Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees

Few activities engage the attention, and attract the finances from a demanding public as much as sports.

Best Masters in Sports Management Degrees 1

Sports management 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.

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

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Average Net Price: $20,620

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

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Average Net Price: $8,636

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

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Average Net Price: $19,053

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

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Average Net Price: $13,699

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

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Average Net Price: $9,180

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

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Average Net Price: $48,390

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

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Average Net Price: $17,820

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

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Average Net Price: $50,012

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

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Average Net Price: $14,769

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

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Average Net Price: $14,407

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.

11

Arkansas State University

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Average Net Price: $7,209

Located in Jonesboro, A-State is the second-largest university in the Natural State. Founded in 1909, A-State now offers more than 150 programs, including a master of science degree in sport administration.

Designed for working professionals, the 36-credit, full-time program requires an internship or thesis. Learners who choose the internship track must also pass a comprehensive exam. The program’s core courses include sport communications, sport leadership, sport in society, and ethical issues in sport.

For unconditional admission, applicants must hold a 3.0 cumulative GPA or a 3.25 GPA during their final 60 undergraduate credits. For conditional admission, prospective students need a 2.75 cumulative GPA or a 3.0 GPA during their final 60 credits. Admission requirements also include official transcripts, a goals statement, a current resume, and two recommendation letters.

A-State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

12

Drexel University

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Average Net Price: $34,995

One of the country’s largest private universities, Drexel University operates its main campus in Philadelphia and a second campus in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Drexel’s business school offers nine different graduate programs, including a master of science in sport management.

This part-time, two-year program allows learners to complete a minor in communications, marketing, or digital media. Relevant courses in the 45-credit curriculum include sports economics, sports industry management, sport law, and business statistics. Drexel runs on a quarter system. The program culminates in a thesis, independent study, or a practicum project.

Admission requirements include official transcripts, two recommendation letters, standardized test scores, a professional resume, and a 500-word essay. While the university accepts either GMAT or GRE scores for the application, Drexel prefers GMAT scores.

Drexel is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Drexel’s business programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

13

Liberty University

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Average Net Price: $8,333

Founded in1971, Liberty is now one of the largest Christian universities in the world, serving more than 100,000 students. Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, this private evangelical university offers more than 300 residential programs and more than 400 online degrees.

Liberty’s master of science degree in sport management includes a biblical focus. The program’s 36-credit curriculum features four specializations: tourism, sport administration, outdoor adventure sport, and coaching and athletic administration. All learners must complete either a thesis or a 400-hour internship. Students can complete the program in two years.

The program accepts up to 18 transfer credits. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The university’s sport management program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.

14

Northwestern University

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Average Net Price: $54,620

A comprehensive research university, Northwestern first opened on the shores of Lake Michigan in 1855 with two faculty members and 10 students. Today, Northwestern employs more than 3,300 full-time faculty members and serves 21,000 students on three separate campuses.

Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies offers a master of arts degree in sports administration. This master’s program requires 11 courses, including six core courses, a leadership class, three electives, and a thesis project or capstone class. Students who pursue the degree online can add a sports analytics specialization that requires four additional courses.

Program applicants must write a 550-word statement of purpose and submit a current resume, two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and official transcripts.

Northwestern is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

15

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

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Average Net Price: $34,903

U-M’s 30-credit master of science degree in sport management provides learners with leadership opportunities through hands-on projects. Students who earn a 3.3 GPA during the program’s first 12 credits can write a master’s thesis, which increases their chances of admission to doctoral programs. The program’s core curriculum includes courses in strategic management in sport, financial management for the sport industry, and legal aspects of sport.

Program applicants must submit GMAT or GRE scores, official transcripts, a statement of purpose, and three recommendation letters.

U-M is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

16

University of Iowa

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Average Net Price: $19,256

A public research university, UI serves more than 32,000 students from all 50 states and 114 countries. Located in Iowa City, IU is the Hawkeye State’s oldest higher education institution.

UI’s master’s in sport and recreation management prepares graduates to become leaders in school athletic departments, professional team offices, and community recreation programs. The program’s 30-credit curriculum involves practical experience, coursework, and a capstone project, which requires written material and a presentation.

Admission requirements include a personal statement, a resume, three recommendation letters, and GMAT or GRE scores. Applicants must also hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or an equivalent degree from another country.

UI is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

17

Texas A & M University-College Station

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Average Net Price: $12,228

Founded in 1876, Texas A&M was the Lone Star State’s first public higher learning institution. The research-intensive university now offers 133 undergraduate degrees and 175 graduate programs.

Texas A&M’s master’s in sport management allows learners to pursue either a 32-credit thesis track or a 36-credit non-thesis track. Learners must earn a minimum 3.0 GPA before taking the program’s final exam. Students design their own degree plan and submit it to a committee for approval.

Students completing the degree on campus must fulfill a residency requirement, which involves either nine credits during a regular semester or a 10-week summer semester. Distance learners do not need to complete a residency.

Texas A&M is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

18

Mississippi College

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Average Net Price: $11,630

A liberal arts institution affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention, MC serves more than 5,000 students. Founded in 1826, the college is the oldest higher learning institution in the Magnolia State. MC offers more than 50 graduate programs, including a master’s in professional communication in sports.

The program’s 31-credit curriculum includes studies in both communication and sports administration. The curriculum does not offer a thesis option. Learners complete core communication courses, electives, and kinesiology classes. Relevant courses include public relations, communication research, persuasion, and a seminar in journalism ethics. All students complete a comprehensive written exam and a convocation paper.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Prospective students must also submit GMAT scores. MC may waive the GMAT requirement for learners with a GPA of 3.5. The program accepts six transfer credits.

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

19

Florida State University

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Average Net Price: $16,900

A research university founded in 1851, FSU is the oldest continuous higher education site in Florida. Located in Tallahassee, the university offers individualized attention, maintaining a 22-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Offered through FSU’s College of Education, the master of science degree in sport management helps students develop skills in marketing, business, and facility and event management. The program provides hands-on experience and mentorship with alumni and sport organizations. Learners may choose from a 34-credit thesis track or a 36-credit non-thesis track, which requires additional coursework. FSU’s students may earn a dual degree by combining this program with a law degree.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Admission requirements include official transcripts, GRE scores, a statement of purpose, a resume, and three recommendation letters.

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

20

Texas Tech University

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Average Net Price: $9,567

A comprehensive public research university, TTU is one of the largest schools in the Lone Star State. TTU’s master of science degree in sport management prepares graduates for careers in the sport industry. The curriculum includes coursework in sport marketing, facility and event management, and leadership. All students complete either a research project or a six-hour internship. The curriculum includes thesis and non-thesis tracks.

Admission requirements include a personal statement, a resume or curriculum vitae, and two recommendation letters. Applicants must also hold an undergraduate degree in sport management, kinesiology, or a related field from an accredited institution with a minimum 2.8 GPA during their final 60 undergraduate credits.

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

21

University of Cincinnati

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Average Net Price: $18,661

A public research institution located in Ohio, UC serves more than 46,000 students. Full-time students can complete UC’s 30-credit master of science degree in sports administration in one year. Part-time students can graduate in 18 months. Designed for professionals already working in the field, the program examines major issues facing the field. Notable courses include athletic governance and compliance, strategic athletic marketing and communications, and sport finance and budgeting. The program culminates in either a thesis or a project.

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a 3.0 GPA. Prospective students who do not meet this threshold must submit GRE scores. Additional requirements include unofficial transcripts, a personal statement, relevant professional experience, and two recommendation letters.

UC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

22

Temple University

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Average Net Price: $19,593

Founded in 1884 as a night school, Temple is now one of the largest universities in Philadelphia. This research university serves more than 40,000 students and offers more than 500 academic programs.

Temple’s 36-credit master of science degree in sport business includes concentrations in sport analytics, athletic administration, sport marketing and promotions, and recreation and event management. Students can complete the master’s program on campus or online in four years. Core courses include sport finance and economics and sport facility management. All students complete an internship in the field.

The university offers teaching and research assistantships and graduate externships to help learners reduce costs. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree, a goals statement, GMAT or GRE scores, a resume, and two reference letters. The program accepts up to six transfer credits.

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

23

University of Houston

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Average Net Price: $12,839

Founded in 1927, UH now serves more than 46,000 students and offers 258 academic programs, including a master’s in sport and fitness administration.

The program’s 36-credit curriculum allows learners to choose from a thesis or a comprehensive exam as a culminating experience. All learners must also complete an internship and practicum, which involves part-time or full-time experience under faculty direction and supervision. Core courses include sport media and public relations, sport in contemporary society, and promotional strategies for sport.

Admission requirements include official transcripts, a current resume, a statement of professional goals and interests, GRE scores, and three reference letters. Applicants must also earn a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0.

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

24

University of Louisville

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Average Net Price: $19,569

A state-supported research university located in Kentucky’s largest metropolitan area, the UofL serves more than 22,600 students.

The university’s master of science in sport administration prepares graduates for management positions in the sport industry. Learners can complete the program’s 36-credit curriculum on campus or online. Students must pass a written examination, complete a research project, or write a thesis as a capstone experience. All learners also complete a 400-hour internship in the field.

Admission requirements include prior relevant coursework, a resume, GRE scores, a personal statement, and two recommendation letters.

The UofL is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The sport administration program is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation.

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.