An online master's in coaching degree equips graduates with the fundamentals of coaching high school, college, or professional athletes. Successful coaches must consider educational methods and pedagogy just like their classroom counterparts, as well as long-term athletic development, nutrition, exercise science, sports psychology, and organizational leadership. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that coaching jobs will grow at a rate of 6% over the next 10 years. However, that number is directly tied to participation and popularity and is poised for growth the number of athletes and interest in sports increase. With youth participation strong and national college sport fandom at an all-time high, now is an attractive time for amatuer coaches and former athletes to earn a master's degree in coaching to improve their career prospects.

What are the best coaching programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa, FL
2 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
3 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
4 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
5 Ball State University Muncie, IN
6 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
7 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
8 Xavier University Cincinnati, OH
9 Emporia State University Emporia, KS
10 SUNY College at Brockport Brockport, NY

Choosing a Program


A master's degree in coaching online is similar in many ways to a master's in education. Both programs provide foundational knowledge of the field, includes hands-on experiences, and allow students to earn a credential.


Prospective students can find the best online master's in coaching for them by comparing multiple programs and examining several shared factors. Students should consider degree completion time, credit load, cost, course delivery, faculty interaction, and more. The most important factor is the curriculum and whether or not the program allows a student to pursue a focus or specialization that aligns with their career goals.


Yes, in fact many students earning their coaching master's degree online are working professionals. Most programs features courses taught on-demand or with with live components on nights and weeks that are friendly to students who work full-time. These programs also commonly offer both full- and part-time completion plans, allowing working students to adapt their education around the needs of their schedule.


Earning a master's degree in coaching online is a smart option for many working coaches and teachers in the field. Online programs offer more flexibility and are more affordable and accessible than residential programs. Additionally, distance learning allows students to study coaching at the best universities in the country, regardless of geographic location.

What Are The Best Online Master's in Coaching Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of South Florida-Main Campus

Tampa, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

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.


Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

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.


Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

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.


West Virginia University

Morgantown, WV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 60%

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.


Ball State University

Muncie, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 63%

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.


University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 66%

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.


East Carolina University

Greenville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

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.


Xavier University

Cincinnati, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

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.


Emporia State University

Emporia, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

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.


SUNY College at Brockport

Brockport, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

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.

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

There are several different types of master's degrees in coaching online. Some are offered as master's of arts degrees, while others are offered as master's of science or even education degrees. These programs are typically offered through either a school's education or kinesiology department. There are also some programs that focus on particular sports, while other focus on coaching a specific age range. When searching for the right program, you should research curriculum requirements, completion time, and accreditation status and compare the results with your long-term career goals.


The curriculum requirements for each online master's in coaching degree varies from school to school. However, there are some common courses that are included in every program's curriculum. Below are a few examples of courses you can expect to find in most online master's in coaching programs:

Applied Sports Psychology: Many programs offer psychology courses related to coaching. Students will learn about the psychology of an athlete while they're competing, preparing, and training. Coaches use sports psychology every day on the job, from designing a demanding practice to imitate the rigors of competition to understanding a slump from the team's star player.

Exercise Science and Physiology: In this course, students learn how an athlete's body works and how it can perform better. Sports science and physiology can be combined to design cutting edge workouts that ensure athletes are exercising properly. There are many variations on this course, many of which include anatomy and biomechanical components.

Instruction for Sports and Teams: Just as teachers learn various methods for creating the optimal lesson plans, coaching students learn how to best create short- and long-term lesson plans for their teams. Regardless of whether they're coaching high schoolers or professional athletes, coaches must learn the fundamental teaching methods needed to implement a winning mentality.

Nutrition and Dietary Science: Nutrition experts are often on staff for college and professional teams, although it's a growing trend for coaches to be more involved in the whole experience for players. Nutrition in athletics is a defining characteristic of modern sports and has become integral at all levels.


A master's degree in coaching online can typically be completed in about two years. The exact completion time varies from program to program and depends on a variety of factors. Some students opt for part-time learning, which involves fewer classes per semester over a longer period of time. Many programs feature accelerated seven- or eight-week terms for classes while others use a more traditional semester schedule.

Credit loads and learning format can also affect the length of an online master's in coaching degree. Most programs feature credit loads between 30 and 36 credits, which is typical among master's degrees. Program can be taught in either synchronously or asynchronously. Students in programs that use synchronous courses are typically organized into a cohort model, where they take the same courses in the same order as a group of other students. Other programs offer courses asynchronously online, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. This can mean a quicker completion time for motivated students, although they may lack some of the peer support that a cohort model provides.


Licenses and certification for coaches may be required in certain states or in high-level positions. In fact, many high schools and colleges have specific requirements for coaches, such as requiring a teaching certification or license. Many schools also require coaches to have some first-aid certification. Additionally, some sports have their own licenses or certificates available,such as the National Interscholastic Cycling Association licenses for cycling coaches.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Coaching Programs

One factor that distance learners should be sure to consider before selecting a master's degree in coaching online program is accreditation. Accreditation is a process whereby independent accrediting bodies decide whether a school or program has met a set of standards for that industry.

Schools can be either regionally or nationally accredited. Regional accreditation means that a college or university has been accredited by one of six agencies (or the Higher Learning Commission) that serve separate regional sections of the U.S. Most public and nonprofit colleges and university are regionally accredited. National accreditation is less common and more often used to accredit for-profit universities or specific trade schools.

Although most accreditation is handled by these six regional agencies, the Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also play an important role. The ED and CHEA preside over accrediting agencies and ensure that they are compliant with national education standards. Some states require legitimate accrediting agencies to become recognized by both the ED and CHEA to operate within the state. The ED is a government agency that is responsible for establishing policy, setting standards for universities and colleges, and providing financial aid. The CHEA is an national industry group composed of colleges and universities that supports the accreditation program currently in use. You can find a list of all accredited schools on the ED or CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Coaching Graduates


In the past, coaching has been a career based more on on-field experience than education and advanced degrees. However, as the popularity of sports continues to grow and all other careers in the field require advanced degrees, a master's in coaching has emerged as a prerequisite. A master's degree in coaching covers many aspects of the job, including the business, psychology, and exercise science of sports that one can't gain through experience calling plays. Here are some of the major advantages of having a graduate degree in coaches:

  • A master's in coaching sets job candidates apart from other coaches who have only attained a bachelor's or have no degree at all.
  • Michigan State University notes that a master's in coaching shows that a coach has attained the highest level of knowledge in the field, including cutting edge techniques. It also demonstrates that they have an interest in continuing education.
  • For coaches who teach as well, a master's in coaching or physical education can lead to increased salaries or promotions.
  • Master's degrees are especially useful for finding careers in college sports, which have seen a drastic rise in salaries over the past few years.
  • Advanced degrees are now part of the National Standards for Sport Coaches as developed by the National Council for the Accreditation of Coaching Education and SHAPE America.


Online coaching graduates can expect their level of pay to be directly tied to the industry they go into. Professional and college coaches make a lot more money than their high school counterparts due to their team's lucrative television deals and large fan bases. Coaching graduates who transition into player representation may also earn a higher average wage.

Career Options Average Annual Wage
Agent/ Managers for Artists, Athletes, Entertainers, and Other Public Figures $77,920
Spectator Sport Coach/Scout $63,130
Colleges, Universities, and Professional School Coach $56,290
Other Amusement and Recreation Industry $41,720
Elementary or Secondary School Coach $35,690

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Most students who pursue a master's degree in coaching online want to become the coach of a college, professional, or high school team. However, graduates with a coaching master's degree online can choose from a wide variety of other career paths. A more personable coach may want to stay on the field with athletes, while a grad who loves the big picture might prefer a career as an athletic director.


Coaches and scouts are responsible for leading a team of players, with those specific responsibilities varying drastically from sport to sport and at different skill levels. Some high school teachers coach on their spare time, while college football coaches can work 90 or more hours a week. Scouts work alongside coaches to find the best athletic talent. Scouts are critical to professional and college sport teams who have to maintain a talent pipeline.

Median Annual Salary - $31,460
Projected Growth Rate - 6%

Athletic Trainer

Athletic trainers are responsible for helping athletes exercise and condition properly. Trainers assist with injury care, diagnosis, and prevention at all skill levels. Professional and college sport teams may have several trainers, while a high school may only have one for athletes of all sports. Athletic trainer is a popular option for students with background in kinesiology.

Median Annual Salary - $45,630
Projected Growth Rate - 21%


Referees and officials can work in a variety of part- or full-time roles. Officials ensure that games are played properly and in accordance with a sport's rules. These professionals are needed at all skill levels and are paid at different rates accordingly.

Median Annual Salary - $25,660
Projected Growth Rate - 5%


Coaching students who care about nutrition and dietary needs may be interested in becoming a nutritionist. Nutritionists are responsible for educating athletes on the proper dietary restrictions needed to achieve success on the field. These professionals are needed in professional, college, and even some high school sports teams.

Median Annual Salary - $58,920
Projected Growth Rate - 14%

Athletic Director

Athletic directors are often former coaches. They are responsible for controlling the schedule and managing resources for all of a school's sports teams. These professionals perform many of the same roles that a school administrator does, except specifically for a school's athletic initiatives.

Median Annual Salary - $90,760
Projected Growth Rate - 9%


Professional coaching organizations can help graduates network with fellow coaches around the country. Networking can allow coaches to find new young talent for their staff or hear about better career opportunities before a position is posted. Professional organizations host conferences where coaches can learn about news and cutting edge techniques. These organizations also offer discounts on equipment, spotlight leaders, and provide aid to members. Many professional organizations are only open to coaches of specific sports or those coaching at specific skill levels.

Financing Your Online Master's in Coaching Degree

Even students who work full-time typically still need help financing their online master's in coaching program. Many students turn to federal or school-offered financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans to help with school. The first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can also take advantage of merit- and need-based scholarships at most universities. Some programs even offer work study programs for local online learners.


Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.