Why This Matters


    Athletic managers earn $55,060 more than the average annual salary for all other occupations.


    Financial analysts are expected to see job growth increase by 5% over the next decade. Many of these jobs will be dedicated to analyzing complex fan and performance data in the sports industry.


    The need for new campaigns that inspire fans and showcase star players requires specialization and expertise that carries a salary much higher than the national average of $39,810.

Our Research

Master’s programs in sports management are graduate level. Our research examines various programs, including those that offer Master of Science or Arts in Sports Management, Master of Science in Kinesiology, Master of Science in College Athletic Administration, Master of Science in Sports Business, and Master of Sports Leadership degrees. The programs on our list offer online, in-person, and hybrid learning.

Accreditation is awarded to programs that demonstrate high academic standards. Specialized accreditation in your field of study helps to build industry credibility. It’s also easier to transfer credits from accredited institutions to other schools. The Commission on Sports Management (COSMA) is the best-known accreditation for sports education degree programs. Our list covers sports management programs accredited at national and international levels.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Master’s in Sports Management Degree program are affordable, respected, and flexible. (For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 72 hours to write this article
  • 160 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 381 education programs we compared

The Top 25 Master’s in Sports Management Degree Programs

Best Master's in Sports Management Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

When deciding on a sports management career path, consider the differences between a master’s in sports management and a master’s in sports science. While a sports management degree prepares students for leadership roles dealing with the business of sport, a sports science degree deals with helping athletes develop peak performance. Coursework in sports science covers clinical nutrition, the anatomy of human motion, and biomechanics. Conversely, sports management focuses on ethical issues, marketing and public relations, event planning, and facility management. When choosing a degree program, decide if you would prefer to have a hands-on role with athletic professionals or to handle the business, marketing, and logistics of the sporting industry.

Sports management incorporates many occupations, and specialized certifications can help show expertise and qualifications to prospective employers. Certificates in Sports Marketing, Sports Law & Risk Management, Facilities & Special Events Management, Sports Management & Digital Media, and Sports Analytics & Big Data can improve job outlook while also helping students gain advanced skills in the field of sports management.

The need for employees at every level of sports management, from coaches to financial analysts, means the industry can expect continued growth at a rate faster than the national average.

What’s Next?

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when researching master’s in sports management degree programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? As a graduate degree program, master’s in sports management programs are open to students who hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Most master’s programs in sports management can be completed in a year with full-time study. It usually takes two years to complete if you choose to study part-time. The programs on our list require students to earn 30 to 48 credits to graduate.

Make sure you’re aware of application deadlines and the materials needed to apply for each degree program that interests you. You can usually find that information on the admissions page of school websites.

It’s also important to consider how you’ll pay for your master’s program. Research financial aid packages and potential scholarships that can help you cover the cost of tuition.