Best Online Master’s in Coaching 2021
Updated September 7, 2022
thebestschools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Are you ready to discover your college program?
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.
The Best Online Master's in Coaching Programs
Online Master’s in Coaching Programs Ranking Guidelines
We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.
Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.
While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.
The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.
The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.
Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.
Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology
About Our Ranking Factors
Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.
Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.
We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.
In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.
If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.
We thank you for your readership and trust.
Featured Online Master's in Coaching Programs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coaching Professional Organizations
Header Image Credit: John Giustina | Getty Images
The Top 10 Sports Careers for Non-Athletes
Popular with our students.
Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.
Take the next step toward your future with online learning.
Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.