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Online Sports Management Degree Programs – Aim for the Top

online sport management degree

Sports management is an important field – and a potentially profitable one! Hundreds of billions of dollars are generated in the sports industry every year, and consequently many future graduates want to enter this field as managers. But getting your start in sports management is almost impossible without the right degree.

What Is a Sports Management Degree?

A sports management degree is a credential qualifying an individual to work as a manager in a sports organization. Sports management, in a nutshell, involves managing the significant aspects of sports-related organizations. These include sports teams, sports leagues, and reporting organizations. Students can consider sports management degrees as business degrees for the sports industry.

Once students have a sports management degree, they can earn any number of positions in the sports reporting industry. Or they may enter the sports industry as coaches, team managers, and more.
Most sports management degrees include coursework designed to prepare students for careers with professional or collegiate sports organizations. These courses typically focus on topics like:

  • Financial accounting for sports organizations
  • Principles of management
  • General psychology
  • Economics
  • Physical and biological science
  • Statistics
  • Public speaking
  • Sports management

Sports management degrees are available from the associate level to the doctoral level. Generally, students need at least a bachelor’s degree in sports management to get an advantageous position in the industry. However, those with associate degrees in sports management or a related topic may qualify for some entry-level jobs.

The programs are also advantageous to graduates since they apply to many industries. For example, courses one takes throughout a degree program can be used in other business areas. Therefore, graduates who grow tired of the sports industry can easily transition to another field if they desire.

Today, let’s break down the 13 best online sports management degrees. We’ll go over degrees from the associate level to the doctoral level.

Associate Sports Management Degrees

Associate degrees in sports management are not likely to lead to a high-level leadership position. However, associate degrees allow students to try the field before committing more time and money. Furthermore, many of the best associate degrees lead directly into online bachelor’s degrees.

SUNY at Albany

Program: Sports Management
Degree: Associate of Science

SUNY at Albany in NY, NY, has a robust online learning component with over 120 distinct undergraduate majors and minors. This program is 64 credits total, which is more than half of the required credits for most bachelor’s degrees.

As with most associate-level degrees, students can complete the program in two years or less. The degree includes courses in accounting, sports industry knowledge, sports management, and sports marketing.

These courses are versatile enough to later transfer to other majors, such as business tracks. Also, all coursework, notably, is asynchronous. The faculty who teach on-campus courses also teach online coursework.

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Shorter University

Program: Sports Management
Degree: Associate of Science

Shorter University is a Christian school of higher learning. Hence it emphasizes spiritual growth and academic excellence in equal measure.

The online associate degree in sports management is 60 credits in total. It includes courses like sports coaching, sports psychology, contemporary issues in sports, and much more. Students who take this program must complete an online learning orientation course. This course teaches them how to use the online school portal and its various features.

However, it’s important to note that all students must also take specific foundational courses—for example, religious studies, historical and social perspectives, and artistic expression. Of course, students must be comfortable learning about sports management from a Christian perspective.

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University of Northwestern Ohio

Program: Sports Marketing & Management
Degree: Associate of Applied Business

Then there’s the University of Northwestern Ohio. This high-quality institution offers an online degree in sports management for associate-level students. It’s one of the most extended associate programs available because it is 108 credits in total. On the plus side, this does mean students get a head start on a bachelor’s degree.

Moreover, the program includes various foundational courses on topics such as accounting and finance. Importantly, students must complete internships with local or national sporting organizations to graduate. Subsequently, many graduates are ready for entry-level employment in sports management companies. They may also qualify for communication, sales, game promotions, and more positions.

The curriculum covers a range of classes and course materials focusing on topics such as:

  • Sports law
  • The history of sports in the US
  • Facility and event management
  • Sports marketing
  • Sports management
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Bachelor’s Degrees in Sports Management

Bachelor's degrees in sports management are the standard online credentials that one can earn. These degrees are the bare minimum that many professionals need to acquire management positions in this industry. More importantly, bachelor’s degrees qualify students for various positions across sectors. Luckily, there are many top online bachelor’s degrees in sports management. Let’s take a look at a few of these in detail.

Florida International University

Program: Recreation & Sports Management
Degree: Bachelor of Science

Florida International University is located in Miami, but students can take a wide range of online programs anywhere in the US. The sports management degree is online, focusing on sport and recreation management. It also includes a concentration in recreational therapy by default.

As suggested by the program name, it is more specialized and focused than other generalized sports management programs. Its coursework prioritizes recreational therapy and similar topics. These are focused on healthcare and athletics, such as recreational activities for physical rehabilitation.

Even with this focus, it can still be an excellent choice for students who specialize in sports management. Consequently, those students who want to focus on other industry elements should choose a different online degree.

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Wilmington University

Program: Sports Management
Degree: Bachelor of Science

Wilmington University offers another online bachelor’s degree in sports management. The online faculty members are the same ones who teach the on-campus program.

To begin with, students can choose between general sports management or a concentration in Nonprofit Management. The latter choice is ideal for those pursuing work at nonprofit organizations. Furthermore, students can still customize the generalized program with elective classes.

In either case, students will enjoy the academic rigor and challenge of the program. It allows graduates to work in many sports management-related settings. These include professional sports organizations, collegiate sports teams, and leagues.

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University of Florida

Program: Sports Management
Degree: Bachelor of Science

The University of Florida offers an online Bachelor of Science in Sports Management. This program is generalized and has a wide range of available topics. Therefore, it’s suitable for students who want as many professional doors open to them after graduation.

This program’s students can choose specific courses and electives tailored to their career goals. Potential courses one can take include:

  • Sport psychology
  • Sports facility design
  • Sports and society

On top of this, all students have the opportunity to enter an internship. The internship can provide graduates with valuable work experience in the sports management industry. Internships can also be practical networking tools for securing employment after graduation.

This program is 120 credits and can be completed in eight semesters or less. Online students may complete it a little faster if they take more than a minimum number of classes each semester.

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United States Sports Academy

Program: Sports Science
Degree: Bachelor of Sports Science

Then there’s the United States Sports Academy. This institution offers a one-of-a-kind online bachelor’s degree program for sports management. It’s available in several different concentrations. For example, students who want to specialize in security for sports facilities can take a concentration in Sports Security.

Thus, this degree program is ideal for future graduates who know what they want to do in sports management. However, it’s also broad enough that it can apply to many different sports management organizations.

Students can complete the program 100% online without compromising on quality standards. In addition to this specific degree program, students can attend bachelor’s degree programs in sports management, sports coaching, sports studies, and strength and conditioning.

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Master’s Degrees in Sports Management

Bachelor’s degrees are enough to secure positions in the sports management field. But master's-level degrees are even more desirable. In many cases, these degrees qualify individuals to secure managerial positions in the industry. Let’s look at some of the best master’s degrees in sports management.

University of Florida

Program: Sports Management
Degree: Master of Science

The University of Florida returns to the list with a quality online master’s in sports management. This online degree program trains students to plan, organize, and lead sports organizations. Because of this, course materials focus on topics such as:

  • Athlete development
  • Financial strategies for sports organizations
  • Fundamental marketing concepts for sports management
  • Legal issues in sports management
  • Research methods for health and human performance
  • Mass media

In addition to taking all these courses, students can choose a specialization. Available specializations include:

  • Director of racquet sports
  • Sport law
  • High-performance coaching
  • Athlete development

In this way, the degree program is highly customizable and perfect for future graduates who know what they want to focus on. On top of all this, students can attend two different certificate programs amid their master’s. The certificate programs are for event management and social media, respectively.

Students must complete a practicum or internship component and a capstone project. All in all, this is a well-developed and academically rigorous program from start to finish. This degree was also one of the first sports management programs to get accreditation from the Professional Association of Athlete Development Specialists.

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Texas A&M College Station

Program: Sports Management
Degree: Master of Science

Students can alternatively take a master’s program from Texas A&M University. The Master of Science in Sport Management online prepares graduates for administrative and leadership positions in various sports organizations.

Like many top master’s programs in sports management, this program requires an internship. But it’s worthwhile, especially given that the school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and the Schools Commission on Colleges.

After finishing the program, graduates can qualify for positions in professional sports organizations, health clubs, and athletics departments. Students can take either thesis or non-thesis tracks, depending on their preferences. Regardless, many of the core courses prioritize statistics and sports research methods. Other classes include:

  • Sports marketing
  • Revenue generation
  • Sports sales
  • Sports communications
  • Personal management
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University of Miami

Program: Sports Administration
Degree: Master of Education

Lastly, students can attend an online Master of Education in Sports Administration from the University of Miami. This program is taught by experienced faculty members, explicitly preparing graduates for administrative positions in education. These include youth sports organizations, professional athletics clubs, and educational sports organizations.

All students must complete ten courses. The courses focus on materials such as:

  • Ethical decision-making
  • Sport leadership skills
  • Fiscal management

All the courses last for seven weeks, and students can only take one class at a time, including online students. Importantly, all online students can remotely attend the UM Sport Conference. This opportunity offers valuable networking opportunities.

In addition, the program takes only 20 months, so it’s a bit shorter than many graduate-level programs. However, students can alternatively take this program on a part-time basis. They can complete the program over a longer timeframe if they have to juggle several responsibilities simultaneously.

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Doctoral Sports Management Degrees

Should they find sports management a great field, students can pursue doctoral-level degrees in the same industry. Doctoral degrees qualify students for advanced research or higher positions in sports organizations.

United States Sports Academy

Program: Sports Management
Degree: Doctor of Education

The US Sports Academy offers an online Doctor of Education in Sports Management. With a low student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, online students can rest assured they’ll get the attention they need to succeed. At 66 credit hours in total, this program may take a little longer to complete compared to many other online doctoral degrees. But it’s well worth it for a variety of reasons.

This online EdD program offers human resource management, leadership, and marketing specializations. Most importantly, the program includes a required mentorship experience. All students get hands-on learning experiences with other sports management leaders.

Since the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education accredits the USSA, this program could be among the best for future sports education policy-setters and decision-makers.

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Northcentral University

Program: Sport & Athletic Management
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Northcentral University has a student-to-faculty ratio of 1:1, meaning all students get undivided attention from faculty members. The University’s online PhD in Sport and Athletic Management is a top choice for any student who wants to gain extra leadership experience.

Throughout the program, students will take marketing, sports legal aspects, research, and Title IX classes. Notably, this program includes weekly course statistics. It also doesn’t have scheduled lectures or group homework assignments. Instead, all students enjoy one-on-one attention between themselves and their professors.

Doctoral-level faculty teach the curriculum. All in all, it’s an excellent opportunity for sports management majors to expand their skills deeply.

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Concordia University

Program: Leadership/Health & Human Performance
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Concordia University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership. This particular online program has a concentration in health and human performance. Moreover, eight-week courses and a rolling application deadline allow students to jump into the program at multiple points throughout the year.

It is 66 to 67 credit hours in total. By the end, graduates will be prepared for leadership roles in academic and clinical settings. The doctoral degree includes coursework on exercise science, sports leadership, and sports research and statistics practices. Due to the degree’s focus, it might be a top choice for future fitness instructors.

With a reasonable student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, plus lower than average tuition, this may be an excellent choice for budget-minded students who want to earn a Ph.D. in the field.

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Career Prospects in Sports Management

Sports management graduates can pursue well-salaried careers with different benefits, and responsibilities. Generally, the most popular jobs for sports management majors include:

  • Athletic coaches
  • Fitness managers
  • Contract administrators
  • Sports agents
  • Athletic directors
  • Operations managers
  • PR managers
  • Lawyers
  • Marketers
  • Sports marketing coordinators
  • Facility operations managers
  • Corporate partnership managers

Essentially, sports management degrees qualify graduates to work in every area of sports-related organizations. These organizations include sports reporting companies, sports teams, and leagues, etc. Of course, sports management degrees are very suitable for those with a professional and personal interest in sports. Because these degrees focus on running sports organizations, one needs in-depth knowledge of their chosen sport to succeed.

Sports Management Degree Salaries

Sports management degrees prepare graduates for jobs with a wide range of average salaries. One’s salary depends on experience level, exact position, and overall responsibilities.

For example, sports management graduates can become coaches and scouts for sports leagues and teams. These individuals make approximately $39,000 per year. They’re the ones who find new talent for sports teams and develop them into pro players.

Alternatively, sports management graduates can earn positions as fitness trainers and instructors. With average salaries of nearly $41,000 per year, these professionals play essential roles in the fitness levels of professional athletes. However, fitness instructors are not the same as physical therapists, who are licensed medical professionals.

However, sports management graduates with bachelor’s degrees can earn much more money. For example, sports agents are essential professionals who manage client athletes’ reputations, finances, and contracts. These vital individuals earn approximately $116,410 per year on average. They can also make much more depending on their clientele’s popularity (and salaries).

Graduates who focus on human resources and public relations can become PR managers for sports organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PR managers earn around $120,000 per year. These individuals can also work for other organizations outside the sports industry should they choose.

Still, other graduates may decide to work as marketing managers for sports teams, leagues, or companies. Marketing managers make around $133,000 per year on average. Like PR managers, sports marketing managers can easily transition out of the industry if they want.

Earn a Sports Management Degree Online Today!

Whether you pursue an associate degree or a doctoral degree in sports management, you’re setting yourself up for success. Each of these programs can provide you with the academic tools you need to succeed in your future career. Even better, these are all online programs, so you can attend them asynchronously and from anywhere in the country.

Not sure which degree is right for you? You can check out these programs and schools in more detail with the online school catalog!

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