Sport Management vs. Sports Administration: What’s the Difference?

There are many ways to be a key player in the world of athletics without risking yourself on the field. One such way is to work in sports management or sports administration.

One question that is often asked is what is the difference between sports management and sport administration? The short answer is that the two fields are quite similar. Sports management involves overseeing all aspects of an athletic program or organization. In sports administration you also oversee or work with athletic organizations to improve programming.

As the two fields are virtually the same, it stands to reason that a master’s in sports administration and a master’s in sports management are also virtually synonymous.

Sports Administration vs. Sports Management: Choosing the Right Program

Since the master’s in sports administration and sports management programs are both so similar, it’s important for you as a prospective student to look at their specifics — and how they align with your career goals. For example, if you want to improve your marketing skills, you might consider a master’s program with a concentration or specialization in sports marketing.

Below is a list of questions to help you evaluate program flexibility and curriculum as you explore master’s degree programs in sports administration and sports management:

  • Is the program full-time or part-time?
  • Does the program align with my schedule?
  • Can the program be completed online?
  • Does the program offer options to specialize?
  • What resources does the program have in terms of connections to alumni or affiliate organizations?

Read on to learn about the typical curriculum, common admission requirements and job opportunities (including salary information) for sports management and sports administration master’s programs.


Master’s in sports administration and master’s in sports management programs prepare students to successfully work in athletics management and administration. Many programs include coursework in the following areas:

  • Sports marketing
  • Technology
  • Business
  • Sports analytics
  • Public relations

In addition to core coursework, some programs offer elective, concentration and specialization options. As noted above, a specialization or concentration is something that you want to consider when you evaluate programs. In addition to a general track, the online MS in Sport Management from Adelphi University features two distinct optional specializations to choose from.

  • College Athletic Administration prepares students to supervise every aspect of a university or college program in roles such as athletic administrator and director.
  • Sport Marketing helps students develop the skills to promote brands in today’s complex, fast-paced marketing landscape.

“The exciting part of our sport management program is it can be tailored to a variety of interests to meet the needs of our ever-growing world of sports. Our dedicated and experienced faculty have direct contact with numerous alumni and sport organizations throughout the tristate area and the world to assist and help you get the inside track on the latest trends in sports.”— Dan Bedard, Clinical Assistant Professor, Health and Sports Sciences

Admission Requirements

All master’s degree programs, including those in sports management and sports administration, want to ensure that students have the right foundation to succeed in graduate courses. Programs also want to know that their incoming students will be a good fit for the program based on their previous experience in the field, as well as their goals and interests. They also want to ensure that accepted students are making the right educational choice relevant to their experience, goals and interests.

Common admission requirements for master’s in sports management and master’s in sports administration programs include undergraduate transcripts with a minimum GPA, graduate test scores (like the GRE or GMAT), personal statements and letters of recommendation.

The online MS in Sport Management from Adelphi University has the following application requirements:

  • Application and $50 fee
  • Official transcripts from all prior institutions
  • Proof of bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Essay
  • Resume (preferred)

Careers and salary information

Both sports administration careers and hrefsports management careers focus on managing and overseeing multiple aspects within athletic organizations and teams, including the following tasks:

  • Balancing budgets
  • Overseeing marketing initiatives
  • Signing and managing talent
  • Managing public relations
  • Creating and managing rosters
  • Negotiating contracts

The average salary for an individual with an MS in Sports Management is $53,000 a year. Below are five careers you can pursue with either a master’s in sport management or master’s in sports administration:

Job Title Average Salary
Event Coordinator $43,709
Sports Agent $51,998
Corporate Partnerships Manager $50,000
Athletic Director $61,191
Facilities Operations Manager $71,470

Degree and career salary information taken from Payscale in March 2022.

Event Coordinator

In this case, the job description is right in the name. Event coordinators (sometimes called game day coordinators) oversee every aspect of a particular event or game, working with the venue, security staff, reporters and food vendors. Event coordinators can work in a variety of industries, so it helps to have a wide breadth of skills. In order to be successful, event coordinators should know how to budget their time and communicate effectively with others.

Sports Agent

Sports agents represent professional athletes in many different facets of their careers. First and foremost, sports agents negotiate. Negotiations can take place around contracts, endorsement deals and public appearances. Sports agents also need to have expertise in the sports they represent. In addition, sports agents should be able to analyze statistics in order to best negotiate for their clients. As seen in the movie Jerry Maguire, sports agents have to be salespeople, which means they need to possess excellent networking and people skills.

Corporate Partnerships Manager

When you see advertisements running across a screen during a game, you’re likely viewing the work of a corporate partnerships manager. A corporate partnerships manager is in charge of cultivating and securing relationships between both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. In terms of sports, the corporate partnerships manager might partner with a company or corporation to create events or other marketing opportunities between those organizations and the sports team.

Athletic Director

Athletic directors coordinate athletic activities for a high school or college/university. An athletic director creates budgets, develops marketing, sets schedules, hires staff (including coaches), fundraises and organizes special events. This is an administrative position, which means that athletic directors must possess both analytical and organizational skills.

Facilities Operations Manager

A facilities operations manager supports recreational and sports facilities. Some of the tasks of a facilities operations manager include the buying, selling and leasing of the facility. Other tasks include capital management and marketing.

About the Adelphi University MS in Sport Management

The online MS in Sport Management at Adelphi University is designed for hard-working, ambitious individuals with a passion for sports. The degree is available online and on campus and includes optional specializations in sport marketing or athletic administration.

At Adelphi, students gain an in-depth understanding of the sport industry with coursework that includes business management, market analysis, budget preparation, sport law, sport marketing and public relations. They also learn how to turn previous athletic experience and interests into professional strengths in order to stand out in the industry.
Our students benefit from the connections they build with their peers and with faculty members who work in the industry. This is a team that will support you throughout your career.

Back to articles

Request Brochure — Start Here

To learn more about Adelphi University’s online programs and download a brochure, fill out the fields below or call us at 888.252.4110 to talk with one of our enrollment counselors.

* All Fields are Required. Your Privacy is Protected.
Are you enrolling from outside the U.S.? Click here.