Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees 2021

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Best Master's in Sports Management Degrees Badge

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.

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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

FAQ


  • 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.


Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees 2021



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.

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.

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.

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.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

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.

Ethnic Minority and Women’s Enhancement Graduate Scholarship


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;

Amount: $10,000

Walter J. Travis Memorial Scholarships


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.

Amount: $1,000

Janet B. Parks NASSM Research Grant


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

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