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An online master's in coaching provides the training and qualifications needed to find employment as a coach in a variety of settings. Whether working with a semi-pro soccer team or leading health and wellness programs at a corporation, graduates can pursue several fascinating careers.
Finding the best online master's in coaching can take a fair amount of research, but BestColleges is here to help. We prioritize accredited programs that blend flexibility and affordability with quality. Read on to learn about common classes and admission requirements for master's in coaching programs, along with popular careers for graduates.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Coaching Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|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|
- How We Rank Schools
At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.
Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Coaching Programs
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University of South Florida-Main Campus
|Tampa, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Located in Tampa, Florida, USF's MA in physical education program offers a plan for students who hold a teaching certificate and one for those who do not. The 30-credit online program is delivered asynchronously, and students complete assignments, exams, and other requirements at their convenience.
Most classes within the master's in coaching program use a project-based structure, where students explore content and apply their newly gained knowledge to actionable projects. Learners must also pass a comprehensive exam before graduating.
Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. They also must provide proof of an initial teacher certification. Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer.
Azusa Pacific University
|Azusa, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
APU features a master's in physical education degree with a focus on education, coaching, and administrative skills. Learners are prepared to serve at the K-12, postsecondary, and professional levels.
One of the program's core classes, sociological and ethical issues in sport focuses on the role of sports in American culture. Students may also concentrate their studies on sport management, exploring marketing, finance, compliance issues, and athletic facilities management.
Students may take classes online or at one of APU's regional campuses in California. Graduates pursue careers as coaches, educators, and athletic administrators.
The 36-credit master's in coaching program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. All students pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency.
Michigan State University
|East Lansing, MI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
The Michigan State online master's degree in coaching and leadership features the resources of a Big Ten institution and a focus on sports science.
During their final term, students complete an integrative capstone based on their career objectives. Students also participate in a practicum where they learn directly from experienced coaches, and conduct a video analysis of their own coaching performance.
The program requires applicants to possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students also submit two letters of recommendation, a written academic statement, and a resume.
In addition to the 30-credit master's in coaching degree, the program offers a 10-credit graduate certificate.
West Virginia University
|Morgantown, WV||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
WVU offers an online master's degree in coaching that encompasses 10 classes and 30 total credits. The curriculum is based on the International Sport Coaching Framework, and prepares students to lead teams at the K-12, collegiate, and professional levels. Most students graduate within two years.
Required coursework includes creating healthy competitive environments, which teaches future coaches the best methods for developing safe and healthy settings for athlete training and performance.
Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.75 GPA. They also must provide a personal statement and a professional resume. Applicants do not need to submit their GRE scores.
WVU is located in Morgantown. All distance learners, including non-state residents, pay the same per-credit tuition rate.
Ball State University
|Muncie, IN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 63%||
Located in Muncie, Indiana, Ball State delivers an online master's degree in coaching that features instructors with experience coaching NCAA champions, Olympic competitors, and professional athletes.
The MA in athletic coaching education includes online courses that allow students to interact with and learn from one another. Small class sizes provide ample one-on-one connections with professors. Most students complete the 30-credit program in two years or less.
Eligible students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a GPA of 2.75 or above. They also must submit three recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Program staff may ask applicants to conduct a phone interview during the admissions process.
Distance learners at Ball State pay a discounted tuition rate.
University of Arkansas
|Fayetteville, AR||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
U of A Online delivers an online M.Ed. in physical education that prepares graduates to serve as coaches, K-12 physical education teachers, and health educators.
The 33-credit master's in coaching features nationally recognized faculty covering topics like sport skill assessment, sports psychology, and risk management in athletics. All students take part in an internship to work with established educators and coaches.
Qualified applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 3.0 GPA over their last 60 credits. The program may grant admission to individuals below the GPA standard if they submit satisfactory GRE scores. Students can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer.
All U of A Online students pay the same tuition, regardless of their state of residence.
East Carolina University
|Greenville, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
ECU's master of arts in education, physical education prepares graduates to advance their career and qualify for higher salaries when employed at a public school district in North Carolina.
Students may concentrate their studies on adapted physical education or physical education pedagogy. In addition to exploring best practices that benefit coaches and teachers, the program develops leadership, communication, and research skills. All master's in coaching students complete a kinesiology practicum before graduating.
To apply, prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.7 GPA, along with a current North Carolina teaching license in physical education. Applicants also submit three recommendation letters, a written statement of purpose, and GRE or MAT scores.
|Cincinnati, OH||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Xavier's master's in coaching education and athlete development focuses on injury prevention, conditioning, growth and development, administration, and teaching skills.
The 30-credit program includes a residency at the North American Coach Development Summit, where students can learn from some of the nation's most experienced coaches across numerous sports. All coursework takes place online using an asynchronous format.
Applicants submit a resume, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The admissions process does not require GRE scores.
Xavier is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. All online students pay the same tuition, even if they live out of state. Full-time master's in coaching students usually graduate in 24 months.
Emporia State University
|Emporia, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Emporia State students can embark on an online MS in curriculum and instruction with an instructional coach/teacher leader preK-12 concentration. The program prepares students to serve as exceptional coaches, teacher leaders, and curriculum directors, among other leadership roles.
Students take all courses online using an asynchronous format, with no set log-in times. Full-time students can complete the 33-credit program in as little as 12 months. All distance learners pay the same tuition, regardless of state residency.
Through their coursework, students learn about coaching and mentoring, school leadership theory, brain-based learning, and designing effective instructional programs.
Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, along with a GPA of 2.75 or above. The admissions process does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.
SUNY College at Brockport
|Brockport, NY||Cost: $$$$$||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 Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Coaching Program?
Most online master's in coaching programs require 30-36 credits and last approximately two years.
Students who prefer to work in solitude may not want to pursue a master's in coaching, as these programs lead to careers that involve a high amount of interaction with others. Most online master's in coaching programs require 30-36 credits and last approximately two years.
Students can complete the majority of these programs without ever visiting campus, although some schools may require a few in-person intensives on the weekends. If you plan on attending an online program far from home, ask about any in-person requirements the program may have.
Some schools now offer concentrations to help degree-seekers specialize their knowledge in niche areas of the field. Every school provides different options, but common offerings include sports coaching, leadership coaching, physical education, and sports administration. Students should consider which concentration most closely aligns to their future professional goals.
Most programs also include a final project that requires learners to bring together what they learned in a comprehensive assignment. Some programs may also include internships and/or practica to help degree-seekers gain experience in the field.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Coaching Programs
Each school sets individual admission requirements for master's in coaching programs. While all schools require a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, some may look for applicants with degrees in biology, physical education, or a subject related to the coaching specialization the applicant intends to pursue. Additional requirements often include a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, a resume, and GRE scores.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Coaching Program?
Coursework in an online master's in coaching focuses on building the foundational skills and theoretical knowledge required before moving into advanced practice and leadership training. Most of these programs are offered as MS degrees and emphasize scientific research.
- Coaching Skills and Tactics
This introductory class looks at the common strategies used by coaches to create workout plans, develop an understanding of what each athlete or client needs to become and stay motivated, and adapt plans to each athlete's needs.
- Sports Nutrition
Athletes need to pair workouts with a diet that helps build and repair muscles. This course looks at foundational topics within human nutrition and teaches students how to help the people they coach achieve optimal performance.
- Coaching Psychology
This course examines how to effectively motivate athletes to stick with their goals while also building confidence, managing anxiety and stress, and building a resilient team. Students learn how to communicate these concepts and ensure the emotional health of those they coach.
- Sports Technology
As sports technology continues to evolve, coaches must stay current on the newest devices. This course looks at how tools like video analysis, trackers, and virtual imaging can help both coaches and athletes improve their skills and become better at their sport.
Completing a coaching internship allows degree-seekers to apply what they learn in the program to actual coaching scenarios. In addition to participating in a semester-long internship, students enroll in an internship course where they can compare notes with other interns, discuss challenges, and contextualize their experiences.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Coaching Degree?
Graduates with a master's in coaching can take their careers in many rewarding directions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that roles for athletic trainers will grow by 16% between 2019 and 2029, leading to many new jobs in this field. The following section looks at a few other career areas graduates may want to consider.
Many coaches pair their skills with education, teaching a subject in middle or high school and coaching a team as part of their responsibilities. For instance, an educator might teach 10th grade history and also serve as the head or assistant coach of the softball team.
- Physical Education
K-12 schools hire physical education teachers and coaches to help students maintain a good level of fitness and health. Individuals who enjoy working with youth and young adults may enjoy these roles.
Trainer positions provide graduates with the opportunity to work one-to-one with clients. Some clients may be training for a marathon, while others may want to improve their weightlifting skills. Some trainers work for a gym or company, while others work in a freelance capacity or own their own businesses.
- Health and Wellness
Health and wellness professionals support individuals, groups, teams, and others who want to engage in healthy activities and improve their overall wellness. These professionals can support families hoping to address genetic predispositions or a work team looking to complete a wellness challenge.
- Program Administration
After working as a coach for some time, these professionals may decide to take on more of a leadership role. Many programs at gyms and larger companies pair individuals with coaches to help them achieve fitness goals. Rather than working one-to-one with clients, program administrators oversee these processes.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Coaching Programs
- Is a master's in coaching worth it?
Graduates of master's in coaching programs can select from many different worthwhile jobs based on their interests. Nevertheless, students should first consider whether they need a master's degree to compete for the job they want to pursue.
- What can I do with a master's in coaching?
Master's in coaching programs qualify graduates to work with athletes of many ages as well as those simply looking to improve their fitness level and health. Whether you want to coach a college team or work in your local gym as a trainer, a master's in coaching can help make you a more competitive candidate.
- Is coaching a good career?
Coaching can be an incredibly rewarding career as you work with individuals to improve their fitness, become athletes, and take control of their health. Most positions require constant interaction with clients and/or students, so individuals considering this career should enjoy being around people.
- How much money can I make with a master's in coaching?
The reality is that the majority of coaching jobs will not make you rich. According to the BLS, athletic trainers earned a median annual salary of $48,440 in 2019, while coaches and scouts earned a median wage of $34,840.
- What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in coaching?
Coaches who earn the highest salaries typically pair their talents with teaching. High school teachers, for instance, earned a median annual salary of $61,660 in 2019, according to the BLS. Coaches of professional teams earn extremely high salaries. According to Forbes, the 20 highest paid professional and college coaches in the US earned at least $7.7 million per year.