great business schools badge 7 30 20 01

A sports management master’s degree gives students an education in areas that cover ethics in sports, governance, public relations, marketing, and finance as they relate to sports. In 2018, the global sports market was valued at $488.5 billion and at $73 billion for the North American market in 2019. The North American market by itself is among the largest in the world and offers a lot of opportunities for people seeking a career in sports management. 

The sports management role has many avenues for someone who wants to work in the sports industry, but may not necessarily want to work with sports teams. Someone who earns a master’s in sports management has the option to become an athletic coach, facilities manager, athletic director, sports event planner, or even a sports agent. The master in sports management degree is one that fits a multitude of career goals while providing a front-row seat to the action at all times. 

Methodology: Ranking the Best Master’s Programs in Sports Management

Great Business Schools is committed to pointing prospective students to programs that will make a positive impact on their careers, and our ranking of the best sports management master’s programs focuses on trusted, accredited institutions. The ranking is based on factors including cost, reputation, and salary potential. 

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

unc chapel hill

The University of North Carolina offers an MA in Sports Administration that is considered one of the best masters programs in sports management in the country. These best sports management masters programs offer a highly structured curriculum that includes legal issues in sports, sports finance, and event management, among others. Students enrolled in UNC Chapel Hill’s best masters programs for sports management obtain first-year teaching assistants and then internships in the final year.

The University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) was founded in 1789, and one of several universities that stake claim to being the oldest institution of higher education in the country. AS the flagship campus of the University of North Carolina System, UNC Chapel Hill is also recognized as a public ivy league school and home to one of the best masters in sports management programs. 

Highlight: UNC Chapel Hill’s university-town campus

Degree: Sports Administration, MA

2. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

u michigan

The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology offers a Master of Science (MS) degree program that is ranked among Michigan’s best masters programs for sports management. UM Ann Arbor’s best sports management masters programs’ curriculum includes classes like legal aspects of sports, sports marketing and management, organizational behavior and human resources, strategic management, and statistics, among others. UM’s best masters programs in sports management offer degree candidates a thesis option.

The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor is a space-grant, sea-grant, and flagship university that was founded in 1817. More than 46,000 students attend classes at UM Ann Arbor on the school’s 3,000 acre campus. 

Highlight: UM Ann Arbor is recognized as the oldest institution of higher education and for having one of the best masters in sports management programs in Michigan.

Degree: Sports Management, MS

3. Columbia University

columbia university

Columbia University offers a Sports Management MS degree that is recognized among the best masters programs in sports management in New York and in the country. Columbia’s best sports management masters programs are available for full-time and part-time students, although the exact curriculum order may differ. The curriculum for these best masters programs for sports management requires the completion of 36 semester credits. Students can complete Columbia University’s best masters in sports management programs that can be completed in under 1.5 years, including the concluding internship or integrative project.

Columbia University was founded as the royal King’s college in 1754. More than 33,200 students attend classes at Columbia University’s 300-acre campus in upper New York City. 

Highlight: In addition to being one of the colonial schools, Columbia University holds the distinction of being New York State’s oldest college.

Degree: Sports Management, MS

4. Georgetown University

georgetown

Georgetown University offers a Master’s in Sports Industry Management that is ranked as one of the best masters programs in sports management in the DC area and beyond.  These best masters programs for sports management programs from GW can be completed online or on-campus. Degree candidates enrolled in GW’s best sports management masters programs are required to complete ten courses for 30  semester credits to meet program requirements, plus a senior capstone project. The degree offers three concentrations in Sports Business/Sales, College Sports, and Sports Communications.

Georgetown University was founded in 1789. The school’s campus is situated above the Potomac River on more than 100 acres that serves more than 18,900 students. GW’s alumni include US Supreme Court Justices, Presidents, and Rhodes Scholars. 

Highlight: Georgetown University is home to one of the nation’s oldest debating clubs and one of the best masters in sports management programs.

Degree: Sports Industry Management Master

5. University of Iowa

u iowa

The University of Iowa offers a MA in Sport and Recreation Management that is ranked among the best masters in sports management programs in the midwestern United States. UI’s best masters programs in sports management require the completes of 30 graduate credit units to meet the program’s requirements. The curriculum for UI’s best sports management masters programs includes risk management, sports administration, and sports promotion, among others.  UI’s best masters programs for sports management includes an internship as an elective option.

The University of Iowa (UI) is a space-grant university founded in 1847.  UI is also a flagship campus for the state and the oldest institution of higher learning in Iowa. The school’s campus in Iowa City covers more than 1,700 acres and serves nearly 24,000 students. 

Highlight:  The University of Iowa’s Medical School was the first to open as coeducation.

Degree: Sport and Recreation Management, MA

6. Michigan State University

michigan state

Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Kinesiology with a Sports Administration concentration that is recognized as one of the best masters in sports management programs in Michigan and surrounding states. MSU’s best sports management masters programs offer degree candidates the option of a capstone, internship, or only classes with a final certifying exam. These best sports management masters programs from MSU requires students in the sports administration concentration to complete nine graduate credits for this specialty.

Michigan State University (MSU) was founded as a  sea-grant, land-grant, public institution of higher learning in 1855. Nearly 50,000 students attend classes offered by Michigan State University. 

Highlight: Many of MSU’s graduate degree programs are recognized as the top in the country by US News. This includes MSU’s best sports management masters programs.

Degree: Kinesiology: Sports Administration, MS 

7. San Diego State University

san diego state

San Diego State University’s Fowler College of Business offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a sports concentration that is considered among the best masters in sports management programs in California and on the west coast of the country. SDSU’s best masters programs in sports management is an accelerated program that can be completed only one year. The curriculum for SDSU’s best sports management masters programs includes a study abroad opportunity to the Dominican Republic. Sports Business recognizes SDSU’s best masters programs for sports management among the top in the world.

San Diego State University is a space-grant school that was founded as a teacher’s normal college in 1897. The university’s campus in San Diego is home to more than 34,900 students. 

Highlight: San Diego State University holds the distinction of being one of the oldest member campuses of the California State University system.  

Degree: Sports, MBA 

8. Mississippi State University

mississippi state

Mississippi State University offers an MS in Sports Administration recognized among the best sports management masters programs in Mississippi. Degree candidates enrolled in MSU’s best masters programs in sports management must complete 33 graduate credit units to meet program requirements. These best masters in sports management programs offer students 3 concluding options – a these, individual study, or internship.

Mississippi State University (MSU) was founded as a land-grant institution of higher learning under the Morrill Land Act in 1878. Additionally, MSU is a sea-grant and space-grant, flagship school. More than 22,000 students are enrolled in classes offered by MSU on the school’s 4,000+ rural acre campus. 

Highlight: MSU operates satellite facilities in Vicksburg, Meridian, and Biloxi, where MSU’s best masters programs for sports management are available.  

Degree: Sports Administration, MS

9. University of Alabama

u alabama

The University of Alabama offers one of the best masters in sports management programs with its MA degree in Kinesiology with a sports administration concentration. Internships available at UA’s best masters programs for sports management include ESPN, Alabama Sports Hall of Game, and the NFL, among others. The curriculum included in UA’s best sports management masters programs includes 30 semester credits, including an advanced placement practicum. Classes for these best masters in sports management programs include sport finance, sports ethics, and the sociology of sports.

The University of Alabama (UA) was founded in 1820. The university in Tuscaloosa is a sea-grant, space-grant, and flagship campus for the state. The university’s small-city campus covers more than 1,900 acres and serves more than 38,100 students. 

Highlight: UA’s campus is home to many historic landmarks, including an observatory and the president’s home.

Degree: Kinesiology: Sport Administration, MA 

10. University of Kentucky

u kentucky

The University of Kentucky offers an MS in Sports Leadership that is recognized among the best sports management masters programs in the state. Students enrolled in UK’s best masters programs in sports management requires the completion of 30 graduate credit units to meet the program’s requirements. Classes for UK’s best masters in sports management programs include sports leadership, sports diversity, sports finance, sports marketing and promotion, athletic administration, plus a sports management practicum. These best masters programs for sports management offers students a thesis track and an all course track.

The University of Kentucky was founded as a private agricultural and mechanical school in 1865. The university’s campus serves more than 29,500 students vying for degrees offered by the university’s sixteen colleges/schools. 

Highlight: The first women’s dorm was not built until 1904.

Degree: Sports Leadership, MS 

11. Ball State University

ball state u

The Ball State University School of Kinesiology offers two of the best masters in sports management programs in Indiana. BSU’s best masters programs in sports management include a Master of Science degree or a Master of Arts degree in sports administration. Sports Business recognizes BSU’s best sports management masters programs among the top twenty programs in the country. Each of BSU’s best masters programs for sports management requires the completion of 33 graduate credit units to meet BSU’s program requirements. Core classes include sports marketing, financial principles of sports, and sports law, plus an internship.

Ball State University was founded by the industrial titans, the Ball Brothers, in 1918. BSU’s campus in Muncie Indiana was once a school for teachers but is now home to more than 5,100 students. 

Highlight: The campus of BSU is more than 400 student-related clubs and organizations.

Degree: Sports Administration, MS/MA

12. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

florida am famu

Florida A&M University’s Department of Health & Physical Education offers a Master of Science (MS) degree that is considered among the best masters in sports management programs in the Sunshine state. FAMU’s best masters programs in sports management offer students two tracks to complete the requires 36 credit units. One of these best sports management masters programs allows for a thesis and internship, while the other a capstone instead of the thesis. Classes in FAMU’s best masters programs for sports management include fundraising, legal issues in sports, sports management ethics, and personnel management in leisure programs, among others.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) was established in 1887 and is a recognized HBCU school. More than 9,900 students attend classes offered by FAMU. 

Highlight: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University holds the distinction of being the HBCU with the second most expenditures in development and research.  

Degree: Sports Management, MS

13. East Carolina University

east carolina ecu

East Carolina University College of Health and Human Performance offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology with several recognized concentrations among North Carolina’s best masters in sports management programs. Students enrolled in ECU’s best masters programs in sports management can opt for physical education, biomechanics, physiology, sports management, and sport/exercise psychology concentrations. These best sports management masters programs are available on-campus or online. ECU’s best masters programs for sports management offers degree candidates opportunities for graduate assistantships.

East Carolina University (ECU) was founded in 1907 as a normal teacher’s training school but is now a sea-grant institution of higher learning. More than 28,700 students take classes offered by ECU on the university’s six satellite academic centers. 

Highlight: East Carolina University’s clubs and organizations include numerous HBCU fraternities and sororities.

Degree: Kinesiology, MS

14. University of Dubuque

u dubuque

The University of Dubuque offers a Sports Management Master in Management (MMSM) that is ranked among the best sports management masters programs in Iowa and surrounding states. Students enrolled in UD’s best masters programs in sports management must take 30 graduate credit units to meet UD’s program requirements. These best masters programs for sports management can be completed in one year with the school’s accelerated hybrid format. Classes for UD’s best masters in sports management programs sports marketing, sports administration, sports law, and public relations, plus a thesis or capstone seminar.

The University of Dubuque was founded by the Presbyterian Church in 1852 as a school to train ministers.  The university’s urban campus in Dubuque serves nearly 2,200 students studying from the university’s seminary or three colleges/schools. 

Highlight: Parts of the campus of UD was used during the filming of Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams movie.

Degree: Master in Management – Sport Management

15. Illinois State University

illinois state

The Illinois State University School of Kinesiology and Recreation offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Kinesiology & Recreation with a sports management emphasis that is recognized as one of the best masters in sports management programs in the midwestern United States. ISU’s best masters programs in sports management offer graduate assistantships to degree candidates. Students enrolled in ISU’s best masters programs for sports management requires the completion of 33 graduate credit units. Classes for ISU’s best sports management masters programs include community economic development, exercise physiology, the psychology of sport and recreational management, to name a few.

Illinois State University was founded as a teacher’s normal school in 1857. The university’s college-town campus covers more than 900 acres and serves more than 18,800 students. 

Highlight: ISU holds the distinction of being the oldest public institution of higher learning in Illinois.

Degree: Kinesiology & Recreation: Sport Management, MS

16. St. Johns University

st johns u

St. John’s University offers a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Sports Management that is considered as one of the best masters programs in sports management on the east coast. Students enrolled in SJU’s best sports management masters programs are required to complete 36 graduate semester credits to meet the program’s requirements. Classes included in SJU’s best masters programs for sports management include core classes in sports management, sports communication, plus a thesis or internship. These best masters in sports management programs do not require the submission of a GRE or GMAT score.

St. John’s University (SJU) was founded by the Vincentian Fathers in 1870. SJU remains affiliated with the Catholic Church and serves more than 21,000 students studying from the university’s eleven undergraduate and graduate colleges/schools. 

Highlight: St. John’s University was first developed to educate less privileged youth in New York City. 

Degree: Sports Management, MPS 

17. Barry University

barry u

Barry University offers an MS in Sports Management degree that is recognized as one of the best masters in sports management programs in Florida and the southeastern United States. Students enrolled in Barry’s best masters programs in sports management have the option of earning a dual master’s degree option. Degree candidates in these best sports management masters programs from Barry University also includes an advanced placement internship for a minimum of 240 hours. Students graduate from Barry’s best masters programs for sports management to enter the workforce working for an arena, a resort, high school athletics, or fitness centers, to name a few.

The Adrian Dominican Sisters founded Barry University in 1940. Barry University remains affiliated with the Catholic Church. More than 21,000 students attend classes offered by Barry University’s eleven colleges/schools. 

Highlight: Barry University stakes claim to the fact that it is one of the biggest Catholic institutions of higher learning in the southeastern US.

Degree: Sports Management, MS

18. Lindenwood University

lindenwood university

Lindenwood University’s Plaster School of Business and Entrepreneurship offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a sports management emphasis that is recognized among the best masters in sports management programs in Missouri and the Midwest. Lindenwood University’s best masters programs in sports management include classes in sports promotion, event management, sports law, and sports ethics, among others. These best sports management masters programs are a part of the university’s MBA program, which requires between 33 and 51 credit units to graduate. Students enrolled in Lindenwood’s best masters programs for sports management includes an advanced placement practicum in sports administration.

Lindenwood University was founded as a girl’s school in 1827. The university’s St. Charles campus covers more than 400 urban acres and serves more than 7,100 students. 

Highlight: Lindenwood University holds the distinction of being the 2nd oldest university situated to the west of the Mississippi River.

Degree: Sports Management, MBA 

19. Henderson State University

henderson state

Henderson State University’s Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Department offers a Master of Science (MS) degree that is recognized as one Arkansas’ best masters in sports management programs. HSU’s best masters programs for sports management can be completed as a full-time or part-time student. Students graduating from HSU’s best sports management masters programs find rewarding careers in corporate sports consulting, amateur athletics, event management, and planning, or coaching, to name a few. The best masters programs in sports management provided by HSU include experiences in local sports franchises and athletic departments, to name a few.

Henderson State University was founded as a Methodist college in 1890. HSU’s campus in Arkadelphia covers more than 150 rural acres and serves more than 3,300 students. 

Highlight: Henderson State University holds the distinction of being the state of Arkansas’ only member of the Public Liberal Arts Council of Colleges.

Degree: Sports Administration, MS 

20. Adrian College

adrian college

Adrian College offers an MA in Sports Administration and Leadership (SAL) that is considered one of Michigan’s best sports management masters programs in Michigan. The mandated curriculum for AC’s best masters programs in sports management requires the completion of 36 credit units. Students typically complete AC’s best masters programs for sports management in about 24 months. Students enrolled in AC’s best masters in sports management programs graduate and enter the workforce as public relations managers, sports marketing managers, or sports promotional specialists, to name a few.

Adrian College was founded by the United Methodist church in 1859 as a private institution of higher learning More than 1,500 students attend classes offered by Adrian College vying for the more than 30 academic degrees offered. 

Highlight: Adrian College was used during the civil war to help train Michigan regiments.

Degree: Sport Administration and Leadership, MA

21. Hofstra University

hofstra u

Hofstra University offers an MBA in Sports and Entertainment Management that is one of New York’s best masters programs in sports management. Hofstra’s best sports management master’s programs provided through the MBA program are accredited by AACSB. Classes included in Hofstra University’s best masters programs for sports management include media in sports, facilities and venue management, sports and entertainment law, and sports, society, and media, to name a few. Additionally, degree candidates in Hofstra University’s best masters in sports management programs must also complete a three-hour capstone integrative course.

Hofstra University was founded as Hofstra College in 1935 as an extension of the nearby New York University (NYU). More than 10,100 undergraduate and graduate students attend Hofstra. 

Highlight: Hofstra College’s campus has hosted many presidential debates in Long Island, NY.

Degree: Sports and Entertainment Management, MBA

22. Grand View University 

grand view u

Grand View University offers an MS in Sports Management that is considered one of Iowa’s best masters in sports management programs. These best masters programs for sports management require students to complete 36 graduate semester units to meet the program’s requirements. Classes included in GVU’s curriculum includes organizational behavior, sports marketing, and financial management, to name a few. Degree candidates in GVU’s best sports management masters are also required to complete a three-credit advanced placement internship. Career options for students graduating from these best masters programs in sports management include park superintendent, tournament director, athletic director, or collegiate coach, among others.

Grand View University was founded by the Lutheran (ELCA) Church in 1896. Grand View University is an evangelical institution of higher learning in Des Moines’ campus is home to more than 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students vying for the more than 35 academic degrees offered by the university. 

Highlight: At the heart of GVU’s campus is a skywalk that extends to nearly 160 feet.

Degree: Sports Management, MS

23. Southeastern University

southeastern u

Southeastern University offers a specialized sports management MBA degree that is considered as one of the best sports management masters programs in the sunshine state. These best masters programs in sports management offered by SEU required the completion of 39 graduate semester units to meet program requirements. Classes in SEU’s best masters programs for sports management include foundations of sports, risk management, sports finance, sports marketing, plus a sports business capstone project. SEU’s best masters in sports management programs have received accreditation from ACBSP International.

Southeastern University was founded in 1935 as a private Christian institution of higher learning and bible study school. Southeastern University’s campus in central Florida covers more than 75 acres and serves more than 6,800 students. 

Highlight: Southeastern University is affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

Degree: Sports Management, MBA 

24. University of New Haven

u new haven

The University of New Haven Pompea College of Business offers a Master of Science degree that is ranked among Connecticut’s best masters programs in sports management. Students enrolled in UNH’s best sports management masters programs must complete 30 – 36 STEM-related graduate semester units to graduate, depending on the concentration. The concentrations available to students enrolled in UNH’s best masters programs for sports management include college athletics, business analytics, or a general degree. The AACSB accredits UNH’s best masters in sports management programs.

The University of New Haven was founded as a private institute of higher learning in 1920 as an extension of Northeastern University in Boston. The university’s 100+ acre campus in West Haven is home to nearly 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. 

Highlight: US News ranks UNH among the top 100 regional universities in the country.

Degree: Sports Management, MS

25. Grambling State University

grambling state

Grambling State University offers a Sports Administration MS degree that is ranked among Louisiana’s Connecticut’s best masters programs in sports management. Students enrolled in GSU’s best sports management masters programs must complete 39 total semester credits to graduate, of which nine credits are completed as internships or capstone projects. Students graduate from GSU’s best masters programs for sports management and enter the workforce as athletic directors, recreational program specialists, sports consultants, and curriculum specialists, to name a few. These best masters in sports management programs from GSU prepare degree candidates for middle management career entry points.

Grambling State University (GSU) was founded in 1901 and is recognized as a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). The university’s rural campus in Grambling Louisiana is home to more than 5,100 students vying for academic degrees offered by GSU four colleges/schools. 

Highlight: Grambling State University offers an ROTC program for students interested in a military career.

Degree: Sports Administration, MS

Why Should I Get a Master’s in Sports Management? 

The areas of study that are found in a masters degree in sports management program are similar to that of an MBA. However, unlike an MBA, a masters in sports management is focused on the management aspect of sports and sporting events with traditional business skills as an underpinning. Earning a masters degree in sports management gives the graduate the key skills they need to enter the world of sports management and be effective in their role as soon as they are hired.

Another aspect to earning a sports management masters degree is the earning power inferred by having an advanced degree. It’s true that a bachelors degree can help you find quality employment opportunities, but a masters degree in sports management opens more doors than a bachelors. An advanced degree shows you have specialized knowledge that can be used to the advantage of the organization, knowledge that you wouldn’t necessarily have if you had a sports management bachelors degree alone.

Is Sports Management a Good Career?

The world of sports is a tough one to get employed at just about all levels. It’s competitive due to the fact there is no lack of people seeking a career in sports. You can give yourself an edge by getting a masters degree in sports management and show a potential employer that you’ve put in the work prior to starting employment. Careers with a sports management masters degree tend to pay better and help you advance through your career because you already possess needed skills and judgment. Those who don’t get a degree will find it harder to get started than those who start their careers with a masters in sports management. 

Masters in sports management careers are an excellent choice for someone who enjoys sports, loves the competitive aspects, and wants to help develop players and organizations to become successful. It’s also an effective degree for a career in sporting event management. The skills learned through the degree program can be applied in many careers with sports management masters degree. Whether your goal is to work for a major league sports team with national reach or to make a difference in the lives of student athletes at the high school level, you’ll find a lot of options for careers with sports management masters degree.

How Do I Choose a Sports Management Master’s Program?

Choosing a sports management masters program can be a challenge on its own. The school’s location, educational offerings, and even the teachers all make a difference in the quality of the education that’s provided for a sports management masters. When you’re looking at schools, make sure that they have an accredited sports management masters programs that’s been verified by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA). The Commission on Sports Management Accreditation works with institutions of higher learning in order to create a sports management masters degree that promotes excellence in education for seekers of a sports management masters degree. Accreditation from COSMA means a school is offering a comprehensive education for their sports management masters degree program. 

When you look at colleges and universities that have COSMA sports management accreditation for their degree program, you’ll find that they offer comprehensive classes that make up the sports management masters degree. COSMA not only looks at the quality of the education provided by the school, it also assesses the outcomes that a student experiences after completing their courses. The goal of COSMA is to make sure that classes provide the education a student needs in order to succeed in their career and is using best practices for sports management education. As an accrediting body, COSMA recognizes that all educational institutions are different and offer educational programming that fits within the school’s ethos and charter. To that end, sports management accreditation is a flexible entity that realizes that schools need to be dynamic and fluid in their offerings while providing an educational opportunity that meets the standards of an accrediting body.

Related Rankings:

15 Best Online Sports Management Master’s Degrees

10 Fastest Online Sports Management Master’s Degrees

10 Most Affordable Sports Management Master’s