive research, we found those programs that are the country’s absolute best at training leaders 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.
Florida State University
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $16,506
Florida State University (FSU) is located in Tallahassee and is the leading member in the greater State University System of Florida. FSU is Florida’s oldest university, and one with some of the most vibrant research activities. Over 40,000 students attend FSU and are enrolled in one of the 360 academic programs.
Florida State University offers a Master of Science in Sports Management degree that is unparalleled. Students are provided a grounded introduction to business principles as well as research methodologies and strategies. You can choose between either a non-thesis MS track (36 credit hours are required) or a thesis-track (34 credit hours are required) that emphasizes research. Either way, you’ll take classes on:
- Collegiate Athletics
- Professional Sports
- Finance and Marketing
- Law and Ethics
U.S. News & World Report, ARWU, and Washington Monthly all include Florida State University among their top 100 best universities in the country. Likewise, many of FSU’s individual departments are well-ranked, including its business school. FSU is also considered one of the most affordable universities in the U.S.
College Choice Score: 98.78
Average Net Price: $21,237
With nearly 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Temple University is a sprawling school. It is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and offers over 400 academic programs across all degree levels, from certifications to PhDs. Temple also has locations in Rome, Tokyo, Singapore, and London.
The Master of Science in Sport Business degree at Temple University is offered through the renowned School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management. Through this program, which emphasizes mid to high-level management, Temple students polish their leadership skills and gain expertise in all areas of sport. Graduates have gone on to work in such diverse settings as:
- College Athletics
- Event Management
- Sport Analytics
- Sales, Marketing, and Promotion
Temple is known for many things, among them its commitment to sustainability. It has enacted several green policies, provided grants for research related to the environment, and included more eco-criticism within its curriculums. Temple is ranked 56th among all public universities in the country, by U.S. News & World Report.
Texas A & M University
College Choice Score: 96.88
Average Net Price: $15,455
One of the largest universities on our list Texas A&M University (TAMU) is home to nearly 70,000 undergraduate and graduate students. TAMU is one of the largest schools in the country, not to mention in the state of Texas, and is organized into over a dozen colleges and schools.
TAMU’s Master of Science in Sport Management program focuses on leadership development. It gives students the skills and knowledge they need to take on management roles in an array of settings, from the university to professional sports and beyond. In fact, TAMU graduates have gone on to work in:
- Health and country clubs
- Charitable and youth organizations
- Media and communication operations
- Interscholastic athletic departments
TAMU is one of only a half dozen universities designated as a Senior Military College. It is equally known for its impressive academic rankings and for its unique recognitions. For example, The Washington Monthly ranked TAMU third nationally for its community service and social mobility.
University of North Carolina
College Choice Score: 96.80
Average Net Price: $10,077
The Chapel Hill branch (UNC) of the greater University of North Carolina System is one of the oldest public universities in the country. UNC is organized into 15 colleges and schools, through which it offers over 70 academic programs. Approximately 30,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students attend UNC.
The sports management masters program at UNC gives students both a theoretical and hands-on learning experience. As a UNC student you will take one full year of classes covering different areas of athletics. During the second year you will be expected to complete an internship and a master’s thesis in the area of your choice. Some UNC classes include:
- Administration of Sport
- Facility and Event Management
- Collegiate Sport Marketing
- NCAA Governance and Compliance
UNC is both a flagship university and a Public Ivy. It is well-regarded and ranked by many sources, among them U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, QS World University Rankings, and more. On top of all this, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance recently ranked UNC as one of the “best value” public colleges in the country.
University of Florida
College Choice Score: 95.55
Average Net Price: $14,761
The University of Florida (UF) is part of the State University System of Florida, and one of its leading members. UF is located in Gainesville with approximately 54,000 students. It is comprised of 16 colleges and schools as well as an array of professional programs and a global campus.
At the University of Florida you have two ways to advance your education and career in sports management: earn either a MBA or a MS. While the former will give you an introduction to finance, HR, accounting, operations, and more, all through the lens of athletic programming, the latter is much more interdisciplinary. The MS degree will allow you to examine the sport industry from every possible perspective. The core covers:
- Sport Sociology
- Sport Marketing
- Sport Finance
- Management and Leadership in Sport
UF is one of the few universities in the country to be elected into the elite Association of American Universities. This is because of its renowned research contributions and its highly regarded research facilities (of which there are more than 150). UF is ranked 9th among all public universities in the U.S.
University of Michigan
College Choice Score: 95.37
Average Net Price: $16,107
The University of Michigan (UM) is located in Ann Arbor, west of Detroit. UM is the state’s oldest university, as well as one of its best. In fact, it is often considered one of the country’s best research universities, with hundreds of ongoing research projects, innovative facilities, teaching hospitals, and more. Around 45k students attend UM.
The University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology offers a MS in Sport Management degree run by leaders in the industry. Unique to the UM experience is a curriculum that includes an impressive range of topics pertinent to the sports enterprise but not offered elsewhere. Among these topics, you might explore:
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Diversity and Social Justice
- Urban Planning
A flagship university and a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, UM is well ranked by plenty of sources. For example, U.S. News & World Report designates it 27th among all national colleges and universities. And UM is included among the top 50 best schools in the country by ARWU, Forbes, and Washington Monthly.
College Choice Score: 94.05
Average Net Price: $12,621
The flagship institution in the greater Indiana University System, IU Bloomington is a public research university. Over 40k students attend IU Bloomington and are enrolled in one of its many prestigious colleges and schools, among them the Kelley School of Business and the IU School of Public Health.
IU Bloomington’s MS in Athletic Administration/Sport Management degree is housed within the School of Public Health. Meaning, you can expect a degree experience that considers holistic health in addition to sport management fundamentals. For example, just some of the classes you’ll take at IU Bloomington include:
- The Role of Sport in Society and Higher Education
- Research and Data Analysis in Sport Management
- Sport Strategy and Application
- Principles and Foundations of Public Health
Indiana University is a Public Ivy and a member of the Association of American Universities. It is also a member of the Big Ten Conference and ranked 75th among all national universities and colleges by U.S. News & World Report. Forbes, ARWU, and Washington Monthly also rank IU well.
University of Minnesota
College Choice Score: 93.94
Average Net Price: $16,242
A public research university based in the Twin Cities, the University of Minnesota (UMN) is home to nearly 50k undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. UMN is comprised of 19 different schools and colleges, dozens of research facilities, and several interdisciplinary institutions.
UMN’s School of Kinesiology offers a MA in Sport Management. Because this is a Master of Arts degree you can expect classes that equally concentrate on the theoretical dimensions of athletic management as well as practical applications. This is a two year, 36 credit hour program. UMN’s required core covers:
- Sport Finance
- Programming and Promotion of Sport
- Sport Management Ethics and Policy
- Organization and Management in PE and Sport
UMN is both nationally and globally ranked. U.S. News & World Report places it 71st among all national universities and colleges. And The Times Higher Education ranks it 46th among universities all over the world. UMN is a Public Ivy and a flagship university.
University of Connecticut
College Choice Score: 93.41
Average Net Price: $19,064
The University of Connecticut (UConn) is located in Storrs and is a flagship university. Founded in 1881 as a land-grant college, today UConn is one of the country’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars. It is also a Public Ivy and is home to over 32,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students.
There are three ways to complete a MS in Sport Management degree at UConn. You can either jump into the thesis track, combine your studies with an internship, or develop a research project. Whichever route you take, UConn prepares you to be a leader in numerous sport settings with classes such as:
- Sport Marketing
- Sport Facility and Event Management
- Legal Aspects of Sport
- Sport in Society
UConn is consistently recognized as the best public national university in all of New England. It is ranked 56th among all national universities by U.S. News & World Report, and 18th among all public universities. UConn is also praised for its affordability and its commitment to sustainability.
University of Georgia
College Choice Score: 92.93
Average Net Price: $14,956
Located in Athens, the University of Georgia (UGA) is a top research university. UGA is considered the “Birthplace of American Public Higher Education,” and is one of the oldest schools in the state of Georgia. Over 35,000 students attend Public Ivy UGA.
UGA’s MS in Kinesiology degree allows students to specialize in Sport Management and Policy. Through this program you will learn the economic, legal, social, and ethical issues facing the sport industry. You will also understand sport in its historical, sociological, and philosophical contexts. This is a 30 credit hour program split into:
- Nine hours of coursework
- Nine hours of thesis-related courses
- Six hours of research courses
- Six hours of electives
UGA is home to many renowned research centers, such as the Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the UGA Small Satellite Research Laboratory. U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, Kiplinger’s, and many more rank UGA among the best public universities in the U.S.
CUNY Brooklyn College
College Choice Score: 91.80
Average Net Price: $9,771
A leading member in the City University of New York system, CUNY’s Brooklyn College was originally founded as a teacher’s school. However, today it offers dozens of degree programs through its five schools. Brooklyn College is a liberal arts institution with around 17,000 students.
Students earning a MS in Sports Management at Brooklyn College become experts in a variety of areas, from sport retail to media and public relations. So whether you’re interested in tourism, product manufacturing, or athlete representation (or anything else in between), Brooklyn College can help you get where you want to go. Classes include:
- Risk Management and Legal Issues in Sport
- Business Management of Community/Club Sports and Recreation
- Budgeting and Finance in Sports and Recreation
- Global Sport: Olympic/Paralympic Movements and Sport Governance
Brooklyn College was New York City’s very first coeducational liberal arts school. It maintains that liberal arts focus today, which is reflected in its rankings. The Princeton Review includes it among the top ten best schools for value, diversity, and location.
The University of Tennessee
College Choice Score: 88.66
Average Net Price: $20,780
The University of Tennessee is located in Knoxville (UTK) and organized into nine colleges, plus another eleven graduate schools. Its nearly 30,000 students come from all over the country, and even the world, representing more than 100 countries. UTK is a renowned research university.
UT Knoxville offers a degree in Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies that allows students to concentrate in Sport Management. Students specializing in sport management also have the option to enroll in either the thesis or project track. While the latter is ideal for those who want hands-on experience, the former is a good route to go if you’re planning to do doctoral work. Either way, at UTK you’ll take a bunch of relevant sports administration classes, such as:
- Ethics in Sport Management
- Personnel and Organization Management
- Research Methods
- And more
UTK is ranked 43rd among all public universities in the country. Its alumni and faculty have become Rhodes Scholars, won Nobel Prizes, and much more. And it is part of the SEC Academic Initiative, a project promoting research, scholarship, and achievement.
University of South Carolina
College Choice Score: 87.00
Average Net Price: $19,913
Located in Columbia, South Carolina, the University of South Carolina is a known leader in research. It is a public, sea-grant university and home to approximately 50,000 students system-wide. USC has dozens of academic programs but also maintains a reputation for providing a number of professional degrees too.
USC offers a Master of Science in Sport and Entertainment Management (MSEM) degree. This is a two-year program that requires thirty-six completed credit hours. It is an ideal program for those who are not just interested in sports and administration, but its intersections with the wider entertainment industry. Graduates have gone on to become:
- Marketers and Public Relations Representatives
- Venue Managers
- Sport and Entertainment Lawyers
- Athletic Agents
A flagship institution, USC has been called an “up-and-coming” university by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its ranking as a whole, many of USC’s departments and schools are equally renowned. Among them, the business, public health, and healthcare management schools are some of the best in the country.
University of Illinois
College Choice Score: 86.62
Average Net Price: $16,683
The University of Illinois (U of I) is a public research university and a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. Offering more than 150 academic degree programs to its 50,000 students, U of I is comprised of nearly 20 separate colleges and schools. It is a land, sea, and space grant research university.
Through the University of Illinois’ MS in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism degree you will gain theoretical, behavioral, and administrative insights into sport management. At the same time, you will learn all about the fundamentals of the leisure and tourism industries too. This program is also fully available online. Classes include:
- Managing RST Organizations
- Critical Issues in Sport
- Strategic Management
- Marketing in RST
Considered a Public Ivy, U of I is a member of the Association of American Universities. It is a top-tier research institution and ranked 52nd among all national universities by U.S. News & World Report. ARWU, Forbes, and Washington Monthly also rank it well.
St. Thomas University
College Choice Score: 86.13
Average Net Price: $18,778
St. Thomas University (STU) is located in Miami, Florida. It is a private, Catholic school that offers approximately 60 academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. STU is relatively small with only 5,000 students.
This 30 credit hour MS in Sports Administration degree from St. Thomas allows full-time students to finish in just a year. You’ll be expected to complete an internship in addition to taking classes on the financial, promotional, ethical, and sociological aspects of sports administration. Graduates from the St. Thomas program have secured job titles such as:
- Parks and Recreation Director
- Sports and Wellness Director
- Athletics Communication Associate
- Guest Services Manager
St. Thomas is home to the Catholic Education Continuum Program, an initiative that develops leadership in its students. The rewards of acceptance into the program include scholarship opportunities, dual enrollments, and industry networking.
University of Massachusetts
College Choice Score: 85.46
Average Net Price: $20,093
The Amherst branch within the greater University of Massachusetts System (UMass Amherst) is a leading, flagship campus. Nearly 30,000 students are enrolled in one of the university’s 200 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. This makes UMass Amherst the largest school in all of New England.
One of the only sport management master’s degrees to be housed within a nationally ranked business school, UMass Amherst’s program is ideal for those who want a foundation in business basics. You can even dual enroll and earn a MBA at the same time. Classes at UMass Amherst cover the gauntlet of sports and administration fundamentals:
- Sport and the Law
- Socio-Historical Foundations of Modern Sport
- Strategic Management
- Applied Sport Marketing
UMass Amherst is stickered in rankings and accolades. U.S. News & World Report ranked Amherst among the top ten best college towns. BusinessWeek named the Isenberg School of Management as among the best business colleges in the country. And the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability gave UMass Amherst a gold star.
College Choice Score: 85.37
Average Net Price: $10,283
Located in Troy, Alabama, Troy University is a public university. It was originally founded as a teacher’s school, though today it offers a diverse range of academic opportunities. Troy is organized into five colleges, plus a graduate school, and a division of general studies. Almost 20,000 students attend.
Troy offers a Sport and Fitness Management degree that focuses on leadership formation. This program is accredited by the renowned Commission on Sport Management Accreditation, one of only a few programs in the nation boasting that recognition. And the degree can be completed either on campus or online. Graduates from Troy secured job opportunities in:
- The NBA and NFL
- Division 1 athletic departments
- Minor league sports
- Recreation departments
The flagship university within the wider Troy University System, Troy has been consistently called the “Best in the Southeast” by The Princeton Review. It’s also known for being one of the country’s best universities for international students, and is recognized as such by the Institute of International Education.
University of Louisville
College Choice Score: 85.33
Average Net Price: $16,249
The University of Louisville (U of L) is home to 22,000 students who are earning a degree through one of the 150 academic programs. U of L is organized into a dozen schools and colleges, including its illustrious medical research facilities, which are some of the fast growing in the country.
The University of Louisville offers a MS in Sport Administration degree designed to prepare students for a range of careers within the industry, from high school athletics to business and marketing in professional sports. In addition to traditional classes covering sports analytics, marketing, legal issues, and research, you can also take some of these unique electives:
- Women in Sport
- Sport Administration in Non-profit Organization
- Sport for Development and Peace
- International Sport
The University of Louisville takes part in a partial tuition reimbursement program and partners with multi-national companies to make tuition affordable for students. One such program, called Metropolitan College, provides students with jobs in the evenings, offers tuition reimbursement, and covers the cost of books.
Louisiana State University
College Choice Score: 84.41
Average Net Price: $7,981
Located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University (LSU) is a sprawling research university. It is designated a land, sea, and space-grant institution and impressively runs nearly 1,000 sponsored research projects. It therefore maintains close relationships with the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and more.
Louisiana State University offers a MS in Kinesiology degree that can be paired with a concentration in Sport Management. This is a perfect program for students who mostly want to focus on the kinesiological issues of sport. Still, students in this program will take core classes in sport management basics (see below) while also partnering with other LSU departments and schools, such as the E.J. Ourso College of Business.
- Facilities Management
- Governance and Policy Development in Sport
- Field Experience in Sport Management
- Economic Issues in Sport
LSU is a flagship university well-ranked by Forbes, ARWU, Washington Monthly, and U.S. News & World Report. It is also consistently included in The Princeton Review’s list of Best Colleges. LSU’s Ourso College of Business is considered one of the best business schools in the U.S.
University of Arkansas
College Choice Score: 83.27
Average Net Price: $15,411
The largest school in the state, the University of Arkansas (UA) enrolls over 28,000 students. UA is a top-tier research university known for its strengths in business, communications, architecture, and agriculture education. With several campuses, UA’s main location is in Fayetteville.
The University of Arkansas uniquely offers a degree in sport administration through their College of Education and Health Professions. This M.Ed. in Recreation and Sport Management program is specifically for those who want to become directors or superintendents of recreation and sport within secondary or higher education settings. Thus, classes at the University of Arkansas include:
- Leadership in Recreation and Sport Management
- Athletics and Higher Education
- Statistics in Education
- The Intramural Sports Program
Like many of the other schools on our list, the University of Arkansas boasts an arrangement of rankings and praise. It is considered one of the “100 Best Public Colleges” in the U.S. It is a “Best Southeastern College.” And its Sam M. Walton College of Business is ranked 34th among all public business schools in the nation.