Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees

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Master’s in Sports Management Programs

Sports management degree holders go on to work in areas like athletic administration or facility management. These professionals work on the business side of the sports industry, which is a $71 billion industry in the United States.

Titles in the field include marketing specialist, public relations manager, and events coordinator. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the advertising, promotions, and marketing management professions to grow 8% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Many entry-level positions in the field require only a bachelor’s degree. However, earning a master’s in sports management can qualify holders for leadership roles with higher salaries. This guide provides information about accreditation and common program requirements, along with U.S. colleges and universities that offer sports management graduate programs.

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Top 10 Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
2 Wilmington University New Castle, DE
3 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
4 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
5 Concordia University-Chicago River Forest, IL
6 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
7 Barry University Miami, FL
8 Georgetown University Washington, DC
9 Georgia State University Atlanta, GA
10 Northern Illinois University Dekalb, IL

What Are the Top Sports Management Degrees?

Learners researching sports management graduate programs should ensure that each prospective school holds accreditation. Accreditation indicates that a given school offers qualitative academic programing. Additionally, students must attend an accredited institution to qualify for federal aid.

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) oversee accrediting agencies. Regional accrediting bodies typically evaluate nonprofit and degree-focused institutions, while national accrediting agencies generally assess vocational and for-profit schools.

The ED and CHEA also oversee programmatic accrediting bodies, which award accreditation to programs in certain fields. The Commission on Sports Management Accreditation accredits bachelor’s and master’s in sports management programs.

Best Master’s in Sports Management Degree Programs for 2020

School rankings can help learners narrow their academic options. An objective ranking includes key factors such as accreditation, graduation rates, and affordability. Review the school’s below to begin searching for your ideal sports management master’s program.

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Nova Southeastern University
    Location

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1964 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, NSU is the largest private Hispanic-serving institution in the country. The university also operates a location in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and several satellite campuses throughout Florida.

    NSU's MBA in sport revenue generation requires 37-49 credits. Learners study how to generate revenue, maximize sales, and organize fundraising. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Prospective students who already hold a graduate degree must have a GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants who do not meet these thresholds must submit GMAT or GRE scores.

    NSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. Wilmington University
    Location

    New Castle, DE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private, open-access institution, WilmU offers more than 200 degrees and certificates. The university's 36-credit master of science degree in management prepares leaders to successfully manage diverse teams while using new technology. Students can choose from 11 concentrations and begin classes every eight weeks. Learners also work for the U.S. Olympic Committee as part of a thesis project.

    Unlike other sports management master's programs, WilmU's degree does not require GRE or GMAT scores for admission. The university awards credit for previous work experience, industry certifications, and prior coursework.

    WilmU offers the same tuition rate to all students regardless of residency. The university also maintains a generous transfer policy, accepting up to 90 credits toward a new degree.

    WilmU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  3. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1853, UF operates a 2,000-acre campus in Gainesville. The university offers several career-focused degrees, including a sports management master's degree.

    UF's master's in sports management offers two tracks: a 30-credit thesis track and a 36-credit capstone project track. In both tracks, students complete required courses such as sport sociology, sport management, and sport finance.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree from a regionally accredited school with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants do not need to submit GMAT or GRE scores. Transfer applicants may bring up to 15 approved credits with them when they enroll.

    UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  4. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A state research university, USF operates campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota-Manatee, Florida. The university serves more than 50,000 students, maintaining a 21-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. USF offers more than 180 different programs, including a master's in sport management.

    The program's 36-credit curriculum gives students two options for completion: an internship or thesis. Required courses include research in sport management, entertainment, marketing, and law.

    Admission requirements include a personal interview with a faculty-led committee, a personal statement, and a minimum 3.0 GPA in all previous graduate work. Applicants must also hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from a regionally accredited institution.


    USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. USF's sports management program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

  5. Concordia University-Chicago
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1864 as a teachers college, CUC is now a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Lutheran Church serving 4,300 graduate students. CUC maintains an 11-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, providing learners with individualized attention.

    The university's 33-credit master of arts degree in sports leadership focuses on preparing graduates for leadership positions. The program's curriculum includes courses in sports leadership and ethics, research in sports studies, and sports administration. All learners complete a capstone project.

    Admission requirements include official transcripts, an objective statement, and successful completion of CUC's accelerated sports and recreation management program with a minimum 2.85 GPA. Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores.

    CUC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  6. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1754 as King's College, Columbia is the oldest higher learning institution in New York and the fifth-oldest university in the country. This private Ivy League university serves more than 33,000 students. Columbia's School of Professional Studies offers 17 graduate degrees, including one of the nation's best sports management master's programs.

    The program gives learners the opportunity to intern and complete special projects with well-known organizations like ESPN, the NBA, and the NFL. The program's curriculum features an internship or integrative project.

    Learners can complete the program either full time in 16 months or part time in 2-4 years. Part-time students may begin the degree in the fall or spring, while full-time learners enroll in the fall.

    Columbia is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  7. Barry University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1940 by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Barry operates campuses in Miami, Orlando, and the Bahamas. The university's programs include one of the region's best sport management master's programs.

    The 36-credit curriculum offers an internship track and a thesis track. Full-time students can complete the internship track in two years, while the thesis track typically takes three years to finish. Barry also offers learners the opportunity to combine this program with a master's degree in business administration, a unique option among sports management master's programs.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Additional requirements include a statement of purpose, GRE scores, and two recommendation letters.

    Barry is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  8. Georgetown University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1789, Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution in the country. The university serves nearly 32,000 students. Georgetown's School of Continuing Studies offers more than 30 professional programs, including one of the nation's best sports management master's programs.

    The program's 30-credit curriculum provides learners with the latest industry tools and best practices. Ideal for working professionals, the program provides flexible scheduling that allows learners to complete the degree in 1-5 years. The university also gives learners the chance to work with professional organizations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee, Washington Nationals, and the NFL Players Association.

    Georgetown's School of Continuing Studies offers several employer-based and service-based scholarships, making this program more affordable. Georgetown does not require GRE or GMAT scores for admission.

    Georgetown is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  9. Georgia State University
    Location

    Atlanta, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    An urban public research institution, Georgia State operates six campuses throughout Atlanta. The university serves more than 53,000 learners from diverse backgrounds, including 170 nations and territories. Georgia State also sponsors more than 400 student organizations, giving students opportunities to network and socialize with peers.

    The university's 36-credit master of science degree in sport administration prepares students for careers in the sports industry. This program also provides learners with access to fellowships, financial awards, and assistantship opportunities. Students can complete either an internship or a thesis. Students who choose the internship track must also complete a capstone project.

    Admission requires a goals statement, a resume, three recommendation letters, official transcripts, and GRE scores. All applicants must have a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA.

    Georgia State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  10. Northern Illinois University
    Location

    Dekalb, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1899 as a normal school, Northern Illinois University now serves more than 5,000 graduate students. NIU focuses on research and offers several programs, including one of the region's best sports management master's programs.

    Offered through NIU's College of Education, the 36-credit master of science degree in sport management helps learners develop leadership, communication, and business skills. Learners can pursue thesis and non-thesis tracks. Core courses in both tracks include sport industry and organizations, managing the sport enterprise, and sport and the law. All learners complete a 12-credit internship.

    The program guarantees admission to students with a sports management bachelor's degree or an undergraduate degree in a related field. Applicants must submit GRE or GMAT scores, two recommendation letters, a statement of purpose and unofficial transcripts.

    NIU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Why Are More Students Choosing College Online?

With recent advances in technology, online learning has become a viable option for many types of students. Learners can pursue degrees fully or partially online, and according to the 2019 National Student Satisfaction and Priorities Report, online students report higher satisfaction rates than on-campus learners.

One of the primary benefits of online learning is flexibility. Distance learners can study from anywhere, and many programs allow students to complete coursework at their convenience. This flexibility allows students to earn their degree while fulfilling personal and professional responsibilities.

Online programs are often more affordable than on-campus options, since distance learners typically save on transportation and housing costs. Additionally, schools often offer several start dates for online programs, which allows learners to begin studying more quickly.

By learning online, students can access more academic options. Online learners can pursue programs that are not available in their region. The same professors often teach online and on-campus classes, so online students receive the same quality education as on-campus learners.

What Are the Requirements for a Master’s Degree in Sports Management?

Admission requirements for sports management master’s programs vary by school. However, most programs require applicants to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Applicants must typically submit GRE or GMAT scores from within the last five years. Additional application materials often include a resume, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

Although each master’s in sports management degree program sets unique graduation requirements, learners must typically complete a culminating experience, such as a comprehensive exam, thesis, or capstone project. Some programs also require an internship.

What Can I Do With a Sports Management Degree?

Sports management professionals apply business concepts to positions in the sports industry. Individuals in the field often implement advertising campaigns, draft business plans and proposals, organize media junkets, and launch publicity events.

A master’s in sports management can qualify graduates for leadership positions. Master’s degree-holders with several years of experience may become the director of marketing for a sports team, the advertising executive for sporting products, or the head market research analyst for a specific sport.

Graduates can also pursue hands-on careers in coaching or athlete recruitment. Some sports management jobs focus on publicity or public relations. These professionals often organize sporting events and coordinate media coverage. Learners with an interest in communications can consider becoming a sports journalist or a sportscaster.

How Much Money Will I Make With a Degree in Sports Management?

According to the BLS, the states with the highest levels of employment for advertising and promotions managers are New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. New York advertising and promotion managers earn the highest mean salary, at $174,870 per year. New Jersey, Washington, Georgia, and Pennsylvania also offer high average salaries for professionals in the field.

Graduates of master’s in sports management programs may also become athletic directors. These postsecondary education administrators earn an annual median salary of $94,340, and the BLS projects this occupation to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028. Master’s degree-holders can also become postsecondary teachers, who earn an annual median salary of $78,470. A master’s in sports management prepares learners for careers in various fields, many of which offer above-average earning potential.

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