What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Sports Management Program?

By enrolling in an accredited online program, students with a master’s in sports management degree can learn independently while following the same rigorous curriculum used in conventional on-campus classes. In many cases, online degrees are more affordable as well. Whether you’re interested in accelerated courses or part-time learning while you work, it’s important to carefully evaluate each of your online master’s in sports management options before enrolling.

Available concentrations

If you’re interested in a particular aspect of sports management, confirming whether this concentration is available should be the first step in evaluating sports management programs. Some of the most common sports management concentrations include:

  • Communications/Marketing: This specialization focuses on strategies for promoting sports, working with the media, and developing effective advertising campaigns. Potential career outcomes include marketing director, public relations director, and sports journalist.
  • Sports Law: In this track, attorneys and non-attorney students learn about sports-related legal principles, such as broadcast rights, licensing, contract negotiations, and dispute resolution. Graduates are prepared for roles such as contracts administrator, player representative, and team attorney.
  • Coaching: Coaching specializations emphasize the physical and mental aspects of sports, including psychology, physiology, kinesiology, and athlete development. In addition to teaching you how to coach athletes, this concentration can prepare you for occupations such as fitness center manager, personal trainer, and sports educator.
  • Business: Learn about the financial aspects of running a sports business, such as securing funding, developing a solid leadership team, and managing day-to-day operations. The potential career outcomes for this concentration include general manager, chief financial officer, team accountant, and facility administrator.

Common degree curriculum

Sports management programs generally fall into two categories: an MBA in sports management or a Master of Science in sports management. 

In general, programs that offer an MBA in sports management focus on accounting, operations management, leadership, and finances. The curriculum may include electives related to sports law, marketing, and venue management. A Master of Science in sports management will likely focus on research techniques, exercise psychology, and coaching strategies.

Certification and license preparation

Depending on which particular career path you would like to pursue, you may need to earn professional credentials in addition to your master’s in sports management.

  • Sports Agent: Several states, including California, Maryland, and Tennessee, require sports agents to register for a license before representing clients. Some professional sports leagues, including the MLB and NFL, require agents to be certified through their league’s players association.
  • Sports Attorney: If you’re interested in handling legal issues within the sports industry, you must complete relevant coursework and pass the bar exam in the state where you will practice.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, the program you attend will also be approved by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). COSMA has high standards for sports management education and only approves the best options available in the country.

Program completion timeframe

A master’s degree in sports management typically requires 31 to 40 credits, which takes about two years for full-time students to complete. Depending on the classes and the required credits, students may earn their degree in three semesters by taking accelerated courses and working year-round. Part-time students may need eight or more semesters to complete the program. Also, some colleges offer cohort programs on a fixed schedule, while others are self-paced. 

Keep in mind that many programs include capstone thesis projects and internships that provide up to 240 hours of hands-on experience. Such programs deliver added value but take more time to complete.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Sports Management Graduates

While most jobs in this field only require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, earning a master’s certainly offers career benefits. On average, master’s degree holders earn $1,661 per week, while those with a bachelor’s degree make $1,432. That’s a difference of nearly $12,000 over a year.

The sports management field offers the potential to earn an exceptionally high income. For example, administrative services managers and marketing managers have six-figure average salaries.

There are plenty of job opportunities available once you graduate as well. From 2022 to 2032, the total number of jobs in the United States is projected to grow by 3%. Most sports management occupations are expected to grow much faster than that.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)

Coaches and Scouts

These sports professionals train and evaluate amateur and professional athletes at all levels.

$44,890

9%

Administrative Services Manager

Administrative services managers plan, coordinate, and oversee facility maintenance, recordkeeping, and day-to-day business operations.

$101,870

5%

Agent

Agents are responsible for finding business opportunities and negotiating favorable agreements for professional athletes and sports journalists.

$82,530

8%

Marketing Manager

Advertising and marketing managers develop strategies for promoting interest in sports and sporting events. They function as liaisons between creative professionals, executives, and financial departments.

$138,730

6%

Professional organizations

Joining a professional membership association is an excellent way to enhance your credentials, stay up to date on the latest advances in the industry, and network with peers and potential employers. From annual conventions to continuing education courses, membership provides numerous benefits.

  • North American Society for Sport Management: This international membership group researches, enhances, and promotes sports management. It represents those who work with professional athletes, amateur leagues, and the leisure/recreation industry.
  • Stadium Managers Association: The SMA provides networking and educational opportunities that help venue managers and events personnel increase the efficiency and profitability of their day-to-day operations.
  • Women in Sports and Events: WISE is a New York City-based nonprofit membership group dedicated to empowering women in the sports industry. The agency offers professional development resources and supports pro-women advocacy.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Sports Management Degree

Enrolling in an online program will likely reduce the cost of your master’s in sports management, but you may still need help paying for college. If you’re interested in applying for financial assistance to cover tuition fees and the cost of textbooks or living expenses, start by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Additional financial aid opportunities are sometimes available through individual colleges and to residents of specific geographic areas. You may also find scholarships through professional sports leagues and industry associations. 

Student Finance Resources and Guides

Determining exactly how much you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket for your college education can be challenging. The following resources will help you make sense of your financial aid situation and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.