10 Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Sports Management

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Updated: February 28, 2024, Reading time: 20 minutes

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The North American sports markets are one of the largest globally with an overall revenue prediction of approximately $83.1 billion in 2023. You have probably learned how massive the opportunities can be when you earn a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in Sports Management.

With a doctorate, professionals can become industry experts even without athletic skills. Doctors of Sports Management can pursue the education or research career track and make a difference in sports and an academic or corporate degree.

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An online Doctorate in Sports Management leads to advanced athletic and sports positions such as athletic director, sports coach, sports manager, and sports chief executive. Students get educated, qualify for these careers, and customize their Ph.D. learning through the online Ph.D. in Sports Management option.

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In putting together the best online Doctoral in Sports Management list, we made sure that each program has these academic attributes:

More information can be found on our Methodology Page.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Sports Management

Indiana State University

Indiana State University

Doctorate in Athletic Training

A Doctor of Athletic Training degree is available online through Indiana State University. This is the best, advanced degree to take if you want to pursue Sports Management and sports-related careers. This Ph.D. in Sports Management online program requires 57 total credits for completion. While this can be taken completely online, at least four to five days must be spent on campus per semester. 

To be considered as a residential graduate assistant, out-of-state students must relocate to Indiana. APO/FPO addresses are not allowed for students residing outside the United States and Canada, except for U.S. military and State Department members. However, a limited number of assistantships are available, including some residential positions. 

Some courses to take in this PhD Sports Management online are the following:

If students meet the eligibility requirements and are accepted into graduate degree programs, they may be able to obtain federal student loans. Besides federal loans, students can use alternative loans to cover college expenses not covered by federal loans.  To qualify for this PhD in Sports Management degree online, you must be a full-time student to finish it in two years.

Troy University

Troy University

PhD in Sports Management

Sports management at Troy University is the first PhD program in the country that is offered online. Online programs provide high flexibility and accessibility for working sports practitioners who want a Sports Management PhD. This is the best online doctorate to pursue higher positions in your current sports organization. You can do so if you prefer to blend classes taught in class with online courses.

In the current sports industry, you must be able to think critically, use analytical skills, analyze statistics, and use research to your advantage. A highly regarded faculty will assist students in developing these skills in an online learning environment. Higher executive positions are more likely to be attained with a PhD in Sport Management. The PhD in Sports Management at TROY is ideal for professional sports managers who want to add value to their careers like you.

As part of the PhD program, students are exposed to an interdisciplinary approach to sport management that builds on their individual interests. As part of the program, students have the opportunity to study a wide range of opportunities and interests within the discipline through specialized coursework and doctoral seminars taught by graduate sports management faculty.

National University

National University

PhD in Sport and Athletic Management

The PhD in Sports and Athletic Management specialization at the National University will enhance your knowledge and leadership skills in Sports Management and athletic administration. This specialization focuses on the financial, legal, political, and marketing aspects of collegiate athletics, as well as science-based academics, research methods, and real-world experiences. Upon graduation, you will be prepared to conduct research on student-athlete advice, compliance, and Title IX.

NU offers unmatched flexibility by offering weekly course starts, and you can complete your assignments quickly. And your schedule can accommodate your professional and personal commitments. You can also expect to maximize a one-on-one engagement with your Sports Management faculty. At NU, professors will provide you with personalized mentoring, which is advantageous for growth in this online doctorate.

After graduating with an online Doctorate in Sports and Athletic Management degree, you can learn about educational theories, systems, and research in an area you’re passionate about. You’ll be able to apply professional ethics to a specific discipline. You’ll learn to effectively present research outputs and dissertations to different audiences using multiple communication methods. Finally, you can contribute to a relevant field’s body of knowledge.

University of Houston

University of Houston

PhD in Kinesiology – Sports and Fitness Administration

As the sports industry grows, it only makes sense to advance your knowledge and skills with an online PhD in Kinesiology with a concentration in sports and fitness administration. A well-trained workforce and cutting-edge research are essential in this industry. With an emphasis on sports and fitness administration, the PhD in Kinesiology program at the University of Houston uses a multilevel approach.

A doctoral degree program in this field is designed for future academic researchers focusing on theoretical and applied research. This is also best for existing teachers in the field of sports. Lastly, it’s suitable for individuals in charge of professional sports, events, fitness and recreation, and collegiate athletics in the future. 

Here are the different areas of emphasis that you can pursue in this online PhD in sports management:

To complete the program, you will need 66 credit hours. Some of the courses that are required in this online doctorate are Scientific Inquiry in Health Professions, Candidacy Project, Research Design and Methods, and Programming and Proposal Writing.

East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University 

PhD in Global Sport Leadership

The School of Graduate Studies – East Tennessee State University offers a cohort-based PhD degree program in Global Sport Leadership. Doctoral Capstone projects are used to demonstrate students’ knowledge and skills. Because of this, you don’t need to go through dissertations. Throughout the program, students can participate in various hands-on field experiences abroad. You can finish and acquire this doctorate online after three years.

A variety of sports areas are covered in the Global Sport Leadership program. An important program component is the Doctoral Capstone Project, which allows students to bring everything they have learned to one place. Study abroad field experiences allow students in the Global Sport Leadership program to put classroom knowledge into practice.

During this incredible program, students will have the opportunity to visit cities and countries across the world and interact with sports leaders. Every year, students can immerse themselves in another country’s culture through a customized itinerary.

Pennsylvania Western University

Pennsylvania Western University - Global Online

Doctorate in Health Science and Exercise Leadership

With PennWest’s online Doctor of Health Science and Leadership degree, you can promote health and wellness in our society. Their post-professional online doctorate in health science and exercise leadership degree focuses on promoting wellness and health and dealing with the impacts of an aging population.

An evidence-based research portfolio is also required as part of the 48-credit terminal degree program. Health science, exercise science, wellness, and fitness trends will be integrated into the portfolio to create a community of practice. It will focus on solving problems and implementing solutions relevant to professional practice on a daily basis. During the dissertation committee meeting on campus, students will collect and analyze data, defend their position, and present their work.

After completing this program, you will become a fitness, health, and wellness leader. Aside from other skills, you will be able to conduct research in the fields of health and exercise science, fitness and wellness, and enact change using evidence-based resources. After graduation, you can develop a framework for teaching adult learners. In this online doctoral program, you can analyze, synthesize, and assemble original research to solve sports and fitness challenges. Finally, you can develop leadership skills through service-learning projects, bridging theory and practice. 

The United States Sports Academy

The United States Sports Academy

Doctor of Education in Sports Management

The United States Sports Academy is the perfect place to advance a professional career in Sports Management, after completing the master’s program. A doctoral degree in Sports Management from the Academy is designed specifically for graduates with master’s degrees and working professionals who want to enter the sports industry as leaders. Their online doctoral degree in Sports Management prepares you for success in the competitive industry of sports management.

This advanced degree in Sports Management program will complement your previous education. Their doctorate program in Sports Management offers cutting-edge industry knowledge. Their world-class faculty offers you a customized educational experience tailored to your needs. A doctorate in Sports Management online emphasizes one-on-one interaction between faculty and students. This is also a great degree that can result in many possible career paths. 

Liberty University

Liberty University

PhD in Exercise and Sport Science

An Online PhD in Health Sciences – Exercise and Sport Science is available at Liberty University. This program can help you develop your skills as a professor, sports leader, researcher, or sports expert in the field. Perhaps you’re passionate about teaching students your love of exercise science in the clinical setting.

If you belong in any of these categories, an online PhD in Sports Management will definitely suit your goals. Furthermore, you will explore advanced health sciences topics as well as important aspects of sports performance to help athletes perform at their best. This program can also prepare you to work with a variety of clients seeking to achieve fitness and health goals. You can put up your sports-related business and venture.

Students in this program will learn from professors with extensive backgrounds in kinesiology, strength training, and sports science. The guidance they provide can help you improve your skillset and prepare you for a career in allied health. Your chosen career path can be enhanced by taking courses that integrate ethical principles with industry best practices.

This program consists of 4 main parts such as research, core courses, exercise and sports science, and dissertations. The core courses relate to health sciences fields, such as healthcare delivery systems, leadership, and risk management. To prepare for teaching at the college level, you will also explore effective teaching methods and evaluation procedures.

As for their research courses, they cover quantitative and qualitative research methods commonly used in health sciences. As part of the dissertation process, original research must be conducted.

Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Chicago

PhD in Exercise Science

In the fields of health promotion, exercise science, kinesiology, human performance, and related fields, the PhD in Exercise Science degree program prepares students to pursue their lifelong dream in the sports industry.

As a 100% online doctoral program, this program focuses on developing outstanding scholars and researchers who contribute new knowledge about health promotion, physical activity, and human performance issues. A dissertation is required to graduate from this online doctoral program. And there’s a total of credits under courses in statistics, leadership, exercise science, and health.

After graduation, here are some possible careers that you can pursue:

You can earn a PhD in Exercise Science 100% online, with asynchronous classes that are available anywhere, anytime. Students and professors can connect with each other in small classes.

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University - Education and Human Development

PhD in Kinesiology – Sports Management

With over 30 years of experience, Texas A&M University prepares PhD students for excellence in sports management. The program offers a PhD in Kinesiology with a focus on Sport Management, which welcomes learners from all backgrounds worldwide. By providing graduate students with a sturdy foundation in Sports Management and kinesiology, their faculty prepares them to grasp and apply their knowledge to key areas of sport management inquiry.

Besides contributing to the growing body of sports management knowledge, faculty members engage with students to develop research lines of inquiry. Using theory and practical studies, you can contribute to research and knowledge systems in the field of sports. You’ll realize how valuable an online doctoral program is at Texas A&M because of its diverse opportunities, broad collective knowledge base, and personalized learning experience for students. 

Courses in an Online Doctorate in Sports Management

Sports Communication

Communication in Sports Management includes non-verbal, verbal, written, and interpersonal communication. Sports communication is a course crucial for sports leaders and professionals. They can use the topics they learn in related settings such as marketing, public relations, community outreach, and fundraising.

Foundation of Sport Coaching

The Foundation of Sport Coaching is a brief overview of the scientific basis and process of coaching sports. A sport coaching program comprises psychological, managerial, and physiological training as well as the development of an individual coaching philosophy. 

Sport Management

A sports manager deals with issues related to sports and recreation. An organization or business within the sports field requires Sports Management skills for all the necessary activities in this field. After this course, you can brush up on all these skills.

Sports Marketing

Students will gain a thorough understanding of sports and event marketing concepts and theories in this course. A core curriculum encompassing marketing skills, communication skills, distribution, sales, strategic management, and human resources management, is integrated into this course.

Sports Psychology

Sports psychology course studies how individuals behave during exercise and sport, and uses that knowledge to enhance performance. And this is what you can train for in this course. Get ready to tackle exercise and sports behavior patterns.

Leadership Theories and Practice

Students pursuing the Leadership cognate will take Leadership Theory and Practice as a foundational course. In this course, students learn the theoretical framework for leadership and have the opportunity to develop their God-given leadership abilities. 

Skills for Online PhD in Sports Management Graduates

Skills for Online PhD in Sports Management Graduates

From digital content creation and management to sports analytics and governance, those already in the industry must learn new skills to stay on top of the latest trends. Discover some necessary skills as you learn an online PhD in Sports Management degree:   

Communication Skills

In order for a business environment to be successful, communication is essential. Business partners and other stakeholders cannot establish effective relationships without it. In addition to causing confusion among teams, poor communication reduces productivity within them.

Sports business careers require excellent communication skills in different mediums, especially when managing a brand’s or team’s reputation in the public eye. You may need to correct any issues pertaining to contract negotiations and endorsements, as well as establish the necessary relationships to facilitate them.   

Analytical Skills

There are statistical benchmarks for each sport that identify the athletes who excel and those who do not. Many performance-critical metrics can now be collected and transmitted in real-time using big data analytics. Hence, it’s crucial to have solid and strong analytical skills. By analyzing the data, coaches are able to identify areas where improvements should be made, thereby improving performance.


You must be able to do multiple tasks at once and take on roles you wouldn’t normally take on. Sports managers often do tasks that aren’t in their job description when they work in the industry. Your management team needs you to commit just as much as your team does.

Organizational Skills

As a sports leader, you need to be well organized in managing a team or department. In order to be a successful sports manager, you should have a clear process for everything. As a team member evaluating personnel, you would need to sort all documents. With organizational skills, you can keep your work system organized and more productive. 

Entrepreneurial Skills

Taking risks is rewarded in the sporting industry, whether on or off the pitch. You need to have that go-getter attitude and the entrepreneurial spirit, to take on everything head-on. Entrepreneurship and a willingness to ask questions, challenge the status quo, and be curious are key attributes necessary for success in sport business and management. In competitive marketplaces such as sports, taking measured risks and managing risk assessment processes is essential.

People Management

Depending on the specific sector, sports managers deal with different professionals across specializations. They meet people representing numerous races, cultures, organizations, and so on. As a sports manager, it is your responsibility to ensure every person that you work with is happy by staying on schedule and completing tasks to a high standard.

Writing Skills

In a Sports Management career, it is essential that you can make your point through writing because there are some instances when you won’t be able to directly talk to them on the phone or in person. The team and the organization send out emails, written reports, and other written copies, requiring excellent writing skills.

Possible Careers with an Online PhD in Sports Management

Sports Manager

Organizing and overseeing a team’s activities is the responsibility of a sports manager. From professional sports teams to recreational clubs, sports managers work with teams of all sizes and levels of competition. You might be overseeing different teams and handling their games, contracts, and partnerships. 

Athletic Director

To ensure quality competition and sportsmanship among athletes, an athletic director oversees and manages the whole athletic program and department. Coaches and athletic staff are recruited and hired by them on behalf of the Principal.

Sports Lawyer

As both a lawyer and agent, a Sports Lawyer represents players, coaches, and teams’ legal and financial interests. You will be negotiating contracts, terms, and any legal disputes between teams, coaches, and players. In sports, there are some lawsuits to settle, and this is where sports lawyers come in to play.

Fitness Manager

Management of a gym or fitness center is the responsibility of a fitness manager. Earning an online doctorate in Sports Management will allow you to implement effective strategies and Sports Management practices that will make the fitness business more successful and effective. As a fitness manager, you will also ensure that enough employees are working in the center to provide all of the services offered by fitness instructors and personal trainers.

Health and Human Performance Specialist

As a health and human performance specialist, one of your course jobs is to check, analyze, and evaluate data, conditions, and equipment related to health and wellness. You need to identify opportunities for improving patient care through periodic meetings.

Best Grad Schools with Online Doctorate in Sports Management - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to finish an online Doctorate in Sports Management?

A PhD in Sports Management online usually takes between three and five years to complete if you study full-time. However, this will have to depend on the program’s schedule and curriculum requirements.

For instance, those online doctoral programs with dissertation requirements may take longer than those that only require capstone projects. Full-time students can complete a Sports Management degree doctoral program in 3 years if they choose a program with no dissertation requirement.

How should students choose the best Doctorate in Sports Management online?

Sport management PhD programs are not all the same. Depending on the online school, they may be offering a program feature that other schools may not have. In order to find the best PhD in Sports Management for you, you’ll need to know what your priorities are, when looking for the best doctorate in Sports Management online.

A doctoral degree in athletic administration, exercise leadership, or athletic director training, for example, would be the right choice for someone wanting to run an athletic training program in a fitness business.

Sports Management programs sometimes focus on business and entrepreneurship. There are those that emphasize sports injury, kinesiology, sports law, and injury treatment. Depending on your goals, you can let them affect your decision when choosing which online doctoral program to enroll in. 

In many cases, an online doctorate in Sports Management gives you the freedom to tailor-fit every core course and elective according to your educational goals and preferences. Personalized PhD programs in sport management can be designed by students with the help of an academic advisor. You should also consider picking a program based on their dissertation and research requirements. 

What are the benefits of an online Doctorate in Sports Management?

PhDs in Sports Management can be earned online for a number of reasons. You’ll also be ready for the competitive job market after you’ve earned a PhD. Candidates with experience and qualifications are in high demand by many employers. Obtaining a higher degree will also make it easier for you to land your dream job.

The PhD in Sports Management program offers a lot of convenience and flexibility. Professionals who have a busy home and work life are most likely to benefit from these programs. Your studies can be done online around your existing schedule and on your own time. There are also PhD programs in Sports Management that are more structured, with students having to attend simultaneous online meetings. 

Another great benefit of an online Doctor of Sports Management is that it gives you the same degree as on-campus programs. Online and on-campus programs usually share instructors in most cases. It is the same doctoral program whether it is offered in person or online. In fact, upon graduation, you can receive a similar diploma and certificate of completion.

Key Takeaways

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.