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

An online master’s degree in sports management can lead to many exciting career paths. Graduates may operate stadiums, run fitness centers, represent athletes or promote the sports tourism industry. Some administer contracts or become sports attorneys. By enrolling in an accredited online school, students have the freedom and flexibility to learn at their own pace while following the same thorough curriculum used in conventional on-campus classes. In many cases, online degrees are more affordable. Whether you’re interested in accelerated courses or part-time learning while you work, it’s important to carefully evaluate each option before enrolling.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Sports Management Degree

Communications/Marketing This specialization focuses on strategies for promoting sports, working with the media and developing effective advertising campaigns. Marketing director, public relations director, 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. Contracts administrator, player representative, team attorney
Coaching High-performance coaching specializations emphasize the physical and mental aspects of sports, including psychology, physiology, kinesiology and athlete development. Fitness center manager, personal trainer, sports educator
Business MBA programs focus on the financial aspects of running a sports business, such as securing funding, developing a strong leadership team and managing day-to-day operations. General manager, chief financial officer, team accountant, facility administrator

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Sports Management

Sports management programs generally fall into one of two categories. Programs that offer an MBA in sports management typically focus on accounting, data analysis, 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 is more likely to focus on research techniques, exercise psychology, coaching strategies, public relations and entrepreneurship.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Sports Management?

A master’s degree in sports management typically requires 31 to 40 credits or about two years to complete. Depending on the classes and their credit value, students can earn a degree in as little as three semesters by taking accelerated courses and working year-round. Part-time students may extend the process over eight semesters. Some colleges offer cohort programs that are completed on a fixed schedule, while others are self-paced. Additionally, many programs include capstone thesis projects and internships that provide up to 240 hours of hands-on experience. These programs deliver added value, but they also take more time to complete.

Certifications and Licenses a Master of Sports Management Prepares For

Certified Sports Event Executive The National Association of Sports Commissions offers this certification. It’s available to professionals who have at least five years of industry experience and complete core coursework and electives prepared by the NASC.
Sports Agent Several states, including California, Maryland and Tennessee, require sports agents to register for a license before they represent clients. Additionally, professional sports leagues, such as the MLB and the NFL, require agents to be certified through their 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.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Sports Management Degrees

When comparing colleges that offer online degrees, it’s important to seek out accredited programs. Individual colleges are accredited by one of six regional authorities, allowing your credits to transfer to other universities. However, specializations like sports management are also accredited by industry associations. This shows that the curriculum meets strict standards for quality and thoroughness. The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) is the chief accreditation body for sports management degrees.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Sports Management Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Sports and fitness is a competitive industry due to the popularity of this field as well as the perceived fun factor. An advanced degree, such as an MBA in sports management, can set you apart from the competition and increase your earning potential. According to Concordia University, the median entry-level salary across the sports industry is approximately $35,000 while those with advanced degrees typically earn $50,000 or more. Desirable athletic director positions at major universities may command salaries above $100,000.

Expected Salary

Regardless of the position, candidates with advanced degrees are more likely to receive median salaries at the higher end of the pay scale. This can add up to an extra $5,000 or $50,000 per year.

Job Title Salary Range
Athletic Director $35,000-$99,000
General Manager $44,000-$82,000
Business Analyst $48,000-$86,000
Operations Manager $48,000-$86,000
Contacts Administrator $48,000-$86,000
Marketing Manager $48,000-$86,000
Director of Operations $48,000-$86,000

Salaries in the sports management industry vary widely based on geographic location and employer size. Employees in the sports industry often qualify for considerable performance-based bonuses and commissions. The candidate’s level of experience is another major factor. The following chart shows how the salary for a director of operations may increase over the years.

Career Opportunities

Many entry-level careers in the sports and entertainment industry are open to candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. However, master’s degrees are generally preferred for managerial and directorial positions. A Master of Science or MBA in sports management gives you the ability to pursue higher-paying positions while increasing your advancement opportunities.

Coaches and Scouts These sports professionals are responsible for training and evaluating amateur and professional athletes at all levels. $32,270 per year 13%
Administrative Services Manager General managers and operations directors are responsible for planning, coordinating and overseeing all administrative activities, including facility maintenance, recordkeeping and day-to-day business. $94,020 per year 10%
Sports Agents or Managers Agents and managers are responsible for finding opportunities and negotiating favorable business agreements for professional athletes, sports journalists and public figures. $75,420 per year 46%
Marketing Manager Advertising and marketing managers develop strategies for promoting interest in sports and sporting events. They function as a liaison between creative professionals, executives and the organizations’ financial departments. $129,380 per year 10%

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 is dedicated to researching, enhancing and promoting the field of sports management. It represents those who work with professional athletes as well as amateur leagues and in the leisure/recreation industry.

National Association of Sports Commissions: The NASC is a nonprofit trade association representing sports commissions, venue owners, event planners and industry partners. It provides educational resources, networking opportunities and marketing assistance to members.

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-woman advocacy.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Sport Management Degree

Enrolling in an online sports management program may reduce the cost of your master’s degree while providing increased flexibility. If you’re interested in applying for financial assistance to cover tuition fees as well as the cost of textbooks or living expenses, start by completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Additional financial aid opportunities are sometimes available through individual colleges and to residents of certain geographic areas. You may also find scholarships through professional sports leagues and industry associations. Here are some resources to get you started.



Scholarships Details

Stadium Managers Association Foundation Scholarship

Award: Varies

Deadline: April 15

Eligibility: This annual scholarship is available to outstanding undergraduate or graduate students. Individuals must be enrolled full-time in a sports administration or facility management program through an accredited higher learning institution.

NCAA Jim McKay Scholarship Program

Award: $10,000

Deadline: January 11

Eligibility: Undergraduates and graduates who are enrolled at an NCAA-member institution may apply for this annual scholarship. Students must be enrolled in a sports administration course or related program and demonstrate an interest in sports communications or public relations.

NASCAR Wendell Scott Sr. Scholarship

Award: Up to $10,000

Deadline: July 25 (Annually)

Eligibility: Three merit-based scholarships starting at $3,800 are offered to minority students who are enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate sports management course or are pursuing a business degree in a related discipline.