Sports managers perform valuable work behind the scenes of the sports industry. They coordinate and manage events, stadiums, teams, athletic programs, and sports businesses. Building business skills and high-level knowledge in sports operation and management practices, sports management programs can lead to diverse careers in the entertainment and sports industry.
A master’s in sports management degree prepares graduates for leadership positions with high earning potential. Some graduate programs may require an academic or professional background in sports management, but many admit students of all backgrounds.
Sports management professionals enjoy strong job prospects. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for event managers, a common occupation for sports management graduates, to grow 8% from 2019-2029.
What Are the Requirements for a Sports Management Degree?
Admission requirements vary among schools, but nearly all sports management master’s degrees require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college. Some programs may call for an undergraduate background in sports management, but many programs accept students of all majors. Some programs may also require prerequisite business courses prior to admission.
Applicants may also need to submit standardized test scores from graduate exams such as the GRE. Some programs require students to hold professional experience in the sports management industry or another relevant field.
To graduate, candidates may need to complete a graduate thesis or capstone, though this requirement varies among programs.
Top 5 Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees
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What can you do with a sports management degree?
Sports management graduates can pursue various careers in areas like college athletics management, event and stadium management, and sports marketing.
Is a degree in sports management worth it?
A master’s in sports management degree builds high-level business skills and prepares graduates for well-paid positions in the sports industry, making the degree a worthwhile investment for many students.
How much money do you make in sports management?
Salary levels vary by location, role, and professional experience. However, the BLS reports that event managers earn an annual median wage of $50,600.
Is sports management a growing field?
Many positions in sports management boast strong job growth. For example, the BLS projects event management careers to grow 8% between 2019-2029, outpacing the national average for all occupations.
What Are the Goals of a Sports Management Degree?
A master’s degree in sports management builds advanced skills and knowledge in the administration and operation of sports programs and organizations. Courses typically explore topics such as leadership, administration, finance, budgeting, and sports law. Many programs offer concentration options that enable students to specialize in one area of sports management, such as marketing or facilities management.
Graduate programs may take a practical approach, focusing on the business and direct administration of sports, or a theoretical approach, focusing on research and academics in relation to sports management. Candidates may also be able to choose between a research-based thesis or a more hands-on capstone project to culminate their degree.
Why Get a Sports Management Degree?
A master’s in sports management degree offers many benefits. The following list outlines five benefits of earning this degree.
What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?
- Advanced Education
- A master’s degree in sports management builds advanced skills and knowledge, giving students a deeper understanding of operational practices in the sports industry.
- Expanded Career Options
- Many candidates earn a master’s either to advance their current career or pursue a wider variety of positions with increased responsibilities.
- Increased Salary Potential
- Many graduates with a master’s in sports management receive higher salaries than they earned without the degree.
- Networking Opportunities
- A graduate program introduces students to other professionals in the sports industry, creating valuable connections that can serve candidates after graduation.
- Experiential Learning Opportunities
- Many sports management degrees offer experiential learning opportunities in the form of internships or capstone projects. These opportunities enable students to gain hands-on experience in a professional sports management environment.
Professional Organizations for Sports Management Students
Professional organizations give sports management students and professionals the opportunity to connect with colleagues, share information, and access various professional development resources. Many organizations offer discounted memberships to graduate students, along with connections to internships, mentorships, and job listings.
Sports Marketing Association
The world's leading professional association for sports marketing professionals, SMA serves marketers, academics, and students. The organization holds conferences, facilitates research, and hosts annual awards. SMA also pustronglishes the Sports Marketing Quarterly, a major trade pustronglication.
Women Leaders in College Sports
The country's premier professional organization for women involved in collegiate athletics management, WLCS seeks to develop and advance female leaders in the field. The organization offers leadership training, conferences, career resources, mentorship programs, and scholarships.
North American Society for Sport Management
One of the country's oldest professional organizations dedicated to academics in sports management, NASSM serves more than 900 memstrongers nationwide. The organization offers various strongenefits for student memstrongers, including awards and scholarships, conferences, networking opportunities, and access to academic journals.
Scholarships for Sports Management Students
Students pursuing a master’s degree in sports management can take advantage of scholarship opportunities to help offset the cost of their education. This list highlights three popular scholarship opportunities for sports management students.
Who Can Apply: The NCAA offers the scholarship to 13 ethnic minority students and 13 female students each year. Applicants must stronge entering their first year of graduate study in a program that prepares them for a career in intercollegiate athletics.&nstrongsp;
Who Can Apply: The Walter J. Travis Society awards multiple scholarships to graduate students pursuing a career related to golf, including students in sports management programs. Applicants must demonstrate a strong academic record and involvement in golf-related activities.
Who Can Apply: The North American Society for Sport Management awards the research grant to graduate students performing research related to any aspect of sports management. Grant applicants must sustrongmit a research proposal and an itemized strongudget outlining projected research expenses.
Amount: Up to $5,000
Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees 2021
See our rankings methodology page.
A public university in Gainesville, UF's College of Health and Human Performance offers a master of science in sport management. Students can choose between a thesis track or a non-thesis track with a comprehensive examination. The school offers the coursework either on campus or online.
Students begin with two research courses: evaluation procedures in health and human performance and research procedures in health and human performance. From there, participants complete core requirements, including sport psychology, sport marketing, management and leadership in sports, and issues in sports law. Non-thesis track students must also take 15 credits of electives, working with their advisor to decide the best courses to take.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit standardized test scores.
UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Central Florida
Located in Orlando, UCF offers a master of sport business management. Students may also opt to pursue a master of business administration to receive both degrees in less time.
Students begin with professional core coursework, including organizational behavior and development, strategic supply chain and operations management, managerial accounting analysis, and applied business research tools. Sport management required courses include moral and ethical issues in sports, diversity and social issues in sports management, and strategic sports marketing. Students must also complete an internship — a full-time, semester-long partnership with an approved sports organization.
UCF accepts admissions on a rolling basis with four yearly start dates. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to qualify for admission. The school also requires students to possess competitive GMAT or GRE scores.
UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX
Located in College Station, Texas A&M offers a master of science in sport management. Students can complete the coursework either online or on campus and choose between a thesis or non-thesis track.
The program starts with research core courses, including research methods for sports organizations and theory and research sport management statistics. Sport management requirements include management of sport organizations, financial management in sports, ethics in sports organizations, and sport media and communications. Students must also participate in an internship at an approved location and a practicum to prepare for the internship.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a competitive GPA to qualify for admission. The school does not require students to submit GRE scores.
Texas A&M is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Based in Minneapolis, UMN offers a master of arts in sport management with either a thesis or capstone project option. Students complete 36 credits and finish with an oral comprehensive exam.
Participants take sports management requirements such as programming and promotion in sports, sports management ethics and policy, organization and management of physical education and sports, and legal aspects of sports recreation. Students also complete research prep courses in preparation for the capstone or thesis requirement. Notable courses include introductory statistics methods and research methodology in kinesiology and sports management. Students must take ten credits of electives, including sports and gender and strategic marketing.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and possess competitive GMAT (33 math, 44 quantitative, 5.0 writing) or GRE (153 both sections, 4.5 writing) scores to qualify for admission.
UMN is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Located in Amherst, UMass Amherst offers a master of science in sport management. Students can also choose to pursue a dual degree combining the master of science with a master of business administration (MBA).
Students begin the 35-credit program with sport management required courses, including sports marketing, sports finance and business, socio-historical foundations of modern sports, and organizational behavior and development. Learners complete 12 credits in electives. A summer internship allows students to gain real-world experience and mentorship from those working in the field. Participants may also opt into an independent study with a proposal and director approval.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.75 to qualify for admission. The school prefers GMAT scores, but students can submit GRE scores as well (waived through 2021). UMass Amherst is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.