Earning a Master’s in Sports Management Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Sports Management Online?

An online master's in sports management can help you enter and rise through the ranks of careers in local government recreation management, recruitment, coaching, or talent management. This field best suits people with minds for management and business who love sports and recreation. Pursuing a master's in sports management online allows students to continue working while earning their degree, which proves especially helpful for those already in sport-related careers. Read on to learn about the opportunities this degree may create, and which courses it might entail.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Sports Management Graduates

Master's in Sports Management Salary

The following tables detail earning potential for graduates with their online master's in sports management. The first table explores employment and wages for agents and business managers in several states. The second illustrates earning potential for athletic directors based on field experience. Geographic location and employer may affect earning potential, as well -- for example, a university might pay more than a high school for an athletic director.

Top Paying States for gents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 190 $116,140
New York 3,230 $103,230
Wisconsin 60 $102,330
Kansas 30 $99,290
California 6,300 $96,470
United States 15,450 $90,870

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Athletic Director

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $49,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $59,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $67,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $78,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Sports Management Careers

This section delves into five potential careers for graduates with sports management master's degrees. These careers require organizational skills, subject area knowledge, people skills, and leadership capability. An online master's in sports management can help prepare students for any of the following careers. Some institutions may allow sports management students to further specialize their degrees in preparation for their career aspirations.

Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes

Annual Median Salary: $90,870

Projected Growth Rate: N/A

These professionals work for and with individual performers to help them navigate and negotiate contracts and other financial deals. They also advise clients on opportunities to improve their income, image, or social standing.

Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials

Annual Median Salary: $26,800

Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Sports officials work with organizations that oversee and manage sporting events. Public or private groups may employ these professionals. Candidates should possess knowledge of the sport in question, be able to maintain neutrality, and pay attention during matches to ensure fair play.

Coaches and Scouts

Annual Median Salary: $32,270

Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Coaches teach athletes and help them prepare for games, while scouts seek out new players to join a team or organization. These career paths overlap quite a bit, and both require professionals to analyze a given athlete's performance.

Recreation Workers

Annual Median Salary: $24,540

Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Recreation workers help people stay active through planned events in sports, music, or crafts. They plan and implement activities geared toward certain groups, such as children or the elderly. These professionals can work in a variety of environments, including summer camps, retirement homes, and local governments.

Athletic Trainers

Annual Median Salary: $46,630

Projected Growth Rate: 23%

These professionals focus on athletes' physical wellness, working to prevent, diagnose, and treat muscle and bone injuries that may occur during sports and fitness routines. Athletic trainers often work in the medical field or for colleges and other educational institutions. Professional sports teams often employ athletic trainers, as well.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statstics

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Sports Management Program?

Each program offers its own set of courses, but most curricula feature common themes. See below five examples of courses that would likely appear in an online master's program in sports management.

Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Sports Management

Motor Learning

Students in this course explore and discuss how people move their bodies in specific ways. Topics might include how psychological factors can influence physical movement, or how to ensure athletes can perform such movements without injuring themselves.

Global Sports

This course introduces students to the global context of sport, including how games vary between countries, how international organizations handle planning and executing matches, and how venues may differ between cultures.

Diversity in Sport

As the sporting world increasingly recognizes the importance of diversity among players, some athletes, coaches, and officials must adapt to and promote that diversity. This course focuses on integrating diverse players into a team and respecting diversity in a meaningful way.

Facility Management

This course covers a wide variety of subjects, including high-level management, media presence, and care for the grass on a playfield. Facility management encompasses a range of responsibilities, so professionals in this field might specialize their education to keep facilities operating and ensure the safety of athletes and spectators.

Marketing Sport

This course focuses on how to "sell" a sport to fans, sponsors, or other consumers who might spend money on a team or event. This includes media presence, internal organization, and response to complaints or infractions by team members or staff.

Certificates a Master’s in Sports Management Prepares For

  • Graduate Certificate in Sport Management: This program allows students to supplement their education with additional sports management training. This certificate helps professionals transition between fields or improve their existing subject knowledge.
  • Sports Industry Essentials Certificate This certificate program helps established professionals transition into the sports industry. It places a focus on management, but includes an analytical element, allowing candidates to incorporate "big data" into their careers.
  • Certified Sports Event Executive: Serving early-career professionals, CSEE comprises 32 credits in topics such as risk management and sponsorship development. Applicants should have at least five years of industry experience by graduation. Certification candidates must work for a member organization of the National Association of Sports Commissions.
  • Business of Sports Certificate Program: This six-month program serves entry-level professionals who plan to pursue sport-related business careers. This certificate allows candidates to enter the workforce quickly.