5 Most Affordable PhD in Sports Management Online Programs in 2021

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Updated June 30, 2021

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Earning an online PhD in sports management could pitch you leadership skills for hitting a home-run into executive-level jobs in North America's $75.7 billion sports market. Doctoral programs are increasingly using Internet-based platforms to train sports administrators at the highest level. Sports management PhD online degrees help creative, team-playing leaders score competitive advantages for business and academia positions with 24/7 course flexibility. Finishing a time-consuming doctorate is like topping the leaderboard because only two percent of Americans hold PhDs. You'll join an elite list of doctoral-trained athletes like Frank Ryan, Shaquille O'Neal, Lise Leveille, and Mike Marshall. Affordable sports management PhD online programs are academic slam dunks to avoid fumbling with large loans.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

5 Most Affordable Online Sports Management PhD Programs in 2021

  • Concordia University-Chicago

    River Forest, IL



    Coeducational with a 6:4 female-male ratio, Concordia University Chicago is a private, nonprofit Hispanic-serving institution opened by Friedrich Johann Carl Lochner for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1855. Belonging to the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, CUC enrolls 3,682 post-grad Cougars in River Forest off Chicago's Union Pacific West Line and wholly online. Placed on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll six times, Concordia-Chicago is ranked among America's top 20 Christian choices by Best Value Schools. Concordia also received a 2018 Students Before Profits Award and madeCrain's Chicago Business Guide.

    Rolling admission lets post-grads with health sciences master's degrees enter the Sports Leadership Online Ph.D. Specialization 100 percent online every eight weeks. Concordia Chicago's College of Graduate Studies has 54 full-time and 300 adjunct faculty focused on empirical research preparation without campus visits. Chaired by Dr. Donna Blaess, the 67-credit online sports management PhD opens administrative careers in intercollegiate, amateur, and professional athletics. Known for its Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the ACSBP-accredited College of Business has doctoral courses like sports economics and recreation management before the nine-credit dissertation.

  • East Tennessee State University

    Johnson City, TN



    Granted the Bill Bibb Trophy six times since 2006, East Tennessee State University is a public, state-funded research center of the NCAA Division I Southern Conference. Occupying 340 acres inKiplinger'sfifth least-expensive city with the 8,539-seat Mini Dome, ETSU currently serves 2,355 post-grad Buccaneers on-campus or online. Noted for alumni like PGA golfer David Eger and Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker, East Tennessee State is ranked in the top 300 byThe U.S. News World Report.ETSU also stands as America's 295th best athletics department with Tennessee's 12th best faculty on Niche.

    Chaired by Dr. Brian Johnston in Burgin Dossett Hall, East Tennessee's Global Sport Leadership Doctorate is affordably priced to prepare highly successful sports administrators and executives in 36 months full-time. Mandating 3+ years of athletics experience, the online 60-credit, post-master's EdD begins every Fall with D2L courses like sport governance, negotiation, recruiting, and brand management. Unlike most sports management doctorates online, it requires 10-day study abroad trips from Barcelona to Seoul for international awareness. Lengthy dissertation research is conveniently replaced by a literature review paper and doctoral capstone portfolio.

  • Northcentral University

    San Diego, CA



    Linked to 12,678 LinkedIn alumni since 1996, Northcentral University is a for-profit, open-enrollment higher learning hub that has developed one-to-one classes starting weekly with no physical residencies. Originally called the Southern California University for Professional Studies, NCU is operated by Falcon Investments, LLC in San Diego. Northcentral University is placed 72nd for management courses by College Factual. NCU was also ranked 29th by the Online Education Database and ninth for affordability by the SR Education Group.

    Launching the Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) in 2018, the CAEP-accredited School of Education offers the PhD in Education, Specialized in Sport and Athletic Management. Headed by Dr. Patricia Henry, the sports management PhD online melds science-based, open-minded research relevant to NCAA collegiate athletics. The 60-credit, post-master's curriculum takes 79 months on average for scholar-practitioners to tackle online courses from facility management to sport governance and financial administration. With 1:1 mentoring, doctoral candidates systematically write a dissertation manuscript on current organizational issues. Some may pursue the 54-credit, practice-oriented Ed.D. in Sport and Athletic Management instead.

  • Troy University

    Troy, AL



    Winning five straight Sun Belt football titles from 2006 to 2010, Troy University is a victorious public, coeducational SACS-accredited system celebrating its 130th anniversary with 19,192 Trojans enrolled from 11 countries. Renowned for its 30,402-seat Larry Blakeney Field, Troy's 820-acre NCAA Division I campus in Alabama's Pike County spreads outward with 60+ teaching sites and online courses. Ranked 25th by the Institute of International Education, Troy University is the 89th best Southern school according toThe U.S. News World Report.Troy also landed 33rd among America's best online colleges with B+ value on Niche.

    Accepting applications until February 1st for Fall and September 1st for Spring, Troy's PhD Program in Sport Management is managed by the ACBSP-accredited Sorrell College of Business and College of Health Human Services. Expecting 3.0 GPAs, the 60-credit, post-master's degree directed by Dr. Anthony W. Dixon follows COSMA guidelines to train practitioners and academicians in athletics leadership. Highly regarded faculty, including the "Father of Sport Management" Dr. Packianathan Chelladurai, guide students through 16-week online courses like organizational behavior and sport marketing. Currently, 19 Trojans are working toward the qualifying exams and APA-style dissertation research.

  • United States Sports Academy

    Daphne, AL



    Home to the Carl Maddox Sport Management Award since 1991, the United States Sports Academy is a private, athletic-oriented institution established by Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich after the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Based on 10 suburban acres in Daphne, Alabama, with the American Sport Art Museum, the USSA serves 476 post-grads with SACS-accredited training. Boasting a 95 percent recommendation rate, the USSA was recognized for the #1 most focused physical education programs by College Factual. The United States Sports Academy was included in America's top 25 sports schools by Top Management Degrees too.

    Featured inThe Sport Digest,USSA's Doctor of Education in Sports Management admits post-master's athletics enthusiasts with minimum 3.0 GPAs into online courses starting anytime. In 2017, a three-year, residential doctorate was also launched with Monday and Wednesday evening sessions in Daphne. The online, 66-credit curriculum follows NCACE standards with four emphases: Sports Coaching, Sports Medicine, Sports Health Fitness, and Sports Theory. Courses span from exercise physiology to team dynamics on Canvas in this cheap sports management doctorate online. For hands-on, sports experience, students must create the "Mentorship" portfolio and doctoral dissertation.

Our Methodology, Explained

Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.
Metric Data Used Percentage
Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%
A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Why Pursue a Sports Management Doctorate Online?

Sports industry practitioners frequently question whether spending years on Ph.D. tuition will add career value. While experience does trump degree, affordable sports management PhD online programs can give you an extra edge over opponents for promotions. Racking up resume points with doctoral training proves to employers that you're capable of forming well-researched, executive decisions. According to the U.S. News & World Report, organizations generally respect online degrees for the self-discipline and time management skills they foster. One survey from Troy University found that 74 percent of industry veterans found online PhDs helpful for job advancement. Studying online lets you continue working full-time, customize learning schedules, learn tech tools, and cut commuting costs.

When searching for online PhD in sports management programs, you'll find three distinct degree types available. The most frequent choice is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a prestigious, academic-oriented research degree conferred after an original dissertation to display the utmost expertise in sports science. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) is a slightly less intensive applied, professional degree where teaching methods are taught within the sports management arena. The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is another practice-oriented, advanced study option where sports staff can contribute to managerial theory for public- or private-sector organizations. Each sports management doctorate type poses taxing, yet gratifying challenges in leadership development.

Wondering where your sports management PhD online will be useful? Doctoral graduates will unlock upper-level career opportunities in several different sports disciplines. For example, recreation administration is a fitness industry niche focused on coordinating community or municipal activities like summer camps. Facility management deals with the upkeep and renovation of sports stadiums and arenas for safe play. Sports marketing is a business subfield concerned with promoting teams and fan merchandise in multimedia channels. Since 1991, the AMA has recognized athletic training as a clinical field for preventing and rehabilitating players' sports injuries. Here are some job titles where a sports management PhD online would be advantageous:

  •  Athletic Director- College and high school administrations include athletic directors who oversee the smooth functioning of junior varsity and varsity teams for student-athletes. ADs will hire coaches, purchase equipment, schedule games, head team marketing, uphold league rules like Title IX, allocate facility budgets, and make academic eligibility decisions.
  • General Manager- Major and minor league teams rely on general managers to provide oversight for running multi-million operations with 100+ staff. GMs wear numerous hats, including drafting players, negotiating salaries, signing contracts, supervising coaches, acting as chief spokespeople, building sponsorships, and planning public outreach events.
  •  Management Professor- Maybe you're called to help future generations tackle sports management PhD online programs by joining a university's tenure-track faculty. Management professors prepare lectures, grade assignments, proctor exams, pursue research grants, maintain labs, evaluate theses/dissertations, give career advice, join faculty committees, and develop new class curricula.
  •  Sports Account Executive- Interests in marketing could lead PhD sports management online grads to this senior-level title where coordinating profitable ticket and merchandise sales is paramount. Sports account executives analyze revenue streams, pursue client relationships, choose pricing, oversee admen, create contests, lead sourcing, and report to GMs on promotional goals.
  • College Head Coach- Instantly recognizable names like Bear Bryant, Joe Paterno, and Jim Boeheim prove the power head coaches have to develop winning NCAA teams. Their duties include recruiting talent, setting training regimens, overseeing defensive and offensive strategies, directing game play from the sidelines, giving press conferences, and mentoring players.
  •  Sport Performance Consultant- Getting an online PhD sports management degree could build the self-confidence to market yourself as a private practice expert in sport psychology. Sports performance consultants freelance to assess team's functioning, pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, plot improvement strategies, give leadership development workshops, and overcome issues like low morale.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that the post-doc unemployment rate in the United States is 1.7 percent. PricewaterhouseCoopers has predicted 4.8 percent annual growth in sports revenue, so your sports management PhD online has a solid job outlook. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entertainment and sports occupations will increase by 80,100 by 2026 for 10 percent growth. Specifically, the demand for coaches, athletic directors, and general managers will reach 13 percent, 10 percent, and 10 percent respectively. Demand is especially high for B-school sports management professors since college faculty numbers will jump from 1.31 million to 1.51 million over the next decade.

Paying for cheap online sports management PhD training could boomerang back big profits for exceptional ROI. The Economic Research Institute (ERI) found that doctorates provide average annual salary growth of 2.52 percent, or $4,001 per year. Professionals with PhDs combine for a mean base wage of $84,396 annually, yet sports management jobs often rise higher. General managers reported an average yearly income of $122,090 to the BLS. Postsecondary B-school professors bring home mean profits of $96,770 per year. College athletics director earn $110,945 on average according to Salary.com. Head coaches can score huge paydays too with Nick Saban at Alabama making $11.1 million and Dabo Swinney at Clemson making $8.5 million in 2017.

If you're convinced a sports management PhD online is your right path, filing your application is the next step. Admission requirements and deadlines vary drastically by graduate school, so do your homework. Most online colleges will expect relevant master's study, GPAs above 3.0, sports business experience, and course prerequisites like research methods. Take practice tests and sharpen your vocabulary to reach your best possible score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Request letters of recommendation from your professional contacts at least three months before your application due date. Brainstorm, outline, write, and proofread a personal statement that perfectly sums up your sports-related goals. These little tips could make or break your success getting into online PhD in sports management programs.

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This concludes our ranking of the 5 most affordable online Ph.D. in Sports Management programs.

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GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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