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.
Florida State University
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $16,506
Located in Tallahassee, Florida State University offers its Master of Science in Sports Management through the College of Education. Intending to prepare students to lead in the field of sports management, FSU designed the degree with both a thesis track and a non-thesis track. Students taking the 36-credit non-thesis track pursue a wider variety of interests through electives and internships. Students pursuing the 34-credit thesis track research and develop expertise in a particular area with the option of eventually pursuing a doctorate. Students in the non-thesis track gain hands-on experience through a practicum that varies from three to twelve credits in length.
College Choice Score: 98.78
Average Net Price: $21,237
Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers its Master of Science in Sport Business through its School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management (STHM). Students can pursue their interests more specifically through one of four concentrations including Athletics Administration, Recreation and Event Management, Sport Analytics, or Sport Marketing and Promotions. Students complete the 36-credit program in two to four years. The school offers all classes after 5:00 PM, allowing students to pursue full-time employment, internships or assistantships during the day. All students take 18 required STHM credits and six business credits, plus electives. Temple offers both thesis and non-thesis options.
Texas A & M University
College Choice Score: 96.88
Average Net Price: $15,455
Texas A & M University offers its M.S. in Sport Management both online and on-campus at College Station, Texas. While the traditional on-campus option enrolls students only during the fall semester, online students can enroll for fall, spring or summer semesters. In either format, students may pursue the thesis, or non-thesis option. Students in the non-thesis options serve a four-credit internship. On-campus students in the non-thesis option may take up to 12 credits in directed study activities. Given the limited space available, students admitted to this competitive program typically enter with GPAs in excess of 3.0 and an average of 4.3 years of experience in the field.
University of North Carolina
College Choice Score: 96.80
Average Net Price: $10,077
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers one of the most unique sports administration graduate programs available, specifically focused on college athletics. Students admitted to this master’s level program become part of a small, close-knit cohort of 9 students, all of whom serve on at least one committee, and as interns in the UNC athletic department. Because of their internship placements, students receive a generous financial support package including tuition remission, a stipend worth nearly $11,000 per year, and health insurance. Students progress through core college sports administration courses during their first year and then through both a master’s thesis, and a full-time internship their second year.
University of Florida
College Choice Score: 95.55
Average Net Price: $14,761
The University of Florida offers an online master’s degree in sport management from their campus in Gainesville. With more than 1,600 alumni currently working in the sports and fitness administration field, the UF program has established a clear track record of success. Students select one of three specializations in athlete development, high performance coaching, or sport law. Available courses include International Sport Management, Character Development in Sport, and Advanced Sport Law. Students earn elective credit while serving in a practicum or internship opportunity. Non-thesis master’s students must complete a capstone project during their final semester.
University of Michigan
College Choice Score: 95.37
Average Net Price: $16,107
Located in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan, School of Kinesiology offers a 30-credit Master of Science in Sport Management degree with, or without the thesis option. To qualify for the thesis option, students must hold a B+ average through their first 12 credits. Students study a number of sport enterprise issues including entrepreneurship, urban planning, finance, diversity, social justice, and globalization. Course topics include Strategic Management in Sport, Managing a Professional Sport Franchise, and Theory of Sport and Consumer Behavior. The program exposes students to the insights of leading sports executives.
College Choice Score: 94.05
Average Net Price: $12,621
While Indiana University operates from nine campuses throughout the state of Indiana, its School of Public Health offers a 36-credit Master of Science in Kinesiology in Athletic Administration/Sport Management from the main campus in Bloomington. Founded in 1985, the program has trained more than 150 alumni who are currently employed in the field. Required courses include Issues in Commercial Sports, NCAA Compliance, Sport Brand Management, and Understanding Sport Media. Students must complete a three-credit culminating experience in Sport Strategy and Application. Admission into this competitive program requires a minimum GPA at the bachelor’s level of 2.80 along with scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
University of Minnesota
College Choice Score: 93.94
Average Net Price: $16,242
From its main campus in Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, School of Kinesiology offers a 36-credit Master of Arts in Sport Management. Applicants may transfer as much as 40% of the credits earned from an accredited institution. Students in the thesis option must complete 26 major credits plus a 10-credit thesis. Students in the non-thesis option must complete a capstone project involving 120 task hours. Elective options include Youth Sport Science, Sport and Gender, and Special Topics in Kinesiology. The most successful applicants hold a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and average to above average GRE scores.
University of Connecticut
College Choice Score: 93.41
Average Net Price: $19,064
From its campus in Storrs, the University of Connecticut prepares leaders in Sport Management through its Neag School of Education. The Sport Management Program offers training at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Students may pursue the 33-credit M.S. in Sport Management with a thesis option or non-thesis option. Within the non-thesis option, students may elect to complete either a six-credit internship, or a six-credit research project. Given that two of the three options involve research as the capstone project, all students must take six to nine credits in qualitative and quantitative research methods. UConn limits enrollment in the master’s program to 35 students.
University of Georgia
College Choice Score: 92.93
Average Net Price: $14,956
Since its first class graduated in 1804, the University of Georgia has been sending trained leaders from its campus in Athens. Today, its college of Education extends that impact into the field of sport management with its MS in Kinesiology (Sport Management and Policy). Students may pursue the degree through the 36-credit non-thesis option or the 30-credit thesis option in preparation for doctoral level study. Courses in this program address the economic, legal, social, and ethical issues facing the field. Students will also study the role of sport in society with a few to protecting it through sound policy and effective management.
CUNY Brooklyn College
College Choice Score: 91.80
Average Net Price: $9,771
Brooklyn College, part of the City of New York University system, prepares students to lead in the diverse field of sport management through their Master of Science in Sport Management. The school designed the program for student with both experience and an undergraduate degree on sport management. Applicants lacking that background must complete prerequisite courses prior to the third semester in the program. Students complete a required core of courses including Global Sport: Olympic/Paralympic Movements and Sport Governance, and Business Management of Community/Club Sports and Recreation. Students need an undergraduate GPA of at least a 3.00 to apply.
The University of Tennessee
College Choice Score: 88.66
Average Net Price: $20,780
At its founding in 1794, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville made history as the first public university west of the Appalachian Divide. Built on years of tradition and innovation, UT Knoxville offers a 36-credit Master of Science in Sport Management with both thesis and non-thesis options. With a strong emphasis on experiential learning, the program offers considerable flexibility to fit the interests of each student. Both options require only three classes with the rest of the program comprised of work experiences and electives. Students in the non-thesis option must complete a three-credit capstone project. Applicants must hold a 3.00 undergraduate GPA for admission into this competitive program.
University of South Carolina
College Choice Score: 87.00
Average Net Price: $19,913
Rich in history with roots tracing back to 1801, the University of South Carolina in Columbia continues to prepare leaders for the South Carolina and beyond in numerous fields. Its College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management offers a Master of Science in Sport and Entertainment Management with both thesis and non-thesis tracks. Students in both tracks must take a comprehensive examination upon completion of all coursework and thesis. Uniquely, the curriculum offers the most extensive treatment of venue management including arenas, stadiums, and amphitheaters. Applicants with some experience in a sport management field hold a competitive admissions advantage.
University of Illinois
College Choice Score: 86.62
Average Net Price: $16,683
The University of Illinois, College of Applied Health Sciences offers a 36-credit Master of Science in Recreation, Sport and Tourism with a sport management emphasis at its campus in Urbana-Champaign. Students may pursue either the thesis or non-thesis option. The program builds upon a broader foundation of recreation and tourism management in addition to sport management, integrating the unique insights of each field. Students must spend at least one semester on campus. Full-time students can complete the program in as few as three semesters. Applicants must show a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.00 through the last 60 credits of their bachelor’s studies.
St. Thomas University
College Choice Score: 86.13
Average Net Price: $18,778
Founded as Biscayne College in 1961 in Miami, Florida, St. Thomas University now equips leaders in a variety of fields including theology, law, sciences, and business. Its business school offers a Master of Science in Sports Administration. The university first offered an undergraduate program in sports administration in 1973 and continues to build on that success. Full-time students can complete the 30-credit program in just one year, progressing through classes in six eight-week terms throughout the year. Students must complete a three-credit internship. Alumni currently serve throughout the industry and include general managers for professional football, basketball, and baseball teams.
University of Massachusetts
College Choice Score: 85.46
Average Net Price: $20,093
The Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst offers a 35-credit MS in Sport Management built on a commitment to experiential learning. As such, all classroom work weaves with real-world projects to give students the opportunity to solve authentic business challenges. Consistent with this emphasis, all graduate students must serve a three-month internship in the field. Students may also pursue the MBA/MS in Sport Management Dual Degree to achieve an even stronger business management foundation. The highly competitive admissions process favors applicants with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, good GRE or GMAT scores and at least two years of work experience.
College Choice Score: 85.37
Average Net Price: $10,283
Originally established in Troy, Alabama, Troy University now serves students from four campuses throughout the state. The university offers a Master of Science in Sport and Fitness Management with a sport management specialization. This degree holds program accreditation by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). Students may pursue this degree through the on-campus or online formats. Though not required, students build greater expertise by completing an optional 400-hour internship. The curriculum includes classes on Entrepreneurship in Sports, Risk Management in Sports, and NCAA Governance, Compliance and Institutional Control. Troy Sport Management graduates currently serve in all levels of the industry.
University of Louisville
College Choice Score: 85.33
Average Net Price: $16,249
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the University of Louisville offers a Master of Science in Sport Administration that holds program accreditation by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). The university’s College of Education and Human Development administers this 36-credit program in both traditional on-campus and fully online formats. Students must take six core sport administration courses, two research methods courses and complete a three-credit internship. Students round out the program with three elective courses that could include, International Sports, Women in Sport, Management of Pro Baseball, or Sport for Development and Peace, among others.
Louisiana State University
College Choice Score: 84.41
Average Net Price: $7,981
Louisiana State University’s School of Kinesiology offers its MS in Kinesiology with a sport management specialization from its campus in Baton Rouge. This 36-credit, non-thesis degree builds on a unique collaboration between LSU’s School of Kinesiology, E.J. Ourso College of Business, and the Manship School of Communication. Accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) requires students to serve a semester long internship. Past students have served internships in community, collegiate, and professional sports contexts. For added flexibility, students may also elect to pursue the degree through an online format. Of the 18 elective credits, six must focus on research.
University of Arkansas
College Choice Score: 83.27
Average Net Price: $15,411
Founded in 1871 on a hilltop overlooking the Ozark Mountains, the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville serves as the major graduate degree granting institution in the state with more than 130 master’s degrees and doctorates. Its College of Education and Health Professions offers a 36-credit M.Ed. in Recreation and Sport Management with thesis and non-thesis options. Students must take a 15-credit management core and six-credit research core. Nine credits of electives includes classes such as Research in Sport Psychology, and Sport Media and Public Relations. The non-thesis option requires students to take an organizational design course in sport management and either a three-credit internship or independent study project.
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.