According to recent estimates, the sports and recreation industry has a net worth over $420 billion, and the U.S. Department of Labor projects job growth of up to 25%. Still, job positions are highly competitive, especially for upper-level management roles which command six-figure salaries. As always, it helps to have the educational credentials, and an MS in Sports Management offers students the most cutting-edge, applicable curriculum, combining business fundamentals — accounting, finance, management – with all the necessary know-how and skills relevant to today’s changing sports and recreation landscape, whether you’re already an industry professional or trying to break in.
Below, we’ve compiled the most affordable online master’s tracks — including relevant MBA tracks — many of which offer full financial aid, so you can keep costs low and still earn a top-notch degree to get your career on the right path.
- Out-of-State (if applicable) Tuition Per Credit Hour (50%)
- Percentage of students receiving financial aid
1. American Public University
Founded 1991, American Public University specializes in online education, with an enrollment of over 50,000 students and offices in Charles Town, West Virginia, and Manassas, Virginia, and an additional campus for the American Military University, of which APU is the parent institution. (Nearly 60% of students are active duty or military veterans, and 17,000 are enrolled through the GI Bill.) With an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, APU classes balance intimate, individual instruction and collaborative learning to create a dynamic educational environment.
APU’s online MS in Sports Management is designed for traditional students, adult learners, and working professionals interested in sports management, coaching, and athletic administration at all levels. The core curriculum covers a wide range of key topics, including sports law, marketing, promotion, public relations, finance, economics, and the impact of sports on historical and modern society. To customize the degree to individual students’ interests, APU offers several concentrations like Coaching Theory and Strategy and Sports Administration. The program is accredited by the American Sport Education Program (ASEP).
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $350
- Undergrads Receiving Financial Aid: 100%
2. Missouri Baptist University
Founded in 1964, Missouri Baptist University is a private institution with an enrollment of 5,300, offering a range of undergraduate, graduate, and certificate tracks. The university’s 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio promotes a dynamic educational approach that combines collaborative learning and individualized instruction; the average freshman class is 30 students. In addition to standard student support services, MBU offers remedial services, academic and career counseling, employment services, and placement services. As a Christian school, MBU incorporates religious concepts into its programs.
Missouri Baptist offers an online MS in Sports Management that consists of 31 credits and can be completed in as little as 18-24 months, after which graduates will be prepared for careers in a wide range of fields: intercollegiate athletics, amateur and professional sports, sport-marketing firms, special-event management, and facility management. Core requirements include Sport Law, Advanced Sport Marketing, Sport Public Relations, Leadership and Management in Sport, and a number of elective options. From there, all students must also complete either a sports management internship or write and defend a thesis. All courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate individual schedules (including full- and part-time enrollment) and students work at their own pace.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $526
- Undergrads Receiving Financial Aid: 100%
3. Belhaven University
Founded in 1883, Belhaven University is a private Christian liberal arts school in Jackson, Mississippi, with satellite campuses in Atlanta, Houston, Memphis, and Orlando. US News ranks Belhaven among the best schools in the region and 20th for overall value. With a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, classes are kept intimate to support a tight-knit learning community and personalized instruction. Over 80% of classes have fewer than 20 students, and just 1% have more than 50. As a Christian university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, Belhaven’s curriculum incorporates religious values and concepts.
Belhaven offer an online MBA with a concentration in Sports Administration that consists of 42 credits. Business core classes include Organizational Behavior, Managerial Economics, Legal Environment of Business, Marketing Management, Financial Analysis, and Strategic Planning, among others. From there, students take Current Issues and Trends in Sports Administration, Legal and Regulatory Environment for Sports, and Venue and Event Management. Thanks to a generous transfer credit policy, students with previous academic credits may accelerate course work, and all courses deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $540
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 100%
4. Arkansas State University
Founded in 1909, Arkansas State University is the flagship university of the ASU system, which is the second largest in the state. Located in Jonesboro, the school’s enrollment of 13,000 includes students Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, China, Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea, among others. With a 17:1 student-to-faculty, courses combine personalized instruction with collaborative learning to create a modern dynamic educational environment. Half of classes have less than 20 students, and just 5% have more than 50. US News has ranked it. among the top 20 public schools in the region, with high marks for veterans.
ASU offers an online MS in Sport Administration that consists of 36 credits: Ethical Issues in Sports, Sport Law, Sport Marketing, Sport Finance and Budgeting, Sport Communications, Sport Leadership, Sport Governance and Operations, Sport in Society, Research Design, and more. From there, students complete a 14-week internship to gain hands-on experience and develop a professional network. Courses deliver in accelerated 7-week blocks, allowing students to complete the program in as little as 12 months. Graduates will be prepared for careers in a number of fields, including sports marketing and sales, college and professional athletics administration, parks and recreation, facility management, and fiscal management
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $288
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 94%
5. Concordia University – Irvine
Founded in 1972, Concordia University – Irvine has a total enrollment of 4,500 and is ranked among the top schools in the region by US News, with high marks for military veteran services. The university’s 18:1 student-to-faculty supports both intimate and personalized instruction alongside a collaborative learning community that encourages peer-to-peer work. Over half of classes have fewer than 20 students, and less than 1% have 50. As a Christian university, Concordia identifies seven education targets: Systematic Inquiry, Clear Communication, Health and Well-Being, Sociocultural Responsiveness, Aesthetic Responsiveness, Christian Literacy and Life, and Servant Leadership.
Concordia offers a Master’s in Coaching and Athletics Administration, consisting of 20 core credits and 16 elective credits. Requirements include Principles of Coaching & Leadership, Ethics and Sport, Legal Aspects of Sport, Research Methods & Analysis, and a 4-part capstone project to gain hands-on experience and develop a professional portfolio for prospective employers. From there, students choose from a range of electives to customize coursework – classes like Sport Medicine & Performance, Biomechanics, Nutrition for Sport, Psychology of Coaching, Athletic Finance, Facility Planning and Event Management, Intercollegiate Athletics in America, and more. (Many electives fit into a traditional MS in Sports Management.) For maximum flexibility, admissions are accepted on a rolling basis. Students services include academic advising, career services, and more.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $525
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 97%
6. University of Central Missouri
Founded in 1871, The University of Central Missouri has a total enrollment of about 14,000 students from 42 states and 61 countries. US News ranks UCM among the top 25 schools in the region, and one reason must be its all-star faculty: of the nearly 500 faculty members on staff, over 70% hold a PhD or terminal degree in their field. The school’s 16:1 student-to-faculty is another advantage, allowing intimate, individualized instruction and collaborative learning opportunities. UCM’s tuition is the lowest in the state, and 92% of students receive some form of financial aid or merit-based scholarship, which total more than $5 million per year.
Central Missouri offers an online MBA in Sports Business that totals 33 credits, divided into the core component, emphasis, and electives to customize the curriculum. Requirements include Information Management Systems, Economic Analysis for Business Decisions, Short-Term Financial Management, Management and Strategy, Sports Economics, Sports Marketing, and Strategic Marketing, among others. The program is designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate full- and part-time students from all backgrounds; full-time students can complete the degree in as little as one year. (A hybrid option is also available.) Applicants should have earned at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA and 450 GMAT score.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $325
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 90%
7. Franklin Pierce University
Founded in 1962, Franklin Pierce University is a national Tier 2 with a total enrollment of about 2,300, representing students from 40 states and 14 countries. Forbes has ranked it among the top 5 colleges in the state. With a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and average class size of 17, students benefit from an intimate, collaborative educational environment. Over 60% of classes have fewer than 20 students and just 2% percent have more than 50. Admissions are rolling for maximum flexibility.
Franklin Pierce offers an MBA in Sports Management that consists of 13 courses, including Legal and Ethical Issues in Organizations, Managerial Accounting, Economics for Managers, Operations Management for Leaders, Media Relations and Technology in the
Sports Industry, Change Management in Sports Organizations, and Facilities Management, among others. All courses are designed to accommodate students’ unique schedules, and full- and part-time tracks are available. In addition to core classes, students will complete an internship and action-based research project to gain real-world experience. FPU students also have the benefit of a built-in professional network: the program’s advisory board includes representation from the Boston Red Sox, New Hampshire International Speedway, and more. Graduates have gone on to careers in facilities managers, sports merchandisers, and operations directors within professional sports organizations.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $665
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 100%
8. Liberty University
Founded in 1971, Liberty University is a private Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, with 14,000 on-campus students and 100,000 students enrolled in online classes, making Liberty a worldwide leader in distance education (particularly for adult learners and adult learners). Further, several programs offer intensive, on-campus summer semesters to accelerate course work, and Liberty’s transfer policy allows students with previous academic credit, work/life experience, military service, MOOCs, examinations, and/or portfolios to apply for transfer credit. Even with its size, Liberty maintains a small, tight-knit learning community on the classroom level: a third of all classes consist of less than 20 students and just 5% have 50.
Liberty’s MS in Sports Management consists of 36 credits, offering a a comprehensive overview of the industry. Core requirements include Social Issues in Sport Management, Sport Marketing & Public Relations, Ethics in Sport, Foundations of Sport Ministry, Legal Issues in Sport, Economic & Financial Management of Sport, and Understanding Research in Sport, Recreation & Tourism. From there, students can customize their curriculum through a number of available specializations, each of which have thesis and non-theses options: Outdoor Adventure Sport, Sport Administration, and Tourism. (Up to 50% of credits can be transferred into this program.) Regardless of specialization, graduates will be prepared for a range of sports business careers.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $565
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 93%
9. Jackson State University
Founded in 1877, Jackson State University has a total enrollment of nearly 10,000, and US News ranks it 16th in the region among HBCUs. All programs are designed to prepare students to become tech-savvy, ethical, and global leaders who think critically and address societal problems. Jackson State’s 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a vibrant, collaborative learning community that combines individualized instruction with peer-to-peer learning. Nearly 40% of classes have fewer than 20 students and less than 10% have 50.
Jackson State offers an online MS in Sport Science with a concentration in Sports Management that provides a broad-based comprehensive curriculum and interdisciplinary collaboration. Among the 36 required credits are Facility Design & Maintenance, Sport Psychology & Sociology, Business Statistics, Sport Marketing, Sport Finance, Sport Administration & Organization, and Ethics of Sport, among others. All students must also complete either an internship or thesis to demonstrate mastery of material and gain hands-on experience. Through the Canvas learning platform, students have 24/7 access to courses, live chat rooms, group discussion boards, tech support, and more. Graduates will be prepared for careers in areas like intercollegiate athletics, professional sport organizations, parks and recreation organizations, and sport marketing companies.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $594
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 94%
10. Old Dominion University
Founded in 1930, Old Dominion University is a Tier 1 public university in Norfolk, Virginia, with an enrollment of 25,000. The university’s distance education program launched in 1994; today it offers 60 unique programs that can be completed 100% online or in hybrid formats at one of Old Dominion’s 50 partner locations in Virginia, Arizona, and Washington. The 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports the best of both worlds – small, intimate classrooms alongside collaborative learning opportunities – and over 35% of classes have less than 20 students and just 10% have 50. There are over 124,000 alumni in all 50 states and 67 countries.
Old Dominion offers a unique MSEd in Sport Management that includes 36 credits. In addition to the Education core requirements, students take classes like Sport Finance, Strategic Marketing in Sport, Sport Law, Management and Leadership in Sport, and Introduction to Applied Statistics and Data Analysis. From there, students have a several elective options to customize the curriculum, from thesis options to an internship that develops real-world skills. Additional electives include Youth Development in Recreation, Social Issues in Sport, and Sponsorship and Event Planning. ODU’s program is largely asynchronous for maximum flexibility, meaning students complete courses according to their own schedules rather than a set weekly time.
- Out-of-State Tuition Per Credit: $538
- Undergrads receiving Financial Aid: 83%