Top 15 Best Sport Management Graduate Programs

Also see: 25 Best Affordable Online Master’s in Sports Management

“The economics of the game have never been better, [which] proves that investment in players, star players, is the way to go. The fact is if an owner wants to win there are premium players out there. And we know the revenues are there for them to pursue them.” ~Scott Boras, sports agent

Sports-Management-Degree-Guide-Top Programs

Some experts project that the global sports market will be worth over $400 billion in 2021. Some experts project that figure will grow to over 83 billion dollars by 2023. The outlook for entertainment and sports occupations is expected to grow by 22 percent from 2020 to 2030 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sport is undeniably big business.  More and more professional and amateur sport authorities seek qualified professionals to run their organizations, their finances, and their brand. Earning a master’s in sports management is a way for individuals with a passion for sports and a sense for business to gain a professional role in this exciting industry. There are a variety of career paths available to graduates of sports management programs including:

  • compliance
  • facility/operations management
  • ticket office management
  • sales
  • public relations
  • business office management
  • human resource management

Finding the right sports management master’s degree program can feel overwhelming. There are over 200 schools offering some sort of master’s degree in Sports Management or a related field. How can you find a program that’s a great fit? Some things to consider include:

  • Internships/Networking: Completing an internship or networking with industry professionals are ways for students to gain valuable and practical experience in a real-world setting. Top sports management programs will offer these experiences to their students to prepare them for success in the field. Many employers hire first from those applicants who have served as interns in the field.
  • Cost: Earning a master’s degree is a significant financial commitment. Students should consider the cost of earning their degree by factoring in financial aid opportunities including scholarships, grants, and loans. Some employers offer tuition assistance as well and many programs in sports management accept military discounts that can provide significant savings.
  • Student to Teacher Ratio: Class size is an important factor when it comes to the overall quality of an education. Students should feel valued and supported by their professors. At many schools, faculty serve as mentors to their students. They help students make professional connections, score great internships, and develop their professional skills.

Methodology

To determine our top 15 master’s in sports management, we needed to narrow our choices from over 200 master’s programs in sports management. Similar to NCATE for education programs or the ACBSP for business programs, schools can seek accreditation for their sport management programs through the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation or COSMA. Schools with COSMA accreditation have completed a self-study that was reviewed by sports management faculty and industry professionals against eight principles believed necessary for a quality educational experience including:

  • Outcomes Assessment
  • Strategic Planning
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty
  • Scholarly & Professional Activities
  • Resources
  • Internal & External Relationships
  • Educational Innovation

All schools selected for this ranking of the best sports management masters programs hold COSMA accreditation. We then applied our ranking methodology to determine the top 15.

Student/Faculty ratio:

  • 15:1 or less- 3 points
  • 16:1 to 19:1- 2 points
  • 20:1 and above- 1 point

Average Graduate Tuition Rate:

  • Less than $13,000- 3 points
  • $13,000 to $20,000- 2 points
  • Greater than $20,000- 1 point

Concentration Areas:

  • 1 point for each concentration area

This ranking of the best sport management graduate programs can serve as an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to pursue a career in the exciting and lucrative sports industry.

Related Resource: Can I Earn a Specialized Sports Marketing Degree?

#15 – University of Indianapolis – Indianapolis, Indiana

M.S. in Sport Management

University Of Indianapolis - Net Price Calculator

For More Information: University of Indianapolis

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $39,224/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Points: 4
The Program at the University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis features a top master’s in sport management that prepares students for a variety of professional careers in sports administration. UIndy’s unique geographic location positions students right in the middle of the action. Students will enjoy being close to the:

  • NCAA conference offices
  • several professional sport organizations
  • Olympic governing bodies

The flexible hybrid format allows students to complete a significant portion of their coursework online. Each student works closely with a mentor in the sport industry who helps steer them in the right direction to meet their professional goals. Relevant research and real-world projects give sports management graduates skills and strategies that immediately transfer to the workforce.

#14 – Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant, Michigan

M.A. in Sport Administration

For More Information: Central Michigan University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $15,194/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Points: 4
The Program at Central Michigan University
The budget friendly master’s in sport administration from Central Michigan University is offered through The Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. This COSMA accredited sport management program gives students access to innovate instructional and athletic facilities and the opportunity to gain practical experience in areas like coaching and sport administration. Courses give students a unique opportunity to study sport administration from a variety of different perspectives. Students are eligible to join the local chapter of the Sport Management Association which offers members professional development opportunities. Students can complete this 36-credit hour program in about two years of full-time study.

#13 – Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

MS in Sport Management

For more information: Louisiana State University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,132/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Points: 4
The Program at Louisiana State University
The top COSMA accredited online master’s in sport management from the Louisiana State University is a great choice for professionals who want to make their mark in this competitive industry. Students will become innovative and thoughtful sport management leaders taking courses like organizational and behavior development and sport governance. Students living close to campus can gain professional skills working with NCAA recognized teams on the campus of LSU. Full-time students can complete the program in as little as one year!

#12 – University of Louisville – Louisville, Kentucky

M.S. in Sport Administration

For more information: University of Louisville

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $13,524/year in-state and $27,638/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Points: 5
The Program at the University of Louisville
The College of Education and Human Development at the University of Louisville features an affordable master’s in sport administration that includes an internship and plenty of elective coursework. Students gain valuable professional skills while engaged in service-learning projects with local agencies. Courses are offered online or in a traditional classroom format. Core master’s degree sports management courses include:

  • Sport Analytics
  • Sport Marketing
  • Sport Policy

Admission to the program is competitive and only the top applicants are accepted.

#11 – University of Southern Indiana – Evansville, Indiana

M.S. in Sport Management


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,894/year in-state and $19,325/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Points: 5
The Program at the University of Southern Indiana
The Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education at the University of Southern Indiana offers a cost-effective online master’s in sport management for individuals who have completed their bachelor’s degree. This 33-credit hour sports management masters degree program can be completed in a traditional two-year format or as an accelerated program that allows students to complete their degree in just one year. Required courses include:

  • Sport Budgets and Fiscal Practices
  • Sport Facility and Event Management
  • Sport Law

Students gain valuable business and communication skills that allow them to work with a variety of individuals and teams. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and there are multiple start dates available throughout the year.

#10 – Troy University – Troy, Alabama

Master of Science in Sport and Fitness Management-Sport Management Concentration

For more information: Troy University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,550/year in-state and $17,100/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Points: 5
The Program at Troy University
One of our top 10 sport management graduate programs is a low-cost master’s from Troy University.   They have a flexible program offered online and on-campus. The curriculum includes a variety of teaching mediums including lectures, seminars, and experiences. Sport management elective course offerings include:

  • Sport Psychology
  • Global Perspectives in Sport
  • NCAA Governance, Compliance, and Institutional Control

An optional practicum and internship are also available for students who could benefit from professional experience before completing their degree. Troy’s sports management master’s degree graduates have gained success working in the NBA, NFL, and Division 1 athletics departments.

#9 – Bowling Green State University – Bowling Green, Ohio

Master’s in Sport Administration

For More Information: Bowling Green State University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,017/year in-state and $14,009/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Points: 5
The Program at Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University features one of the best sports management graduate programs.  This COSMA accredited master’s in sport administration takes two years to complete. Their comprehensive curriculum covers areas like:

  • business administration
  • interpersonal communication
  • marketing

Elective course offerings include an internship and directed research opportunities. Students can choose whether to complete a thesis, master’s project, or comprehensive exam as their culminating experience.

#8 – Wichita State University – Wichita, Kansas

Master of Education in Sport Management

For More Information: Wichita State University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $5,544/year in-state and $13,615/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Points: 5
The Program at Wichita State University
The best-value sport management master’s degree program from Wichita State University can turn your passion into a lucrative career. Wichita State recognizes the importance of applied learning, so they have built in a six-credit hour internship experience. Required courses include:

  • Sport Management Technology
  • Sport Marketing
  • Management in Sport

Some students have scored prestigious internships with the MLB and Disney Sports while others have preferred to gain experience at the local level. All students must pass a comprehensive written exam to complete their degree.

#7 – Endicott College – Beverly, Massachusetts

Sport Leadership Program (M.S.)

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $12,746/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Points: 6
The Program at Endicott College
Endicott College offers a high-quality master’s in sport leadership taught by all-star practitioners. The program is offered in a flexible online format that fosters collaboration and professional development. Students can complete their degree in sports management on their own schedule by taking four-to-six-week courses in areas like:

  • Facilities Planning in Sport
  • Event Planning and Programming
  • Sport Law and Risk Management

There is no GRE required for admission to the program and tuition is extremely affordable. Worried about finding a job after graduation? Endicott reports 95% of their grads score a job in the sport industry!

#6 – Shorter University – Rome, Georgia

MBA in Sport Management


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $12,600/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Points: 6
The Program at Shorter University
Shorter University is a Christian institution offers one of the best sports management masters degrees in the country.  Their sport management MBA program is for up-and-coming professionals who want to conquer the world of sports. Students with a bachelor’s degree can complete this MBA program in just one year. Those without their bachelor’s can complete both degrees in just four years, resulting in significant cost savings.

#5 – Ohio University – Athens, Ohio

Dual MBA/Master’s in Sport Administration or Exclusive Master’s in Sport Administration

For more information: Ohio University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,444/year in-state and $17,436/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Points: 6
The Program at Ohio University
Ohio University features an innovative dual MBA/MSA degree that prepares students for leadership positions in the sport administration field. The program boasts an academically rigorous curriculum rooted in business and expanded to include sport specific industry knowledge. Elective course offerings include:

  • Sponsorship in Sports
  • Athletic Fundraising
  • Intercollegiate Athletics Governance

Students benefit from hands-on training through unique experiences like the Darren Butler Sports Forum and Ohio University’s annual symposium.

#4 – Arkansas State University – Jonesboro, Arkansas

Master of Science in Sport Administration

For More Information: Arkansas State University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $4,986/year in-state and $9,972/year out-of-state
Student/Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Points: 6
The Program at Arkansas State University
The College of Education and Behavioral Science at Arkansas State University features a cost-effective, full-time sport management program that meets the needs of both working professionals and traditional students. The program balances theory with practice in order to position graduates for success in the job market. Sports management courses include:

  • Sport Leadership
  • Sport Governance and Operations
  • Sport Law

Students can choose to complete an internship or a thesis depending on their future professional goals. Graduates have been successful working in a variety of roles within:

  • professional sport organizations
  • sport facilities
  • sports agencies

#3 – Northeastern University – Boston, Massachusetts

Master’s in Sports Leadership

For more information: Northeastern University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $25,801/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Concentration Areas: Professional Sports Administration; Collegiate Athletics Administration; Analytics; eSports
Points: 8
The Program at Northeastern University
The College of Professional Studies at Northeastern University offers a high-quality online master’s in sport leadership that prepares students for a variety of sports related occupations. Both full and part-time students are accepted into the program which can be completed in just 12-18 months. Developed for both aspiring and seasoned professionals, students develop a strong business foundation along with the sports management specific training needed for success in the sports industry. Courses are taken online, and the only residency requirement is a one-week summer institute in Boston.

#2 – Lasell University – Newton, Massachusetts

M.S. in Sport Management

Brand & Identity Center – Lasell University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $11,268/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 12:1
Concentration Areas: Sport Leadership; Sport Tourism and Hospitality Management; Parks and Recreation; Athletic Administration
Points: 10
The Program at Lasell University
The affordable master’s degree in sports management from Lasell University is a personalized program available fully online or in a blended format. Students can choose from four specialized concentration areas to develop a skillset that meets their professional goals. Course offerings include:

  • Sport Sponsorship and Marketing
  • Administrative Procedures
  • Fundraising Concepts and Practices

Lasell believes in a student-first philosophy which is evidenced by their small class size and personalized approach to instruction. Faculty are often working professionals themselves and help students connect with top internships and real-world work experiences that help set the stage for success. Students can earn their degree in just 12-24 months.

#1 – Liberty University – Lynchburg, Virginia

Master’s in Sports Management

For more information: Liberty University

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,847/year
Student/Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Concentration Areas: Coaching and Athletic Administration; Outdoor Adventure Sport; Sport Administration; Tourism; General
Points: 10
The Program at Liberty University
Our top choice for the best sports management master’s degree is offered by Liberty University. Liberty features an online master’s in sports management that takes less than two years to complete. Courses are offered in short, eight-week sessions with no set login times. Students can customize their degree by choosing a concentration area. Sports management course offerings include:

  • Social Issues in Sports Management
  • Sports Marketing and Public Relations
  • Economic and Financial Management of Sport

Networking opportunities bring students together to build professional connections. Sports management graduates have the skills needed to lead athletes to success on and off the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a master’s in sports management a good degree?

Master’s programs in sports management are a great idea for aspiring leaders with a passion for the business side of sports.   Sports are big business, and it takes a savvy businessperson to successfully manage and operate a sports team or facility.  Specialized sports management programs allow students to develop a niche and become experts in their area of study.

What types of jobs can I get with a master’s in sports management?

The options are endless.  There are programs in sports management for almost every area of interest.  Students interested in sports marketing or sports analytics can take specialized courses that prepare them for a role in that area.   Other popular jobs for students with a master’s in sports management include:

  • Facilities Manager
  • Sports Marketer
  • Athletic Director
  • Event Coordinator
  • Sports Agent
  • Ticket Manager
  • Social Networking Manager

Will I need to complete an internship to complete a master’s in sports management?

Internship requirements vary by program.  If you don’t have professional experience working in the field, an internship can be a great opportunity to develop your skills.  Internships give students exposure to different aspects of the field including management and operations.  Internships are also great for networking and can help students develop their professional network.

Popular Sports Management Programs:

University of Massachusetts Amherst – Amherst, Massachusetts
Master of Science in Sport Management
Website

The MS in Sport Management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a rigorous program that blends theory with practice. Students will gain real-world experience in areas like sport communications and sport analytics. The program offers a unique Professional Development Seminar experience that brings in industry experts who share a wealth of career advice. Most students can complete their degree in just one year.

Texas A&M University – College Station, Texas
Master of Science in Sport Management
Website

The Master of Science in Sport Management at Texas A&M University is a flexible program offered online and in-person. Students complete a graduate internship experience that allows them to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to the sport industry. Internship opportunities are available in a variety of areas including sport media and community recreation. Both thesis and non-thesis program tracks are available.

By SMD Staff

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