Find the Best Degree in Sports for You

On SportsDegrees.org, you will find in-depth information on sport management and administration degrees. Those are the top two program areas within sports, but there are dozens of related program areas such as Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Coaching, and more.

For starters, here is an overview of our data:

  • Over 800 sports degrees researched in total
  • 680+ NASSM-accredited sport degrees at all levels
  • 185+ online sport degrees at all levels
  • 50+ COSMA-accredited degrees in sports at all levels

Start by viewing some of the top sport degree pages:

Are There Online Sports Degrees?

Yes, we have over 50 different online sport degrees on SportsDegrees.org.

Online sport degrees are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. You can view online Bachelor of sport management degrees or the online Masters degrees in sports.

More opportunities currently exist at the graduate level in business and sport administration, as these areas are geared toward established professionals looking to add further studies.

What is the Best Accreditation for Sports Degrees?

Prospective students should look at accreditation to verify the education they are receiving. This assures that higher education is beneficial toward many different sports industries. In addition, this also improves the chances of eventual graduates to gain employment.

Two popular organizations to consider are the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation and the North American Society for Sport Management. The latter emphasizes journalism and research improvement within sports management. The former recognizes both individuals and specific programs in sports management that are distributed at a variety of universities.

Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA)

The COSMA aims to promote top sports management programs between the Bachelor's degrees and the doctorate degrees. Over 50 institutions are either accredited by the organization or working toward candidacy. Some of the most popular universities by members include Louisiana State University, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and Liberty University.

There are five steps for a program at a university to receive accreditation from the COSMA. Institutions must have had the sports program for at least two years with a specific mission for their students. Schools must prove their candidacy status by submitting an application and self-study.

Programs can review principles to highlight their qualities in the self study and they must follow a two-volume PDF file that is organized properly. Organization representatives will head out for an on-site review and should not have any conflicts of interest with the university being reviewed. After this review, a board meets twice a year and makes decisions on approved institutions.

The organization also recognizes organizations, professional individuals, and students. Students have the ability to join the COSMA for free and may be renewed each summer on July 1st. Benefits for students include separation from other candidates through recognition with the accreditation.

North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM)

One of the sports management accreditation organizations dedicated to individuals is the NASSM. Their goals are to improve research, writing, and overall professional development in the field of sports management. They emphasize improvement at all levels of management, including local, national, and international sports organizations.

Research in a qualitative and quantitative basis is supported through the Journal of Sport Management and Sport Management Education Journal. This can be conducted in various sports categories beyond just professional organizations, including specific recreational sports and arenas they are played in. The organization also endorses the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) that approves sports management curricula.

Benefits for being part of the NASSM include access to the research journals that are distributed eight total times throughout the year. The NASSM features an annual conference where members receive a discount to attend. There is also advanced access to job opportunities and resources to establish professional networking.

Membership is renewed at the beginning of the year in January and requires annual fees. These costs vary depending on being a student, established professional, or emeritus member (retired professors). Slight alterations are made for online or print versions of publications.

Why consider a sports degree?

Sports provides individuals to gain skills in working and collaborating with others, especially in a more organized experience. These opportunities can also promote better health to stay fit while playing them across an entire season. Even if not pursuing a sport professionally, benefits from participation can help in various career pathways.

Individuals looking to stick toward a sports profession can look at popular subcategories in the field, such as management, administration, and health. Higher education provides both a general overview and specialized skill set to apply toward a profession. Different positions are available based on the discipline and degree level selected, along with a certain amount of professional experience.

A Career in Sports

Everybody participates in sports at various moments of their life, whether it is through their educational experience as children or casually with friends and family. Sports offers more than just learning about a particular competition and excelling at it. After all, there are limited opportunities to excel at a sport professionally and make a living achieving this dream.

Undergraduate Degree Options

Associates Degrees

One of the quickest ways to enter into the sports field is completing an accredited associate degree. This education is often completed in two years and provides an opportunity for more entry-level opportunities in sports management and health. In other cases, students can use this degree to transition to a Bachelor’s degree at a later time.

Much of the curriculum consists of liberal arts courses for general education and an introduction of sports topics. For example, courses offered through an associate degree will provide a first experience into how teams conduct their financing, economic impacts in business decisions, legal restrictions, marketing, and first aid and injury prevention. Specific concepts will vary based on the institution and discipline selected.

Pursuing an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) is more geared toward individuals that plan to enter the workforce instead of move on to further education. The traditional Associate of Science program tends to offer more liberal arts courses to complete general education requirements for a Bachelor’s degree. Receiving the AAS degree does not limit the ability to pursue higher education.

Why choose an associate degree over a Bachelor’s degree? These are more widely available at local community colleges, which eliminates part of the time commitment to a larger university that may be further away. An alternative pathway is completing a Bachelor’s degree entirely online if technology and residential requirements are met.

Bachelor’s Degrees

A recommended pathway into various sports careers is the completion of a Bachelor’s degree. This level of education generally meets requirements needed for running a sports franchise, participating in a university athletic program, or training athletes to improve their physical and mental health. An internship may be required, but it is at least recommended to apply what is learned in the classroom to a real situation.

Typically, 120 credit hours are needed to complete a Bachelor’s degree in the sports field. When completing study on a full-time basis, students can expect to finish this process over four years. Two of the most common disciplines offered in this field are sports management and sports administration.

Curriculum requirements for a Bachelor’s degree largely depends on the discipline and university requirements for general education. Management positions will often feature general education in mathematics, economics, and statistics. There are often elements of business added, such as accounting and operations.

For the major itself, similar to the associate degree, there is an introduction to to sports management and administration. In many cases, students select specific courses that match the career they are looking to get into, such as working at an international level or participating in marketing activity. A certain amount of free electives are often required to branch out into different skill sets.

Graduate Degree Options

Master’s Degrees

Having a Bachelor’s degree opens the door to many professional sports positions, but opportunities can grow with further education. A Master’s degree features a more focused education in a particular sports pathway, be it in analytics or psychology. Unlike the undergraduate program, these are often completed over one to three years depending on enrollment, professional experience, and prior academics.

Benefits of taking a Master’s degree in higher education is the improved availability of online study. Graduate-level programs are more geared to satisfy students that are working at the same time they are pursuing this degree. Students may have to attend courses during evening or weekend hours, but the majority of coursework is completed online.

Outside of more opportunities, advantages to completing the Master’s degree include gaining further theory and skills when compared to a Bachelor’s degree. Some management and executive positions may require the completion of a Master’s degree. This is due to the advanced practical skills and leadership that is needed to thrive in a position with many important responsibilities.

Holding a more focused education opens the door to specialized or advanced opportunities. Some medical, teaching, and psychology positions may require state licensure, which in turn professionals must hold a graduate degree. Salaries are also higher on average for similar positions when compared to holders of a Bachelor’s degree.

Doctorate Degrees

At the highest level, individuals can understand further theory in a variety of sports categories or become a professor in sports education with a doctorate degree. Students may focus on a particular subject, such as exercise science or athletic administration, and complete a dissertation. It takes anywhere from four to six years to complete the degree based on time commitment.

Availability for a doctorate degree is limited, especially in an online format. There are typically no specific disciplines related to sports at this level. Instead, prospective students select a subject, such as education or health science, and pick a sports concentration or applicable electives.

Northcentral University has a Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a Sport and Athletic Management specialization. This requires 20 courses over an approximate span of 45 months. Six specialization courses are added to the Education discipline, with topics such as sports compliance and financial administration.

Typical coursework that explores theory in statistics and research already completed in sports management is completed in the first few years. This provides the opportunity for students to develop a dissertation topic to pursue their own research in, which is subject to approval. Final research is presented and defended in front of a faculty committee.

Online Bachelor’s Degrees

American Public University

The School of Health Science features a Bachelor of Science in Sports and Health Sciences. This online program has various concentrations available in coaching, exercise, and fitness and wellness. As an alternative, students may consider pursuing a general focus on health science studies featuring a blend of these concentrations.

120 total credit hours are needed to complete this Bachelor’s degree. Students can transfer up to 90 credit hours into the program, meaning that at least one-quarter of all courses must be taken at the university. All courses are available online and are distributed in 8-week or 16-week modules.

The program culminates with a senior seminar session that is distributed across eight weeks. A portfolio is created that showcases skills learned in the program that are valuable in a job search or looking to expand education at the graduate level. Example topics within the portfolio will consist of kinesiology, nutrition, and overall athlete health.

University of North Carolina-Wilmington

The School of Health and Applied Human Sciences features a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. This program is not fully available online, but many of the courses are distributed in this format. An alternative pathway with a graduate degree is blending this education with the Master of Science in Applied Gerontology.

Two concentrations are available in Allied Health or Exercise Physiology. Some core concepts do blend between these concentrations, including management in exercise science, legal issues, and strength training and conditioning. The Allied Health concentrations offers more electives in advanced biology, chemistry, and genetics concepts.

To get into the program, applicants must showcase having a 2.7 overall GPA and the completion of specific biology and chemistry courses. Students have the ability to apply to the Exercise Science major after completing 24 credit hours. In general, this degree is geared toward individuals that are looking to pursue additional studies at the graduate level.

University of Florida

The College of Health and Human Performance offers an online Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management. Example coursework for students in the program include sports finance, revenue generation, educational technology, and risk management. 120 total credit hours are needed to satisfy curriculum requirements.

An internship must be completed in the program, including the online format. This is available in the fall, spring, or summer semester. Students must dedicate 40 hours per week to their internship experience over a span of 13 weeks.

For the online program, individuals must have completed prerequisites in microeconomics or macroeconomics, and a financial accounting course. At least a 2.2 GPA must be earned in these prerequisite courses in addition to a 2.0 overall GPA. Even in an online format, space is limited for students to join the program.

University of Minnesota-Crookston

The Bachelor of Science in Sport and Recreation Management is available in a number of different formats, including an online major, minor, or certificate. Students have the flexibility to complete the full Bachelor’s degree or a more narrow focus that goes along with a different discipline. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

62 total credit hours are needed for the major, which includes an internship and seminar session in sport and recreation management. Various topics include health and wellness, managerial finance, and sport law and governance. Students are introduced to an orientation in online learning at the beginning of the program.

Other aspects of the curriculum include business writing, various levels of accounting, and micro or macroeconomics. Soft skills are also gained in writing and public speaking. Any additional credit hours that are open are reserved for open electives that the students can select to customize their education.

Arizona State University

40 total courses span the entirety of the Bachelor of Arts in Business with a specialization in Sports Business. Each course is distributed in 7.5-week modules which provides various start times throughout the academic year. This program is distributed by the W.P. Carey School of Business and is available 100 percent online.

The Sports Business specialization focuses on revenue generation and how to maximize fan engagement based on professional franchise or university athletics. In addition to specific business concepts, skills are also gained in teamwork, critical thinking, and both verbal and written communication. Job considerations after graduation include market research analyst, public relations specialist, and sales representative.

Some admission requirements include having proper SAT or ACT scores and a high school ranking with the top quarter of the graduate class. At least one requirement is necessary along with the completion of a high school diploma. If transferring into the program, applicants should have a 3.0 GPA either within Arizona State University or when coming in from a different institution.

Online Master’s Degrees

In order to hold eligibility for a Master’s degree, many programs require the completion of a Bachelor’s degree. At least a 3.0 cumulative GPA is needed throughout the entirety of the program or within the major coursework itself. GRE or GMAT testing scores may or may not be required in the admission process.

University of Alabama

The College of Continuing Studies offers an online Master of Arts in Kinesiology. Students completing this program will be able to receive teaching certification in Sport Management. 30 total credit hours are needed to fulfill curriculum requirements and it is available 100 percent online.

Example courses include Legal and Ethical Issues in Sport, Sport Marketing and the Media, and Sociology of Sport. Both a management internship and field experience is required in the program. Faculty members in the program are both responsible for on-campus and online education.

In order to get into the program, students must already hold a Class B or higher teaching certification. This requires the completion of two years of professional educational work. At least a 300 score is needed for the GRE or reaching 50th percentile on the GMAT.

Purdue University

The College of Health and Human Sciences features a Master of Science in various sports topics. Example disciplines include Exercise Psychology or Recreation and Sport Management. The latter discipline is geared for students that are looking at an advanced managerial role or further research into sports management.

Within the Recreation and Sport Management discipline, a required course is needed in marketing, statistics, legal issues, and research methods. Students choose from a restricted handful of courses to take that satisfy this requirement. The remaining credit hours are from approved electives that explore various business, psychological, and health topics.

Students have the capability to select a thesis or non-thesis pathway through the degree. Depending on the option, varying coursework is needed with the thesis pathway requiring six credit hours dedicated to research. 30 total credit hours are needed for either option.

Northwest Missouri State University

The Master of Science in Recreation features a concentration in Sports Management. 12 of the 30 total credit hours required in this program are dedicated to the area of emphasis. Students can complete the program in as little as one year.

There are four total courses within the management concentration: Sport Communication, Issues in Sport, Recreation Facility Design, and Finance and Marketing Recreation. Issues in Sport focuses on current topics that are impacting sports management. Other core topics within the Recreation discipline feature data analysis, ethics, and grantsmanship.

Each course is distributed through a seven-week module. A 2.75 overall GPA is needed with a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university in the admission process. Graduates have gone on to become athletic directors and operations directors with this degree.

Colorado State University

The College of Liberal Arts offers the Master of Sport Management completely online. Credit hours vary between 30 to 35 credit hours depending on concentration selected. Students can complete the program in as little as 18 months.

Concentrations available include Business Foundations, Sport Marketing, and Sport Media and Communications. There is also an option to customize the specialty based on various electives available. Each pathway to the Master’s degree requires the completion of an internship and a capstone project.

Examples of core topics that are needed for any pathway include ethics and legal issues, data analytics, and sport through communities. In the Sports Marketing track, specific marketing topics feature qualitative marketing research, search engine optimization, and consumer behavior.

Northcentral University

The Master of Education features a Sport and Athletic Management specialization that is available completely online. 30 total credit hours span 10 different courses over a pathway of 15 months. At least 18 credit hours must be completed at the NCU campus and the maximum time to complete the program is within five years.

Students have a completely flexible program to pursue with no specific class schedule or group assignments. They may begin the program on a weekly basis with assignments completed in the same time frame. Each course will have an exclusive one-to-one experience with an experienced faculty member.

Goals for the program are to prepare students with various theories and research skills to improve sports and athletic management. They will gain familiarity with technology and develop proper solutions at the industry they select. This includes leadership roles within a team or franchise, governance, marketing, and more.

Types of Sports Degrees

Sports Management Degrees

Management degrees within sports emphasizes the financial activity within professional franchises or collegiate athletic programs. It is important for all areas of these teams to maintain a specific budget and maximize potential in organizing rosters, fan engagement, and more. Human relations topics are also frequently part of the curriculum.

Some institutions will interchange management and administration-focused degrees. This means either program may offer similar courses, especially when it comes to core topics or available elective options. Prospective students should thoroughly review the curriculum at a considered university to determine if the program meets their career goals.

Sports Administration Degrees

The administration discipline focuses on coaching and player development within a sports organization. This includes many different levels of coaching, be it as a head coach that oversees most duties or an athletic trainer to keep players in shape. Soft skills, such as leadership and communication, are also offered within the curriculum through this pathway.

In many cases, there are topics within maintaining a franchise or team where management and administration blends together. Both of these degrees feature opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate level. More advanced positions at the executive level may require education with a Master’s degree.

Sports Business Degrees

Some sports degrees are offered with a business discipline that looks at marketing and financial topics that make the franchise or athletic department stable. This may include operational costs, public relations, and marketing or manufacturing of goods. Legal topics may be required or offered as electives, which may dive into sponsorships and license agreements.

At the undergraduate level, topics will often provide a general overview of financial and managerial accounting, and various aspects of these organizations when it comes to hosting events and managing programs. Further education brings in more strategical procedures for preparation at an executive position or athletic director. Other graduate education may feature theory of sports business and through the scope of law or psychology.

Sports and Health Sciences Degrees

These degrees offer a focus on studying player health through exercise programs, fitness, mental health, and dieting. Courses may look into the latest science behind training and medical procedures, and what type of wellness program works best in a particular sport. It is essential for athletes to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid unnecessary injuries in competition.

Some health courses may be required or offered as electives in a more traditional sports educational program. There are disciplines available where students can pursue a degree in health sciences toward the sports industry. These unique disciplines are generally available at the undergraduate level.

Sports Industry Management Degrees

Individuals interested in working for a particular professional sports league, or a college association like the NCAA, can look at degrees focusing on industry management. The goal for industry management is efficiently running athletic programs or franchises. These programs may feature topics on ethics and legal obligations that must be followed, community and fan engagement, sponsorships, and facility management.

Sport Revenue Generation and Fundraising Degrees

Leagues, franchises, and athletic departments must meet financial goals to meet staff and player contracts along with various operating expenses, such as field maintenance. Many business-focused programs will offer electives or a complete concentration in revenue and fundraising. These courses put a focus on how to effectively be in a position related to financial growth in various industries.

Education in this area can span various degrees. Preparation for executive positions and a deeper look into theory is reserved for graduate-level programs. Entry-level positions are considered for individuals that complete an undergraduate program in business or administration.

Athletic Development Management Degrees

Many sports administration or management degrees will include concepts of player development. This can feature implementing fitness programs that keep athletes in shape and/or improving their skills in a particular sport. Coaching education also falls in this category as their goals are to improve player focus and performance.

Athletic Administration Degrees

Managing finances at a school academic program, be it at the high school or college level, is part of athletic administration. Professionals in this field must combine these duties with the ability to run a successful program that improves player outcomes and fan engagement to become profitable. These topics may also be applied to maintaining professional teams or local athletic clubs.

MBA with Sport Management Concentration Degrees

A wide-ranging Master of Business Administration may be considered to apply toward a sports management career. Many programs across the country offer topics or a concentration specific to sports management or administration. Prospective students should review the entire curriculum and graduate requirements to see if they qualify and it meets their professional goals.

MBA programs often take between one to three years depending on enrollment time. Holding a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent undergraduate education is recommended or required. There are many programs conveniently available online for students to pursue while maintaining their daytime job. This opens up educational opportunities for those that may not have a sports-focused MBA degree available where they reside.

Master of Business Management with Sport Management Concentration Degrees

Graduate business management disciplines are equivalent to the more recognized MBA degrees, but do not offer as many varying industry pathways. This is a more general discipline that provides an overview of business economics, organizational behavior, communication, and marketing. In comparison to the MBA, there are not as many programs with flexibility to be taken online, but are completed at a quicker pace.

Some business management degrees will provide specific sports-based courses or techniques that can be applied to various sports positions. There may be concentrations or graduate certificates that may blend with the business management topics in the degree. Adding a certification may increase the amount of time it takes to complete this graduate degree.

Exercise Science Degrees

Exercise science provides an expansive look at athletic conditioning and performance enhancement through nutrition and self-care. Students explore what different types of foods, drinks, and medication can impact their health and wellness. Specifically, they dive into the science behind this breakdown into the body.

Understanding these concepts can improve disease and injury prevention for athletes to perform at an optimal level. This is also beneficial for athletes that may be suffering from current conditions. They learn how to eliminate these issues through medication and better eating and exercise habits.

Kinesiology Degrees

One of the more popular sports health degrees is the focus on studying human body movement known as kinesiology. This education specifically focuses on physical activity and how this impacts muscles and the human body in general. Holding this understanding helps in improving accident recovery and disease treatment that sports athletes can deal with in their strenuous activity.

Health and Human Performance Degrees

A more general educational experience in athletic health and fitness are degrees that emphasize performance improvement. The purpose of these degrees are to develop a long-term fitness program for athletes to be in optimal shape for their career. This is beneficial to avoid potential injuries on the field and future problems that may impact activeness.

These degrees often provide a general overview of physiology, kinesiology, fitness management, and personal health. Students then choose a particular career pathway in sports health, which could be physical education or fitness training. Internships are often available at the undergraduate level to apply these specific skills and theory as an assistant or in an entry-level position.

Sports Medicine Degrees

While generally not available as a discipline in itself, sports medicine topics can be pursued through various sports-related health degrees. For example, how medication can help physical movement or aid in the treatment of injuries is explored within the kinesiology discipline. Concentrations or electives within the exercise, human performance, and kinesiology disciplines may feature specific coursework in the impact of medication.

Athletic Training Degrees

Another educational experience that involves kinesiology and physiology may be offered through an athletic training focus. As an example, Grand Canyon University offers a Bachelor of Science degree with an Athletic Training discipline. Core topics in these degrees explore these specialized categories along with emergency injury treatment, health promotion, and therapy.

In many cases, this particular discipline or specialization requires the completion of an internship. It is important to apply what is learned in lab sessions and the classroom directly with athletes for their health and wellness. At the undergraduate level, general studies will often include more biology, chemistry, and communication to apply in this specialty.

Exercise Psychology Degrees

Outside of physical health and wellness, the mental stability of an athlete is just as important for them to train efficiently and perform at a high level. Psychology positions emphasize this need, working with players that suffer traumatic situations on and off the field or life-changing injuries. These processes may also be needed when athletes are under medical treatment or more advanced kinesiology topics.

Pathways to a sports-related psychology career are often pursued through a traditional psychology discipline. A Bachelor’s degree is needed for entry-level careers, but any specific psychology positions requires further education. At the graduate level, students may consider psychology or counseling degrees with a sports concentration or any related electives available.

Physical Education Degrees

Athletic physical development is important to establish at the grade-school level, which is where physical education degrees focus on. Nearly all children and young adults go through mandatory PE courses or work with coaches in an extracurricular sport. This education also focuses on long-term wellness plans, communication, sports theory, and exercising techniques.

Pathways to physical education positions are earned at all degree levels, but associates earners are limited to more assistant positions until they earn more professional experience. Those with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree have more options, such as becoming a PE teacher at an elementary or secondary school. Doctorate degrees are reserved for individuals looking at executive roles or professors in the field.

Performance Science Degrees

Another science and health-based sports program is looking at the specialization of athletic performance. These courses emphasize performance enhancement and efficiency of players when they are training and playing their sport. Various topics may include nutrition, how food and drink impacts the body, and proven training concepts.

Coaching Degrees

Individuals looking to improve athletes on individual and team-based performance should consider higher education in coaching. These concepts can be found in a number of different disciplines, including physical education, athletic training or coaching itself. For example, Liberty University features a Bachelor of Science in Coaching that is available at their campus.

Career Options

Many sports positions are available after completing undergraduate coursework in higher education, including athletic training, entry-level coaching and business, and public relations. Some management positions may recommend or require a Master’s degree in business management or administration. Psychology positions also require more advanced education and particular licensure.

Other positions may require a discipline or professional experience in a particular field. For example, health science jobs are better suited for graduates that have gone through a science-based degree, such as exercise science or kinesiology. Physical education teachers

Fitness Trainer

Athletes have different needs to become physically fit and maximize their potential in the sport they play. Trainers can work directly with these individuals to develop a successful plan that benefits them the most. Similar positions include developing more general team-based plans or being a physical therapist to help an athlete recover from injury.

Dietitian

Many health-based positions exist within sports which emphasize a particular aspect of staying fit and avoiding potential injuries down the road. Part of the prevention process in disease and injury is being aware of the athlete’s lifestyle, such as what they eat or drink. This plays a major part in health, especially maintaining a particular body style for sports such as football or wrestling.

Merchandise Analyst

Business positions in sports can be wide-ranging, and one example is maximizing profit through licensed goods through the university or professional organization. A merchandise analyst completes this need, maintaining connections with stores that sell these goods and determining the quality of these products. They may also be responsible for determining what goods should be sold by determining fan demand in particular locations.

Event Coordinator

Coordinators part of a certain sports arena or stadium are responsible for scheduling events that take place at these locations. They may be tasked with hiring specific personnel and vendors for a particular event, including hosting non-sporting events. Other duties may potentially be to respond to any emergency situations and completing evaluation to improve events in the future.

Athletic Director

Sports ADs are the leaders at colleges and universities that oversee the entire athletic department. They generally make the final decision in staff hiring, budgeting, and scheduling. It is imperative that ADs hold strong soft skills in communication to work with various coaches and conference executives that the school is part of.