5 Best Grad Schools with Online Master’s in Retail & Sales Management in 2023

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Many businesses in the retail industry aim to minimize costs while maximizing profits. To achieve this, they need to leverage the expertise of a retail manager, tasked to manage stores that sell goods to consumers. Students who want to pursue a career in this dynamic field may want to earn an online Master’s in Retail and Sales Management.

Master’s in Retail Management online programs provide students with a broad understanding of the retail industry. Students learn all about contemporary retail management issues, ranging from merchandising, retail branding, supply chain management, and multi-channel retailing.

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Additional Information:


There are many colleges and universities that offer online master’s degree programs in retail and sales management, allowing students to juggle their professional and personal responsibilities along with their pursuit of advanced education.  

Quick audio summary:


For many industries, retail & sales is a make-or-break area that requires well-trained professionals that know how to create value and understand their market specifics. For professionals to thrive in this field, it is crucial that they go for the best education they can have that brushes up on their fundamentals and teaches them the required advanced skills.

 We can help you make this choice! We’ve put together a list of 5 best graduate schools that offer a master’s degree in retail and sales management, based on the following features:

  • Offers their courses primarily online, which allows students, especially working professionals pursuing continuing education, to work on their coursework while maintaining their career commitments,
  • Features a curriculum that covers business & management fundamentals, and crucially, advanced skills and knowledge related to sales and retail,
  • Taught by faculty who are experts in their field, and/or are also active industry practitioners themselves,
  • Offers a range of financial aid and other options that help students earn their degree sooner while reducing the cost of their tuition,
  • Has the appropriate national and/or regional accreditation credentials.

Read our Methodology page for a closer look at our master’s degree program selection process.

Best in Online Master’s in Retail Sales Management Programs

Drexel University

Drexel University - Online

Philadelphia, PA

Master’s Degree in Retail & Merchandising

Established in 1891, Drexel University is spread out across three Philadelphia campuses and other regional sites. On top of its on-campus offerings, it has been providing working professionals and busy students with an exceptional learning experience with its comprehensive academic programs.

  • Drexel University’s online master’s degree in Retail and Merchandising provides students with a broad overview of the industry, covering essential topics such as retail marketing, branding, merchandising, supply chain management, product development, and assortment planning, among others.
  • This master’s degree utilizes both theoretical and practical approaches, with the curriculum focusing on helping online students develop their critical ability along with their research and problem-solving skills.
  • Students learn and develop skills in leadership, creative management strategies, and operations.
  • Organized into four 10-week quarters per year, the program curriculum allows students to take more courses in a shorter time period.
  • A retail management major needs to complete a total of 45 credits in order to earn the program.
  • To get admitted into the degree in retail management, students have to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.

Standout Features of Drexel University’s Online Master’s Degree in Retail & Merchandising Program:

Students who want to tailor their online learning experience to their career goals and needs may personalize their courses. This can be according to their interests and level of experience in retail, fashion, and merchandising. Graduate students will also need to choose between a project or research thesis that they will present to a three-person committee.

Did You Know?

Innovation is running through the heart of Drexel. Being at the forefront of higher education, Drexel is the first university in the country to require students to adopt the use of microcomputers in their coursework. In 1983, more than 1,800 students were provided with their own Macintosh 128ks. In 2000, Drexel became the first major university to operate a fully wireless campus.  

Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma State University

Stillwater, OK

Master of Science in Design, Housing & Merchandising

Oklahoma State University, a land-grant institution, is home to more than 35,000 students across five campuses. Fully committed to making college education more accessible, the university offers numerous online courses and programs that are 100% available online.

The online programs are taught by the same experienced faculty on campus using the same comprehensive curriculum content. Online students are provided with various ways to experience a great online learning environment, allowing them to engage through assignments, discussions, and group work.

  • One of the academic online programs offered at Oklahoma State University is the Master of Science in Design, Housing, and Merchandising degree with a concentration option in Retail Merchandising Leadership.
  • This degree program is designed for professionals in retailing and product development, allowing students to deliver the right product or service to consumers at the right place and time.
  • The online learning format means students can complete the coursework at their own pace, with many of the online courses being offered in a semester-based approach.
  • At the end of the 36-credit program, students are expected to learn how to research and implement effective business strategies, create flexible promotional campaigns, and balance the sustainable interests of businesses, consumers, and society.  
  • In the Retail Merchandising Leadership option, students will tackle courses such as Theories of Creative Process in Design and Merchandising, Historical and Contemporary Issues in Trade, Professional Advancement in Merchandising, Promotional Strategies in Merchandising, and more.

Standout Features of Oklahoma State University’s Online Master of Science in Design, Housing, and Merchandising Program:

The program offers the same tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state students. Graduate students can also take advantage of available scholarships and grants to fund their advanced education.

Did You Know?

As one of the top public universities in the country, Oklahoma State University has a strong research tradition. It is a leader in research that covers health and engineering. The university has produced brilliant minds and personalities, with famous alumni ranging from T. Boone Pickens, Garth Brooks, and Anita Hill, among others.  

University of North Carolina Greensboro

University of North Carolina Greensboro

Greensboro, NC

Master of Science in Retail Studies

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public research university based in Greensboro, North Carolina and one of the members of the University of North Carolina system. It was first established in 1891 as a state women’s college and became UNC Greensboro in 1963 when it became co-educational. It is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity,” and has over 19,000 students.

  • The Master of Science in Retail Studies degree offered by UNC Greensboro is focused on the fashion industry, designed to equip students with the advanced skills required for their career advancement in fashion retail sales or launch their own apparel ventures.
  • The program is offered in face-to-face and online formats. The face-to-face format concludes with a thesis, while the online format concludes with a capstone. Both formats require at least 30 credit hours.
  • Franklin University is Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)-accredited. 

Standout Features of the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s Master of Science in Retail Studies Program:

This degree program has a special focus on the fashion industry, and many graduates of the program have gone on to high-level careers at various fashion brands. UNC Greensboro is also a military-friendly school and offers a number of benefits to both veterans and active-duty military.

Did You Know?

UNC Greensboro also offers the following certificate programs that are also aligned with the retail and fashion industries, available online and at affordable rates: Global Fashion Industry Management, Retail Consumer Data Analytics, and Retail Merchandising Management.

Franklin University

Franklin University

Columbus, OH

Master of Science in Professional Sales Leadership

Franklin University is a private, not-for-profit university based in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally established in 1902, with the original intention of providing education for students of non-traditional undergraduate age. Franklin University offers traditional on-campus degree programs, but an overwhelming majority of its students are online. 

  • Franklin University’s Master of Science in Professional Sales Leadership features a contemporary curriculum that is designed to develop students’ skills in generating value and connections for their respective organizations and instills a sales mindset.
  • The program is ideal for experienced professionals and is a 14-month long, 100% online program that contains a total of 34 credit hours.
  • The program’s curriculum draws on elements of psychology, emotional intelligence, and business analytics. 
  • The program does not require GRE and/or the graduate management admission test (GMAT) scores.

Standout Features of Franklin University’s Online Master of Science in Professional Sales Leadership Program:

On top of the multi-faceted curriculum design, Franklin University’s MS in Professional Sales Leadership program also makes use of varied instruction methods including role playing & simulation, which maximizes the practice and experience base of students that is crucial in developing sales skills.

Did You Know?

Franklin University outstrips most schools in terms of the number of community and technical college credits that are accepted, which translates to more opportunities for students to turn their associate degree into a bachelor’s degree.

Salem University

Salem University

Salem, WV

MBA in Sales Management

Salem University is a private, for-profit university in the city of Salem, West Virginia. It was first established back in 1888 as the Academy of Salem, founded by the Eastern Seventh Day Baptist Association. It has made partnerships and changed hands a number of times in its most recent history, and became Salem University in 2017. At present, it offers both on-campus and online degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

  • Salem University’s Master of Business Administration in Sales Management is aimed at preparing students with the skills to develop effective sales teams through the application of strategic knowledge, creative solutions, and a thorough understanding of market and customer needs.
  • The sales management degree is fully online and contains a total of 30 credit hours (21 credits of core coursework and 9 credits in the Sales management specialization area). Depending on the student’s own pace, the program can be completed in less than 12 months.
  • The program curriculum Integrates the development of leadership and research skills, as well as various opportunities for professional growth & development.

Standout Features of Salem University’s Online MBA in Sales Management Program:

One of the unique features of Salem University is its use of a one-course-per-month scheduling model. This way of using accelerated programs allows students to better balance their coursework and their career commitments, particularly important for working professionals. With regard to this particular program, it is offered as an MBA, so students also cover fundamental principles of business, on top of leadership skills development. 

Did You Know?

This program is Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs- or ACBSP-accredited. For students who plan to pursue post-graduate education, Salem University also offers an online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree.

Online Master's in Retail & Sales Management - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the standard admission requirements for Retail Management programs?

Generally, interested students will need to make sure they have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university to be eligible for program admission. Some universities required students to meet a particular GPA. Other requirements include official transcripts, letters of accommodation, personal statements, resumes, and more.

How long does it take to earn the online Master’s in Retail Sales Management?

This largely depends on the program requirements that differ from university to university. However, since many of the master’s in retail sales management programs require the completion of 36 credits or more, the program duration on average is between 18 months to two years.

For those who earned the master’s program in retail sales management, a wealth of opportunities awaits as they can boost their earning potential and grow professionally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says sales managers have a median annual salary of $127,490. They can also explore other careers such as sales managers, store managers, manufacturing sales representatives, retail corporate executives, merchandise buyers, and more.

Summary Points

  • A Master’s in Retail and Sales Management covers skills related to the retail industry, and depending on particular program design, covers business & management fundamentals and other sales-related areas such as consumer behavior, customer relations, strategic planning, professional selling, and international retailing.
  • Master’s degrees in Retail and Sales Management are often designed/offered either as a Master of Science or a Master of Business Administration program.
  • Master’s degrees in Retail and Sales Management make for good preparation for a number of leadership and management positions, such as managing retail store managers, marketing managers for various retail operations, purchasing managers, or developing and overseeing sales teams.

Dr. Jared Goff
Chief Editor