25 Best Online Sports Management Degree Programs [2020 Guide]

We’ve ranked the 25 Best Online Sports Management Degree Programs for 2020. Compare colleges, explore careers, and accelerate your degree.

An online sports management degree can prepare you for a wide variety of jobs. Whether you dream of becoming a manager, advertiser, coach, recruiter or broadcast announcer, this is the degree track for you.

 

Is It Smart to Get a Sports Management Degree?

Sports management is a broad field that covers everything from highly-paid recruiters to modest track and field managers. It’s the opposite of a vocational degree that trains you for a specific job. Instead, it will teach you an assortment of skills that can be applied to different careers in administration, marketing, healthcare, education, public relations and more.

The good news is that sports management is on the rise. The athletic industry is worth billions of dollars, and new jobs are added each year as demand just gets bigger and bigger. For example, the job outlook for coaches and scouts is expected to rise 11 percent in the next decade, and that’s more than double the national average.

Another nice thing about sports management degrees is that they can be obtained at every level:

  • Certification
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Master’s degree
  • Doctorate

An associate degree is usually enough for entry-level jobs. For better positions with bigger paychecks, you’ll need to commit to a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Courses for an Online Sports Management Degree

There are two ways to get a sports management degree. The first is earning a “general” degree, and the second is having a degree concentration in something specific.

If you choose to specialize, your course map will look different than your fellow classmates. However, all of you will learn the same fundamental skills needed for a career in sports management.

Here are a few courses that you can expect to see at your chosen school:

Introduction to Sport Management

This is a basic, entry-level class for sports management. It covers the broad strokes of the subject and introduces different areas of interest for students, including law, media, marketing, healthcare and science. When you’re finished with this class, you’ll have a better understanding of sports management and what you can do with a degree in it.

Finance

Finance classes are essential for a sports management major. Even if you don’t plan on having a job that deals with a lot of numbers, you’ll need to be familiar with the economics behind things like budgets and contracts. If you do want a career that will involve math, be prepared to take courses in algebra, statistics and accounting.

Ethics

Sports can pose a lot of ethical issues. You’ve probably seen a few of them in newspaper headlines. While ethics classes aren’t required by all sports management programs, it’s a good idea to take them as electives even if the school doesn’t make you. That way, you’ll know how to handle any legal and moral dilemmas that come your way.

Brand Management

Brand management is a critical skill for managers, marketers and public relations specialists. This is true for any industry, but it’s especially relevant for high-profile athletes. If your career will put you or your clients in the public eye, you’ll want to take a few courses in brand management. You’ll learn skills related to media, communications, journalism and PR.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy and physiology classes are a common requirement for sports management degrees. You might not need them if you aren’t going into the health or science side of the industry, but it’s good to be familiar with subjects like these when your job revolves around athletes.

Fieldwork

Many sports management degree programs have a fieldwork component. It’s usually an internship with an athletic agency or some other company that relates to your area of study. It’s possible to complete this requirement even when you’re getting your degree online, but you’ll need to talk to the school to learn specifics.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Sports Management Degree?

A sports management degree can qualify you for work in many different fields.

If you want to work directly with athletes, you can become a coach, manager, talent scout or public relations expert. You can be the person who negotiates their contracts, formulates their plays or handles all of their press.

If you prefer to work behind the scenes, you might enjoy work as an administrator. You can manage stadiums and sports facilities; you can figure out the logistics of ticket sales, merchandise sales, track maintenance and game day operations.

If you’re good with numbers, you could become a statistician who calculates odds and risks. If you’re good with words, you could make a living as a sports anchor or sports journalist.

You can also take careers and give them an athletic spin. For example, law students can focus on sports law; med students can devote themselves to nutrition, fitness, physical therapy or sports injuries.

There’s no limit to the careers that you can enjoy with a sports management degree. Not only will it open doors in terms of employment, but it will also equip you with the education and experience that you need to succeed.

Sports Management Degree Salary

With so many different jobs available to sports management majors, the salary ranges provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics are quite different as well.

  • Marketing Manager ($132,620)
  • Agent or Business Manager ($90,930)
  • Statistician ($88,190)
  • Sports Psychologist ($75,043)
  • Dietitian or Nutritionist ($60,370)
  • Athletic Director ($60,323)
  • Sports Facility Manager ($57,000)
  • Sports Manager ($55,000)
  • Sports Broadcaster ($55,000)
  • Event Planner ($49,370)
  • Athletic Trainer ($47,510)

It’s important to note that salaries can be quite different between the highest and lowest earners in any given job. For example, the lowest-earning statisticians take home $53,000 per year while the highest-earning statisticians rake in $139,000 per year.

Sports Management Degree Professional Organizations

Industry organizations can offer a lot of resources to both college students and post-graduation professionals. You’ll need to pay an annual membership fee to gain access to their content, but it’s usually worth the expense. Here are just a few professional organizations that you might consider as a sports management major.

College Sports Information Directors of America

The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) is an all-in-one resource for everything related to sports information on the collegiate level. It has articles, videos and conferences about the latest trends of the industry as well as job postings, resume advice and year-long mentorship programs. It even funds scholarships for college students.

The North American Society for Sport Management

The North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) is dedicated specifically to sport management. It puts out two scholarly journals, The Journal of Sport Management and The Sport Management Education Journal, and it hosts an annual conference. It also funds various grants and awards to students, educators, coaches and other sports management professionals.

Sport Marketing Association

The Sport Marketing Association (SMA) is the largest organization of its kind. Membership is open to both U.S. and international residents, and students pay less than others. Once you’re a member, you’ll enjoy access to conferences, scholarships, academic journals and other sport marketing resources.

Accreditation for Sports Management Degrees Online

You’ll hear a lot about accreditation during your college search. To sum it up, accreditation is a voluntary review process that colleges go through to prove their educational standards.

Since it isn’t required by law, some colleges choose not to do it. Some degree mills don’t even try because they know that they won’t qualify.

However, many employers will only hire people who come from accredited colleges. Accreditation is also necessary if you’re applying for federal financial aid like FAFSA.

There are three types of accreditation:

  • Regional accreditation is the most common. It’s offered by six different U.S. accrediting boards that divide the country by regions. For example, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges accredits colleges in Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
  • National accreditation is mostly for private schools and religious schools. Because of the separation of church and state, religious schools aren’t eligible for regional accreditation.
  • Programmatic accreditation is for schools or degree programs within a specific industry. For example, the American Bar Association accredits law schools, and the American Culinary Federation accredits culinary schools.

To find accredited colleges, search the databases of organizations like the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). They offer information on all three types of accreditation.

How Do I Get a Sports Management Degree?

The admission requirements for a sports management degree program are usually the same as any other degree. For most colleges, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED to apply, and they might ask for transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation or SAT/ACT test scores as well.

Your school might or might not accept you into the sports management program right away. You might need to complete a certain amount of coursework to establish a good GPA before you can apply.

One important thing to note about sports management degrees is that many of them have an internship requirement. It isn’t universal, but it’s common. You’ll need to talk to the school about how you can satisfy this requirement when you’re getting your degree online.

Financial Aid for Online Sports Management Bachelor Degrees

More than 13 million students receive financial aid, so if you need help funding your degree, you aren’t alone. There are several ways to lower the cost of college.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the centerpiece of financial aid. Even other sources of financial aid will ask you to fill out the FAFSA first. It offers three types of assistance:

  • Loans are borrowed funds that have to be paid back, but if you’re under a certain income limit, the government will pay the interest on the loan while you’re in school. This is called a “subsidized” loan rather than an “unsubsidized” loan.
  • Grants don’t have to be paid back, so they’re essentially free money for college. However, they come with restrictions based on things like income level and enrollment status. Some industry-specific grants might also require you to work within that industry after you graduate or forfeit the grant.
  • Work-study programs will connect you with part-time jobs while you’re in school. Most of these are service jobs on campus, but there are also job placements with approved organizations outside of the university.

In addition to the help offered by FAFSA, you can look for grants and scholarships provided by sports management associations. These are considered “private” aid since they don’t come from the government.

  • Dorothy Harris Endowed Scholarship: This scholarship offers $1,500 to women who are pursuing a degree in sports management.
  • CoSIDA Scholarship: Funded by the College Sports Information Directors of America, this scholarship gives $5,000 to undergraduate students who are majoring in sports information, media relations or athletic communications.
  • Chuck McPhilomy Scholarship: This scholarship is for trainers, managers and coaches who are studying physical education pedagogy or sports management.
  • Glenn M. Wong Sport Law Scholarship: This scholarship is for students who are interested in sports law. Sports management majors are welcome to apply.

These are just a few of the scholarships that you can find for sports-related fields, including sports management. There are many more, so don’t hesitate to look around.

What College Has the Best Sports Management Program?

Every student is different, so it can be difficult to determine the “best” sports management program for any given person. However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself before enrolling.

Is it accredited? This is one of the most important factors in choosing a school. If the college itself isn’t regionally or nationally accredited, the degree program needs to have programmatic accreditation.

How’s the online program? Are the classes synchronous or asynchronous? Are they self-paced, or will you have to follow a set schedule? What technology do they require? What’s their digital learning platform like?

What sports management courses are offered by the program? While the fundamentals are the same everywhere, there are skills and specializations that you can seek out from select colleges.

Which schools are worth the money? The lowest tuition price isn’t necessarily the best. Look for schools with high graduation rates and employment rates that will increase your return on investment overall.

Can You Get an Online Sports Management Certificate?

Many schools offer online certification in sports management. Depending on the program, they could last from weeks to months, or they could require sitting for an exam whenever you’re ready.

Some are general certifications that will round out your resume or verify you as an expert. Others have special concentrations for particular areas of sports management, including:

  • Public relations
  • Law and liability
  • Sports marketing
  • Risk management
  • Coaching
  • Security

The value of a sports management certification will vary. For some students, it could be an expense that pays off with better job prospects and more professional skills in their tool belt. For others, it could be a waste of time and money that’s better spent on a college degree.

Is a Sports Management Degree Worth It?

A sports management degree is a worthy investment for the future. The industry is growing by the way, and you’ll have plenty of options in terms of degrees, internships and job prospects. Now is a great time to enroll in a sports management degree program.

List of 25 Best Online Sports Management Bachelor’s Degree

#1  Bellevue University

Bellevue University campus

  • BA in Sport Management
  • BS in Sport Management

Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#2  California Baptist University

California Baptist University campus

  • BA in Sport, Recreation and Fitness Management

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

#3  Central Methodist University

Central Methodist University campus

  • BS in Sports Management

Central Methodist University is accredited and/or recognized by the Higher Learning Commission.

#4  Colorado Mesa University

Colorado Mesa University campus

  • BS in Sport Management

CMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#5  Columbia College

Columbia College campus

  • BA in Sports Management
  • BS in Sports Management

Columbia College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#6  Concordia University – Chicago

Concordia University Chicago campus

  • BA in Sports and Recreation Management

Concordia University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#7  Davenport University

Davenport University campus

  • BBA in Sport Management

Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University campus

  • Bachelor’s in Sport Management

Eastern Kentucky University is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#9  Florida International University

Florida International University campus

  • BS in Recreation and Sport Management

Florida International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#10  Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

  • BS in Sports Management

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#11  Johnson and Wales University

Johnson and Wales University campus

  • BS in Sport Management

JWU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#12  Liberty University

Liberty University campus

  • BS in Sports Management – Communication and Public Relations
  • BS in Sports Management – Conference and Event Management
  • BS in Sports Management – Sport Outreach
  • BS in Sports Management – Sport Venue Management
  • BS in Sports Management – Sports Administration

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#13  McKendree University

Mckendree University campus

  • BBA in Sport Management

McKendree University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

#14  Mercy College

Mercy College campus

  • BSBA in Sport Management

Mercy College is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#15  Midway University

Midway University campus

  • Bachelor’s in Sport Management

Midway University is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.

#16  Missouri Baptist University

Missouri Baptist University campus

  • Bachelor’s in Sport Management

Missouri Baptist University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

#17  Post University

Post University campus

  • BS in Sport Management

Post University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

#18  Shorter University

Shorter University campus

  • BBA in Sport Management

Shorter University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#19  Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University campus

  • BSBA in Sports Management

Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, Inc.

#20  Toccoa Falls College

Toccoa Falls College campus

  • BS in Sport Management

Toccoa Falls College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#21  Troy University

Troy University campus

  • Bachelor’s in Sport Management – Hospitality, Sport and Tourism Management

Troy University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#22  University of Florida

University of Florida campus

  • BS in Sport Management

The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#23  University of Iowa

University of Iowa campus

  • BS in Sport and Recreation Management

The University of Iowa is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#24  University of Minnesota – Crookston

University of Minnesota - Crookston campus

  • BS in Sport and Recreation Management

The University of Minnesota Crookston is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

#25  Wilmington University

Wilmington University campus

  • BS in Sports Management

Wilmington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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