Sporting events like the College Football Playoff or the College World Series are some of the most-profitable and well-attended events in the college world. These events can only take place thanks to professionals trained in the field of sports management, which centers around the organization of coaches, players, information, and activities related to sports.
But it's not just university athletics that students can end up working for: plenty of sports management degrees lead to careers with minor-league or major-league sports franchises. So as this exciting job market continues to expand, we thought it'd be a good idea to take a look at the Top 20 Online MBA programs in Sports Management.
FINDING A SPORTS MANAGEMENT DEGREE
Students who want to study sports management will have no shortage of programs and schools to choose from. But just like every student is unique, so is every program. So, it's essential to make sure that the school's faculty, curriculum, and career services are supportive of every prospective student's needs, talents, and professional goals.
Online programs tend to be designed with tremendous flexibility to allow students to maintain professional and personal commitments (like a full-time or part-time job) while they are still earning their degrees. But each program delivers this flexibility differently. Many programs will allow students to access asynchronous course content, which is available to them 24/7 whenever they wish. However, some programs have residency requirements that make the online program more of a hybrid program. So while most parts of the degree are completed online, there will be a few courses or day visits that students will need to complete on campus.
One of the other significant distinctions between programs will be the number of specializations that they offer in their program. Schools with more specialties may be able to provide students with more diverse education, possibly even allowing a student to earn multiple specializations during their program. But this broader focus can also mean that a student's training is not quite specialized.
Universities and colleges with fewer specialties may be able to offer more focused and directed study in a given topic area, which will especially benefit students who know what they want to do after they graduate. Sports Management professionals have a wide variety of career options to choose from, including event management and sports representation. And with a graduate degree, students can expect to be in the upper-income brackets of these professions, which for sports agents means an annual salary of more than $100,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
RANKING THE TOP 20 ONLINE MBA IN SPORTS MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS 2020
Online MBA Today uses eight metrics to grade each school: Quality of Online Programs from U.S. News, Mid Career Pay from Payscale, Student Review Score from Rate My Professor, aggregate reputation score from other ranking sites, and Percentage of Online Programs, SAT Scores, Average Net Price, and Retention Rate from the National Center for Education Statistics. For a comprehensive breakdown of how we categorize and source data, please visit our methodology page.
#1. SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY
Southeast Missouri State University's online Master of Business Administration program in Sports Management is designed to give students leadership and interpersonal skills that can be used from local to global business settings. The curriculum for the program is designed to allow students to address issues around business opportunities, competition, and regulation.
MBA students complete seven core courses, which include Strategic Decision-Making, The Financial Environment, and Strategic Cost Analysis & Financial Applications. Students then choose their final four paths from a series of available electives. Elective options from the program include Legal Aspects of Sport Activity, Principles, and Practice in Sport Management, and Design/Operation of Sports Facilities.
Students also have the option of replacing one of their elective courses with an Applied Research Project course. In this course, students pursue a unique topic of interest related to their professional goals. The final course in the program is a Strategic Decision Making course that allows students to bring together all of their previous coursework and apply it to practical problem-solving exercises.
Graduates from the program have been able to increase their career earnings potential by as much as 50%. Admission to the program is based on a formula that combines a student's GPA with their GMAT score. This will use either the student's overall undergraduate GPA or the GPA for their final 60 credits of coursework. Approximately 98% of graduates from the school's College of Business find employment within one year of graduation.
#2. AMERICAN PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
American Public University is home to an online Master of Business Administration program, which requires students to complete 39 credit hours of coursework. The program is designed to take two years for students who enroll full-time. APU offers 15 different specialization options for students in the program. Some of the available specializations for the degree include Government Contracting, Information Technology Management, Sports Management, Analytics, and Nonprofit Management.
The Sport Management concentration includes courses like The Sports Industry, Sports Law, and Sports Entrepreneurship. These courses cover 15 credit hours of required coursework, with the remainder being devoted to core coursework. Core courses from the program cover topics such as Corporate Finance, Marketing, and Applied Decision Making.
APU allows up to 15 credit hours of coursework into the MBA and students without undergraduate coursework in key business areas will be required to take foundational courses before beginning the MBA curriculum. This will generally include three courses covering Managerial Analysis, Quantitative Analysis, and Global Management Perspective.
APU has corporate partnerships with several businesses throughout the country, which allows employees to be partially reimbursed for their tuition to the program. Students whose employers participate in this program will be notified upon their admission to the program. On top of the Sports Management MBA program, American Public University also offers an online Master of Arts in Entrepreneurship and a Master of Science program in Applied Business Analytics.
#3. SAINT LEO UNIVERSITY
Saint Leo University has an online Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in Sports Business. Students in the program take up to two courses per eight-week term. The degree requires a total of 36 credit hours of coursework to be completed, which some students can do in as little as one year. There are six different academic terms offered throughout the year for the online program, and students may enter the program during any term.
Students have a wide variety of concentration options to choose from in the online MBA program, and they are even able to pursue two concentrations concurrently during their degree program (students should consider how this may affect their time to graduation). Overall, there are seven courses and five specializations for the MBA program.
The core coursework covers Managerial Economics, Organizational Behavior, and Global Business Management. Electives from the Sports Management concentration include Foundations of Sport, Financial Aspects of Sport, and Risk Management/Legal Concepts in Sport. Sports Business International ranked St. Leos' MBA in Sports Management as one of the top online sports management graduate programs in the world.
#4. NEW ENGLAND COLLEGE
New England College offers students an online Master of Business Administration program with an emphasis in Sport and Recreation Management. The degree includes 40 credit hours of classes, which are divided between 28 hours of core courses and 12 hours of specialty courses.
The MBA Core Curriculum includes Strategic Marketing, Strategic Planning and Policy, Finance for Leaders, and Economics for Leaders. The MBA's course delivery methods are specifically designed to maximize the efficiency of each student's time, as well as to make the experience of learning as engaging as possible. There are 12 different concentration options offered in the program. Additional concentration options for the online MBA are as follows: Non-Profit Leadership, Project Management, Executive Cybersecurity, and Digital Marketing.
All Executive MBA programs at New England College are Hybrid Programs, which merge online and hybrid learning. Students applying to the Sport and Recreation Management concentration are not required to submit letters of recommendation or a personal essay.
#5. ASHLAND UNIVERSITY
Ashland University has an online Master of Business Administration program where students can choose between 11 different concentrations, such as Sport Management. The Sport Management emphasis is a 9-unit sequence of three courses, which are designed to teach students how to apply core business concepts to sports.
The program is accredited through the Committee on Sport Management Accreditation (COMSA). Students in the sport management emphasis are given exposure to key concepts and practical knowledge, both through classroom exercises and through field experiences that put students in real-world sports venues and settings. Students work closely with faculty members to find and engage the sports organization of a student's choosing.
Graduates from the program have gone on to work in positions in professional sports, intercollegiate and high school athletics, campus and municipal recreation, sport marketing, and event management. Other concentration areas offered in the Online MBA program at Ashland include Global Management, Financial Management, Business Analytics, and Management Information Systems. The availability of specialization courses may vary each semester.
Students can finish the program in as little as one year or as many as three years. The overall credit requirement for the degree is 30 hours. The final course in the program is the Capstone Strategic Management course ("Strategic Planning & Policy Analysis"), which is a semester-long integrated learning experience, where students synthesize their knowledge from all previous courses.
#6. CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO
Concordia University Chicago offers an online Master of Business Administration program, which can include a focus in Sport Management. With one concentration, the MBA program is designed to be completed in one and a half years. Students can choose to pursue one or two specializations while they are in the Concordia MBA program. Typical specialties that students can combine with the Sport Management concentration include Finance, Entrepreneurship, Leadership/Change Management, and Accounting.
Concordia designed its MBA to revolve around what the school refers to as its "Four Pillars," which are Ethics, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Global Interconnectedness. Courses from the Sport Management include Economics of Sport and Level the Playing Field: Diversity in Sports.
The degree program is open enrollment, meaning that all students with a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university may enter the program without needing to provide additional academic or professional qualifications. This is why applicants to the program are not required to pay an application fee, nor are students required to submit GRE/GMAT scores.
Students interested in earning their online MBA quickly as possible may be interested in Concordia's new one-year online MBA program. There are also graduate certificate programs available in a number of the MBA specialization areas, including Sport Management. Graduates from the Sport Management MBA program have gone on to careers in fields such as Sports Representation (Agent), Events Management, and Sports Marketing.
#7. LYNN UNIVERSITY
Lynn University is home to an online Master of Business Administration in Sports Management program. Courses in the program cover a wide range of subject matter, including Title IX Compliance, Scholarships, Athlete Salary, Recruiting Policies, Facility Management, and Public Relations.
The Sports Management concentration requires courses such as Issues in Intercollegiate and Professional Sports or Legal Aspects of Athletics. The overall degree requires a total of 37 credit hours of coursework, which is divided between 19 foundation course credits (seven classes), nine specialization credits, and nine elective credits. Foundation courses include Managerial Accounting and Operations Management, while free electives can consist of emphasis courses from any specialization area.
In addition to the specialization area courses, students may also choose to fulfill their elective credits with independent study credits. Students also have the option to pursue a Business Administration Internship during the program, though the credits that students earn for this internship are non-degree credit hours.
Graduates from the program now work in professional sports team administration, sports and fitness management, public health club management, and sports stadium management. Some of the other specialization areas available in the MBA program are as follows: Aviation, Entrepreneurship Management, Hospitality, Media Management, and Human Resources. There are three available enrollment periods each year during which students may begin the program.
#8. UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL MISSOURI
The University of Central Missouri's Online Master of Business Administration program requires 33 credit hours of coursework. The requirements are divided between 3 credit hours of foundation coursework, 12 credit hours of core coursework, and 18 credit hours within a student's area of emphasis. The foundation coursework is self-paced and is used to ensure that all students entering the program have a shared baseline of knowledge.
Core courses include Accounting for Managers, Information Management Systems, and Economic Analysis for Business Decisions. The Sports Business emphasis then consists of 12 hours of core courses and six hours of electives. One elective course will need to have a marketing component, while the other elective is a general/free elective.
MBA applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.5, as well as a minimum score of either 450 on the GMAT or 300 on the GRE. Students may have the standardized test score requirement waived if they have a prior business degree that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), or if they possess a minimum GPA of 3.1 and 3 years of full-time work experience.
Qualifying work experience should include increasing responsibilities, as well as a substantial analytical component to assigned duties. Applicants seeking to earn a waiver will need to submit three letters of professional reference from supervisors and three pieces of evidence of analytical work.
#9. CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY- WISCONSIN
Concordia University, Wisconsin, has a 13 course (39 credit-hour) online Master of Business Administration program. The program is completable within two years, even for students who are working full-time while they are in the program. Classes last for eight weeks each. The curriculum is divided between eight core classes and five elective/concentration courses.
One of the concentrations available in the program is in Sport and Entertainment Business. Additional concentration options are available in the program, such as International Business, Innovation, Communications, and Healthcare Administration. The curriculum also includes opportunities to pursue skills and expertise in STEM fields, as well as weeklong study abroad options to China and Austria.
There are also dual degree and internship opportunities that students can choose to pursue. CU Wisconsin has several different scholarship opportunities for both adult and online learning students. These scholarships can save students as much as $500 per three-credit course, which can lead to savings of more than $6,000 throughout the MBA program. No GMAT or GRE scores are required to apply to the program. Students can even earn professional certificates related to their concentration area or tutoring/preparation for certification exams that students might take after graduating.
#10. BELHAVEN UNIVERSITY
Belhaven University has an online Master of Business Administration program with a concentration in Sports Administration. There are a total of 42 credit hours that students must complete to earn the degree. Classes in the program are divided into eight-week long terms, and each course has a specific "Project Activity" that students complete along with their peers. These activities are designed to supplement the learning experience and help students to build on both their creative problem-solving and teamwork skills.
Core classes cover Business Principles, The Legal Environment of Business, and Organizational Behavior. Students also learn about Financial Analysis and the Legal Environment of Business through the core. In total, there are 11 courses (33 credit hours) of core coursework within the program. Students then take their final three courses (9 credit hours) within their chosen concentration. The Sports Administration concentration requires students to take the following three courses: Venue and Event Management, Legal and Regulatory Environment for Sports, and Current Issues and Trends in Sports Administration. Students may transfer in up to nine credit hours of coursework into the MBA program.
Applicants to the program are expected to have a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.8. On top of it's Master's program in Business, Belhaven also offers graduate degrees in Biblical and Theological Studies, as well as Education, Leadership, and Health Administration. All of the programs at Belhaven are designed to give students expertise in a given subject matter, while also validating the Christian values to which the University, the School of Business, and the faculty commit themselves.
#11. FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY
Florida Atlantic University offers students a Master of Business Administration in Sport Management program. Online FAU students are actually encouraged, but not required, to work during the degree program. Students will be given opportunities to apply coursework to their current positions, which makes current employment worthwhile for both students and their peers. However, students may not be employed outside of the sport industry while they are enrolled in the program.
The MBA in Sports Management is designed to last 23 months for students who are enrolled full-time. The program requires 40-46 credit hours of coursework, depending on course waivers that students may earn for undergraduate coursework.The Sport Management MBA program initially began in August 2000. Most graduates from the program become employed in permanent/full-time work in sports or entertainment industry positions. MBA students can enroll in the summer, fall, or spring semesters and attend classes in-person or entirely online.
The on-campus MBA program enrolls students for only the fall and spring semesters. Sport management courses are only available to students who are pursuing the MBA Sport Management specialization. There are no thesis track options for the program. FAU's Sport Management program has a Speaker Series, which brings in individuals such as Jonathan Mariner, the former CFO of Major League Baseball, to speak to MBA Students.
#12. OHIO UNIVERSITY
Ohio University has a dual degree program that allows students to earn both a Master of Business Administration in Sports Administration and a Master of Sports Administration degree. The program is intended for professionals with up to three years of professional work experience and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Students are required to submit GRE or GMAT scores for admission.
The program is designed to last two years, with students completing 42 credit hours towards the MBA degree and 36 credit hours towards the MSA. The MBA degree includes three semesters of coursework which are delivered in a lock-step sequence covering accounting, finance, strategy, management, and marketing. The MSA program then builds on this through coursework in Research Methodology, Law of Sports, and, finally, the student's capstone course.
Ohio University is home to the AECOM Center for Sports Administration, which works to bring together students, scholars, and professionals through organized events and symposiums. Each year AECOM hosts the Darren Butler Sports Forum, which is a major networking opportunity for Sports Management undergraduate and graduate students. These events also provide hands-on learning experiences for students to apply the knowledge and skills that they accumulated throughout their coursework.
In addition to university faculty, OU also has "Executives-In-Residence," who help give students real-world insights into their coursework, and who also provide a direct link to the modern sports administration world. The Online MBA program has more than 1,400 alumni, and more than 85% of those students are currently working in intercollegiate athletics, professional sports, and other related fields.
#13. UNIVERSITY OF WEST ALABAMA
The University of West Alabama has an online Master of Business Administration program, which can be completed in a little over one year. Students in the program can pursue one of eight different specialization options offered. The curriculum for the program requires 33 credit hours of coursework, which begins with 24 hours dedicated to introductory core courses.
Core courses cover topics, including Emerging Technologies, Financial Management, Managerial Accounting, and Marketing Management. Students then choose a concentration from the following list of options: Accounting, Computer Information Systems, Entrepreneurship, Finance, General, Management, Marketing, and Sports Management. Students complete their final nine credit hours (three courses) within their area of specialization.
Within the Sports Management emphasis, there are five different courses that students get to choose from. Students can take Sport Management and Marketing, Accounting and Economics in Sport, Sport and Exercise Law, Athletic Administration Seminar, or Organization and Administration in Human Performance. Students may also choose to pursue research on an independent project, which may be used to fulfill up to six of the required concentration hours.
Prospective students are expected to have a minimum GPA of 2.75, although students below this threshold are considered on a conditional basis. Students who earn a score of at least 480 on the GMAT may be exempted from the introductory orientation course MBA 500 Assessment and Orientation, which is required for all students at the beginning of the program.
#14. HUSSON UNIVERSITY
Husson University online Master of Business Administration program comes with an option for an emphasis in Athletic Administration. Students begin the program with foundational coursework covering managerial economics and accounting, as well as research methods in business and education. Students then choose limited electives related to Management and Financial Management.
The Athletic Administration concentration requires five courses, including Information Management in Athletics and Governance/Policy in Athletics. Overall, students complete 36 credit hours during the program. Husson's online MBA program offers several other concentration options on top of Athletic Administration. Students are also able to study Risk Management, Hospitality Management, Healthcare Management, and Biotechnology/Innovation, among others.
Husson's MBA program accepts students from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds. There are no prerequisites for beginning graduate-level coursework, and professional development support is offered for all students. There are multiple different delivery options for the MBA program, which includes evening, weekend, and online courses.
Students who wish to take classes on-campus can do so at the school's main campus in Bangor, as well as at regional locations in Southern Maine and Northern Maine. Husson is a Military-Friendly school, which means they offer financial aid opportunities for veterans and active-duty servicemembers through programs like the Yellow Ribbon Fund.
#15. AZUSA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY
Azusa Pacific University provides modern students with an opportunity to earn their Master of Business Administration entirely online. Students take 42-43 credit hours of courses and can choose between any of eight different concentration options. Concentrations offered in the program include Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Sport Management, among others. There are 30 credit hours of core coursework covering Management Accounting, Operations Management, Managerial Economics, and High-Performance People Management.
The Sport Management concentration includes courses such as Athletics and the Law, Facility and Event Management, and Field Studies/Internship in Sport Management. Students finish the program with a Strategic Management capstone course, which is designed to give students practical skills in future-oriented planning and decision-making.
Azusa's online classes do not require students to be online during any specific period (course material is delivered asynchronously). Students generally spend between six to ten hours per week per unit on completing assignments and participating in required discussions. Azusa Pacific is a Yellow Ribbon Fund school, which means that active-duty military members, veterans, and spouses are eligible for financial aid opportunities, including loans and scholarships.
Admission to the online program is rolling, with students admitted throughout the year. Students should apply at least four weeks in advance of the start date for their session of interest. In addition to the online delivery option, students can also take MBA program courses at Azusa's main campus, as well as at regional schools such as Inland Empire, Murrieta, and Orange County.
#16. SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY
Southern New Hampshire University provides the No. 16 top-pick for 2020: an online Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Sport Management. The curriculum is designed to give students knowledge and skills related to everything from event management to equipment manufacturing, as well as specialized topics like scholastic sports and parks/recreation management.
The MBA program consists of nine core courses and three sports management electives. Southern New Hampshire offers a 25% tuition discount for full-time and part-time U.S. Service Members, as well as spouses of active-duty service members. Students without an undergraduate background in business may be required to take foundation courses before beginning their MBA coursework.
There is no GRE or GMAT requirement for admission to the program. Students are accepted to the program on a rolling basis, with five graduate terms available throughout the year. Students can take two courses per 10-week semester, which allows them to graduate in just 15 months.
The program is accredited by both the New England Commission of Higher Education and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The SNHU MBA program is more than 40 years old and has thousands of alumni who can connect graduates to internship or post-graduate opportunities.
#17. BRYAN COLLEGE-DAYTON
Bryan College, located in Dayton, TN, offers students an online Master of Business Administration in Sports Management. The Bryan College program can be completed in as few as 14 months. Courses are delivered in accelerated, nine-week formats, with 36 credit hours of coursework required to graduate. All courses in the program are taught from a Christian worldview.
Bryan College is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International, which is a coalition of evangelical Protestant Christian universities. Students begin the program with core courses in Management and Leadership, Accounting Information, and Managing Human Resources. Coursework eventually progresses to four courses focused specifically around Sports Management topics: Leading the Sports Organization, Sports Finance, Sports Marketing, and Sports Facility/Event Management.
The program is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). Students are required to complete at least 30 of the 36 credit hours required for the degree directly through Bryan College and its online learning portal.
Start dates for the program are available for the program around every two months. Terms start in March, May, August, October, and January. Bryan College has additional online Master of Business Administration degree programs available in Christian Ministry, Healthcare Administration, Human Resources, and Marketing. There are also graduate certificate programs available in Marketing and Human Resources. Prior-learning credit is possible for the MBA program and Bryan's other Master's programs.
#18. SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY
Southeastern University's online Master of Business Administration program in Sports Management is designed to be completed in between 12-24 months. Both faculty members and the curriculum itself are designed to showcase "Authentic Christianity," meaning that Christian Ideals are a central part of the program. Students take a total of 12 courses during the program, which is evenly split between core and concentration courses.
Core coursework covers problem-solving, accounting, information technology, and organizational behavior. Sports-specific courses then build on this by covering facility planning, risk management, financial issues, and sports marketing. The final course in the program is a Sports Business Capstone, which requires students to complete a field study or research project.
Applicants to the program are expected to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants are also expected to have core competencies in subject areas such as microeconomics, business analytics, and financial accounting. Students below the minimum GPA requirement or who lack some (or all) prerequisite courses may still be admitted to the program on a provisional basis.
Application to the program also requires a writing sample that discusses the way an MBA will help the applicant to meet their career goals and integrate Christian faith into their future career as a manager. Students must also submit two academic letters of recommendation. Graduates from the program have gone on to pursue some of the following professions: Athletic Director, Sports Marketer, Sports Manager, and Sports Agent.
#19. TIFFIN UNIVERSITY
Tiffin University offers an online Master of Business Administration program in Sports Management, which can be completed either online or on-campus. Students are required to complete 32-36 credit hours, and the program is designed to take around 14 months to complete.
Every student in the program completes a 200-hour mentorship experience with an alumni member from the program or a business professional with a connection to Tiffin. Core courses are available both online and on-campus, while Sports Management concentration courses are available only online.
The mentorship aspect allows students to gain practical applications and experience from their coursework. Previous mentors have included the Vice President of the New York Liberty, the Director of Personnel for the Oakland Raiders, and the Assistant Director of Suites for the Dallas Cowboys.
The first graduating class from the mentorship program earned their degrees in 2009, and the program population has increased since then. Patrick Collins, MBA Sports Management '14, was recently featured in Forbes Magazine's "30 Under 30" list for 2018.
#20. FRANKLIN PIERCE UNIVERSITY
Franklin Pierce University has an online Master of Business Administration program, which requires students to complete a total of 13 courses. This includes 12 core courses and one elective. Students can enroll in the program on a full-time or part-time basis. There are four academic terms throughout the year.
Core concepts are delivered in both practical and quantitative terms, which is designed to allow students to apply what they learn in the real world immediately. Concentration courses cover topics such as change management, media relations, and sports facility management. Core courses from the program include Legal and Ethical Issues in Organizations, Organizational Behavior, and Media Relations/Technology in the Sports Industry.
Admission to the program requires students to have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.8. Students must also showcase professional competencies in the following areas: accounting, statistics, and computer skills. Students must also submit a statement of personal aspirations, as well as an essay addressing when the applicant had a significant accomplishment, faced a major setback, and exceeded expectations.
In addition to its online MBA program, Franklin Pierce also has several graduate certificate programs available, including in Sport Management. The Graduate Certificate program in Sport Management requires students to complete five courses, which include a Seminar in Leadership and Sports Facilities Management. Graduates from the program have gone on to careers as business managers, marketers, facilities managers, and operations directors.