Best Online Master’s in Coaching Programs

Want to earn an online master's in coaching but don't know where to start? Read about the top programs and compare schools by cost and flexibility.

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Published on March 17, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

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An online master's in coaching can lead to coaching careers in various professional settings. While these degrees are not common or prevalent, many students feel significant passion for the field.

While graduate school is a significant investment, some people feel called to the one-on-one connections and team-building inherent to coaching.

They find jobs coaching semi-pro teams, working with secondary students, and helping businesses and corporations thrive. Completion times vary, but most programs take 1-3 years to complete, depending on whether you enroll full time or part time.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 26% job growth for sports coaches and scouts between 2020 and 2030. This rate more than triples the average projected growth rate for all U.S. occupations (8%) during that period.

Read on to learn more about these in-demand programs.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Coaching Program?

An online master's in coaching program provides a good fit for extroverted, detail-oriented students with good public speaking skills. However, students who do not fit this description can develop these qualities over the course of their programs.

Like many master's degrees, most online master's in coaching programs take 12-18 months to complete for full-time students and 18-36 months for part-time learners. Completion times can vary by school and delivery method. Most programs require 30-36 credits of coursework.

Most of these programs do not include on-campus requirements. However, since coaching is such a practical, hands-on field, students may need to complete certain in-person coaching intensives at sites in their own local communities. These in-person experiences may include internships and a practicum.

Some programs offer opportunities to further specialize within the field through concentrations. Possible options include sports administration, leadership coaching, physical education, and sports coaching.

Each student should consider which concentration best aligns with their personal and professional goals before committing.

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Popular Online Master's in Coaching Program Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Coaching Program?

Safety and Injury Control

In this course, future coaches learn best practices for protecting the health of their future players. Possible topics include injury prevention, concussion symptoms, and injury care and management.

Sociocultural Issues for Sports Practitioners

This course delves into the intersection between sports and prevalent social concerns. Topics can include institutional structures, interpersonal dynamics, and the role of sports in various cultures.

Ethics in Coaching

At times, coaching can feel fraught with ethical dilemmas. This course prepares future coaches to navigate these issues. Topics may include moral obligations of coaches and decision-making frameworks when faced with a dilemma.

Legal Aspects of Sports

This course delves into multiple legal issues as they relate to sports. Topics can include foundational legal concepts, potential legal issues in amateur athletics, and injury prevention.

Stages of Athlete Development

In this course, students learn how young athletes develop across young adulthood, adolescence, and childhood. This course blends aspects of biology, kinesiology, and psychology.

What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Coaching Program?

In most cases, admission requirements are the same for on-campus and online master's in coaching programs.

You can generally hold any accredited bachelor's degree to qualify for admission into a coaching program. In rare cases, in addition to the requirements listed below, some schools may require you to complete an interview with an alum or a member of the admissions department.

Read on to learn more about admission requirements for online master's in coaching programs.

Application

All online master's in coaching programs require prospective students to fill out and submit an application form. In most cases, you can complete these forms online through each school's website. Most graduate programs offer their own unique applications and do not use applications systems like the Common App or Coalition App.

Test Scores

While fewer colleges now require standardized test scores — and this requirement is rarer in practice-focused fields like coaching — some programs may still ask students to submit GRE scores. While this requirement may seem daunting, with the right GRE preparation, you can maximize your score on this test.

Letters of Recommendation

Many coaching programs require 1-3 letters of recommendation. You can ask undergraduate professors or former professional supervisors to write these letters on your behalf. Make sure to ask them several months in advance so that they have enough time to write strong letters.

Resume and Work Experience

Since coaching is a practice-focused, hands-on profession, some graduate programs in the field require professional experience from applicants. However, this requirement varies by school and by program. Most schools require prospective students to submit a resume as part of their application.

Essays

Many coaching programs require prospective students to submit an essay. This requirement may take the form of a statement of purpose or letter of intent. Applicants may also be asked to outline their coaching philosophy.

Official Transcripts

All schools require applicants to submit official transcripts to prove their readiness and ability to succeed in the program. By submitting these documents, you may also be able to earn transfer credits if you have already completed some relevant graduate coursework.

What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Coaching Degree?

Career Outlook

Students who pursue a master's degree in coaching prepare for very specific careers. They can pursue coaching roles within semi-pro athletics, secondary education, and corporations and business, among other environments.

According to the BLS, sports coaches are in high demand, as the BLS projects 26% job growth for coaches and scouts between 2020 and 2030.

In general, coaching is only a lucrative profession at the highest levels. Program graduates can pursue careers as athletic trainers, who earned a median annual salary of $49,860, as of May 2020, according to the BLS. Coaches and scouts earned a median annual salary of $36,330, as of May 2020.

Career Paths

Athletic Trainer

These professionals use many of the same skills as coaching. They help prevent, diagnose, and treat athletic injuries. A master's in coaching program typically includes core courses related to this profession. Athletic trainers usually need a bachelor's degree and a state license to practice.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $49,860

Coach

Coaches teach individual athletes and entire teams how to succeed at their chosen sport. They work for amateur and professional teams, secondary schools, and various other employers. While previous experience playing a sport can help you succeed in these positions, it is not always required, especially considering the recent growth of analytics in athletics. These professionals generally need a bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $36,330

Scout

Often working for collegiate and professional sports teams, scouts evaluate young athletes to determine their skills and fit at the next level. These professionals are often responsible for a certain section of a state or the country. They generally need a bachelor's degree and experience playing the sport they are scouting for.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $36,330

Physical Education (P.E.) Teacher

Graduates with a master's in coaching can sometimes pursue careers as physical education teachers at middle and high schools. These professionals teach athletic skills and new games through gym classes. They may also teach health courses. To work at public schools, these educators need state-issued licenses.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $62,870

Fitness Trainer

Fitness trainers often work in gyms with individual clients and small groups, guiding them through exercise and physical activities. They help clients get stronger, achieve athletic goals, and live healthier lives. These professionals generally need expertise in physical fitness, and some employers prefer candidates with professional certifications.

Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $40,510

Coaching Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Sports Medicine Careers Sports Management Careers Education Careers

Continuing Education

In lieu of continuing education, the best way to advance for a professional coach is often experience. Doctoral programs in coaching are exceedingly rare, although some coaches who work in schools may pursue a doctorate in education to qualify for jobs as principals and other administrators.

However, most coaches commit to continuous professional development by learning about new strategies, drills, and best practices in their chosen sport.

How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Coaching Program?

Cost

According to U.S. News and World Report, many master's in coaching programs cost $12,000-$16,000, which equates to $410-$450 per credit. When choosing between programs, remember to factor in the true program cost, as distance learners may save on fees like room and board and transportation.

Program Format

A major choice that all distance learners must make is whether they want to take synchronous or asynchronous courses. Programs that deliver coursework synchronously require attendance at live online sessions, while programs that deliver coursework asynchronously do not. Working professionals and parents often prefer the flexibility of asynchronous coursework.

Location

While it may seem like location does not matter if you attend online programs, there are still several benefits to attending school nearby. Most online master's in coaching programs do not include on-campus requirements, but you may still be able to leverage your school's network to find internships and jobs after you graduate.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a seal of approval awarded by an organization overseen by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation indicates that a school provides quality programs and services. You should only enroll at accredited schools. Otherwise, you cannot receive federal financial aid.

Student Support

Student support can make the difference between thriving in a program and having a mediocre experience. Before you enroll in a program, look for mentorship services, internship opportunities, tutoring, networking, and other online student services.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Coaching Programs

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Best Online Master's in Online Coaching Programs

  1. University of South Florida-Main Campus
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $10460

    Located in Tampa, Florida, USF's MA in physical education program offers a plan for students who hold a teaching certificate and one for those who do not. The 30-credit online program is delivered asynchronously, and students complete assignments, exams, and other requirements at their convenience.

    Most classes within the master's in coaching program use a project-based structure, where students explore content and apply their newly gained knowledge to actionable projects. Learners must also pass a comprehensive exam before graduating.

    Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. They also must provide proof of an initial teacher certification. Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer.

  2. Azusa Pacific University
    Location

    Azusa, CA

    Tuition

    $29152

    APU features a master's in physical education degree with a focus on education, coaching, and administrative skills. Learners are prepared to serve at the K-12, postsecondary, and professional levels.

    One of the program's core classes, sociological and ethical issues in sport focuses on the role of sports in American culture. Students may also concentrate their studies on sport management, exploring marketing, finance, compliance issues, and athletic facilities management.

    Students may take classes online or at one of APU's regional campuses in California. Graduates pursue careers as coaches, educators, and athletic administrators.

    The 36-credit master's in coaching program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. All students pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency.

  3. Michigan State University
    Location

    East Lansing, MI

    Tuition

    $16227

    The Michigan State online master's degree in coaching and leadership features the resources of a Big Ten institution and a focus on sports science.

    During their final term, students complete an integrative capstone based on their career objectives. Students also participate in a practicum where they learn directly from experienced coaches, and conduct a video analysis of their own coaching performance.

    The program requires applicants to possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students also submit two letters of recommendation, a written academic statement, and a resume.

    In addition to the 30-credit master's in coaching degree, the program offers a 10-credit graduate certificate.

  4. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $12181

    WVU offers an online master's degree in coaching that encompasses 10 classes and 30 total credits. The curriculum is based on the International Sport Coaching Framework, and prepares students to lead teams at the K-12, collegiate, and professional levels. Most students graduate within two years.

    Required coursework includes creating healthy competitive environments, which teaches future coaches the best methods for developing safe and healthy settings for athlete training and performance.

    Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. They also must provide a personal statement and a professional resume. Applicants do not need to submit their GRE scores.

    WVU is located in Morgantown. All distance learners, including non-state residents, pay the same per-credit tuition rate.

  5. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $13642

    Located in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State delivers an online master's degree in coaching that features instructors with experience coaching NCAA champions, Olympic competitors, and professional athletes.

    The MA in athletic coaching education includes online courses that allow students to interact with and learn from one another. Small class sizes provide ample one-on-one connections with professors. Most students complete the 30-credit program in two years or less.

    Eligible students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 2.75 or above. They also must submit three recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Program staff may ask applicants to conduct a phone interview during the admissions process.

    Distance learners at Ball State pay a discounted tuition rate.

  6. University of Arkansas
    Location

    Fayetteville, AR

    Tuition

    $15781

    U of A Online delivers an online M.Ed. in physical education that prepares graduates to serve as coaches, K-12 physical education teachers, and health educators.

    The 33-credit master's in coaching features nationally recognized faculty covering topics like sport skill assessment, sports psychology, and risk management in athletics. All students take part in an internship to work with established educators and coaches.

    Qualified applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA over their last 60 credits. The program may grant admission to individuals below the GPA standard if they submit satisfactory GRE scores. Students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer.

    All U of A Online students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state of residence.

  7. East Carolina University
    Location

    Greenville, NC

    Tuition

    $13746

    ECU's master of arts in education, physical education prepares graduates to advance their career and qualify for higher salaries when employed at a public school district in North Carolina.

    Students may concentrate their studies on adapted physical education or physical education pedagogy. In addition to exploring best practices that benefit coaches and teachers, the program develops leadership, communication, and research skills. All master's in coaching students complete a kinesiology practicum before graduating.

    To apply, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.7 GPA, along with a current North Carolina teaching license in physical education. Applicants also submit three recommendation letters, a written statement of purpose, and GRE or MAT scores.

  8. Xavier University
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $31240

    Xavier's master's in coaching education and athlete development focuses on injury prevention, conditioning, growth and development, administration, and teaching skills.

    The 30-credit program includes a residency at the North American Coach Development Summit, where students can learn from some of the nation's most experienced coaches across numerous sports. All coursework takes place online using an asynchronous format.

    Applicants submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The admissions process does not require GRE scores.

    Xavier is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. All online students pay the same tuition, even if they live out of state. Full-time master's in coaching students usually graduate in 24 months.

  9. Emporia State University
    Location

    Emporia, KS

    Tuition

    $13670

    Emporia State students can embark on an online MS in curriculum and instruction with an instructional coach/teacher leader preK-12 concentration. The program prepares students to serve as exceptional coaches, teacher leaders, and curriculum directors, among other leadership roles.

    Students take all courses online using an asynchronous format, with no set log-in times. Full-time students can complete the 33-credit program in as little as 12 months. All distance learners pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency.

    Through their coursework, students learn about coaching and mentoring, school leadership theory, brain-based learning, and designing effective instructional programs.

    Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, along with a GPA of 2.75 or above. The admissions process does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.

  10. SUNY College at Brockport
    Location

    Brockport, NY

    Tuition

    $14723

    The SUNY College at Brockport's online master's degree in coaching develops student leadership skills. Graduates are prepared for advanced opportunities and higher salaries as coaches, health educators, and physical education teachers.

    The M.Ed. in physical education and teacher education explores curriculum design, behavior management, and diversity. Students take part in a seminar through which they examine best practices and trends in physical education.

    The program's admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and a New York state initial teacher certification. Applicants also must submit their GRE, MAT, or edTPA scores.

    Incoming students may begin the master's in coaching program in the fall, spring, or summer. They can complete the program online or on campus.

Frequently Asked Questions About PROGRAM NAMES

Is a master's in coaching worth it? true

The value of any degree is subjective. For some students, a master's in coaching can lead to the exact career they seek in schools, professional athletics, or corporations.

However, you can qualify for many coaching careers without a master's degree. So make sure this degree is an investment that you really need to make.

What can I do with a master's in coaching? true

Master's in coaching degree-holders can pursue various careers helping athletes live healthier lives and reach their full potential. Possible job titles include coach, scout, fitness trainer, and physical education teacher.

Are coaching graduates in demand? true

Yes. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects 26% job growth for coaches and scouts. This rate more than triples the growth that the BLS projects for all occupations (8%) during that decade.

How much money can I make with a master's in coaching?

Most coaches pursue their craft because they feel passionate about helping others reach their potential, not for the financial rewards. According to the BLS, coaches and scouts earned a median annual salary of $36,330, as of May 2020.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in coaching?

Coaches in professional sports — and some high-level college football and basketball coaches — earn millions of dollars in annual salary. However, there is a very limited number of these positions available.

According to the BLS, high school teachers earn a median annual salary of $62,870, as of May 2020. Many graduates with master's degrees in coaching can make excellent high school P.E. teachers. Many P.E. teachers also coach some of their school's sports teams, allowing coaching degree-holders to do what they love.

Image Source: Alistair Berg, Getty Images

We've ranked the top online master's in higher education programs. Compare schools and figure out where you can earn your master's in higher education online. A ranking of the best online master's in education programs. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.

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