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Top 13 Best Sports Management Master’s Degree 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

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Sports have never been more accessible to the general population thanks to dedicated sports television stations, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. With the recent decision by the Supreme Court striking down the federal law prohibiting sports gambling, sport organizations are focused on preserving the integrity of their sport. The demand for qualified sport managers and administrators is expected to increase as both professional and amateur sport authorities seek qualified professionals to run their organizations. For individuals who love sports and want to savor a piece of this lucrative pie, a master’s in Sports Management is an excellent way to enter the sports industry, and there are a large number of career paths available. Graduates have found success working in compliance, facility/operations management, ticket office management, sales, public relations, business office management, and human resource management. When choosing a college where you can pursue your dream of earning a Sports Management degree, the first thing to remember is that all schools are not created equal. There are over 200 schools offering some sort of master’s degree in Sports Management or a related field, but only the right programs at the right institutions can actually be of benefit by giving its students the requisite skills, experiences, internships, and information they need to enter the field and advance their career. Some things to look for include – Internships/Networking: this is the opportunity for students to gain valuable and practical experience in a real-world setting. It is important that students complete an internship experience in the specific area of sports management they are interested in. Many employers hire first from those applicants who have served as interns in the field. All schools in our ranking require an internship experience. Cost: as with any college major, the overall financial cost of achieving that education should come into play. Students should look at the overall cost including scholarship opportunities, tuition assistance programs, and military discounts. Student: Teacher Ratio: class size is an important factor when it comes to the overall quality of an education. Many graduate students level educators also serve as mentors to students which can be helpful when determining the right career path and networking opportunities.


With over 200 master’s programs related to sport management, we needed to narrow the pool to find the best master’s in sport 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 sport 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, and Educational Innovation. Ranking is as follows: Student/Faculty ratio:

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

Average Net Price:

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

Concentration Areas:

  • 2 points for each concentration area

This list can serve as an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to pursue a career in the exciting and lucrative sports industry.

#13 – University of Indianapolis-Indianapolis, Indiana

Master of Science in Sport Management

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $35,532/year Student/Faculty Ratio: 13:1 Points: 4 The Program at the University of Indianapolis Location, location, location! The University of Indianapolis is located close to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, several universities, and conference offices, making this a great place to find exciting internship and networking opportunities. As the first program in the state to be accredited by COSMA, this top master’s in sport management is a rigorous program with engaging projects and research opportunities. This is a hybrid program meaning some coursework is available online. Full-time students can earn their degree in about 12 months while part-time students taking one course at a time can finish in about 21 months.

For More Information: University of Indianapolis

#12 – Central Michigan University-Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Master of Arts in Sport Administration

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $12,870/year in-state and $18,942/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 22:1 Points: 4 The Program at Central Michigan University The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions at Central Michigan University features a top master’s in sport management designed to help students reach their full potential. Students can expect to develop close knit relationships with faculty and peers as they complete coursework relating to administrative practices in sports. Michigan offers a variety of different sport industries, making this a great location for professional experiences and networking that can help launch a professional career.

For More Information: Central Michigan University

#11 – Southeast Missouri State University-Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, Sport Management Focus and the Master of Business Administration, Sport Management Option

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $6,488/year in-state and $12,104/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 21:1 Points: 4 The Program at Southeast Missouri State University Southeast Missouri State University features both an MA in Higher Education Administration with a Sport Management focus and an MBA with a Sport Management option. The MBA program is a business program designed to give students an advantage over sport management professionals who lack a business education. The MA in Higher Education Administration Sport Management program prepares students to work in the sport industry as managers and administrators. Southeast Missouri State University is accredited by COSMA, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, and the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions.

For More Information: Southeast Missouri State University

#10 – Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, Louisiana

MS in Kinesiology-Sport Management

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,132/year Student/Faculty Ratio: 22:1 Points: 4 The Program at Louisiana State University Focused on interdepartmental collaboration, the top master’s in sport management from Louisiana State University prepares students for success in whatever career path they choose. Partnerships with the College of Human Sciences and Education, the E.J. Ourso College of Business, and the Manship School of Communication allow students access to the information and skills needed for success. An internship experience is required, with previous sites including the Texas Rangers, the Washington Wizards, offices of the Southeastern Conference, and the National Senior Games.

For more information: Louisiana State University

#9 – Ohio University-Athens, Ohio

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

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,444/year in-state and $17,436/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 18:1 Points: 5 The Program at Ohio University Ohio University offers two different programs for sports management enthusiasts. The combined MBA/Master’s in sport administration is a two year cohort program that includes the one year MBA and the 36 credit hour MSA. MSA courses are offered in research methods, sport law, facility management, and sponsorship in sports. An internship experience is also required during the final semester. Students with extensive industry experience or a graduate degree in another area may be eligible for the MSA Executive program. This one year, 36 credit hour program includes coursework tailored to the needs of this elite group of professionals.

For more information: Ohio University

#8 – Bowling Green State University-Bowling Green, Ohio

Master’s in Sport Administration

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,821/year in-state and $13,473/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 18:1 Points: 5 The Program at Bowling Green State University The 30-33 credit hour master’s in sport administration from Bowling Green State University examines the management within the sporting industry. Students complete courses in business related to marketing, business administration, communication, along with higher education administration and sports law. Most students can earn their degree in about two years, including a thesis or master’s project.

For More Information: Bowling Green State University

#7 – Wichita State University-Wichita, Kansas

Master of Education in Sport Management

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $5,302/year in-state and $13,022/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 19:1 Points: 5 The Program at Wichita State University Wichita State University features a 36 credit hour M.Ed. degree program in sports management with no GRE/GMAT required for admission and no thesis requirement for graduation. Most students can earn their degree in about two years of full-time study. This top master’s in sports management prepares students for a variety of careers in sport entertainment, sporting goods organization, sport participation, and work with professional athletics, intercollegiate athletics, and specialized sport business. A semester long internship experience is required to gain professional work experience.

For More Information: Wichita State University

#6 – Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, Arkansas

Master of Science in Sport Administration

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $4,806/year in-state and $9,612/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 18:1 Points: 5 The Program at Arkansas State University It’s every student’s goal to graduate from college with the skills and abilities needed to find employment in their desired area. Arkansas State University is dedicated to providing students with a top master’s in sports administration with the skills employers want in the areas of intercollegiate athletics, professional sports, sport facilities, corporate sports organizations, and sport media. This 36 credit hour master’s in sports management program is a full-time program that includes either an internship experience or thesis. Arkansas State University is close to a variety of sport organizations including the St. Louis Cardinals, Arkansas Travelers, Memphis Grizzlies, and the St. Louis Rams.

For More Information: Arkansas State University

#5 – University of Louisville-Louisville, Kentucky

M.S. in Sport Administration

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $12,246/year in-state and $25,486/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 15:1 Points: 6 The Program at the University of Louisville The top sport administration masters program from the University of Louisville is an 18 month to two year program with courses offered in the evening to accommodate working professionals. Admission to the program is extremely competitive with only about 30% of applicants being accepted in any given year. An internship experience is required, however students can choose to complete the internship while taking courses or after their coursework is complete. Graduates have found success in a variety of areas including collegiate and high school coaching, business and marketing, and health and fitness.

For more information: University of Louisville

#4 – Wingate University-Wingate, North Carolina

Master of Arts in Sport Management

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,900/year Student/Faculty Ratio: 15:1 Points: 6 The Program at Wingate University Few schools have the experiential learning opportunities of Wingate University’s top master’s in sport management. This COSMA accredited program provides students with an insider view of organizations like the Carolina Panthers, Special Olympics, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Some courses are offered partially online, making this a great program for students who need a flexible academic schedule. The program is also affordable!

For more information: Wingate University

#3 – Troy University-Troy, Alabama

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

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $7,506/year in-state and $15,012/year out-of-state Student/Faculty Ratio: 15:1 Points: 6 The Program at Troy University The master’s in sport and fitness management with a focus on sport management from Troy University is an innovative program using lectures, seminars, and practical experiences to engage students. Graduates of the program are prepared for the workforce or to pursue doctoral study. Graduates work for a variety of sport organizations including the NBA, NFL, recreation departments, and IMG College.

For more information: Troy University

#2 – Northeastern University-Boston, Massachusetts

Master’s in Sports Leadership

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $23,408/year Student/Faculty Ratio: 14:1 Concentration Areas: Professional Sports Administration; Collegiate Athletics Administration Points: 8 The Program at Northeastern University The top sports management master’s degree program from Northeastern University in Boston is designed for mid-career administrators and coaches, as well as those just getting started. The program covers a wide variety of occupations from marketing or communications to sports management or working with professional sports teams. Students can choose to narrow their focus by choosing a concentration in either collegiate athletics administration or professional sports administration. The program incorporates hands on activities with an internship opportunity to gain valuable work experience. Boston has an abundance of professional and collegiate sports teams, making this a great location for valuable experience.

For more information: Northeastern University

#1 – Liberty University-Lynchburg, Virginia

Master of Science in Sport Management with cognates in Sport Administration, Outdoor Adventure Sport, Tourism and General Studies

Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,217/year Student/Faculty Ratio: 19:1 Concentration Areas: Outdoor Adventure Sport; Sport Administration; Tourism Points: 11 The Program at Liberty University Liberty University provides students with several unique master’s in sport management programs not typically offered by other universities. Students can choose to complete a general program or select one of the concentration areas, available both on-campus and online. This 36 credit hour program provides students with a Biblical worldview which they will carry with them into the field. Students come from a variety of backgrounds including recent grads, working professionals, international students, and those switching careers.

For more information: Liberty University

By SMD Staff June 2018

Further Reading:

  Sources Value of the Sports Industry: Values of Other Industries: Projected Growth Rate of the Sports Industry: Number of Available Sports Jobs: Average Salaries and Growth Rate for Sports Management Degrees: Level of Sports Degrees Offered by School College Costs: Student/Teacher Ratio: College Rankings: