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Students who graduate with a degree in sports management can pursue careers as personal trainers, event planners, athletic directors, marketing managers, sports agents, and other related professions. Students can earn a sports management degree at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels.According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median annual pay for event planners in 2021 was $49,470, while athletic trainers made an average of $48,420. Marketing managers had an average yearly salary of $133,380.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition for undergraduate programs is $7,869 at public universities and $37,095 at private schools. For master’s degrees, the average tuition is $12,394 at public institutions and $26,621 at private colleges. It typically takes full-time students four years to complete a bachelor’s degree and two to complete an associate’s or master’s degree.

How to Choose an Online Sports Management Degree Program

Choose your area of study

Since a sports management degree can open up various career opportunities, those interested in this degree should choose an area of study that aligns with their career goals. Sports management includes organizational and event management, sports law, media management, marketing, data analytics, and more. Some people pursue this degree because they want to work directly with athletes and fitness training, while others aim to work on the business side of things. Various programs offer different concentrations and specializations, so it’s important to consider what you want to do after graduation.

Bachelor’s degrees in sports management include a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a concentration in sports management.

If you’re pursuing a master’s degree, options include a Master of Science (MS), a Master of Arts (MA), or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in sports management. Understanding the differences between the degrees can help you determine which is best for your needs.

Research schools and programs

Once you’ve determined your area of study, it’s time to start your research. You can do much of this online, as most schools’ websites include information about programs, their curriculum, learning format, schedule, faculty, admissions requirements, credit transfer policy, and more. If you have questions the website doesn’t answer, contact the school’s admissions office or program representatives.

As you’re researching programs, take note of these factors:

  • Is the school accredited? Accreditation is one of the first things to look for when researching a program. An accredited school will not only give you a good education, but it will also affect your eligibility for financial aid, employment opportunities after graduation, and other postsecondary programs you’d like to take in the future. Students moving from an associate to a bachelor’s or a bachelor’s to a master’s must have a degree from an accredited institution. Be sure any school you apply to is accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • What is the cost of the program? Determine how much you can spend on your degree. Then, when doing research, check the price of each program. If the tuition is more than that, you don’t need to spend much more time researching that program. Even so, don’t settle on a program simply because it’s the least expensive one. The cheapest program isn’t necessarily the best. Weigh all of the factors to choose the program that’s the right fit for you.
  • Where is the school located? In addition to classroom education, colleges and universities have many other services, events, and activities on campus. These may include student clubs and organizations, job fairs, sporting events, gyms and fitness centers, the university library, and more. Distance learners may be eligible to take advantage of these on-campus services. Additionally, some online programs are delivered in a hybrid format, where students can or must attend some in-person classes. Therefore, the school’s location may be essential when choosing a program.
  • What is the learning format? Online programs are delivered in three different forms — asynchronous, synchronous, and a hybrid of the two. If you plan to study evenings and weekends, or if your schedule isn’t consistent weekly, an asynchronous program is your best option. A synchronous format holds students to a definite schedule, which some find helpful. Synchronous classes also facilitate closer communication and collaboration with other students and instructors. Consider your scheduling needs and learning preferences to determine which format is best for you.

Prepare for tests and applications

Admissions requirements vary depending on the institution and the degree you plan to earn. A high school diploma or GED is required for associate and bachelor’s programs, and all transcripts should be submitted. Most colleges and universities have a minimum GPA requirement, but it varies from school to school, and there are often exemptions or prerequisite courses you can take if your GPA is too low. Applicants to bachelor’s programs may also have to provide SAT or ACT scores.

Graduate programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Applicants must typically submit transcripts, a resume, a personal statement or essay, and one or more letters of recommendation from people who know them professionally. GRE scores may also be needed, and previous professional experience in the field is sometimes required.

Some schools have specific deadlines for submitting applications, while others offer rolling admissions. Students should submit applications and supporting documents following these policies. Confirming any application procedures and requirements with an admissions counselor before applying is a good idea.

Select your program

After gathering information about various programs and schools, examine what you’ve found and eliminate any programs that won’t work for you. List them in order of preference from the ones that remain, but apply to them all; you don’t know which schools will accept your application and which ones won’t, so keep your options open. When you’ve heard from them all and have a few acceptance letters in hand, choose the one that’s highest on your list.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Contact the school’s financial aid office to learn more about your options for paying for your degree. They can provide information about institutional aid like scholarships, grants, fellowships, and resources for scholarships from external organizations. They can also help students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which schools use to determine eligibility for federal student loans.

Many schools offer payment plans that allow students to spread tuition payments out over the term, as well as military discounts for veterans and active-duty service members. Enrolling in a flexible online program can make it easier for students to work full- or part-time, which can help subsidize education costs. In many cases, employers may offer tuition assistance benefits to help students pay for school.

Best 50 Accredited Online Sports Management Degree Programs

Best Online Sports Management Degree Programs

Franklin University

University of Florida

Liberty University

McKendree University

Southern New Hampshire University

Campbellsville University

Concordia University at St. Paul

Troy University

Maryville University of Saint Louis

Florida International University

Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Shorter University

University of Louisville

Bellevue University

Colorado Mesa University

Georgetown University

Northwestern University

Davenport University

Concordia University Irvine

University of Iowa

University of Minnesota Crookston

University of West Alabama

Culver-Stockton College

United States Sports Academy

Columbia College

Belhaven University

California University of Pennsylvania

Saint Leo University

Canisius College

Missouri Baptist University

Gonzaga University

Regent University

Toccoa Falls College

American University

Jacksonville State University

Texas Woman's University

Mercy College

Arkansas State University

University of Alaska Fairbanks

University of Northern Colorado

Wayne State University

Indiana Institute of Technology

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How We Rank Schools

Students can earn a few different types of degrees in sports management, including Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Science, and Master of Business Administration. Each type of degree has a slightly different orientation, so we included all types to help you find the program that best suits your needs.

All of the programs we reviewed are offered by schools with regional or national accreditation. Many also have programmatic accreditation through a business-oriented body like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or a sports-related agency like the Commission on Sports Management Accreditation (COSMA).

The programs on our list can be completed online; some also offer on-campus or hybrid coursework. We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, reputation, affordability, and course strength. Each program received an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Sports Management Degree Program?

A sports management degree prepares students to work in various areas at the professional, collegiate, and amateur athletics levels. These include management, marketing, finance, economics, sports law, risk management, and communication. Students often have the opportunity to meet team owners, sports writers, and agents; these professionals can help them determine which career they’d like to pursue. Coursework includes studying law, writing, marketing, economics, public relations, leadership skills, licensing, event and venue management, and more. Some programs offer or require an internship or field experience with a sports or entertainment organization, so find out what opportunities are available in your area.

Institutions deliver coursework and other materials to distance learners via an online learning management system (LMS) where students can access the syllabus, course material, assignments, announcements, tests, grades, and more. An LMS typically includes chat and message board capability, which students can use to connect with faculty and fellow students. Among the most popular learning management systems are Blackboard, Canvas, D2L Brightspace, and Moodle, but some schools have their own proprietary system. After an applicant is officially enrolled, the necessary software and instructions are provided.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online sports management degree program

  • Sports marketing. This course teaches students the critical factors in using social media to market sports teams and events and how to develop their own marketing plans. Students examine case studies that help students identify critical marketing issues and solve marketing problems.
  • Sports law. Students learn how various legal principles and precepts are applied to sports and sports organizations. The course covers bargaining agreements, merchandising, television rights, endorsements, stadium and arena contracts, and others.
  • Management and leadership in sports. In this course, students examine the critical role of leadership in sports organizations. Leadership theory is defined and studied from various perspectives, and students learn how to develop their leadership philosophies and understand the scope of their role within an organization.
  • Management of sports and entertainment venues. Students in this course delve into the details of managing arenas, stadiums, and other facilities used for sports and entertainment events. Coursework covers contracts, selling events, running events, and more.

What Can I Do With a Sports Management Degree?

Sports management exists at the intersection of a variety of different fields, including athletics, entertainment, business, event planning, marketing, and more. Therefore, there are plenty of career options available for individuals with this degree.

Those most interested in athletics can go on to work as athletic directors or coaches, while individuals with a business mind may work as contract analysts or corporate partnership managers. Individuals with a sports management background can also manage sports venues, represent athletes as agents or lawyers, or coordinate events related to sports teams. Some roles may require additional education, like a master’s degree in sports management.

Career outlook

  • Coach or scout — Coaches train amateur and professional athletes the skills they need to succeed at their sport, while scouts look for new players, evaluating their skills and likelihood for success at the amateur, college, or professional level.
    • Median annual salary: $45,910
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 9%
    • New jobs projected: 38,400 per year
  • Event planner — Coordinate events related to sports teams or venues, including games, promotions, special events, and more. Oversee budgets, scheduling, facilities, transportation, food, and more.
    • Median annual salary: $56,920
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 8%
    • New jobs projected: 15,200 per year
  • Marketing manager — Develop and implement plans to promote sports teams or sporting events, including identifying potential markets and designing strategies to engage and retain customers.
    • Median annual salary: $131,870
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New jobs projected: 34,000 per year

Online Sports Management Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online sports management degree program?

Most institutions provide an online application via their website, and supporting documents can be uploaded and submitted online. Those applying to bachelor’s degree programs can submit the Common Application, which allows them to apply to several schools at once instead of filling out a separate application for each one. Students should submit all required documents on time. It’s a good idea to speak with an admissions counselor before applying.

How much does an online sports management degree program cost?

The cost for an online sports management degree varies depending on the school and degree level. An online bachelor’s degree in sports management can cost between $36,000 and $57,000, while an online master’s ranges between $14,000 to $22,000. Students can expect to pay extra for technology, software, books, and supplies. Some public institutions set higher tuition rates for out-of-state residents, while others charge the same flat tuition rate for online students.

How long does it take to earn an online sports management degree?

A bachelor’s degree typically requires about 120 credits, and full-time students can complete it in four years. An associate’s or master’s degree takes about two years. Students who transfer previously earned postsecondary credits can shorten the time needed to complete the program, and some schools offer accelerated programs that students can finish in less time.

Is an online sports management degree worth it?

Earning a bachelor’s degree in any field has financial benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn a median weekly salary of $1,493. The median weekly salary for those without a college degree is $992.

Most jobs related to sports management require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. These programs expose students to the wide range of skills they need, including business, interpersonal communications, marketing, leadership, and more. Internships are particularly valuable in this field, with employers seeking candidates who’ve had first-hand experience in the field.