Questions and Answers: Master of Science in Sports Management

Sports equipment for baseball, basketball, football, soccer, hockey, boxing, golf

The Master of Science in Sport Administration is a degree for students who want to pursue a leadership career in amateur or professional sports. Whether your ambition is to run a local parks and recreation department, transition from coach to athletic director, or become an executive for a national sports league, this versatile master's degree can help you achieve your goals.

Master's in sport administration graduates are equipped with the right business knowledge to transform the organizations they serve, improving operations and increasing efficiency. The change management skills you'll gain are also essential, because sports is always evolving. Many athletic departments and businesses now depend on nimble strategy, sports science and innovative leadership to stay competitive.

If you're interested in a sports leadership career and curious about earning your master's degree online, the following links provide some helpful information you can use to explore your options.

What Is a Master of Science in Sports Management Degree?

It's a master's degree that prepares students for a diverse range of careers in sports management. You'll study athletic program design and evaluation, as well as organizational leadership and facility operations. Courses also focus on the legal and ethical aspects of the sports business, plus the regulatory climate administrators must navigate when working with athletes. You'll even learn about marketing strategy for teams and individual players, whether their goal is to support the community or build their brand.

Arkansas State University's online Master of Science in Sport Administration program prepares graduates for management positions in a range of athletic and professional settings. Courses can be completed 100% online, in a flexible learning environment tailored to the needs of working students.

Benton Austin - A-State
Comparing them with other schools, nothing stacked up like A-State. The level of education you get from the quality of their instructors is really a cut above.

Benton Austin, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

What Can I Do With a Sports Administration Degree?

Sports manager holding a football in an office setting

Coaches, trainers and others who work directly with athletes often earn this graduate degree to move up in their careers, and many seek the position of high school or district athletic director. However, master's students can explore a broad scope of jobs in college and professional sports management. Graduates with this degree are working in the tourism, leisure and entertainment industries for example. Fields such as sports marketing and consulting also offer excellent opportunity.

If you're interested in leading recreational programs in your local community, the degree can help you build knowledge that will enhance your work with amateur athletes. You will learn about the legal and financial aspects of running a sports organization as well, which can help you launch your own business as a sports entrepreneur.

Shana Howlett - A-State
As a sports fan, you think you know everything about the sports industry, but in going through this program, you learn a lot more about the managerial work that goes into running sports organizations.

Shana Howlett, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

The master's program is giving me some insight into the administrative side of sports. It will definitely open up some opportunities for me. My dream job is to be an NFL general manager. I like that side of football.

Kirk Louis Jr, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

Kirk Louis Jr - A-State

Which Courses Will I Take for an Online Sports Management Masters?

Variety of icons representing different courses for different subjects like sports management.

Master's courses in sports admin provide students with a solid foundation in management and leadership that will serve them well regardless of their career path. Students typically diversify their knowledge of athletics and business through coursework and develop new skills during their internship that they can apply at the high school, college or professional level.

A-State online master's coursework addresses the role and impact of sports in society as well as the following aspects of sports administration:

  • Law and ethics
  • Marketing
  • Communications
  • Finance and budgeting
  • Governance and operations
  • Leadership
  • Research
  • Physical education
  • Sports science

Master's students also complete a 14-week internship (spread over two seven-week terms), where they can get hands-on experience, make contacts and learn directly from professionals in the career field they hope to enter after graduation.

Shana Howlett - A-State
I learned a whole lot [in ESPE 6113: Sport Law] about law in general, but especially when it comes to running sports facilities. … Everything that you have to keep in mind when you're a manager or you're in charge of a facility.

Shana Howlett, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

In [ESPE 6163: Sport Governance & Operations], you go through the entire governance of an athletic department in the college level. … I was speaking with an NFL team at length about a potential position and about the board of governors at the NFL, and I was very knowledgeable.

Benton Austin, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

Benton Austin - A-State

What Are the Admission Requirements for Online Sports Administration Master's Programs?

In addition to your application, most online master's programs focused on sports management or administration require official transcripts confirming your graduation date, and that your undergraduate GPA meets admission standards. Some programs also ask for additional items, such as GRE test scores.

Admissions to popular sports management master's programs can be very competitive, so be sure to follow your prospective school's guidelines and consult the program coordinator as needed.

Although A-State's online M.S. in Sport Administration consistently ranks among the top master's programs of its kind, applying is simple and no GRE is required. Visit the program page for additional details.

Spotlight: Asking for Letters of Recommendation

Illustration with arm facing to the right with a thumb up and the word professional on the sleeve. A second arm facing to the left with a thumb up and the word academic on the sleeve.

Choosing the appropriate person to ask for a grad school recommendation can be challenging. If you're not sure what the admissions board wants to know, or how to ask for a letter, don't worry. Most college professors are used to getting this type of request, as are many employers. Here are a few tips that can help you get the best results:

  • Academic recommendation – Choose a professor you have a good relationship with, preferably one who knows you well as a student. Provide basic information about the graduate program and your related career plans, along with any academic qualities you hope to highlight in your application. If your professor isn't well-acquainted with the subject you'll be studying, be sure to answer any additional questions they may have about the degree.
  • Professional recommendation – When requesting a letter from a supervisor or former manager, ask whether they have written a grad school recommendation before. If they haven't, you may need to provide some guidelines to ensure they understand what you need. Suggest they focus on your strengths, accomplishments and capabilities, specifically those that demonstrate your potential for success in your master's career field.

A-State's online MS in Sport Administration program requires that applicants submit one recommendation letter. The person you choose should be able to speak to your professional responsibilities or your potential for success in graduate school.

Is Accreditation Important for Sports Management Degrees?

COSMA seal of accreditation

Yes. Students considering a sports admin master's degree should seek out programs accredited by the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) or another authority recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

COSMA accredits sports management degree programs at colleges and universities worldwide. The organization is CHEA-recognized for its high academic quality standards, as well as its commitment to program improvement and accountability. The MS in Sport Management program at Arkansas State is one of only a small number in the United States to achieve COSMA accreditation.

How Does Master's Program Accreditation Benefit Me As a Student?

Master's accreditation is a rigorous review process that evaluates degree programs in a number of different areas, including professor qualifications, teaching methods, graduation rates and more. It is also intended to protect students from fraud by ensuring that programs provide adequate student resources and the right preparation for jobs in the degree field.

Does Accreditation Affect Financial Aid or Military Education Benefits?

No accreditation equals no federal aid, state aid or military education benefits for graduate students

Yes. Master's students must attend an accredited school or program to be eligible for government financial aid programs, including state grants, scholarships and student loans. The same requirement applies to service members and veterans using their education benefits for a master's degree. Tuition payments, housing assistance and other aspects of education support provided by the military are dependent on your progress toward an accredited degree.

This is one more reason it's best to avoid sports management programs that cannot meet accreditor standards or that do not seek accreditation at all.

Learn more about A-State's online Master of Science in Sport Administration program!

Is an Internship Required for an Online Master's in Sports Management?

Athlete holding a soccer ball on a field behind a goal net.

In most programs, yes. Master's level internships can give you access to the professional contacts, opportunities and mentoring that will prove valuable as your sports leadership career unfolds. So, in addition to providing you with industry-specific skills and valuable experience, internships will help you build your network.

In A-State's online M.S. in Sport Administration program, students complete 300 internship hours in an academic, professional or community setting.

Benton Austin - A-State
[The internship is] wonderful for your career development … I do have hands-on experience in all sorts of recruiting as well as administrative tasks and facilities management with the athletic directors.

Benton Austin, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

How Do Internships Work in an Online Sports Administration Master's Program?

In most online sports admin master's programs, students arrange their own internship. This allows you to tailor a hands-on learning experience to your interests and also intern in the location you choose. Your program must still approve your placement and supervisor. A professor will also oversee your progress during any required courses you'll take to receive internship credit toward your degree.

Where Can I Find Sports Management Internship Opportunities?

Icons for stadium, park, school and social media

Many online master's students find that a variety of sports management internships are available in their local community. If you are seeking a placement close to home, here are some good options to consider:

  • Schools and school districts
  • College athletic departments
  • Amateur and professional sports teams
  • Parks and recreation departments
  • Sports media or marketing businesses
  • Sports programs at nonprofit organizations or country clubs
  • Company fitness programs

Coaches and others already working in the sports field may also be able to intern with a current employer. At A-State, up to 150 internship hours can be completed at your workplace, with program approval. However, your administrative duties during the placement must be different than your regular responsibilities.

If you're interested in additional options, Teamwork Online has a searchable internship database that features opportunities with major- and minor-league teams, national and regional athletic conferences, and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic committee. You can also find internships with individual sporting events and facilities.

I'm a Mature Student With Work Experience. Will I Be Able to Get an Internship in Sports?

Nontraditional interns welcome including educators, professionals, career changers, parents

Many employers welcome nontraditional interns. This includes professionals changing careers and parents returning to the workforce after raising kids.

Internships for graduate students in sports administration are also different than those for younger college students just starting out in the field. You'll likely have more responsibility and work on more complex management tasks. Your previous experience could even be an advantage in many areas of athletics, especially if you have developed leadership skills in a different industry that can be put to use in your new role.

I'm a High School Coach. Can a Master's Help Me Become an Athletic Director?

Coach standing by a basketball hoop wearing a whistle and holding the ball

Becoming an AD is a natural career move for high school coaches, and a master's in sports management can give you the right skills for the job. As you oversee your school or district's sports programs you will handle tasks such as planning and budgeting and gain experience in multiple areas of management.

ADs set the standards for athletic departments and promote a climate of safety and sportsmanship. Depending on their duties, they may be responsible for supervising personnel who work with student athletes, or ensuring that legal, academic and reporting requirements are met. ADs may also take on fundraising, facility management or other areas of school administration.

Can a Master's Degree Help Me Become a College Athletic Director?

Many college coaches and other sports administrators consider stepping into the role of athletic director. Some college ADs build their careers in smaller programs, and others learn the role working in major athletic programs and conferences. If you have a passion for intercollegiate athletics and sports leadership, there's plenty of room to grow your career regardless of where you start.

The knowledge, experience and contacts a master's degree in sports administration provides can help you develop your skills and earn more at each step of your career as a college athletic director. Visit the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association to learn more about working in this field.

What's the Career Outlook for Sports Managers and Administrators?

Bowling pin, football, tennis ball, baseball, hockey stick, basketball, soccer ball

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects faster-than-average employment growth in many different sports management and administrative occupations over the decade ahead. For example, career opportunities for athletic agents, managers and promoters are on the rise, along with salaries for those roles.

According to BLS, some of the best-paying management jobs in spectator sports include positions overseeing advertising, marketing, public relations, administrative services and facilities. Many of the same jobs are available in fitness and recreational sports centers as well, although pay rates at municipal and nonprofit facilities may be modest compared to professional venues. Graduates can sometimes gain key leadership experience faster in a local or regional sports organization however, especially in areas such as programming and fundraising.

According to BLS, top management and leadership positions in the sports industry often pay six-figure salaries, and the annual mean wage for executives is more than $100,000 per year. Many jobs for general managers, operations managers and college or school district athletic directors also fall into this pay range, though compensation will vary based on your qualifications and location.

Learn more about A-State's online Master of Science in Sport Administration program!

What Skills Do Employers Look for in a Sports Director, Manager or Administrator?

A variety of public and private employers hire new master's graduates for sports leadership roles. While requirements may differ by job title, you'll find that many positions involve managing operations, projects, business relationships or personnel.

Job candidates with strategic management and budgeting skills often have an edge in competing for these opportunities, as do candidates who understand the legal and regulatory landscape of sports.

Master's graduates with a talent for innovation are in high demand as well, along with those well-versed in performance analytics and data-driven decision making. Directors and managers who can turn business insights into results that drive cost savings and increase revenue are sought after in every corner of the sports world.

Job candidates with expertise in areas such as risk management, digital marketing and public relations are also in demand.

Shana Howlett - A-State
We have a lot of policies and procedures in our recreation center when it comes to liability and safety. What I have learned has played a part in my decisions and the suggestions that I've made to my managers as far as policies that we put in place to make sure we're not held liable for injuries and damages.

Shana Howlett, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

Do I Need a Master's Degree to Become a Sports Agent?

Person in business suit holding baseball in hand

Many agents do have advanced education, such as a master's or law degree, although it's not strictly a requirement. A master's in sports administration is however a common stepping stone to agency jobs in client services, media, marketing, endorsements, licensing or other areas of athlete representation. Graduates who land these highly competitive positions typically benefit from additional mentoring, training and networking opportunities on their way to becoming an agent.

A master's in sports admin can also help prepare you for the legal landscape in which sports agents operate. If you want to represent student athletes, for instance, you'll need to understand the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act as well as student athlete endorsement law. You may also have to be registered with the professional league in which your clients will participate, and/or licensed to operate in the athlete's state of residence.

In addition, you may need to be certified by the union that represents all players in a professional sport, or by the sport's governing association. Here are a few that require agent certification:

The bottom line is that understanding the sports business is critical to your success as an agent, whether you are representing athletes in contract negotiations or otherwise doing business on their behalf.

What Does an Online Master's Degree in Sports Management Cost?

The cost of an online master's degree in sports administration or management can vary widely by program. The number of credit hours required to earn the degree and the tuition cost per credit are most important to know, along with any student fees that may be required. You could also have to pay more if you live out-of-state, depending on the online master's program you choose.

Private schools tend to be the most expensive, even for an online sports admin degree. Public colleges and universities are usually the better option if you're watching your budget, or you just want to see a return on your investment sooner.

All students in A-State's online M.S. in Sport Administration program pay just $340 per credit hour, fees included. That's $12,240 total for the degree.

Kirk Louis Jr - A-State
My family and friends are all very excited for me, I will be the first person in my family to earn a master's degree, so it also gives them something to brag about. I have definitely gotten good value out of the master's degree program and learned a lot.

Kirk Louis Jr, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

Can I Qualify for Financial Aid If I Study Online?

Yes. As long as you are attending an accredited college or university, you can apply for aid. Once you fill out your FAFSA, your eligibility will be determined based on your income, family size and the cost of your master's program. Visit the U.S. Department of Education to learn more.

Can I Use the GI Bill or Other Military Benefits for an Online Master's Degree?

Camouflage-print moneybag with a dollar sign on front

Yes. Just visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to determine your eligibility and start the application process for funding.

A-State's Veterans Affairs Representative works closely with online master's students from all branches of the military, providing help with benefit certification and tuition payments. You can also get assistance with transferring your education benefits to your spouse or dependents.

Are There Any Support Services for Military Members and Veterans Who Study Online?

Yes. Most universities that offer online degree programs also provide online support to the veterans and active-duty service members who enroll. In addition to help with benefits processing, many schools have dedicated veteran affairs specialists who work with online students, and options for participating in online forums for military members and their families.

A-State has consistently been named a top military friendly school. Active and retired service members can get assistance throughout their application process, as well as ongoing support while studying online. The Beck Center for Veterans also provides other helpful services and resources.

Will I Have to Give up My Full-time Job to Earn a Master's Degree in Sports Management?

No. If you want or need to continue working while you study, you can. Online master's programs offer students a great deal of flexibility and convenience compared with traditional master's programs delivered on campus. They can be more affordable too.

Instead of missing work or family time to attend face-to-face class meetings, you can get online whenever you're free and start learning. Earning a master's degree is just easier when you can do it on your schedule, while keeping your full-time job and income.

How Fast Can I Finish a Sports Administration Master's Program Online?

Semester-based master's programs on campus and online take an average of two years to complete if you're studying full time, longer if you attend part time. If you are motivated to earn your master's quickly, an accelerated online program may be your best bet. Courses are intensive and they run five to eight weeks in length.

Master's programs that are 100% online can help you move through degree requirements the fastest. A-State's accelerated online M.S. in Sport Administration features seven-week classes and six enrollment dates a year. It's possible to finish your degree in as few as 12 months by taking two courses each term.

Christyal Holloway - A-State
A lot of what propelled me toward A-State was the opportunity to be on the fast track.

Christyal Holloway, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

How Do Online College Courses Work?

Two students look at online courses on laptop computer

They work just like on-campus classes do in many respects. You'll still have a professor, of course, and a class syllabus that outlines all assignments and requirements. The difference is that you will use many of the technologies that make life more convenient to do your coursework and learn from your instructor.

For instance, you'll stream lectures on video and be able to watch them again whenever you want. That means no more recording your professor in real time on your phone while you're also trying to take notes. You will also take tests and quizzes, submit papers, collaborate on projects, and view your grades online. Many courses also have weekly deadlines, which gives you more time to plan your studies around your work schedule or family routine.

Will I Know My Online Classmates?

United States colorful map with illustrated foam fingers placed on different states.

While some courses are more interactive than others, it's easy to connect with your classmates online. Discussion board conversations and research projects offer regular opportunities to work with your peers in master's courses. Some students even form remote study groups to tackle challenging material, or to keep each other motivated with periodic check-ins.

Members of your master's cohort can also help you make new contacts in sports and build a professional network that will enhance your career long after graduation.

Are Online Professors Accessible to Students?

Yes. Some students actually find it easier to stay in contact with their online professors, since you don't have to hang around after a class meeting on campus or wait for office hours to discuss an issue. If you need a question answered or want more feedback on an assignment, just shoot your professor an email or arrange a meeting via video chat. You can also message your professor through your online course.

In most cases, you won't have to wait more than 24-48 hours for a response. You might even get a phone call or text from your professor, if that's your preferred method of communication.

Benton Austin - A-State
I've spoken to all my teachers at length on the phone, via email and with the connection of GroupMe chat rooms in each class, you can speak to every single student, instructor and teacher's assistant who is working with you in class. It's constant contact.

Benton Austin, graduate, A-State online M.S. in Sport Administration program

Can I Get Library, Tutoring or Writing Center Help Online?

Laptop computer displaying a digital library on screen

Most colleges and universities offer remote library access for all students. Online tutoring and writing center services are also available at some schools. Check with programs you're interested in for further information about these forms of online student support.

At A-State, remote access to the Dean B. Ellis library includes a number of helpful resources for online students. You can view video tutorials, use the interlibrary loan service and even book a live online research consultation with a librarian. Students can also take advantage of online writing center services and make online tutoring appointments for assistance with graduate coursework.

What Are the Minimum Technology Requirements for Online Courses?

Illustration of laptop with books and related technology imagery

Some requirements will be based on the learning management system (LMS) you'll use to access your online master's courses. You can often find the minimum recommended technology for online students on your school's website. The LMS may even provide interactive tools that can help you assess the situation.

The basics you'll need include email, a reliable internet connection, a webcam and a microphone. In addition, make sure you can do the following without an issue:

  • Stream video and audio
  • Chat and video conference in real time
  • Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations
  • Store large files (on your computer, on an external drive, or using cloud storage)

Can I Get Tech Support If I'm an Online Student?

Check with your master's program for the options your college or university offers, but online students can usually access the same tech support resources that on-campus students use. Some schools also have dedicated support resources for students learning online.

Online student services at A-State include 24-hour tech support, available seven days a week.

Learn more about A-State's online Master of Science in Sport Administration program!