United States Sports Management Degree Programs - Graduate Level
Sports management degree graduate programs analyze the concepts, theories, and best practices of business and apply them to the many facets of the sports industry.
Sports management courses may touch on specific topics in management and leadership to forecast new developments and help students adapt to the rapidly changing sports environment. They may also cover aspects of sports administration, including talent acquisition, athlete representation and coaching.
What Is Sports Management?
Sports management is a business field concerned with sports and recreation. It incorporates a variety areas such as marketing, accounting and management.
For that reason, those working in the field may find themselves performing a wide range of functions. Examples of sports management tasks include managing the front office of a sports team, overseeing the finances of an athletic organization or supporting sports marketing, event management and facility management.
Sports management principles may be useful in many different sports and recreation organizations. Examples include professional teams, college athletic departments, recreational leagues, sports marketing firms, international leagues and more.
Basics of Sports Management Graduate Programs
Sports management programs combine core business courses with a focused study of the areas of sports and recreation. Some of the business principles covered may include those listed here.
- Strategic Planning
- Research Analysis
- Law and Labor Relations
- Economic Benefits of Sports
Sport management graduate programs may also provide an overview of the ethics, principles, and values of sports and their influence on communities and culture. Depending on the program, some courses may look at a number of sports administration topics as well. These might include the management and development of athletes, coaches, and trainers.
Typically, courses focus on analyzing and evaluating sports management research to apply theories to complex and controversial issues in sports. Students may also study case studies and complete group projects or practicums.
What Could I Do With a Sports Management Degree?
After earning your sports management graduate degree, there are a number of careers that you may pursue. These typically involve business careers specifically tailored to the sports industry. For instance, the jobs listed below, and their 2016 median annual salary, could be for any business. But after attending a sport management graduate program, you may be able to perform these roles for a sports organization.
Sports Management Graduate Programs Median Salary
Annual Median Salary (According to BLS)
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager
Public Relations and Fundraising Manager
General and Operations Manager
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes
These positions typically require a minimum education of a bachelors degree. However some positions may require a masters degree. Additionally a graduate sports management degree could help set you apart or jumpstart a new career.
Students who earn a PhD may be able to pursue a career as a postsecondary teacher. According the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2015 median annual salary for postsecondary teachers was $75,430.v The BLS expects the number of postsecondary teachers to increase 15% during the ten years 2016 to 2026.vi
What’s the Difference between Sports Management and Sports Administration?
Sports management and sports administration may be used interchangeably because they both cover the business-side of sports, as well as the development of talent. However, there are a few slight differences.
Sports management graduate programs could focus more on the business aspects of sports organizations. These may include marketing, public relations, finance, and facilities management.
Sports administration programs might emphasize developing and managing talent. Think team managers, coaches and agents. Topics could include making roster moves, signing new talent, and representing athletes.
There are sports management and sports administration programs that combine these two aspects of the sports industry. Keep in mind that each school is different. You should check with a few options to find one that aligns with your goals.
We asked Senior Account Executive, Tamarah Strauss about how earning a sports management masters degree can kick start your career in a variety of industries:
"My master’s degree definitely exposed me to a number of important subjects in the industry, especially new and evolving topics such as technology and social media. The great thing about getting a sport management degree is that you become more aware of the different sectors in the sports world – from marketing and PR to finance and law – sport is everywhere and consumed by all types of people in a variety of ways." Click to Tweet!
~Tamarah Strauss: Senior Account Executive, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment
Common Sports Management Courses
Sports management graduate programs seek to prepare students to address the unique business challenges found in sports-related industries such as professional sports teams, merchandise, and sports marketing.
Common sport management courses are listed below.
- Management of Sports Organizations
- Internationalization of Sports Business
- Social Issues in Sport
- Sport Marketing
- Negotiations for Leaders
- Sport Media and Technology
- Legal Issues in Sport
- Economic and Financial Management of Sport
- Revenue Generation in Sport
- Sport Facility and Event Management
Keep in mind that each sport management school has different course offerings. Therefore, specific names may change from school to school. Check out a few options to find one that matches your goals.
Certificate Programs in Sports Management
Sports Management certificates are shorter, focused programs designed to develop students skills, knowledge, and abilities in sales, marketing, analytics, and technology. They then may cover how these areas impact and apply specifically to the sports industry.
As a less time-intensive, non-degree program, sports management certificates might be earned in as little as six months, though most take one to two years. This may make it a great way to gain an introduction to the industry or brush up on the latest best practices.
Additionally, credits earned in a certificate program sometimes are applicable to a later masters program. Check with individual schools to learn if this might be an option.
Typically, schools require that you have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university. Some programs may also ask for a resume, transcripts, and a letter stating your intent. Requirements vary.
Sports Management Masters Programs
Masters in Sports Management programs are longer, more comprehensive programs that examine the social and business issues that drive the sports industry. Programs often take an experiential approach and may integrate internships or practicums.
Some schools may allow students to earn their sports management masters degree with a specialization. Concentration areas could include professional sports, collegiate athletic administration, sport event management and sport marketing. Other programs may be built around a specific area. This varies by school so it's best to contact an advisor.
Upon finishing all required coursework, sport management masters programs may require the completion of a thesis or capstone project. A thesis may be more common in research focused programs and helpful if you wish to go on to earn a PhD. A capstone project could allow students to apply course concepts to a real world problem. This final requirement is determined by each school and may be related to the type of degree awarded and focus of each program.
Typically, it takes full-time students two years to earn their masters in sports managament degree. However, that depends on enrollment and courseload.
For admission, many sports administration masters programs ask that you have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited university and kept a 3.0 GPA or higher. Some schools may also ask for an essay, copy of your resume, and letters of recommendation.
Contact individual programs to learn more about requirements, graduation times and syllabi.
In 2015, the global sports market had a value of about U.S. $145 billion.
Deciding Between Sports Management Masters Degrees
Masters in sports management degrees may be awarded in several forms. These include the MBA, MS, MEd, MA and MPS, to name a few. While course topics may be similar, each program could have their own approach and requirements.
Typically MBA programs require a core set of general business courses to provide a strong business background applicable in many fields. Then students may pursue an area of interest, such as sports administration, through a concentration.
MA and MS programs, on the other hand, may dive directly into sports related topics. Master of Science programs typically focus more heavily on research and technical skills. Master of Arts programs often take a liberal arts approach. MA programs may also be designed as terminal degrees, while an MS could prepare students for study at the doctorate level.
MPS or Master of Professional Studies degrees are practicioner oriented and focus on preparing graduates to pursue careers in the field. They may emphasize case studies and internships or field experience.
Finally, the MEd, or Master of Education, focuses on sports administration in school systems. Often they are designed around a specific area of education, such as K-12 education or athletics at the university levels. Programs may also allow students to choose among several concentrations to tailor their studies around the area that most interests them.
Every sports management school defines their programs differently and the above are just general guidelines. Therefore consider your goals and read descriptions carefully to find a masters sports management degree that fits your needs.
PhD in Sports Management Degrees
PhD in sports management programs focus on developing your research, writing, and critical analysis skills so that you may be able to contribute new knowledge to the sports management field. Courses might examine approaches and rationales behind modern issues related to sports management and administration. Students may also analyze and interpret current research in the sports industry.
Typically upon completing all required coursework, PhD programs ask that you write, present, and defend a dissertation in front of a board of faculty. This is an original piece of research investigating an area of sport management in depth. Many programs also ask you to complete a comprehensive exam in order to earn your degree.
Depending on enrollment and the time it takes to complete the dissertation, students typically could earn a PhD Sports Managament degree in 3-5 years. Programs vary.
In addition to the PhD, EdD in Sports Management programs may be offered at the doctoral level. Like the MEd, these focus on developing leadership skills and research abilities as they apply specifically to sports in education. These programs may also be more practitioner focused then the PhD.
Most sports management doctoral programs ask that you have earned a masters degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA or higher before applying. While each school has their own admissions requirements, some may also request a resume, a writing sample, and letter(s) of recommendation.
Sports Management Program Formats
Sport management and sports administration programs may be offered both on campus and online. This may allow students to match their program with their scheduling and learning needs.
Online Sports Management programs may provide an additional degree of flexibility and convenience. Coursework, assignments and lecture could be available on an online platform, accessible whenever and wherever is best for you. Chatrooms, messaging and sometimes live video may also help bring the classroom experience to your home.
On-Campus Sports Management programs allow for the traditional classroom experience. Classes meet at set times and students work side by side on projects and their lessons. Sports management schools may also have useful facilities such as gymnasiums, labs, libraries and more. Contact individual schools to learn what may be available to you.
Find Sport Management Graduate Programs
Ready to earn your sports management degree? Browse the sports management graduate programs on this page and click any of the sponsored listings to read program descriptions and specific requirements. Or use the menu to filter by degree type, format and location.
You can even reach out to your favorites directly to request more information and apply today!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-5 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-5 | [iii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm | [iv] bls.gov/oes/current/oes131011.htm \ [v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-5 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-6 [vii] bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-5 | [viii] bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm#tab-5 | [iii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm || [iv] bls.gov/oes/current/oes131011.htm
The online MBA at Winthrop University provides three concentrations as well as the option to customize your own with a blend of electives that best serve your career goals.
The Education Specialist degree with a specialization in Sports Management provides you with an opportunity to increase your leadership expertise in this growing field as you explore a combination of science-based academics, research methods, and rea...
This program prepares mid-career professionals and career changers for a management career in sports.
New York Chiropractic College
Master of Science in Sports NutritionSports Nutrition, the Key to Optimal Performance.Winning and losing in sports is often the culmination of making the right decisions at the right time.
- Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA
The Master of Science in Sport Business at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management prepares future sport business leaders for careers in-demand.
Liberty University Online
- Fairfield, CTFairfield, CT
Sacred Heart University
With academic/professional tracks in Sports Broadcasting and Athletic Communications and Promotions, the Master of Arts in Sports Communication and Media capitalizes on Sacred Heart University’s ideal geographic location in the heart of the US...
Grand Canyon University
It’s a dynamic combination: The rapid growth of sports’ popularity combined with necessary 21st century business, leadership and management skills. Grand Canyon University put these two facets together to create its own Master of Business...
- Conway, SCConway, SC
Coastal Carolina University
The Master of Science (M.S.) in Sport Management meets the unique needs of individuals who seek entry into careers or advancement in careers in managing sport organizations, agencies and facilities.
The Canisius College Master’s in Sport Administration is a fully online program that will prepare you for careers in intercollegiate athletics, amateur or professional sports, sports marketing or event and facility managemen...
- Buffalo, NY
University of Western States
he University of Western States exercise and sports science (ESS) master’s degree program is regionally accredited and prepares graduates to provide expert education, guidance and services as leaders in sport, exercise and...
- South Orange, NJSouth Orange, NJ
Seton Hall University
The Center for Sport Management at Seton Hall University offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in sport managem...
- Indiana, PAIndiana, PA
Indiana University Of Pennsylvania
The Master of Science in Sport Science is designed to meet the needs of students from both teaching and non-teaching professions...
- Millersville, PAMillersville, PA
The M.Ed. in Sport Management offers student the option of specializing in Athletic Coaching or Athletic Management.
- Indianapolis, INIndianapolis, IN
University of Indianapolis
This UIndy degree program prepares students for employment within an intercollegiate athletics department or conference office.
Lock Haven University
Graduate study in Sport Science provides advanced preparation for those who love sport and wish to pursue sport-related careers.
- Murfreesboro, TNMurfreesboro, TN
Middle Tennessee State University
The graduate sport management concentration offers preparation in the application of management principles to the sport industry.
- Boca Raton, FLBoca Raton, FL
Study the principles and critical issues facing collegiate and professional sports, focusing on management theory and practice.
- Boca Raton, FLBoca Raton, FL
Florida Atlantic University
The FAU MBA in Sport Management is the 1st AACSB-accredited MBA in Sport Management in FL and the 2nd such program in the US.
Washington State University
WSU’s online M.A. in education with a specialization in sport management offers a business-oriented approach to sports.
- Brooklyn, NYBrooklyn, NY
Brooklyn College Of The City University Of New York
The concentration in sports management is designed to teach students to manage health clubs, work as administrators of school and college athletics' p...