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The Master of Science degree in Sports Leadership (MSL) in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) draws from the UW-Madison’s world-leading academic and athletic resources to prepare dynamic sports leaders. MSL students study in areas including athletic administration, coaching, justice in sport, legal and financial issues, and sports psychology. Graduates will be prepared for impactful leadership positions across diverse sports settings spanning K-12 and youth programs, colleges and universities, and professional teams. The MSL is an online degree program, accommodating students with busy lives throughout Wisconsin and beyond. The program exposes students to top professors, innovative sports leaders, and highest-level sports experiences at UW-Madison.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline July 1
Spring Deadline December 1
Summer Deadline April 1
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Applications to the MS in Sports Leadership program will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages).
  2. Official transcripts of prior undergraduate and graduate course completion.
  3. Resume or CV.
  4. Supporting document if the undergraduate GPA is below 3.00. The statement will include: an explanation regarding why the applicant's GPA does not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, and a description of relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Information

Students enrolled in this program are not eligible to receive tuition remission from graduate assistantship appointments at this institution.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

mode of instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
No No Yes No No
Mode of Instruction Definitions 

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students are able to complete a program with minimal disruptions to careers and other commitments.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

curricular requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 27 credits out of 30 total credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's GPA Requirement policy
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations None.
Language Requirements None.

Required courses

The Master of Science in Sports Leadership is a 30-credit master's degree in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA). With program approval, students may take other courses not listed below as electives.

Core Courses
ELPA 700 Field Experience in Educational Leadership3
ELPA 710 Introduction to Intercollegiate Athletics Administration3
ELPA 750 Coaching Athletics 1: Everyday Practices of Top Leaders3
ELPA 751 Leadership and Justice in Sports3
ELPA 752 Coach as Teacher: Mastering Instructional Practice On and Off the Field3
ELPA 753 Psychology and Coaching in Sports3
ELPA 754 Running a Championship System: The Badger Sports Leadership Road Course3
ELPA 755 Coaching Athletics 2: A Bell Cow Way3
ELPA 777 Higher and Post-Secondary Education Capstone Seminar3
Electives - Choose one 3 credit course3
Group Development and Behavior Management
Principles of Strength and Conditioning
Sports Science & Athlete Monitoring
Total Credits30

Students in this program may not take courses outside the prescribed curriculum without faculty advisor and program director approval. Students in this program cannot enroll concurrently in other undergraduate, graduate or certificate programs.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

major-specific policies

prior coursework

Graduate Work for Other Institutions

No more than nine credits of previous graduate coursework may be counted toward the degree.  These credits require program director approval.

UW-Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW-Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

UW-Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 6 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW-Madison special student. If necessary to meet the Graduate School minimum graduate credit requirements for the degree, special student coursework may need to be converted to graduate credits. Once converted, students are assessed the difference in tuition between special and graduate tuition. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


This program follows the Graduate School’s Advisor policy.

The program director advises students in the MSL program.

credits per term allowed

12 credits

time limits

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Any student who feels that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty or staff member has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing of the grievance, following these grievance procedures. The complaint may concern course grades, classroom treatment, program admission, or other issues. To insure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect both the rights of the student and the person at whom the complaint is addressed, the procedures below are used in the School of Education.

The person whom the complaint is directed against must be an employee of the School of Education. Any student or potential student may use these procedures unless the complaint is covered by other campus rules or contracts. The following steps are available within the School of Education when a student has a grievance:

  1. The student should first talk with the person against whom the grievance is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. If the complaint is directed against a teaching assistant, and the student is not satisfied, the next step would be to talk to the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, the student may continue to step 2.
  2. If the complaint does not involve an academic department, the procedure outlined in Step 4 below should be followed. If the complaint involves an academic department, the student should contact the chair of the department. The chair will attempt to resolve the problem informally. If this cannot be done to the student's satisfaction, the student may submit the grievance to the chair in writing. This must be done within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  3. On receipt of a written complaint, the chair will refer the matter to a departmental committee, which will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed. This response shall be shared with the person filing the grievance. The chair will provide a timely written decision to the student on the action taken by the committee.
  4. If either party is not satisfied with the decision of the department, they have five working days from receipt of the decision to contact the dean's office (at the number below), indicating the intention to appeal. If the complaint does not involve an academic department in the school, the student must contact the dean's office within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  5. In either case, there will be an attempt to resolve the issue informally by the associate dean. If this cannot be done, the complaint can be filed in writing with the dean's office. This must be done within 10 working days of the time the appealing party was notified that informal resolution was unsuccessful.
  6. On receipt of such a written complaint, the associate dean will convene a subcommittee of the school's Equity & Diversity Committee. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and may hold a hearing at which both parties will be asked to speak separately. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the dean of the School of Education who will render a decision. Unless a longer time is negotiated, this written decision shall be made within 20 working days from the date when the grievance was filed with the dean's office.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.

State law contains additional provisions regarding discrimination and harassment. Wisconsin Statutes 36.12 reads, in part: "No student may be denied admission to, participation in or the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any service, program, course or facility of the system or its institutions or center because of the student's race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status or parental status." In addition, UW–System prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Students have the right to file discrimination and harassment complaints with the Office of Compliance, 361 Bascom Hall, 608-265-6018,



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulate, critique, or elaborate the theories, research methods, and approaches to scholarly inquiry or practice in educational settings.
  2. Identify sources and assemble evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of sports leadership.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of sports leadership in a historical, social, or global context.
  4. Identify and address social inequalities in educational opportunities and outcomes in sports leadership.
  5. Select and/or utilize the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  6. Evaluate or synthesize information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of sports leadership.
  7. Communicate clearly in ways appropriate to the field of sports leadership.

Professor Jerlando Jackson, ELPA department chair

Professor Peter Miller, MSL faculty director

Shari Smith, ELPA Graduate Program Manager