Clicky

The 15 Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees

master's in sports management

Obtaining a Master’s in Sports Management will guarantee you success in a career that offers many exciting twists and turns!

American culture and sports are inextricably linked, so much so that sports history can be used to bring American history to life!

Featured Programs

Proof: The professional sports industry in the United States is among the largest segments in the entertainment industry, with more than 120 teams in the professional leagues earning approximately $17 billion in annual revenues.

Of the numerous sports in the United States, football, basketball, hockey, baseball and soccer are the most popular – and herein, professionals with master’s degrees in sports management will find plenty of career advancement opportunities!

Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees - fact

Master’s degrees in sports management programs have different characteristics, from their respective curriculum, coursework, and learning outcomes to their faculty credentials, student support services, and career development services.

Prospective students must then carefully consider the specific features of each master’s degree program before making their choice, and it’s best done by browsing the program’s official website, requesting more information from official channels, and even asking the alumni for their feedback. 

“There are some 400 Sports Management programs at colleges located in every part of the USA,” said Terry Lyons, a 1981 graduate of St. John’s University (NYC) and a 26-year member of the NBA league office (1981-2008). “On the Graduate degree side, there are fewer options, and the schools in the Northeast tend to have an edge. The key for candidates for a Graduate degree in Sports is to find the right fit and, very importantly, the right location that best fits the career goals of the student. Obviously, there are more job opportunities in New York City, so the programs at Columbia and NYU have an edge, but if you extend the circle, schools like UMass, Syracuse, and Wharton at Penn all offer tremendous experiences.”

“The Midwest offers much the same, if a student prefers that area of the USA,” added Lyons, once an intern himself. “Northwestern, Michigan and The Ohio State University come to mind as great programs.

Finding a job in sports is usually the result of a great internship opportunity to complete a degree, so be mindful of your exit strategy. Sometimes an internship with a small – call it minor league – franchise provides the ability to do a little bit of everything to help decide the area a student can excel. The pro franchises and league offices recruit the best of the best – often from those who’ve had experience at the team level and know the area of expertise inside out.

Multi-lingual (Spanish especially) students have an edge in Baseball. Students who excel in the booming analytics field have endless opportunities (see MIT in Massachusetts), while a law degree is often the eventual key to the executive suite. It’s quite competitive and the salaries aren’t as high as in the non-sports business and finance world.

Remember, the options are plentiful and there are new programs coming on board each year. Suffolk University in Boston is on the front-end of creating a terrific program and they have a direct affiliation with the Boston Celtics.

It’s all a matter of the right place, the right location and the right fit. The location of the school might play a major role in where a student will reside at a key time of life.” 

Terry Lyons, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Pivottv Media

Requirements for a Master’s in Sports Management

In general, master’s degrees in sports management programs usually feature a 60-credit curriculum that can take an average of two years of full-time studies to complete. Prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree in business management, sports management, or a relevant field, among other admission requirements, to be considered; a minimum number of years of relevant work experience may or may not be required. 

Sports Management Master’s Coursework

Courses vary between master’s degrees in sports management programs, too, and it’s crucial to check the course sequence and descriptions to determine alignment with your personal and professional goals. Examples include:

  • an overview of the sports industry and sports management
  • Foundations in Business Management
  • Sports Law and Ethics
  • Sports Marketing
  • Facility and Events Management

Didactic coursework is complemented by either a capstone project or a master’s thesis, depending on whether the master’s degree program is application-focused or research-centric. 

Yet another beauty of being in the sports management industry with competitive credentials is the wide range of aspects on which a successful career can be built. With your master’s degree in sports management and relevant work experience, you can establish a successful career in: 

  • Team and Player Management: this involves the day-to-day management of sports teams, including human resources management, contract and conflict management, and athlete management 
  • Facility Management: an aspect where sports managers are in charge of the overall management or maintenance of arenas, stadiums, and training facilities 
  • Event Management: this involves the planning, organization and evaluation of sports events, including their manpower, logistics and scheduling 
  • Marketing and Promotion: an aspect that promotes events, teams and athletes in such a way that attracts fans, sponsors and investors 
  • Sports Analytics: which involves the use of analytics in the decision-making process regarding team strategy, player performance, and business operations 

Other aspects of Sports Management that bring in personal and professional rewards are law and ethics, athlete representation, and media relations. Indeed, a master’s degree in sports management, with its combination of business management and sports entertainment practices, opens doors of opportunities that may not have been possible with just work experience! Examples of leadership positions possible with a master’s degree are head coach and athletic director.

Methodology

This list is designed to provide the very best on-campus master’s in sports management programs in America. The Business-Management-Degree.net researchers and writers utilized only the most well-respected journalistic resources and academic databases and tools to create a comprehensive catalog of the best Sports Management graduate degrees. Find a perfect match right here!

______________________________

Best Master’s in Sports Management Degrees

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – ANN ARBOR

Program Standouts:

University of Michigan master’s of sports management students explore a huge range of subjects such as finance, economics, diversity, urban planning, marketing, globalization, law, entrepreneurship, and so much more.

It is a perfect fit for applicants of numerous educational and professional backgrounds, including marketing, health or social sciences, sports studies, business management, and economics. It expands upon previous knowledge while building a new foundation of understanding to approach a competitive field.

Students in this program are exposed to an incredibly diverse student body made up of individuals from across the entire globe. They participate in invaluable real-world experiences and activities that equip them with the skills necessary to work as leaders in professional, collegiate, community, youth, and international sectors of the industry.

Campus Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Financial Management for the Sports Industry
  • Organizational Behavior & Human Resources
  • Strategic Management in Sport

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate: 20% Retention Rate: 96% Graduation Rate: 93%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN – ANN ARBOR’S MASTER’S IN SPORTS MANAGEMENT DEGREE

______________________________

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

There is a thesis and a non-thesis option and a fully on-campus degree program or an asynchronous distance curriculum provided within this outstanding master’s degree in sports management. It has flexible enough options to design a personalized approach to the graduate major and provides a comprehensive education.

Students can expand their knowledge further through various exciting internship settings, such as Professional and Minor-League Sports, College Athletics, and Sports Marketing. There is also an international learning opportunity in Munich!

The renowned Division of Sport Management at Texas A&M is the largest in the nation and is in the top five on innumerable rankings and catalogs. Students who are lucky enough to gain admission to TAMU learn from highly respected faculty members who hold terminal degrees in a huge number of relevant areas in sports, management, leadership, and business. It is an excellent choice for future coaches as there are an excellent number of in-depth courses for athletic leaders.

Campus Location: College Station, TX

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Sport Media and Communications
  • Psychology for Coaches
  • Financial Management in Sport

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Acceptance Rate: 64% Retention Rate: 94% Graduation Rate: 81%

LEARN MORE ABOUT TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY’S MASTER OF SCIENCE IN SPORT MANAGEMENT

______________________________

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA – TWIN CITIES

Program Standouts:

The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities provides graduate students with two exciting degrees in sports management. Students can apply to either a Master of Education or a Master of Arts, each of which leads students down significantly different academic and professional pathways.

The Sport Management degrees at the University of Minnesota are developed and managed by the School of Kinesiology which supplies a wide range of sport-related resources.

The MEd program emphasizes a practice-based approach that prepares students for careers and advanced study in sports management, sports administration, and sport/fitness-related professions. The MA provides a more balanced approach between theory and practice and focuses on the management of sports teams and facilities, athletic events, and the sporting process.

Campus Location: Minneapolis, MN

Program Options:

  • Master of Arts in Sport Management
  • Master of Education in Sport Management

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Acceptance Rate: 50% Retention Rate: 93% Graduation Rate: 83%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA – TWIN CITIES MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMS IN SPORTS MANAGEMENT

______________________________

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

Program Standouts:

The Masters in Sports Management program at the University of Florida supplies students with fabulous resources and direct access to some of the country’s most popular college athletic teams. This degree balances both theoretical and practical approaches to the industry and is designed by expert faculty members, all of whom hold terminal degrees in their fields of expertise and who bring lifetimes of information to the classroom.

There are two curricular pathways, including a Thesis and a Non-Thesis option. The latter requires the completion of a Graduate Final Exam. Despite a student’s approach, the Master of Sports Management coursework emphasizes planning, leadership, organization, and evaluation of the organizational goals within a sports organization. Alumni have an exceedingly well-developed understanding of the interdisciplinary aspects of the industry.

Campus Location: Gainesville, FL

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Sport Sociology
  • Sport Finance
  • Management and Leadership in Sport

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate: 23% Retention Rate: 97% Graduation Rate: 88%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA’S M.S. IN SPORTS MANAGEMENT

______________________________

LASELL UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

Lasell University is a unique option for graduate students because of the numerous concentration options within its well-respected master’s in sports management program. At this excellent school, students choose between four vastly different areas of the profession that prepare them for management and leadership positions in Sport Leadership, Sport Tourism and Hospitality Management, Parks and Recreation, or Athletic Administration.

This graduate degree attracts students from across the world. It can be fully personalized to meet individual goals and learning requirements, and the curriculum is ideally suited to busy working professionals. It is also available 100% online. Learners gain invaluable knowledge and skills from highly quality faculty members who bring decades of sports management and business experience to the classroom.

Campus Location: Newton, MA

Concentration Options:

  • Sport Leadership
  • Sport Tourism and Hospitality Management
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Athletic Administration

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate: 85% Retention Rate: 76% Graduation Rate: 59%

LEARN MORE ABOUT LASELL UNIVERSITY’S MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN SPORT MANAGEMENT

______________________________

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

Program Standouts:

The Sport Administration graduate degree program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an extraordinarily prestigious and well-respected master’s curriculum in its discipline. Students can earn a master’s degree in Sport Administration alone or in a dual pathway that includes a degree in Law.

The College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Exercise and Sport Science is responsible for supporting all graduate students enrolled in either one of these programs and offers an enormous array of academic, financial, and career-based resources.

Students in this program learn how to be powerful leaders in intercollegiate athletics who work at all levels and departments. Those who choose to take on the challenging yet highly rewarding dual degree gain an unprecedented amount of knowledge through studies in both Sports Administration and an MNJD. These individuals go on to make a powerful impact in the sports industry.

Campus Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Program Options:

  • Sport Administration
  • Law and Sport Administration Dual Degree

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Acceptance Rate: 17% Retention Rate: 97% Graduation Rate: 91%

LEARN MORE ABOUT UNC CHAPELL HILL’S GRADUATE DEGREE IN SPORT ADMINISTRATION

______________________________

UNIVERSITY of CENTRAL FLORIDA

Program Standouts:

Students searching for an excellent and affordable master’s in sports management program in the Southern United States should seek no further than the University of Central Florida’s Master of Science in Sports Business Management.

This degree strongly emphasizes diversity, as well as social and ethical issues in sports. It has been glowingly recognized by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and ESPN as one of the nation’s absolute best.

The UCF College of Business DeVos’ Sports Business Management Department is responsible for the success of students enrolled in this exemplary graduate program. Here, students gain unprecedented hands-on experience under the tutelage of some of the most brilliant minds in the professional and collegiate sports business. Graduates go on to lead fabulous careers as managers of entire athletic organizations at all levels.

Campus Location: Orlando, FL

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Organizational Behavior and Development
  • Moral and Ethical Issues in Sport
  • Professional Selling in Sport

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Acceptance Rate: 41% Retention Rate: 90% Graduation Rate: 76%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA’S MASTER’S IN SPORTS BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

______________________________

UNIVERSITY of MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST

Program Standouts:

The University of Massachusetts is an incredibly popular school system with exceedingly successful institutions, such as the Amherst campus, which provides two prestigious graduate opportunities in sports management.

The programs are managed by the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management in The Business School for Sport Business at UMass. It is one of the few sports departments in the country housed within a business school, meaning it provides unparalleled resources for its graduate students.

A Master of Science in Sport Management and an MBA/MS dual degree are available at this excellent graduate school. There are also bachelor’s and doctoral curricula for those interested in starting from the very beginning or earning a terminal degree – Umass has it all. These sports management programs represent some of the oldest in the entire world and support a vast network of extraordinary alumni, students, and faculty members.

Campus Location: Amherst, MA

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Sport & The Law
  • Sports Finance & Business
  • Sport Organization Behavior & Development

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate: 64% Retention Rate: 89% Graduation Rate: 82%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS – AMHERST MS/MBA IN SPORT MANAGEMENT

______________________________

NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

Northeastern University operates campuses in Boston and Charlotte, both of which supply outstanding Master of Sports Leadership degrees. There is also an excellent option available online.

It is a 12 to 18-month program that can be completed at full-time and part-time rates, and there are four unique concentration options. Students also choose from an array of exciting elective courses that further personalize the curriculum.

Innumerable academic and journalistic resources have recognized Northeastern University as one of the best schools in the country. Enrolled students at either campus complete the same high-quality curriculum taught by some of the industry’s finest who represent a broad range of relevant disciplines. Graduates are guaranteed to receive a deeply thorough education.

Campus Location: Boston, MA and Charlotte, NC

Concentration Options:

  • Professional Sports Administration
  • Collegiate Athletics Administration
  • Analytics
  • eSports

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Commission on Sport Management Accreditation

Acceptance Rate: 7% Retention Rate: 97% Graduation Rate: 89%

LEARN MORE ABOUT NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY’S SPORTS LEADERSHIP MASTER’S DEGREE

______________________________

ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

The School of Health and Human Services Department of Kinesiology at St. Cloud State University offers this Master of Science in Sports Management degree, which combines critical aspects of business, physical education, and coaching principles.

Students learn key strategies in marketing, finance, and program development that allow them to take on senior positions of management in the future. It is a full-time, internship-based degree that drastically enhances students’ knowledge, skills, and professional network.

St. Cloud State University is a highly dedicated academic institution. Throughout its programs is a ubiquitously strong emphasis on graduate internships and assistantships to support in-class learning. Students benefit from small classes, access to Division I athletics teams, and proximity to a sports metropolis in the Twin Cities.

Campus Location: St. Cloud, MN

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Social and Cultural Issues in Sport and Physical Activity
  • Finance and Marketing in Sports Management
  • Advanced Theory of Competitive Athletics

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate: 94% Retention Rate: 76% Graduation Rate: 49%

LEARN MORE ABOUT ST. CLOUD STATE UNIVERSITY’S SPORT MANAGEMENT M.S.

______________________________

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

Program Standouts:

The University of Miami’s Sports Administration graduate degree is kept continuously up-to-date to reflect the constant changes in the sports industry. The curriculum is maintained by the school’s Sports Industry Program and offers full-time and part-time options that can be finished in 12 to 18 months. It is a competitive program sought after by many graduate students across the country and is widely recognized by professionals.

The University of Miami has an excellent array of financial, academic, and career-based resources that support masters of sports management students throughout their entire careers. This program is a Master of Education degree that prepares students to work at the collegiate level as instructors and coaches. The coursework is aligned explicitly toward a career in education.

Campus Location:

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Practical Approach to Motivation and Ethical Decision-Making
  • Creative Approaches to Problem-Solving and Conflict Management
  • Event Management

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Acceptance Rate: 19% Retention Rate: 93% Graduation Rate: 83%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI’S SPORTS ADMINISTRATION M.S.Ed.

______________________________

TROY UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

Troy University is one of few schools on this ranking to offer a master’s in sports management recognized by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation. This program trains students to create innovative strategies and solutions to current and ongoing sports industry issues.

The coursework, therefore, emphasizes the analyses and resolutions of demanding challenges through the enhancement of critical and analytical thinking skills.

Troy graduates currently work in the most reputable and sought-after organizations in sports administration, such as the NFL, the NBA, and Division I athletics. Past and current learners report only the most fabulous experiences at this student-centered school. The program is available on-campus in Troy’s extraordinary facilities and fully online.

Campus Location: Troy, AL

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Sport and the Law
  • Risk Management in Sport
  • Organizational Behavior and Leadership in Sport

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Commission on Sport Management Accreditation

Acceptance Rate: 95% Retention Rate: 77% Graduation Rate: 45%

LEARN MORE ABOUT TROY UNIVERSITY’S MASTER OF SCIENCE IN SPORT MANAGEMENT DEGREE

______________________________

SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

At Southern Methodist University, students enrolled in the Master of Science in Sport Management degree complete a full-time program in one year. It is designed for current professionals with the passion and drive to achieve senior positions in management. Students learn from expert educators throughout the SMU Cox School of Business, all of whom have decades of executive and professional experience.

SMU focuses on problem-solving and creating positive outcomes. Students are trained to develop the ability to design their own research through the utilization of strategic and analytical thinking combined with highly effective communication tactics. Graduates go on to work in marketing and sponsorship, media and broadcasting, event and facility management, and much more.

Campus Location: Dallas, TX

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Managerial Finance
  • Research Design in Sport Management
  • Leading Teams and Organizations

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Acceptance Rate: 53% Retention Rate: 90% Graduation Rate: 81%

LEARN MORE ABOUT SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY’S MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN SPORT MANAGEMENT

______________________________

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Program Standouts:

This distinguished graduate program at Georgetown University offers both full-time and part-time pathways. On-campus classes meet in the historic downtown D.C. campus every week.

By accepting enrollment at this peerless institution, students immediately gain access to the nation’s finest resources in business and sports. The Sports Industry Management curriculum itself provides three concentration options on top of incredibly sound foundational coursework.

One of the many distinctive attributes of the Georgetown University Master’s in Sports Industry Management is its incredibly broad partnership network. Through this impressive degree program at one of the world’s most highly respected academic institutions, students gain networking connections with the NFL Players Association, the Washington Nationals, Fox Sports, the Special Olympics, Comcast SportsNet, and yet even more!

Campus Location: Washington, D.C.

Sampling of Coursework:

  • Sports Communications
  • Sports Business & Sales
  • College Sports Administration

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Commission on Sport Management Accreditation
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Acceptance Rate: 12% Retention Rate: 94% Graduation Rate: 95%

LEARN MORE ABOUT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY’S MASTER’S IN SPORTS INDUSTRY MANAGEMENT

______________________________

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Columbia University

Program Standouts:

Columbia University in the City of New York is widely known as one of the most outstandingly excellent institutions of higher education in the country. The Master of Science in Sports Management supplies a solid foundation in business and sports administration strategy, on top of which students focus their major in one of three areas of focus.

It is a 16-month program that enhances skills in sports analytics, digital sports media, sports entrepreneurship, business intelligence, global sports management, and more.

CUNY maintains impressive academic partnerships with organizations and schools such as FC Bayern Munich, Luker on Trends, the Aspen Institute, and Real Madrid University, through which students can enhance their international business capability vastly. On campus, students participate in a collaborative learning environment in which they work alongside cohort members and faculty in real-world situations.

Campus Location: New York, NY

Concentration Options:

  • Global Sports
  • Sports Analytics
  • Digital Sports Media and Marketing

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Acceptance Rate: 4% Retention Rate: 98% Graduation Rate: 95%

LEARN MORE ABOUT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY’S MASTER OF SCIENCE IN SPORTS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

______________________________

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a graduate degree in Sports Management worth it?

If you have the determination to succeed in a highly competitive industry, then yes! A Master’s in Sports Management is perfectly suited to those who have the drive to earn a career in business and a passion for sports. There are a huge number of opportunities in a wide array of areas in this type of program for professionals like coaches, business managers, event managers, marketing specialists, and more!

But it’s also crucial to leverage your master’s degree in sports management so that you can get your money’s worth and enjoy high returns on investment. You should consider building a strong, supportive, and expansive network, choosing and excelling in a specialized area, staying informed about industry trends and being adaptive, perhaps even being a trendsetter.

Will I be able to work in the NFL with a Master’s in Sports Management?

While there’s no rock-solid guarantee, you will most definitely be better positioned to land a job in the NFL with a graduate degree in sports management. However, this industry is extremely competitive, and it might be more reasonable and realistic to set your sights slightly lower at the outset but always keep your eyes on the prize. Many graduates from these schools now work on college football teams and in the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and MLB.

Does a career in Sports Management pay well?

The answer to this question depends entirely upon the direction and nature of your career. According to PayScale data, the average annual salary for professionals in sports management is between $44,821 and $67,588 per year. Examples include athletic directors, operations managers, and event managers. 

However, those who hold senior positions of management at prominent schools and organizations earn upwards of $200,000 per year. Others who work at the top of the industry earn multiple millions.

Is there a demand for Management positions in the field of Sports?

Yes, there is a demand for management positions in the field of sports. Many sports teams, leagues, organizations, facilities, and events require management professionals to plan, organize, and direct operations. The most common types of management positions include general manager, director of operations, sports marketing manager, event coordinator, and facility manager.


Summary

Earning a master’s degree in sports management brings a sense of personal fulfillment while also opening doors to career advancement opportunities in the massive, lucrative and competitive sports and entertainment industry, both in the United States and abroad. When combined with your relevant work experience, expansive professional network, and passion for lifelong learning, your master’s degree becomes your competitive edge that will likely land you the job of your dreams.

Be sure to choose the right program for your specific needs, however, as earning a master’s degree can be an expensive endeavor in terms of time, effort and money.

Rowan Jones
Chief Editor