Athletic success relies on star players both on and beyond the field. The following 15 Best Master’s Degrees in Sport Management prepare leaders in the business of sport.
What plays out in a sports stadium can be unpredictable, but the business professionals behind every athletic organization and event ensure that things run smoothly, win, or lose. Grad School Hub‘s 15 Best Master’s Degrees in Sport Management prepare graduates to become effective behind-the-scenes players on the business side of sports.
The following list includes degree programs that relate to business; kinesiology; recreation; and administration, leadership, and management in the sports world. The programs listed feature a wide range of courses in areas such as analytics, ethics, communications, law, marketing, policy, and beyond athletic products, services, events, and organizations. Many of them offer thesis and non-thesis options to suit students particularly interested in research or practical careers in the field.
A sport management-related graduate degree equips students for a variety of careers in the athletic industry. For example, they may work to recruit potential team players or to manage athletic teams, programs, and organizations strategically. They may work at the collegiate, amateur, or professional level.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, coaches and scouts earned a median salary of $33,780 in 2018. The demand for these kinds of sporting professionals is growing at a projected rate of 13%, which is faster than average. This growth may be related to increasing participation in high school and college sports.
Accredited Online College Programs
Best 15 Online Master’s Degrees in Sports Management of 2021
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is home to Grad School Hub's top graduate sports management program. The university offers a Master of Science in Sport Administration through its College of Arts and Sciences. The mission of the program is "integrating theory and practice to prepare graduate students for leadership positions in intercollegiate athletics." Applicants should have experience in athletics through school or work. Course examples include Collegiate Sport Marketing, Economic and Financial Management of Sport, Facility and Event Management, and NCAA Governance and Compliance. The curriculum culminates in a master's thesis, a sport administration seminar, and an internship in the UNC athletic department. The program is designed to be completed in two years of full-time study. The university also offers a dual degree in Law and Sport Administration.
UNC at Chapel Hill is a public research university and the flagship institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system. Chartered in 1789, it is one of three schools allowed to claim the title of the oldest public university in the United States. Located in downtown Chapel Hill, the university makes up one point of North Carolina's Research Triangle, along with Duke University and NC State. Students of UNC and their sports teams are known nationally as the Tar Heels. The athletic teams compete in Division I as charter members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The school mascot is a ram named Rameses. U.S. News & World Report ranks UNC No. 30 overall, eighth for best value, and fifth among public institutions nationally.
Florida State University offers a Master of Science in Sport Management through its College of Education. The degree program offers thesis and non-thesis track options. The 34-credit thesis track involves in-depth research on a particular athletic topic. The 36-credit non-thesis track involves coursework in students' areas of interest and practical internship experience in the sports industry. Non-thesis students are expected to finish a comprehensive exam in the form of a career portfolio. The core MS curriculum includes courses in Issues in Sport Law, Sport and the Media, and Strategic Management for Sport Organization. Elective offerings include Athlete Recruitment; Global Sport Venues; and Sport, Culture, and the Body. FSU also extends a joint degree program leading to a degree in Sport Management and Law.
FSU is a public state university and a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1851 in Tallahassee, it is located on the oldest site of higher education in Florida. The university's intercollegiate sports teams are known as the Florida State Seminoles. They compete in NCAA Division I and the Atlantic Coast Conference. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university's College of Education No. 39 nationally at the graduate level.
Texas A&M University awards a Master of Science in Sport Management through its College of Education and Human Development. The degree program can be completed on-campus or online. It offers both thesis and non-thesis options. The thesis option requires 32 semester credit hours of study, while the non-thesis option requires 36 credit hours. Required courses include Diversity Ethics in Sport Organizations, Personnel Management in Sport, and Sport Marketing. Non-thesis track elective offerings include Ethics in Coaching, Psychology for Coaching, and Sport Economics. All students have the option to complete a hands-on practicum experience for elective credit.
Texas A&M is a public research university and the founding member of the Texas A&M University System. Established in 1871 as a land-grant agricultural and mechanical college, it was the state's first public institution of higher education. Located in College Station, the university serves the largest student body in Texas and the second-largest in the United States. The Texas Aggies sports teams are members of the Southeastern Conference. The university's mascot, a Rough Collie named Reveille, is the highest-ranking member of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. U.S. News & World Report lists the university's College of Education No. 34 nationally at the graduate level.
The University of Minnesota offers a Master of Arts in Sport Management. The degree program is offered through the School of Kinesiology within the university's College of Education and Human Development. The interdisciplinary curriculum balances theory and practice, and it consists of 36 credits of study. Required courses include Legal Aspects of Sport and Recreation, Sport Finance, and Sport Management Ethics and Policy. Elective offerings include Readings in Kinesiology, Sport and Gender, and Youth Sport Science. Students can culminate in their program through a research thesis or a capstone research project. All students must successfully complete a final oral exam.
UMN is a public research university and the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota. Founded in 1851, the university is the oldest and largest institution in the system. The university's main campuses are located about three miles apart in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. UMN is also counted among the nation's "Public Ivies." The Minnesota Golden Gophers athletic teams are part of the NCAA Division I and the Big Ten Conference. U.S. News & World Report places UMN's College of Education No. 21 nationally at the graduate level.
The University of Georgia offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Sport Management and Policy. The degree program is offered through the university's College of Education. Its curriculum covers areas such as consumer behavior and marketing, law and policy, risk management, and social justice in relation to sport management. The thesis track is designed for students who wish to advance to doctoral study or conduct university research in the field. It requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework. The non-thesis track requires 36 credit hours and the completion of an internship or practicum experience in the field. The program is led by faculty experts in areas such as marketing and consumer behavior, risk management, and social/cultural diversity and social justice.
UGA is a flagship public research university with land, sea, space, and sun grant designations. Founded in 1785, it is one of the oldest public universities in the United States. The Carnegie Foundation classifies it as having a very high level of research activity and selective admissions. In addition to its main campuses in Athens, UGA operates campuses in the Georgia towns of Atlanta, Griffin, Lawrenceville, and Tifton. The university emphasizes small class sizes. It is home to the Georgia Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs athletic teams, who compete in Division I and the Southeastern Conference. The teams' live mascot is Uga, an English Bulldog. U.S. News & World Report lists UGA's College of Education No. 36 nationally at the graduate level.
Brooklyn College awards a Master of Science in Sport Management. The degree program is offered through the Department of Kinesiology within the university's School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences. It is designed for students with undergraduate degrees in sport management. Those who do not have a relevant background are required to take prerequisite courses. Required courses include Business Management in Community/Club Sports and Recreation, and Risk Management and Legal Issues in Sport. The degree requires 36 total credits of study.
Brooklyn College is a public college and a part of the City University of New York. It began in 1930 as an extension of the City College for Teachers. It was the first public, coeducational liberal arts college in New York City. The Brooklyn College Bulldogs' athletic teams are members of the NCAA Division III and the City University of New York Athletic Conference. The college mascot is Buster the Bulldog. U.S. News & World Report ranks the college No. 74 in the northern United States and No. 19 among public institutions.
The University of Michigan offers a Master of Science in Sport Management through its School of Kinesiology. The degree program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of study. The curriculum includes core courses in Financial Management of the Sport Industry, Legal Aspects of Sport, and Organizational Behavior & Human Resources. Each student is also required to complete at least three elective credits in Sport Management, a course in Philosophy of Science and Research, and a graduate-level statistics course. Students with satisfactory academic standing may be allowed to write a master's thesis, while others must follow a coursework-only plan.
U of M is a flagship public sea- and space-grant research university. Founded in Detroit in 1817, it is the oldest university in Michigan. The university now has a main campus in Ann Arbor and regional campuses in Dearborn and Flint. An establishing member of the Association of American Universities, U of M is one of the foremost research universities in the nation. Its athletic teams, known as the Wolverines, compete in Division I and are members of the Big Ten Conference. U.S. News & World Report ranks U of M fifth nationally in Public Health studies at the masters' level.
The University of Connecticut offers a Master of Science in Sport Management. The degree program requires 33 credits of study. Major courses include Legal Aspects of Sport, Management of Sport Services, and Sport in Society. Each student must also take two to four courses in educational research methods and statistics. Students may choose to complete a research thesis, research project, or internship as their capstone experience. Those who opt for a non-thesis option must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.
UConn is a public, flagship university in Storrs, Connecticut. It was founded in 1881 as an agricultural school. Today, it is a land-, sea-, and space-grant research university. The Carnegie Foundation categorizes UConn in its top tier of national research universities. The university has also been counted among the nation's "Public Ivies." The university's Huskies sports teams are noted for basketball in particular. The school mascot is Jonathan the Husky. U.S. News & World Report ranks UConn No. 63 overall in the nation and No. 22 among public schools.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presents students to earn a Master of Science in Recreation, Sport and Tourism. The degree program is offered through the College of Applied Health Sciences, and it can be completed on-campus or online. It emphasizes field-based learning and professional skills. Students may concentrate in Park & Recreation Management, Sport Management, and Tourism Management. Required courses include Finance & Budgeting in RST, Managing RST Organizations, and Marketing in RST. Elective offerings include Event Management and Park Planning and Design. Students may follow a thesis or non-thesis track. The degree requires 36 credits of study, and it can be earned within two years.
U of I is a public research university and the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system. It was established in 1867 as Illinois Industrial University. Today, it is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. The Carnegie Foundation categorizes U of I in its top tier of research universities. The university's campus is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. Its athletic teams are known as the Fighting Illini, and they participate in NCAA Division I. U.S. News & World Report ranks U of I No. 71 nationally in graduate programs relating to Public Health.
Temple University offers a Master of Science in Sport Business through its School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management. The degree program requires 36 credit hours of study. Students can concentrate their studies on topics such as Athletics Administration and Sport Marketing and Promotions, among others. Required courses for all students include Legal Issues in Sport and Recreation and Strategic Management in Sport and Recreation. All students must complete a relevant internship to culminate in their program. Students may complete a thesis or research project for elective credit, but neither is required. Each course is offered in the evening to suit working students' needs. Students can complete the program on a full- or part-time basis. Full-time students typically complete it in four semesters or two years. Students attending Temple part-time can work at their own pace, but in general, all Temple students are expected to finish their degree within four years.
Temple is a public, state-related research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1884 by minister Russell Conwell, who tutored local working citizens late at night in the basement of his Baptist Temple. These origins led to the name of both the university and its students, the "night owls." The Owls compete in Division I sporting events. They have a mascot named Hooter T. Owl, and a live mascot named Stella. The university's School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management include the Sport Industry Research Center and the U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism & Hospitality Research. U.S. News & World Report ranks Temple No. 93 nationally for best value and No. 46 among public institutions.
The University of Arkansas offers a Master of Education in Recreation and Sport Management through its College of Education and Health Professions. The degree program is designed to prepare graduates to work as directors of community and university recreation settings or in collegiate and professional athletic settings. The degree requires 30 credit hours of study. Required courses include Legal and Political Aspects, Social Issues in Sport, and Statistics in Education. Elective offerings include Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Sport Media and Public Relations. Students can culminate their studies through a master's research thesis or a strategic organizational design course with an accompanying internship or independent research project. All students who take the non-thesis route must successfully complete a comprehensive exam.
U of A is a public state research university and the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System. It was founded in 1871 as Arkansas Industrial University. Located in Fayetteville, U of A is now the largest university in Arkansas. The Arkansas Razorbacks are Division I teams and members of the Southeastern Conference. The university is known for numerous unique school traditions, including a farm-inspired athletic cheer called "Calling the Hogs." The Razorbacks' live mascot is a Russian boar named Tusk. U.S. News & World Report lists the university at No. 53 in Best Education Schools at the graduate level.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst presents students with an opportunity to earn a Master of Science in Sport Management through its Isenberg School of Management. Applicants with two or more years of full-time work experience are preferred. The degree requires 35 credits of study. Required courses include Professional Development in Sport Management, Socio-Historical Foundations of Modern Sport, and Sport & the Law. Elective offerings include College Athletics, Economics of Sport, and Sport Promotion & Sales. Each student must also complete a summer internship practicum experience. Students have the option to pursue the MS as a dual degree along with the university's MBA program. In any case, the MS degree requirements must be met within three years.
UMass Amherst is a public research university and the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system. The university was founded in 1863 as a land-grant institution. The Carnegie Foundation categorizes UMass Amherst among the universities with the highest levels of research activity in the nation. The university's sports teams are called the Minutemen and Minutewomen, reflecting Massachusetts' colonial roots. All Minutemen and Minutewomen teams are at the highest level, Division I, designated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The university is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMass Amherst No. 70 overall in the nation and No. 26 among public higher education institutions.
The University of Florida offers a Master of Science in Sport Management through its College of Health and Human Performance. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, but it does not need to be in a related field. The degree program can be completed on-campus or online. Required courses include Sport Finance, Sport Marketing, and Sport Sociology. Students can choose to culminate their studies in a research thesis or capstone project. Students also have the option to complete an internship or practicum experience. The thesis track requires 30 credit hours of study, and the non-thesis track requires 36 credit hours.
UF is a public research university and a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Its origins trace back to the East Florida Seminary, which was established in 1853. The university has operated on its current campus in Gainesville, Florida, since 1906. Today, UF is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution and Florida's only member of the Association of American Universities. The sports drink Gatorade was invented at UF and named after the university's intercollegiate sports teams, the Florida Gators. U.S. News & World Report ranks UF No. 37 in graduate Public Health programs.
The Indiana University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology with Athletic Administration/Sports Management. The degree program is offered through the university's School of Public Health. It emphasizes the facilitation, production, promotion, and organization of athletic products and services. The 36-credit curriculum includes three required, foundational kinesiology courses: Principles and Foundations of Public Health, Research and Data Analysis in Sport Management, and a Sports Strategy and Application culminating experience. It also includes Sport Management courses in the areas of administration, communication, financial analysis, law, marketing, and strategy.
IU Bloomington is the flagship and largest institution of the Indiana University system. The university was established in 1820 as the State Seminary. Now a public research university, IUB is a member of the Association of American Universities, an organization of the foremost research universities in North America. The university is also counted among the nation's "Public Ivies," meaning its quality of education is considered comparable to those of the private Ivy League. IUB does not have an official mascot, and all of its sports teams are known as "Hoosiers." The Hoosiers are part of the 14-school Big Ten Conference, the oldest athletic conference in the nation. U.S. News & World Report lists IU Bloomington's School of Public Health No. 46 nationally at the graduate level.
The University of Louisville offers a Master of Science in Sports Administration. Offered through the university's College of Education & Human Development, the degree program can be completed on campus or entirely online. Most on-campus classes are held in the evenings. All applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, but it does not need to be in a field related to sports administration. The degree requires 36 credit hours of study. The core curriculum includes courses in the Legal Aspects of Sport, Sport Analytics, Sport Marketing, and Sport Policy. Elective offerings include Management of Pro Baseball, International Sport, and Women in Sport. All students must complete an internship related to sports administration. The degree program typically takes one and a half to two years to complete.
The University of Louisville is a public university and a member of the Kentucky state university system. Founded in 1798 as Jefferson Seminary, it was the first city-owned public university in the United States. The university has made significant research advancements in the medical field, including the world's first self-contained artificial heart transplant and the nation's first emergency department. The Louisville Cardinals athletic teams participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference and are nationally known for basketball in particular. U.S. News & World Report lists the university's College of Education & Human Development in the top 100 nationally at the graduate level.
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.
Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates
Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid
Admission and enrollment rates
Number of program options
Online Enrollment Score
Portion of learners taking at least one online course
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