Best Online Master’s in Coaching Programs
| TBS Staff
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A master’s in coaching online expands professional opportunities in the private and public sectors. The degree may focus on sports coaching, coaching education, and athletic administration or emphasize life skills, business leadership, and executive coaching. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life coaches work as rehabilitation counselors, school and vocational counselors, and personal care and service workers, fields poised for 13%–15% growth by 2026.Athletic coaches will experience comparable growth in 2026, with a projected 13% rise.
In an online master’s in coaching program, students study theories and techniques of motivation, performance, and leadership while applying course content to experiential learning exercises and activities. Many programs include an internship, allowing learners to gain hands-on experience in a professional setting.
Courses in research, communication, management, and team dynamics provide students with information and resources applicable to working with individuals, groups, and organizations. Online coaching programs may prepare learners for professional licensure in coaching, strengthening employment and earning potential.
Featured Online Schools
Online Master’s in Coaching Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the online coaching degree programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
The Best Online Master’s in Coaching Degree Programs
The University of Florida in Gainesville offers students a 36-credit masters degree in coaching online. Students graduate with a master of science in sports management with a specialization in high-performance coaching. The program offers concentrations in athlete development, high-performance coaching, and sport law. Students select the track that most closely matches their professional goals, whether that be in sports administration, planning, marketing, or finance.
The UF graduate program offers students advanced practicum and internships that include both online and hands-on learning. One-credit equals 48 hours of total work on-site. Internship roles earn students up to nine credits and practicum training earn students up to six credits. The school partners students with an advisor who helps them secure a practicum or internship experience that prepares them for their future roles. Students who complete 27 credit hours of coursework may begin work on the capstone project. The school requires students to complete the capstone project in the sports management degree prior to graduation.
For admission consideration to the program, students need a minimum 3.0 GPA for the last 60 credits of their undergraduate career. Application materials include three recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, a resume, GRE or GMAT scores, and two sets of official transcripts.
Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana offers students a master’s in athletic coaching education. The program enables students with busy work and family lives the flexibility to take only two classes per semester. Students complete this degree in five semesters.
Known for small class sizes of about 12–20 students per class, Ball State students receive individualized course instruction. Additionally, the program’s cohort system enables students to work in conjunction with their peers. Students take classes with coaches from youth clubs, high schools, and colleges, and graduates coach at schools in the Big 10, Mid-American Conference, and Missouri Valley Conference.
Students who study at Ball State in the coaching master’s need 30 credits to graduate. They take classes like physical preparation and conditioning, evaluation in coaching, and skills and tactics for coaches. While the program offers online licensing in physical education with a coaching specialization, licensing does not come standard. Students will need to add the licensure course to their master’s degree plan of study. The program derives the standards for its content from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE).
Applicants need a minimum GPA of 2.75 to apply for this program, and the school does not require GRE scores. Application materials include submission of a 1000 word statement of purpose, three professional recommendations, and a resume. Preference is given to students with prior coaching experience.
Located in East Lansing, Michigan State University offers students an online master of science in sport coaching and leadership. The school provides this coaching master’s degree online to teachers, youth coach and club sport leaders, athletic directors, and coach educators and developers. The online program runs in yearly cohorts that begin in May, and most students complete the program in 28 months. The school offers two tracks: a 30-credit master of science in sport coaching and leadership in hybrid format and a nine-credit certificate in sport coaching and leadership.
Students take coursework fully online through video lectures, reading assignments, and pre-designed projects. Instructors deliver coursework asynchronously and make themselves available to students through teleconferencing. Students take classes such as legal & administrative issues, psychosocial bases of coaching, and promoting positive youth development through sport. The school offers some courses as a hybrid option, so students complete work online and through intensive, six-day sessions on campus. Admissions requires all master of science applicants to submit an academic statement, a professional resume, a personal statement, and letters of reference. The program does not require GRE scores.
Located in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas offers an online master of education in physical education to students seeking careers in sports and recreation. To apply for the masters degree in coaching program, students must possess a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or a similar area and a minimum entrance GPA of 2.7—with the last 60 credits maintaining a 3.0 GPA average. Students who do not meet these standards need a minimum combined quantitative and verbal score of 297 on the GRE.
The overall graduate program incorporates 33 credit hours of study. To graduate, students pass a written comprehensive exam and maintain a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. Students take classes in physical education and sport, risk management in physical education and athletics, and sports skill assessment and instructional strategies. Instructors deliver coursework entirely online, and students complete the program on average within two years. The school offers students scholarship and grant opportunities through the Arkansas Teacher Opportunity Program. The program provides tuition reimbursement for teachers for up to six credit hours per year; reimbursement cannot exceed $3000 per year. Requirements include teachers maintaining a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA average.
SUNY at Cortland offers a master of science in education in physical education with a concentration in coaching pedagogy. The standards at Cortland match the standards set by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America), the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS) and the New York State Learning Standards in Physical Education. This coaching master’s degree online advances the careers of both teachers and coaches at all levels.
Students choose from two concentrations: adapted physical education (ADPE) or coaching pedagogy (COAP). The ADPE track focuses on topics like inclusive outdoor education and preschool movement programs. The COAP option focuses on subjects like lifespan motor development, sport skill analysis, and behavior in sport. Both concentrations require a culminating experience for graduation. ADPE students can take a comprehensive exam before graduation or submit a master’s thesis. COAP students take a comprehensive exam to graduate. Students must also attend three workshops: child abuse recognition and reporting, dignity for all students act, and safe schools against violence in education.
Applicants should supply all undergraduate transcripts, a resume, and three professional or academic references. Students need a 3.0 GPA or higher and GRE or MAT scores.
West Virginia University in Morgantown offers a 31-credit master’s in sport coaching for coaches or teachers who work full-time at schools or clubs. The program caters to students looking to continue working while they increase their academic credentials. Students take up to seven credits each semester, participate in online discussions designed to bolster professor instruction, and receive student support throughout the cohort program design. Online students also receive in-state tuition rates, and full-time students complete the program in two years.
To obtain a master’s in sports coaching at West Virginia University, students attend classes such as principles effective teaching, standards-based assessment in physical education, and theories of fitness education. Upon completion of the program a learner can enter the professional job market as a sports coach or scout, education or administration director, umpire or referee, wellness director, or athletic director, among other positions. Students take the theoretical elements of their education and apply them in their particular field of interest.
Applicants need a 2.75 GPA or higher, transcripts, a resume, and letters of recommendation for admission into the program.
East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, offers students seeking employment in the sports arena an MA in education in physical education. Students choose a concentration area in adapted physical education or physical education pedagogy. Students who apply to East Carolina’s master’s in coaching program already possess a North Carolina teaching license in this specialization.
Students focus on coursework like a practicum in kinesiology, curriculum, and instruction in physical education and a physical activity programs for individuals with developmental, emotional, and learning disabilities. In addition to completing coursework and practicums, students pass a written exam, complete a research project, and submit a portfolio prior to graduation. To graduate, students complete 36–39 credit hours depending on their area of specialty and finish with a GPA of a 3.0 or greater. Students who fail to meet the GPA criteria may take further approved coursework at either East Carolina or in another graduate program.
Admissions requires incoming students to possess a minimum GPA of a 2.7. Students must submit three professional recommendations, a statement of purpose, and either GRE or GMAT scores.
Fresno Pacific University in California offers a fully online master of arts in kinesiology to students looking to sharpen their coaching skills and increase their career potential while still working. Students who attend Fresno Pacific’s master’s in coaching online program save $100 per credit when compared with other programs.
Students take classes such as assessment in physical education, issues in kinesiology, and professional standards in education. Students complete 36 credit hours of work designed to help them grow as leaders and coaches, and the school assigns students a success coach to provide guidance and resources that help them graduate.
The graduate program also introduces students to organizations such as the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). Applicants need a BA/BS with a cumulative 2.75 GPA or higher and three professional references. While admissions does not require applicants to possess a degree in kinesiology, they must supply a resume that demonstrates a background in physical education and/or teaching experience. Admissions does not require GRE or GMAT scores.
Suny College at Brockport in New York offers a master of science in education with a track in physical education pedagogy. Students in the master’s degree in coaching online program take courses in analysis of teaching physical education, research design and data analysis, and curriculum in physical education. Students can take classes delivered fully online through an asynchronous learning synchronous, as well as through hybrid formats with an on-campus element. Coursework generally takes three-to-four hours a week per credit, making a three-credit course nine-to-12 hours of work per week. With the exception of occasional site maintenance, students may access online course material 24/7.
Suny offers state-of-the-art resources for students, including an online concierge who helps students with ongoing questions, test centers with exam proctors for online students, a remote student tutoring center, and a remote writing assistance program for online students. Applicants possess a 3.0 GPA, GRE or GMAT scores—depending on the applicant’s educational background, and TOEFL or IELTS scores if English is not their native language.
Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville offers a master of arts in exercise science, physical education and wellness. The program teaches students practical skills and methods that improve the outcomes of their physical education classrooms. Learners in the masters program finish the degree in four semesters.
The 30-credit program consists of online curriculum focused on one of four concentration areas: adapted physical education, elementary and middle school physical education, fitness and lifetime wellness, and sport management. During the first year students learn education techniques and in the second year apply what they have learned. Students who take the elementary, middle school physical education track can achieve teacher licensure in physical education with an additional 20 hours of courses, fieldwork, and student teaching.
The MA-EXPW at TTU is mostly online with the exception of a few on-campus requirements such as online graduate student orientation at the launch of their program and then again for comprehensive exams prior to graduation. Comprehensive exams take place before graduation. Applicants should possess a 2.5–2.75 GPA minimum for consideration.
Concordia University-Irvine in California offers a master’s in coaching and athletic administration to students in the coaching and athletics space. Students select either master of science or master of arts emphasis.
Both choices at Concordia constitute 20 units of core courses and 16 units of electives, putting the graduate credits at 36 total. Students complete a capstone project prior to graduation that allows students to apply what they have learned throughout the program in a real environment and document the experience in a portfolio. Students take classes such as principles of coaching & leadership, ethics and sport, and research methods & analysis. Concordia also offers a faster way to complete coursework for students who have time for 3-day, on-location intensives. The intensive series compress a semester’s worth of content into a 3-day period.
Concordia-Irvine operates on a four-term program; students study and participate in the same amount of coursework, but over an 11-week period, enabling them to move at a faster pace. Students at Concordia start their classes at any time and often go through the program while working. For communication and team support, students interact with others in the program through class discussions and assignments.
Greenville College has been offering a Christ-centered education for more than 150 years. The school currently offers a master of arts in coaching for teachers and coaches looking to expand their skills and methods in sports and recreation.
Greenville promotes interaction with colleagues and community through discussion and study. The master’s in coaching online degree at Greenville highlights performance, philosophy, and leadership that helps foster the careers growth of coaches and sports organizers. This program in particular assists coaches with improving player performance, understanding sports administration, and leading staff and players. This flexible online program runs in an 8-week format. Students study courses that focus on enhancing sports performance techniques, scouting practices, and management strategies. Courses in the program include basics such as foundations of graduate studies in education and sport skill analysis. Students complete the program upon finishing a capstone research project.
Applicants should submit a resume, undergraduate transcripts with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, two letters of recommendation, and a writing sample that highlights past coaching experience. Students who graduate from Greenville University with a bachelor’s automatically qualify for a 10% tuition break for graduate work.
Founded in 1883, Jacksonville State University in Alabama offers a master of science in education in physical education with a concentration in teacher education. This master’s in coaching program online caters to students hoping to teach physical education at the K-12 level. Applicants to the program need Class B teacher certification in physical education prior to entry. Graduation from this program provides teachers an Alabama Class A certification in physical education P-12.
The program takes two years to complete on average. Students take between 30 and 33 credit hours to complete the program. Classes include applied exercise physiology, research in wellness and sport studies, and sociology of sport. The program requires students to pass a comprehensive exit exam in order to graduate.
Transfer students must fill out a transfer credit form with the JSU admissions office. Applicants to the program need to provide professional references, GRE, GMAT, or MAT scores, copies of teaching certifications, and undergraduate transcripts. Applicants must also undergo a background check and complete a verification of educational experience form. Online graduate students pay the same tuition rates as in-state traditional graduate students. Additional fees for proctor-run tests may occur for some classes.
Georgia Southern University in Statesboro offers a master of science in kinesiology and coaching education. Teachers who receive this coaching master’s degree online study performance enhancement, coaching administration, athletic training, and coaching success. The program caters to students seeking the flexibility of an online program.
The coaching track requires a total of 36 credits for completion. Students study classes such as teaching analysis and psychology of peak performance, sports administration and sports biomechanics, and issues in coaching and coaching practicum. The master’s in kinesiology and coaching education path follows the National Coaching Standards for Level five Coaching Status.
Students already in possession of coaching experience may apply to the program. Applicants also possess a minimum 2.75 GPA for the last 60 credits earned in an undergraduate program and a resume outlining prior work experience, memberships to professional organizations, and three contacts for recommendations. GSU is a
Military Friendly School, and its Military & Veteran Center helps military students receive support, gather information on fee waivers, and apply for scholarships.
Eastern New Mexico University in Portales offers students an online master of science in physical education with an emphasis in sports administration. Students can study 100% online or take a blended format with some courses meeting in-person. The program is designed for students who need flexibility from during their time in school. Out-of-state students receive the same tuition rate as students who live in the state.
To complete the program, students listen to pre-recorded lectures, work on projects, conduct presentations, read assigned material, and take exams. Online students receive advising and support from school faculty through email and phone. To ensure student success, ENMU offers students access to the online writing center, tutoring services, library materials and online databases, and an online librarian.
To graduate with this master’s in coaching online degree, students complete either a thesis option or a comprehensive exam. Students take the exam online or present and defend their thesis through online media technology. Applicants to ENMU’s graduate program submit GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, a resume, and undergraduate transcripts. Students are also required to take a writing exam.
Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio offers students a master of education program in coaching education and athlete development. The Jesuit school boasts a 98% job placement record. The master’s degree in coaching online at Xavier is a two-year cohort program developed from the advanced degree standards set by the NASPE and the NCACE. It includes study areas such as philosophy and ethics, safety and injury prevention, and growth and development.
The program focuses on the details and strategies of coaching and athlete development. The athletic development part of the degree includes character development, encouraging sport participation in life, and excellence through sport. Students communicate with their classmates and professors through discussion boards, email, and video conferencing.
The master’s in coaching program at Xavier runs on a two-year cohort cycle with start dates in January and June of each year. Students in this degree take classes such as sports safety, risk management and injury prevention, sport leadership and team building, and coaching ethics and philosophy. With the exception of two residency face-to-face engagements on-campus or another accepted facility by the program, students take the program entirely online.
The University of Idaho in Moscow offers a master of education in physical education and physical activity pedagogy to students who hope to enter the coaching and sports space at the professional level. Students complete the program in one year and may enter the program in the fall, spring, or summer.
Students select one of two tracks. In the first track, certified teachers expand their training by studying physical activity pedagogy. In the second track, students earn their teaching certificate in addition to completing a master’s degree in coaching. Graduate students take courses in elementary methods in physical activity pedagogy, health methods and administration, and programming and marketing for healthy active lifestyles, among other courses. Students choose whether to take coursework entirely online or work on research projects within the college’s community.
Requirements include submission of GRE scores, a 3.0 GPA or higher for the last 60 credits earned at an undergraduate institution, an essay sharing the student’s coaching experience, and a professional recommendation. Only students who already possess a teaching certificate may enter the one-year online physical education pedagogy track.
Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, offers a master’s in physical education to students hoping to teach physical education or coach sports teams. Students can enter the program at the beginning of any semester and complete the 30-credit program in about two years. The program consists of a nine-credit research core sequence, a 12-credit teaching sequence, and nine credits of electives.
The master of science/education degree in physical education meets the master’s degree requirement for professional certification in New York State. The degree does not automatically provide health education certification for each state; students can, however, use the credits earned in this degree toward health certification in other states. Classes include health and cultural awareness and movement education and physical activity. Students complete a capstone in teaching physical education and health.
In addition to coursework, students develop a portfolio, a mission statement, a resume, sample teaching lessons, and sample assignments.
Applications include a 300-word essay, bachelor’s degree transcripts with a 3.0 GPA or higher, and two letters of recommendation. Certified Applicants should also submit GRE, GMAT, and ALST scores.
Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers a master of science in sport coaching leadership to coaches focused on budgeting and fiscal management, performance and energy systems, coaching practices and theory, preventing and treating athletic injuries, and sports psychology, among others.
Students in the program participate in a 7–10 day international resident program. Instructors deliver coursework synchronously to in-resident students for a one-week study at an international school. The program allows working students to engage in coaching courses with top leaders in their field. The intensive week occurs in June of every year.
The coaching program at Drexel allows students to specialize in a sport of choice, and the program recently added lacrosse and rowing to the academic selection. Students may also design their concentration with an advisor. Students study courses such as ethics in coaching, coaching theory and principles, and coaching psychology.
For students interested in the coaching master’s degree online at Drexel, the program offers open houses on the website; students apply to those open houses that they would like to attend. Drexel’s master of science in sport coaching leadership requires applicants to possess a GPA of 3.0. Applicants with a 2.75 or below must attend an admissions overview. Students submit a resume, recommendation letters, and a personal essay highlighting their career goals.
The University of North Georgia in Dahlonega offers a master of science with a major in kinesiology online to students already in possession of a similar undergraduate degree in physical education or health. The graduate degree provides educators with advanced studies in sports and recreation. The program does not, however, offer certification in physical education. Generally, students will already possess teaching certification prior to program entrance.
Students take 12 hours of credit in research and measurement evaluation classes and 15 credits in either exercise science or health and physical education. The total program credit hours for completion equals 30. Students also finish a three-hour action research project in a focus subject area. Students can start this master’s in coaching online program at the beginning of any semester.
Applicants need to submit a 2.75 or higher GPA transcript in undergraduate studies and either a GRE score of 301 or higher or a 391 or less on the MAT. Students who have a cumulative 3.0 or higher are exempt from test score submissions. Some programs at UGA only admit students for certain terms; therefore, applicants should check with admissions on which term their anticipated program begins.
North Dakota State University-Main Campus in Fargo offers a master of science in health, nutrition, and exercise science: leadership in physical education and sport. Students who attend online receive resident tuition rates and can take courses in any sequence.
Students at NDSU develop their course curriculum with the assistance of a school advisor. Classes include research in physical education and sport, leadership and entrepreneurship, and psychological foundation of sport and physical activity.
The leadership in physical education program incorporates aspects of sports management in the curriculum, and it caters to students hoping for careers as head coaches, physical education teachers, athletic directors, department heads, and collegiate-level assistant coaches.
The program caters to students working full-time jobs by enabling them to access class on their own schedule. Students can discuss assignments, projects, and study topics in chat room sessions and email with classmates and faculty. Instructors create coursework focused on projects, including case studies where students learn to apply what they have learned to contemporary learning environments.
The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers students an MAE in physical education master teacher. Students in possession of a BA and a teaching certificate may apply to the program.
Teachers who enter the master’s degree in coaching online at UNK choose one of two tracks. The first track expands teacher’s knowledge of physical education in elementary and post-secondary schools. The second track focuses on educating special populations and equipping teachers to teach physical education to disabled students. The program prepares teachers for endorsement in adapted physical education by the Nebraska Department of Education. To graduate students take a comprehensive exam or submit a completed thesis. The exam consists of four questions, and it must be taken in person. Students receive a pass/no pass grade on the final exam. In cases of failing the test, students may retake the exam.
Required coursework includes physical education for students with disabilities, seminar and practicum in physical education, and elementary school physical education. For admissions, students must submit a personal statement and a presentation demonstrating their teaching methods and philosophy in physical education.
The University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg offers a master of education in positive coaching. Students take coursework fully online and focus on how to lead athletes and team members effectively. Students complete 30 credit hours total prior to graduation. The university highlights hands-on learning experiences, a culture of service, and future-focused academics. Online master’s degree students receive in-state tuition rates.
The coaching master’s degree online prepares graduates for positions as school counselors or athletic administrators. Students hoping to become life coaches, wellness coordinators, and military officers also benefit from this master’s degree. Students take classes such as sport and applied coaching psychology, administration of athletics programs, and character and ethics in sports leadership. All classes run in eight- to-16-week sessions during the fall, spring, and summer. Students take anywhere from two to two-and-a-half years to complete the program.
Online students complete the course schedule on the same timeline as on-campus students, though they take tests and quizzes without necessarily having to log in at particular times. Students in self-paced courses work independently and complete work in their own time.
Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, offers a master of science in sport management major in physical education. This master’s degree in coaching online helps students gain insight into the business behind sports management applying practices like marketing and financial skills to reach team goals.
Online classes at ODU are in a synchronous and asynchronous format depending on the curriculum. Students can log in and work at their own pace at any time with asynchronous courses. They can interact online through chat rooms and email discussions with faculty and peers. With synchronous classes, students log in at a set time and attend class with other students simultaneously participating in live discussions. Proctors administer exams in this online program.
Part of this master’s program includes practicums and internships that students can fulfill near their resident location while still attending the school online from anywhere. Students may work with a teacher or advisor to find the right internship that also meets the credit requirements for the program.
For admission into the master’s in coaching program a 2.8 GPA or higher is recommended, along with a 3.0 in the BA/BS degree undergraduate major. GRE scores of 292 or higher and GMAT or MAT scores of 400 or higher are accepted. Applicants should also submit three letters of recommendation, a career essay, resume, and transcripts.
Central Washington University in Ellensburg offers a master of science in health and physical education to educators hoping to enhance their teaching methods and knowledge in physical education. CWU’s cohort program accepts students every other year.
Students complete a total of 45 credits in coursework that reflects their career interests. The program launch takes two weeks and helps students establish support, networking, and collegiate relationships. The program highlights subject matter focused on technology in health, physical education, and sports programs. Nearing the end of the program, students complete a culminating project/thesis course. Individual courses include issues in health, physical education, and sports programs; research methods in health and physical education; and statistical applications in health and physical education.
Applicants need to submit a 3.0 or higher during the last 60 credits of an undergraduate degree. Additional materials include GRE or GMAT scores and physical education teaching certification. Preference is given to students with prior teaching experience. Admissions may consider students who do not meet these qualifications. All online students pay the same tuition rates.
Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia offers a master of science in health and physical education. Students complete 33 total credit hours of study in core concepts like health education, human nutrition, and principles of teaching physical education.
Students select one of two tracks. The program offers track A to students already in possession of physical or health education licensure curriculum that enhances their knowledge of the field. The program offers track B to students in possession of teaching licensure outside of the physical or health space credentials to gain physical education licensure. Students seeking teaching licensure in physical education should work with an advisor on their curriculum to reach this goal.
As part of the program, students attend an internship at a school or adult community center. Students can choose a location for their placement. Students also create a grant proposal for a program initiative. Students pursuing this graduate degree fill positions as college athletic coaches, K-12 physical education teachers, community health directors, and more.
Applicants to this graduate program need a minimum 2.75 GPA or a GRE minimum mean score on at least two out of three parts of the exam. Applicants should also submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a 500-word personal essay.
Emporia State University in Kansas offers a master of science in health, physical education, and recreation to students looking to advance in their careers as coaches or sports leaders. The program began in 1996 and currently provides students a flexible learning option that enables them to maintain their work and family lives.
Most working students who complete this program do so in two years; some full-time students complete the program in one year. The program does not offer teacher certification, and student have up to seven years to complete the program. Coursework covers the history of sports and athlete development, legal and practical issues involved with coaching, and the use of contemporary techniques to maximize athlete success. Students study classes such as advanced exercise physiology, ethics in sport, and design and assessment.
Applicants need a 2.5 or higher and a 2.75 during the last 60 hours of their undergraduate degree. Students not in possession of a BA/BS in physical education or related major complete 12 credits of prerequisites in order to enter the program. Admissions accepts up to nine hours of transfer credits with a
B grade or higher.
Valdosta boasts widely recognized research programs, internship opportunities, semester options abroad, small classes, and faculty. Located in Georgia, the school offers a master of education in health and physical education to students hoping to bolster their credentials as coaches and sports organizers.
Students in this degree take classes such as assessment and technology in physical education, human kinetics, and PE for exceptional learners. The master’s in coaching program operates on a cohort system that launches each June. Graduate programs at Valdosta State University require completion of a thesis project, and the school provides students with online resources for graduate students such as online writing assistance, online orientation sessions, and new student guides.
Teachers with level-4 certification in Georgia or other approved states can apply to this program. Teachers can apply for a level-5 certification post-program completion. Prior to graduation, the program requires students to develop a portfolio in addition to completing a teacher assessment. Any grades below a
C average do not count toward graduation.
Students submit three professional references and a personal statement for consideration.
Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo offers a master of arts in physical education: adapted physical education to teachers dedicated to teaching physical education to children K-12. The program focuses on providing children with disabilities inclusive sports environments that ensure their involvement and growth. Learners complete 36 credit hours in order graduate from this master’s degree in coaching entirely online.
Students choose a researched-based thesis focused on their area of study. As an alternative, students can also choose a non-thesis, hands-on internship focused on teaching. The program curriculum equips teachers with knowledge of both the theory and the practice of teaching students with disabilities. Students take classes such as research procedures in human performance and health education credits, physical activities for exceptional children, and applications of behavior analysis in special education. Students take six credits of core coursework, 18 credits in an area of emphasis, six credits of electives, and a six- to-nine-credit capstone.
Western Michigan University allows students to enroll in an employer deferment payment plan. For consideration, applicants need a GPA of 3.0 or higher during their last two years of undergraduate coursework, GRE or GMAT scores, and transcripts.
The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg offers students a master of science in sport coaching education. The degree requires 36 credit hours of study in advanced motor development, sport psychology, and organizational leadership and management in sport, among other course options. Students select either a thesis or a non-thesis track, though the physical education concentration requires a thesis. Students grow in leadership skills, learn how to train athletes both mentally and physically, and develop an understanding of the latest technological equipment available in their sport.
Part-time students take two classes per semester, and full-time students take a minimum of 12 credits per semester. Students in the master’s in coaching program enter during the fall semester, and most students complete the program within two years. Online students pay the in-state tuition rate.
For admission into the program, students must submit GRE or NSCA scores and demonstrate standing as a CSCS Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist. Students with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA or higher are more likely to be considered for this program. Applicants submit three professional recommendation letters, transcripts, and a resume. Applicants in the military can reach out to the Center for Military Veterans, Service Members, and Families at USM to receive funding and scholarship assistance.
Jackson State University in Mississippi offers a master of science in education in physical education online that covers all aspects of sports, including physical education, adapted PE, dance, physiology, and athletic administration. The focus lies with teaching in schools, community colleges, and community centers. Because most students work and have families, the program enables learning flexibility through its online platform. Students can choose from 100% online or hybrid courses that combine in-class and online learning sequences.
Students in this program complete 36 semester credit hours prior to graduation and study subjects such as elementary statistics, methods of educational research, and curriculum methods. With the help of an assigned advisor, students decide among several course selections, including elective courses.
Applicants need a 3.0 or higher for admission. Students submit writing samples; a portfolio featuring their teaching and community experience, memberships, certifications, and coaching record; and three letters of recommendation. Upon review of these materials, admissions will require an interview concentrating on whether the applicant’s goals match the school’s expertise.
Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota offers a master of science in physical education: coaching of sport online. The coaching curriculum caters to students seeking flexibility and affordability from their education and matches the standards set by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NAPSE).
Courses include sport safety and injury prevention, advanced practicum in coaching, and psychology of athletic performance. Students complete mostly project-based curriculum and two coaching practicums; they also create a portfolio documenting their experiences. The school offers all courses fully online. Southwest Minnesota State University also provides students with several support resources, including a writing center, counseling services, and proctored test centers. Students complete 34 graduate credit hours to graduate.
Learners apply online and must possess a minimum of a 3.0 cumulative GPA in a BA/BS in order to enter the master of science in physical education program. Additional requirements include all undergraduate transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a personal essay outlining how the program can help applicants meet their career goals.
East Tennessee State University in Johnson City offers a 100% online MS in sport science and coach education that prepares students for both leadership coaching and strength and conditioning coaching positions. The focus of the program lies with science, education, and research aimed at preventing injury and assisting athlete’s success. The program emphasizes the importance of sports in the development of local communities.
Students in this program take classes such as instrumentation in exercise and sport science, sport conditioning, and sport physiology. The master’s program works in concert with the ETSU Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education to enable students to gain practical knowledge working inside of coaching clinics and community sporting activities. Instructors at ETSU offer coursework in both asynchronous and synchronous format. Students taking asynchronous courses can access the material at any time, and students in synchronous classes must attend lectures and work on projects in accordance with the instructor’s schedule.
Applicants for this program need a 3.0 GPA or higher from an undergraduate degree focused on physical education, exercise science, or a related field. Students submit GRE scores, transcripts, a resume, and three letters of recommendation.
Bellevue University in Nebraska offers an online master’s degree in leadership and coaching focused on leadership theories, advanced organizational behavior, team dynamics, and strategic leadership.
Students complete 36 credit hours in the master’s in coaching program online through a study of major requirements, executive courses, and internship courses. Classes include leadership theories and research, social psychology of leadership, and leading change in organizations.
Bellevue offers its students a career services program to help them prepare for interviews and to guide them through resume writing and job searches. The university also assists military members with their higher education goals. Bellevue provides students with tutoring services, test centers, and a writer’s resource center to help students with paper writing.
Applicants to the program need an undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or higher for admission. Students already in possession of a master’s may apply without undergraduate transcripts. Letters of recommendation and a personal essay may also be requested for admission into the program. Bellevue offers the same flat tuition rates for students living inside of and outside of the state.
The University of Northern Colorado in Greeley offers a master of arts in sport coaching to coaches hoping to increase their knowledge through the application of new methods and project-based research. The flexibility of the online program allows working coaches to fit school life into their busy schedule. Students at Northern Colorado start the program at the beginning of fall term each year.
All students at Northern Colorado online pay the same flat per-credit tuition rate—with no additional fees. Some classes at UNC may, however, require additional course fees or material costs.
The master’s in coaching program has received Level-5 comprehensive accreditation from the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education. UNC is one of only three universities that now hold Level-5 accreditation. The curriculum at the University of Northern Colorado includes topics in sport pedagogy (teaching), injury prevention, sport psychology, training and conditioning principles, and applied coaching research.
Most students complete the program in five terms, with a total of 30 credits required for graduation. The program includes a graduate internship in sport and exercise science. Students take classes in international perspectives of sports coaching, bridging theory and practice in sports coaching, and sport administration for sports coaches.
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What is a Master’s in Coaching Degree?
Students in a master’s in coaching program take courses covering general topics, such as anatomy, sports medicine, psychology, and leadership. These courses prepare coaches to address the physical and mental needs of their athletes.
Many online master’s degree in coaching programs offer concentrations. Students who select a sports administration concentration learn how to manage and improve sports programs. A specialization in kinesiology teaches students how to promote physical strength and endurance.
Some programs require distance learners to complete a practicum wherein students coach at a local facility under a supervisor.
Online Master’s in Coaching Programs
Online master’s in coaching degrees allow learners to complete coursework on a flexible schedule. Students working full time can complete classes at a convenient pace while maintaining personal and professional responsibilities. Part-time and full-time students enjoy access to lectures, assignments, and assessments through an electronic platform.
Asynchronous programs provide classes in a flexible, non-sequential format, which is ideal for part-time learners. In synchronous programs, typically offered with a cohort model, students progress through coursework at the same pace as their peers. Both asynchronous and synchronous programs include 2–3 years of coursework. In accelerated degrees, learners may graduate in 12–18 months.
Coaching degrees often include practicum or internship requirements. Current coaching professionals can complete internships at their current place of work, applying degree knowledge to practical experiences. Learners new to the coaching field may work in sports settings, business organizations, or counseling settings. Programs with thesis options prepare students for graduate study. Students develop a research question, acquire and assess data, and report findings under the supervision of a faculty advisor.Return to the top
The Advantages of a Master’s Degree in Coaching
A bachelor’s in coaching degree prepares students to work as athletic coaches in elementary, middle, and high schools. Master’s in coaching online programs develop managerial skills applicable to coaching careers and athletic administration professions. Students learn how to motivate and work with individuals, groups, and teams. Earning a master’s in coaching online also provides learners with opportunities to participate in practical learning experiences, applying theoretical and technical degree content to real-world experiences.
A master’s in coaching builds executive leadership and motivational skills for business professionals, education and vocational counselors, and caregivers. With a graduate degree in coaching, learners advance to administrative and leadership positions or work in an entrepreneurial role as a life coach. A master’s in coaching also gives learners the tools and capabilities to pursue doctoral study in organizational leadership, coaching education, sports management, and related disciplines.Return to the top
What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Coaching?
Coaches with experience and education enjoy diverse career options. The professions below represent common career paths for graduates.
- Athletic Coach:
- With a bachelor’s degree, individuals can coach at elementary, middle, or high schools, while a master’s in coaching allows coaches to work in collegiate or organizational settings. An athletic coach provides instruction, guidance, and motivation to athletes on physical performance, strategy, and team cohesion. Athletic coaches work with parents, teachers, and other education professionals to strengthen student performance. Athletic coaches also attend workshops, oversee budgets, engage with local communities, and supervise assistants and team managers.
- Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $31,000
- Mid-Career: $40,000
- Experienced: $45,000
- Late Career: $43,000
- Athletic Director:
- Athletic directors work at schools, colleges, and universities or within organizations to plan and oversee athletic events. Athletic directors work with coaches, parents, and administrators to schedule events, manage facilities and equipment, and coordinate budgets. Athletic directors also monitor compliance with school, state, and government regulations while upholding standards for academic performance, sportsmanship, and ethical behavior.
- Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $49,000
- Mid-Career: $59,000
- Experienced: $67,000
- Late Career: $78,000
- Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor:
- Vocational counselors assess an individual’s abilities and interests to determine personal and professional aptitudes. Vocational rehabilitation counselors may work in an educational setting, collaborating with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students thrive. They also work in community and social contexts to coordinate rehabilitative access and services. Vocational counselors advocate on behalf of patients and clients and provide motivational support.
- Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $41,000
- Mid-Career: $48,000
- Experienced: $53,000
- Late Career: $57,000
- Life Coach:
- Life coaches work with individuals and groups to address specific needs and goals. They interview and assess clients to determine how to achieve well-being through behavioral, therapeutic, and cognitive techniques. Through research on wellness, exercise, aging, and similar topics, life coaches offer assistance and services to clients. Life coaches may work within public agencies or professional organizations or function as entrepreneurs.
- Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $47,000
- Mid-Career: $49,000
- Experienced: $63,000
- Late Career: $76,000
Source: PayScaleReturn to the top
Choosing an Online Coaching Graduate Degree Program
When choosing an online coaching graduate degree, students should consider factors such as cost, school size, program length, and degree requirements. Degree length varies by credits, internship requirements, and options for thesis or research projects.
In-state schools often offer more affordable options to students than out-of-state schools, although many colleges and universities provide flat-fee tuition for online learners regardless of residency. Students with previous coursework should explore prospective schools’ transfer policies.
- Program Cost:
- The cost of an online master’s in coaching degree varies by tuition, fees, and enrollment status. In-state schools typically offer lower tuition than out-of-state schools, but many colleges and universities offer flat-fee tuition rates for all online students. Schools may charge technology fees for online courses, but online students save on the commuting and housing costs that on-campus students incur.
- Transfer Policies:
- Students with previous college coursework considering an online master’s in coaching program should explore transfer options. Many programs accept classes from other schools but limit the number of transferable credits. Regionally accredited colleges and universities may only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools.
- School Size and Type:
- Public colleges and universities often offer more degree options than private schools, including additional specializations for master’s degrees in coaching. However, students at large public schools may receive less individualized instruction than students at smaller private schools. Though often more expensive than public schools, private colleges and universities may offer more financial aid opportunities for learners.
- Program Length:
- Part-time students in online master’s degrees in coaching complete coursework and internship requirements in 2–3 years. Full-time students and individuals in accelerated programs can earn their degree in 12–18 months. Synchronous degrees offer a structured degree plan, while asynchronous programs allow learners to complete coursework on a flexible timeline.
- On-campus Requirements:
- Online coaching master’s degrees may include on-campus requirements, such as orientations, workshops, and seminars. Online learners should ensure that they can meet an online program’s on-campus requirements.
- Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements:
- Students interested in a Ph.D. should consider an online master’s in coaching with a thesis option. Through a thesis, students acquire research and writing skills applicable to doctoral study. Students seeking hands-on experience should explore programs with internship components. Some schools allow students to complete internships at their current place of employment.
Accreditation for Online Coaching Master’s Degrees
Colleges and universities maintain regional or national accreditation through a body recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). As a government agency, the ED establishes educational policies for colleges and universities. An industry group, CHEA includes more than 3,000 member institutions. Both the ED and CHEA cooperate with accrediting bodies to ensure schools’ compliance with national educational standards. Accrediting bodies work with colleges and universities to maintain academic standards through voluntary oversight and accountability.
Regional accreditation indicates an institution offers a rigorous, research-based program, while nationally accredited schools provide vocational and technical programs. Nonprofit schools usually hold regional accreditation. Programs and departments within a school may hold programmatic accreditation through a professional or specialized agency. Online master’s in coaching programs may hold accreditation through bodies like the International Coaching Federation.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master in Coaching Degree Program?
Degrees in coaching include 30–36 credit hours of coursework. Students complete online master’s in coaching programs in 1–3 years depending on part- or full-time status. Accelerated degrees allow students to enroll in multiple classes at a time, while traditional programs may offer only one or two classes each term.
Additional factors that influence the length of a degree include whether or not the program provides synchronous or asynchronous coursework. Learners in a synchronous program who miss a class offered on a specific timetable may extend their degree until the course becomes available again. Internship and practical requirements also affect the length of a program.
Whether students complete a degree on a full-time or part-time schedule can influence tuition costs, with many schools offering lower tuition for students enrolled full time. Programs with per-credit tuition, however, cost the same for all learners.
Courses in an Online Master’s in Coaching Program
- Strategic Leadership
- Strategic leadership coursework introduces students to theories and techniques of leadership while teaching learners how to analyze, assess, and apply principles of strategy to lead organizations and teams. Students study strategic initiatives, issues facing leadership development, and how to align resources with organizational and team goals.
- Ethical and Professional Principles of Coaching
- Ethical and professional principles of coaching classes emphasize ethical guidelines for coaching individuals and groups. Learners explore record keeping, dual relationships, and dynamics of coaching. Coursework also focuses on preventing, managing, and addressing ethical dilemmas.
- Evaluation in Coaching
- These classes provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to acquire data and improve athletic and programmatic performance. Learners explore evaluation techniques and tools used in coaching individuals and groups. Students use case studies to apply evaluation methods and practices.
- Sport Coaching Methodology
- In this class, students study theories and practices of sport team development and individual athlete coaching. Students learn techniques for coaching in a sports context and how to develop success among athletes.
- Coaching with Technology
- Coaching with technology introduces coaches to tools and trends in coaching, such as data collection technology and instructional online resources. Students learn how to incorporate diagnostic equipment, tablets, handheld devices, and other technological tools in coaching.
Coaching Professional Organizations
- NCAA Coaching Associations:
- The NCAA provides a list of coaching associations for coaches at the collegiate level. Coaches from Division I and Division II classes can access links to their specific sport. The NCAA also provides a platform for Division III coaches. Each sport website includes membership information, professional development resources, and event information.
- International Coaching Federation:
- The ICF advances coaching by promoting high standards and ethical excellence in the field. Members gain access to business development, lifelong learning, and networking opportunities. Coaches participate in ICF’s conferences, development series, and convergence activities each year. ICF also offers credentials to coaches with requisite experience and training.
- International Association of Professional Life Coaches:
- IAPLC promotes, supports, and inspires life coaches through certifications, trainings, and career guidance. Members fall into 15 categories based on credentials and experience, creating networks of life coaches who enjoy the association’s publications, telesummits, and giveaways.
- Association of Corporate Executive Coaches:
- Designed to promote the field of corporate executive coaching, ACEC integrates organizational and transformative coaching competencies into educational and training programs. ACEC and the MEECO Leadership Institute examine tools, research, and techniques within corporate executive coaching through conferences and university partnerships. Members receive access to MEECO TV, webinars, research publications, and mentorship opportunities.
- Positive Coaching Alliance:
- PCA partners with 3,500 schools and youth sports groups to provide online and live workshops, courses, and publications. PCA also provides resources for leaders, coaches, parents, and athletes to build truthful, constructive, and supportive sporting environments.
Best Online Master’s in Coaching Programs for 2018
- University of Florida - Online
- East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
- University of Arkansas Global Campus
- Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
- University of South Florida
- Ball State University
- University of Idaho
- Drexel University
- SUNY College at Brockport
Brockport, New York
- University of Southern Mississippi
- University of Nebraska at Kearney
- North Dakota State University
Fargo, North Dakota
- Tennessee Technological University
- Georgia Southern University
- University of Central Missouri
- Fresno Pacific University
- Old Dominion University
- SUNY College at Cortland
Cortland, New York
- Canisius College
Buffalo, New York
- Western Michigan University
- West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
- Georgia State University
- University of Northern Colorado
- Xavier University
- Kent State University
- Central Washington University
- Greenville University
- University of North Georgia
- Valdosta State University
- Emporia State University
- Longwood University
- Concordia University - Irvine
- Jackson State University
- Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico
- East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, Tennessee
- Bellevue University
- Chicago State University
- Jacksonville State University
- Adams State University
- Southwest Minnesota State University
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