|California University of Pennsylvania||Multiple|
|Full Sail University||Florida|
|Georgia Southern University||Georgia|
|Indiana State University||Indiana|
|Missouri State University||Missouri|
|Texas A&M University||Texas|
|University of Massachusetts Amherst||Massachusetts|
|University of Minnesota||Minnesota|
|Washington State University||Washington|
Sports management is one of the hottest careers in the U.S. today. As part of the business administration and management industry, sports management will see an 8% increase in job growth by 2026, which is faster than the average of all occupations (7%). The 8% increase in employment of management occupations will result in around 807,300 new jobs, with salaries averaging $102,590. This is the highest wage of all major occupational groups.
To get started on the path to a rewarding career in sports management, you will need to enroll in a degree program at an accredited school—a program that many would consider to be among the best. Besides accreditation by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the best schools with sports management degrees will:
- Have a solid reputation for producing successful sports managers
- Offer a comprehensive curriculum that covers the most important areas of business and sports management
- Provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience in the industry through experiential learning experiences such as internships, externships, and job simulations
- Have faculty who are active in the sports and sports management industries
- Have an active career center with a noteworthy placement rate
Because sports management is one of America’s most sought after careers, there are literally hundreds of programs degree programs available. We can’t list them all here, but what we can do is offer a list of 10 schools that are considered among the best online schools for aspiring sports managers. The schools are listed in alphabetical order, beginning with California University of Pennsylvania.
California University of Pennsylvania, California, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1852, California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) serves more than 7,300 students enrolled in 100+ undergraduate majors, degrees and certificates, 95+ graduate and professional degree and certificate programs, and 75+ programs delivered 100% online. The University is organized into four colleges: the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Liberal Arts, the Eberly College of Science and Technology, and the School of Graduate Studies and Research, which offers four programs for aspiring sports managers.
The school offers MS degrees in Sport Management Studies, Sport Management Studies: Sport Management, Sport Management Studies: Strategic Sport Analysis, and Sport Management Studies: Intercollegiate Athletic Administration. Per the school, students in the program receive “a sound management foundation in the sports industry, learning from top faculty experts in Pennsylvania and across the country.” Students have the option to join the accelerated cohort, which allows students to earn their degree in just 13 months or the traditional cohort, which allows students to earn their degree in 17 months.
Another beneficial component of the MS in Sports Management Studies at Cal U is the Sport Mentorship course. Students will “practice sport management theory in an actual setting under the direct supervision of a recognized leader in the sports industry.” Students will be able to select the site to complete the mentorship, which can, if approved, be the student’s current place of employment. “Students complete a minimum of 300 hours in the 12-credit Sport Mentorship course to gain comprehensive on-the-job experience.”
Graduates of the MS in Sports Management Studies programs can expect to “get promoted or move on to leadership positions in public, private, nonprofit and commercial sectors throughout sports leagues, businesses and organizations.”
California University of Pennsylvania is a public university accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. For perspective, the business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP).
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Established in 1891, Drexel University serves nearly 29,000 campus and online students enrolled in over 200 degree programs across 15 colleges and schools. LeBow College of Business offers an MS in Sports Management that, “integrates the sports application of law, economics and finance, marketing, media, and promotions with a top-notch business curriculum,” says the school. Course highlights include Leadership in Sport Management, Social Issues in Sport, Sports Industry Management, Sport Media & Public Relations, and Sport Media & Technology.
The experiential component of the program allows students to choose one of the following: Sports Industry Practicum, Project/Research Thesis, Seminar in International Business, and Independent Study in SMT.
Graduates of the program are prepared for careers in professional or college sports, or with sports marketing firms, sports agencies, and other sports organizations.
Drexel University’s educational programs are accredited by MSCHE (Middle States Commission on Higher Education). LeBow College of Business is accredited by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida
Established in 1979 as Full Sail Productions, Full Sail University offers arts, entertainment, media and technology programs to 15,000 students across 210 acres of campus space, including 110+ studios and labs. Around 93 program options lead to an associate's, bachelor’s, or master's degree. Among these programs is an Online MS in Entertainment Business with a Sports Management Track that takes just 12 months to complete.
Per the school, the program is designed to prepare students “for an industry that stays competitive far beyond the playing field.” Students in the program will “learn strategies of top executives and explore advanced topics ranging from contract negotiation and financial planning to sports marketing and sponsorship.”
Course highlights for the program include Business Storytelling and Brand Development, Entertainment Business Finance, Executive Leadership, Legal Issues in Sports, Mastery: Personal Development and Leadership, Negotiation and Deal Making, Sports Management Operations, and Sports Marketing and Sponsorship Sales.
Students will also complete Final Project: Business Plan. Business Plan is a comprehensive academic examination of a topic selected by the student. The project encompasses academic objectives and concepts learned from each course in the degree program. In their final course, students complete the written business plan and present the plan to faculty and peers. The completion of the Final Project Business Plan is a requirement for graduation.
Full Sail University is Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and licensed by the Commission for Independent Education (CIE), Florida Department of Education. The ACCSC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency.
Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia
Founded in 1906, Georgia Southern University serves around 26,400 students enrolled in more than 140 programs through nine colleges and schools. Waters College of Health Professions houses the Department of Health and Kinesiology. Here, aspiring sports managers can earn a BS in Sport Management (not available online) or an MS in Sport Management (online) that can be completed in as few as 24 months. Per the school, the 36 credit hour program “provides academic preparation and practical experience in the skills and techniques required to be successful in the Sport Business and Leisure fields.”
Course highlights include Current Trends in Sport Administration, Financial & Strategic Management in Sport, Revenue Generation in Sport, Sport Administration, Sport Facility and Event Management, Sport Law and Risk Management, and Sport Marketing.
Future sports managers who graduate from the program will be prepared for success in various sectors of the sport industry including athletic leagues and associations, professional teams or collegiate athletic departments, sport facilities and event management, sport marketing, promotion, or advertising, sports information, media, or communications, state and county sports commissions, and The Olympic Movement.
Georgia Southern University is accredited by the Commission on Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). For perspective, the College of Business has undergraduate and graduate accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.
Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana
Founded in 1865 as Indiana Sate Normal School, Indiana State University (ISU) serves nearly 14,000 students enrolled in more than 100 majors leading to the bachelor’s master’s, doctorate and education specialist degrees. Programs are offered through six colleges, including the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, which offers an MS in Sport Management.
Per the school, this flexible online master’s degree program focuses on “sport governance, marketing, finance, law, event and facility planning, and management functions.” In addition, “core content emphasizes the eight competency areas established by the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM), including leadership, management, and organization of sport.”
Graduates of the program are prepared for careers in the sport industry’s three primary employment segments: performance, production, and promotion. Specific job opportunities include athletic director, fitness club manager, marketing director, park superintendent, sports agent, and sports information director.
Indiana State University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) since 1915. For perspective, the Indiana State University MBA and all undergraduate business programs are accredited by AACSB International.
Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
Founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School, Missouri State University is the state’s second largest campus by enrollment, with a student population of 24,390. The school offers hundreds of programs through seven academic colleges and one Graduate College. The Graduate College offers an MPS in Sports Management that can be completed entirely online. An undergraduate Certificate is also available.
The program covers Finance, Budgeting and Economics, Law, Regulatory Functions and Ethics, Management and Leadership, Communication and Corporate Relations, Technology, Professional Writing, and Organizational Structure. Sample course titles include Current Problems in Sports Administration, Field Experience in Sports Management, Legal Aspects in Sports, Physical Education, Recreation and Wellness Programs, and Principles of Sports Management.
Per the school, all students will “gain hands-on experience through field work – including opportunities at university athletic facilities and community partners like Hammons Field and Mediacom Ice Park.” Graduates of the program will be prepared for leadership roles in professional, collegiate and international sports and wellness programs.
Missouri State University has successfully maintained continuous regional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission since 1915. For perspective, the business programs at Missouri State are accredited by AACSB International.
Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University (TAMU) is the state’s first public institution of higher learning. Established in 1876, the school serves nearly 69,400 students enrolled in nearly 400 degree programs across 16 colleges and schools. The College of Education and Human Development houses the Department of Health & Kinesiology. Here, students can earn an MS in Sport Management that does not require a thesis to graduate.
Per the school, the Online MS in Sport Management is “aimed at those students who are full-time employees or working professionals, and is targeted to those individuals looking for a flexible academic schedule.” The program “provides a specialized education in sport management for individuals interested in sport marketing and sales, fiscal management, personnel management and development and athletics administration and control.”
Classes for the 36 credit hour program include a research core, the sport management core, electives and field experience. Students can follow a full-time or part-time schedule.
Graduates of Texas A&M’s Online MS in Sport Management program will be prepared to seek positions in a variety of capacities and segments in the sports industry. Specific segments include country clubs, health and fitness clubs, collegiate athletic departments, community sports organizations (e.g., YMCA's) and professional sports organizations.
Graduates may enter these segments in positions such as “sport marketing and sales, fiscal management, personnel management and development, and athletics administration and control.”
Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC) to award degrees at the bachelors’, masters’, doctoral and professional levels. For perspective, the business programs at TAMU are AACSB accredited.
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts Amherst was founded in 1863. The school serves more than 30,000 students enrolled in over 100 major subject areas leading to bachelor's degrees, 77 master’s and 48 doctoral programs through 13 colleges and schools. Isenberg School of Management houses the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management. Here, students can earn an Online MBA with a Focus in Sport Management.
Per the school, students in the program will take “core curriculum classes as well as electives for a total of 45 credit hours. To achieve the 45 credits, students will take the core MBA curriculum, 36 credit hours as well as 9 credit hours of Sport Management electives for the focus. There will also be an option for students to complete a practicum for additional credits.”
Requirements for the Sport Management Focus can be satisfied by choosing from the following electives: Advanced Negotiations for Managers, Applied Sport Market Research, Consumer Sales Strategies, Data Management for Business Leaders, Negotiations Theory & Practice, Project Management, and Sport Analytics.
All courses are experiential-learning based. Students will also benefit from professional and career development advice as well as connections to the school’s network of over 3,500 alumni working in all segments of the sport industry.
The University of Massachusetts campuses at Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and the Medical School are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Isenberg School of Management AACSB accredited.
University of Minnesota – Crookston, Crookston, Minnesota
Founded in 1966, University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) is one of five campuses in the University of Minnesota system. University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (U of M) was founded as a preparatory school in 1851. The state’s land-grant university, U of M serves 31,353 undergraduate students and 16,033 graduate and professional students through more than a dozen colleges and schools. UMC serves approximately 1,800 students (900 on campus and 900 online).
The schools Business Department offers a BS and a Certificate in Sport and Recreation Management (SRM). Both programs may be completed entirely online. Per the school, key features of the programs include practical SRM related experience through experiential learning projects and real-world case studies, and hands-on experience through job shadowing, networking, study abroad opportunities, and a required internship. In addition, “faculty engage students through their unique blend of academic knowledge and “real-world” experience,” and “small class sizes allow professors to successfully share their SRM knowledge and experience.”
Course highlights for the program include Principles of Management, Psychology of Sport, Seminar in Sport and Recreation Management, Sport Ethics and Leadership, Sport Finance and Economics, Sport Law and Governance Sport Facility and Activities Management, and Sport Marketing and Communication.
Graduates of the programs are prepared for a range of careers in the sports industry from account manager, athletic administrator and athletic relations coordinator to sports agent, sports information director, sports administration and more.
The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) has secured continued accreditation status from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Crookston campus is accredited separately at the institutional level from the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus. The Business Department at UMC is an Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) candidate for accreditation.
Washington State University, Pullman, Washington
Founded in 1890 as Washington's original land-grant university, the Washington State University (WSU) system serves nearly 31,500 students enrolled in 265 programs through 11 academic colleges. The College of Education houses the Department of Educational Leadership, Sport Studies & Educational/Counseling Psychology, which offers a BA and a Minor in Sport Management. An MA is available, but it is not offered online.
The BA is a 120 credit hour program that requires 47-49 credits in Sport Management and 21 credits in an area of specialization such as Business or Communication. Sample courses for the program include Ethics and Moral Reasoning in Sport, Legal Aspects of Sport, Sociology of Sport, Managing Sport Organizations, Sport and Popular Culture, Sport Communication, Sport Finance, and Sport Marketing. Three Practicum in Sport-related Field courses are required as well as a Writing Portfolio and completion of an Internship.
The 18 credit hour Minor is designed for students with an interest in sport organizations or sport-related businesses. The program consists of many of the same courses as the BA program.
Washington State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). For perspective, the business programs at WSU are AACSB accredited.
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