January 18, 2022

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The Sports Fanatics

Best online master’s in sports management 2021: Top picks

Table of Contents

Sports management focuses on the business side of sports and recreation. Careers in sports management include roles as interscholastic or intercollegiate athletic administrators, health and fitness club managers, and sports marketers. 

Sports and recreation are everywhere. Youth sports accompany intercollegiate and professional athletics as some of the most popular activities worldwide. Fitness facilities, vacations, and athletic events offer job opportunities for professionals in health, entertainment, and event management alike. 

A sports management master’s program opens the door to professional opportunities and personal fulfillment. To find out more about our top picks for sports management master’s degrees, check out the rankings below. 

The best online master’s in sports management degrees

ZDNet’s ranking methodology collects data from federal agencies with input from industry experts to provide a holistic assessment of academic programs. Our criteria emphasize programmatic and professional outcomes through a five-layer review process. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

About the program: UF’s online master of science in sport management includes specialization options in athlete performance, high performance coaching, sport law, and director of racquet sports.

  • Acceptance rate: 37%
  • Graduation rate: 87%
  • Avg. annual net price: $6,302
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas

About the program: With thesis and non-thesis options available, Texas A&Ms online sport management degree includes 36 credit hours of coursework and practical requirements.

  • Acceptance rate: 58%
  • Graduation rate: 82%
  • Avg. annual net price: $19,057
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

3. University of Miami

Coral Gables, Florida

About the program: UM’s online master of science in education sport administration includes 10 sequential courses learners complete one at a time. 

  • Acceptance rate: 27%
  • Graduation rate: 83%
  • Avg. annual net price: $46,949
  • Time to completion: 20 months
  • GRE/GMAT: GRE required
  • Minimum GPA: Not publicly available
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: The University of Miami is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Georgia Southern University

Statesboro, Georgia

About the program: Georgia Southern’s 36-credit-hour online master’s degree in sport management requires students to take summer coursework as part of the cohort-based program.

  • Acceptance rate: 54%
  • Graduation rate: 50%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,536
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: One
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Georgia Southern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

5. Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, North Carolina

About the program: As part of WCU’s online sport management degree, learners earn a certificate in project management. Students complete an internship or capstone project as part of the program.

  • Acceptance rate: 69%
  • Graduation rate: 62%
  • Avg. annual net price: $13,722
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Western Carolina University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

6. Central Washington University

Ellensburg, Washington

About the program: CWU’s 46-credit-hour online sport and athletic administration master’s degree prepares learners for positions in interscholastic and intercollegiate education as athletic directors, mentors, and coaches.

  • Acceptance rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 60%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,397
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Central Washington University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

7. Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, Arkansas

About the program: As part of A-State’s comprehensive online sport administration master’s degree, learners complete a six-credit-hour internship.

  • Acceptance rate: 80%
  • Graduation rate: 49%
  • Avg. annual net price: $13,406
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Arkansas State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

8. East Central University

Ada, Oklahoma

About the program: Learners complete a 100-hour practicum as part of ECU’s 33-credit-hour online master’s degree in sport administration

  • Acceptance rate: 59%You 
  • Graduation rate: 40%
  • Avg. annual net price: $10,334
  • Time to completion: 12-18 months
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: East Central University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

9. Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Durant, Oklahoma

About the program: Southeastern’s online master of science in sport administration includes optional specializations in business, educational leadership, and Native American leadership.

  • Acceptance rate: 74%
  • Graduation rate: 33%
  • Avg. annual net price: $8,237
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Six
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Southeastern Oklahoma State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

10. Ohio University

Athens, Ohio

About the program: OU offers both an online master of athletic administration degree and an online professional master of sport administration program. 

  • Acceptance rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 59%
  • Avg. annual net price: $22,906
  • Time to completion: 18-24 months
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.7
  • Enrollment periods per year: One to three
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Ohio University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

11. SUNY Cortland

Cortland, New York

About the program: SUNY Cortland’s 30-credit-hour online sport management master’s degree includes an internship and project track alongside a thesis option. 

  • Acceptance rate: 46%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Avg. annual net price: $18,705
  • Time to completion: 18-24 months
  • GRE/GMAT: Either accepted, waiver available
  • Minimum GPA: 2.8
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: SUNY Cortland is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

12. Grace College and Theological Seminary

Winona Lake, Indiana

About the program: As a Christian institution, Grace offers an online master’s in athletic administration degree that requires admitted students to hold membership to the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association or the Canadian Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association.

  • Acceptance rate: 80%
  • Graduation rate: 72%
  • Avg. annual net price: $20,820
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Grace College and Theological Seminary is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

13. University of Southern Mississippi

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

About the program: Southern Miss’s online master’s degree in sport management allows learners to specialize in sport event security management. 

  • Acceptance rate: 97%
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Avg. annual net price: $14,923
  • Time to completion: One to three years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Southern Mississippi is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

14. University of Southern Indiana

Evansville, Indiana

About the program: USI’s online master of science in sport management builds communication, managerial, and communication skills for aspiring sport management leaders and innovators through 33 credit hours of coursework.

  • Acceptance rate: 93%
  • Graduation rate: 44%
  • Avg. annual net price: $13,437
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Six
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Southern Indiana is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

15. Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville, Alabama

About the program: As part of JSU’s online master’s degree in sport management, students can complete an additional teacher certification requirement.

  • Acceptance rate: 55%
  • Graduation rate: 46%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,559
  • Time to completion: Two
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.7
  • Enrollment periods per year: Six
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Jacksonville State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

16. Minot State University

Minot, North Dakota

About the program: As the only degree of its kind in North Dakota, MSU’s online sport management master’s program includes 33 credit hours of coursework. 

  • Acceptance rate: 67%
  • Graduation rate: 44%
  • Avg. annual net price: $11,898
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Minot State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

17. Wayne State University

Detroit, Michigan

About the program: WSU’s online master of arts in sport administration emphasizes administration, finance, and risk management through 30 credit hours of coursework and practical requirements. 

  • Acceptance rate: 73%
  • Graduation rate: 45%
  • Avg. annual net price: $13,965
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: M/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Wayne State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

18. Indiana State University

Terre Haute, Indiana

About the program: ISU’s online master of science in sport management focuses on the eight competency areas established by the North American Society for Sport management.

  • Acceptance rate: 90%
  • Graduation rate: 42%
  • Avg. annual net price: $13,896
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Two 
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Indiana State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

19. Concordia University Irvine

Irvine, California

About the program: CUI integrates Lutheran traditions and beliefs into its 36-credit-hour online master’s in coaching and athletics administration. CUI also offers an online master of science in coaching and exercise sciences.

  • Acceptance rate: 71%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $26, 142
  • Time to completion: 15 months
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Concordia University Irvine is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). 

20. Concordia University St. Paul

St. Paul, Minnesota

About the program: CSP blends Lutheran ideals into its comprehensive online master of arts in sport management program. The curriculum includes an optional study abroad opportunity. 

  • Acceptance rate: 98%
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Avg. annual net price: $16,245
  • Time to completion: 18 months
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Concordia University St. Paul is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

21. University of South Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

About the program: USA’s online master of science in sport management includes 30 credit hours of coursework with thesis and non-thesis options.

  • Acceptance rate: 79%
  • Graduation rate: 43%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,501
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of South Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

22. Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

About the program: SNHU’s online sport management master’s degree combines hands-on learning opportunities with coursework in finance, management, and media studies. 

  • Acceptance rate: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 47%
  • Avg. annual net price: $41,095
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75
  • Enrollment periods per year: Six
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). 

23. Drexel University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About the program: Drexel’s online master’s in sport management explores the ever-changing sports industry from a business perspective. Learners can add a minor in topics like business analytics and athletic administration.

  • Acceptance rate: 75%
  • Graduation rate: 66%
  • Avg. annual net price: $34,914
  • Time to completion: Two years
  • GRE/GMAT: N/A
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous 

Accreditation: Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

24. Colorado Mesa University

Grand Junction, Colorado

About the program: Designed to accommodate full-time employees and working professionals, CMU’s online sport management degree includes a thesis or internship project requirement.

  • Acceptance rate: 78%
  • Graduation rate: 35%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,569
  • Time to completion: One to two years
  • GRE/GMAT: Either accepted
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Enrollment periods per year: Five
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Colorado Mesa University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

25. Delaware State University

Dover, Delaware

About the program: DSU’s online master of science in sport administration degree includes customized curricula to prepare students for managerial roles in the subset of the sports industry they choose. 

  • Acceptance rate: 53$
  • Graduation rate: 41%
  • Avg. annual net price: $12,995
  • Time to completion: One year
  • GRE/GMAT: Either accepted, waivers available
  • Minimum GPA: 2.5
  • Enrollment periods per year: Four
  • Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Delaware State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

What to expect in an online master’s in sports management degree program

A sports management master’s degree consists of two years of business coursework with an emphasis in the sports and recreation industry. Students learn about business operations while building analytical and leadership skills through lecture coursework. Learners also participate in group projects and internships. 

Courses cover global sport, the social and political implications of sport, and diversity in sports and recreation settings. Learners may complete an internship, a comprehensive project, or a thesis as part of a sports management master’s degree.

Online sports management degrees require dedication and determination. Sports enthusiasts thrive in sports management programs as they explore the behind-the-scenes world of sport and recreation. 

Master’s in sports management courses

Master’s degrees in sports management vary in specific coursework, but curricula generally include similar core classes. Students study business as it relates to sports and recreation while learning practical skills applicable to leadership roles in the field. 

Sport marketing

Coursework in sport marketing builds knowledge of marketing theories, strategies, and trends as they relate to sports. Learners gain insight into how to apply class content to sport scenarios and environments. Topics include ticket pricing, sport promotions, and branding.

Diversity in sport

Diversity in sport courses emphasize racial, ethnic, and gender issues in the world of sport. Students learn how differences and similarities between individuals influence managerial approaches in sport organizations. They also gain insight into larger implications of how race, sport, and culture relate to social norms and values. 

Facility management

A class in facility management teaches students how to manage buildings, outdoor spaces, and the daily operations of sports and recreation facilities. Topics include budgeting, human resources, risk management, and facility sight, design, and construction. 

Sport law

Sport law coursework provides a comprehensive look at the legal issues related to amateur and professional sport. Students look at sport law from the perspectives of athletes, teams, leagues, and media organizations. 

Sports management degree levels

Sports management degrees offer unique opportunities to students with different educational and professional backgrounds. Undergraduate programs in sports management prepare learners for entry-level roles in the sports and recreation industry. Graduate programs build the knowledge and skills to allow for advancement to leadership roles in the world of sport.

Associate in sports management

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $6,000-$18,000
  • Post-grad careers: Sports event planner, stadium operations assistant, sports marketing associate 

A sports management associate degree introduces students to accounting, management, and marketing. As learners explore business practices and how they relate to sport, they may have an opportunity to complete an internship or comparable practical requirement.

During a sports management associate degree, individuals develop the communication and technical skills to work in entry-level positions within sports and recreation organizations. The curriculum also sets the foundation to earning a bachelor’s degree in sports management or a related discipline. 

Bachelor’s in sports management

  • Length: Four years
  • Cost: $12,000-$90,000
  • Post-grad careers: Facility operations manager, assistant athletic director, sports marketer

Through four years of coursework in management, marketing, and other business topics, sports management students build foundational understanding of business and how it relates to the sports and recreation industry. Coursework in sport sociology, sport economics, and sport law accompany classes in ethics, organizational behavior, and strategic planning to prepare learners for an internship requirement.

Sports management degrees weave in multiple experiential learning components, group activities, and communication exercises as part of a comprehensive curriculum. At the end of a sports management bachelor’s program, learners complete a capstone requirement.

Master’s in sports management

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $$18,000-$80,000
  • Post-grad careers: Athletic director, sports promotions manager, sports marketing director 

Master’s degrees in sports management build leadership, analytical, and communication skills for current sports and recreation professionals. Coursework in the business of sport, sports psychology and sociology, and research methods allow students to work independently and with their classmates on assignments and projects. Sports management master’s degrees often include an internship requirement.

Depending on the program, a sports management master’s degree may result in a comprehensive project or thesis. Individuals who seek to continue onto a doctorate in the discipline benefit from the thesis option by honing their research and writing skills. 

Doctorate in sports management

  • Length: Three to five years
  • Cost: $$27,000-$120,000
  • Post-grad careers: University professor, senior sport researcher, athletic administrator

Options for a doctorate in sportz management include a Ph.D. in sports management, a doctorate of business with a sports management emphasis, and a doctorate of education with a specialization in sport administration. 

Sports management doctorates emphasize research. Coursework in sport sociology, international sport, and sport research methods precedes comprehensive exams and the proposal of a dissertation. 

Students choose an area of emphasis, undertake an in-depth research project, and write a dissertation on an issue or challenge in the field of sports management. Some doctorates may allow for an internship or project alternative to a dissertation. 

In conclusion

A sports management degree combines two exciting fields, business and sport. By learning about the administrative and managerial side of sport and recreation, learners emerge from a sports management master’s degree prepared to lead in the sports and recreation industry. The information on this page can help you take the first step down that path.