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The world of sports is a dynamic and competitive field that often requires guts, sheer determination, and technical know-how. Those who want to enter the profession of sports coaching integrating the principles of Exercise Science may consider an online Master’s in Coaching to help them boost their credentials, expand their knowledge and expertise with the latest technologies and strategies, and increase their earning potential in the process.
The Labor Statistics Bureau shows coaches and scouts can earn a median annual salary of $44,890 per year with a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs. This can be higher for those with graduate education. It can enrich their prospects of landing better coaching positions.
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Designed for working professionals, an online Master’s in Coaching is an ideal choice for those who want to dabble in this exciting profession. They can pursue coaching careers in a variety of environments and levels, including coaching semi-pro athletes, teaching physical education, and more. If you are an extrovert with keen attention to detail and good public speaking skills, this master’s degree is right for you.
Whether at the scholastic/collegiate or professional level, sport is by nature highly competitive, and a lot of success rides on coaches to direct and motivate athletes and bring out their highest performance levels. Such a crucial role means prospective students also have to choose wisely with regard to the best education they can get which provides the best preparation.
We’ve got you covered! Check out our list of 15 graduate schools that offer the best online Master’s in Coaching programs, each of which was selected based on the following characteristics:
- Offers their degree programs online, providing students with a high degree of flexibility to integrate their coursework with their ongoing career commitments,
- Feature curriculum designs that cover the fundamentals of coaching as well as related key disciplines and skills related to sports management/administration and maximizing athletic performance,
- Developed and taught by faculty who have extensive expertise as practitioners,
- Feature competitive tuition rates, as well as a range of financial aid options that help graduate students manage the cost of their education,
- Hold the relevant accreditation credentials.
Visit our Methodology section for details.
Best Online Master’s in Coaching Programs
Ball State University
Established in 1918, Ball State University takes pride in providing students with a hands-on, immersive learning environment. It is firmly committed to offering high-quality college education since its founding, having served more than 200,000 alumni worldwide. It is Higher Learning Commission-accredited.
- Ball State University offers the online Master of Arts – Athletic Coaching Education, an ideal choice for those who seek to earn a world-class master’s degree.
- This graduate program in athletic coaching education is taught by an expert faculty who have coached Olympians and NCAA champion athletes.
- In this online program, students are expected to design and write a strength and conditioning program for a team sport as well as utilize sport analysis software program to provide appropriate feedback.
- Some of the courses included in the comprehensive curriculum include organization and administration, teaching and motivation, sport safety and injury prevention, and many more.
Standout Features of Ball State University’s Online MA in Athletic Coaching Education Program:
To earn the program, students will need to complete a total of 30 major credits. The program curriculum features course topics such as Physical Preparation and Conditioning, Skills and Tactics for Coaches, Teaching and Motivation for Coaches, Philosophy and Ethics, Sport Safety and Injury Prevention, and Evaluation in Coaching, among others.
Did You Know?
Ball State University was designated as a Doctoral University in 2022 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. It has also made efforts to make higher education accessible to many students through its online programs and affordable tuition rates. Moreover, 4 out of 5 students qualify for financial aid.
Ohio University is a four-year public institution spread out across five regional campuses within the state. It is home to more than 28,000 students, many of whom are earning their degrees online. The university is among the biggest providers of primary care physicians. It is also considered a powerhouse when it comes to communications and new media, having produced among its alumni a total of 55 Pulitzer Prizes.
- An online master’s in coaching education is offered at Ohio University, nationally recognized as a leader in preparing coaches to excel across different levels of competition.
- The online degree’s curriculum emphasizes areas of coaching integral to athletic performance and builds around the national standards for sports coaches.
- Students are equipped with the technical, tactical, physiological, psychological, and leadership aspects of coaching that are essential to maximize team performance.
- They are also taught to develop a critical knowledge of injury prevention, fitness, recovery, and other player development concepts.
Standout Features of Ohio University’s Online Masters of Coaching Education Program:
To earn the program, students must complete a total of 30 credit hours, 10 courses of which include two electives chosen by the program coordinator. Some of the core courses include Coaching the Elite Athlete, Finance for Sport Coaches, Utilizing Technology in Athletic Coaching, Social Dynamics in Sports Coaching, and Performance Recover: Strategies for Coaches, among others. Students are also required to complete a coaching portfolio to fulfill the capstone requirement of the online master’s degree.
Did You Know?
Ohio University is home to Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education, with its long and rich history dating back to 1886. Today, the college is composed of four departments, including Educational Studies, Recreation, Sport Pedagogy, and Consumer Sciences; Counseling and Higher Education; and Teacher Education.
University of the Cumberlands
Founded in 1888, the University of Cumberlands has been committed to preparing young adults for leadership positions with its comprehensive academic programs. To date, the university offers more than 40 major fields of study and a number of graduate and doctoral programs. Currently, it is serving more than 19,000 students.
- The University of Cumberlands offers a master in coaching and fitness leadership program to help coaches make a difference in the athletes’ lives and advance their career goals.
- The program equips students with the expertise to help them succeed in any stage of coaching individual and team sports, whether in the college, professional, or just the amateur level.
- Students in this program are expected to learn how to develop an ethical and effective leadership style to guide individual and team performance.
- The program curriculum allows online students to explore essential topics such as exercise physiology, management strategies, and fitness coaching.
Standout Features of the University of the Cumberlands’ Online Master in Coaching & Fitness Leadership Program:
The online Master in Coaching & Fitness Leadership program requires the completion of 30 credit hours. Some of the core courses in the program curriculum include Research Methods, Applied Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, Exercise Testing and Prescription, Administrative and Management Strategies, and Current Issues in Coaching and Fitness Leadership.
For concentration courses, students will need to complete the Coaching and Fitness Leadership and Advanced Coaching and Fitness Leadership courses.
Did You Know?
The University of Cumberlands is one of the largest and most affordable private universities in the state of Kentucky. Its commitment to providing higher education in an underserved area won the support of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. The university takes pride in producing two governors, five military generals, and other notable alumni.
West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia
Founded in 1867, West Virginia University is a public institution that currently houses more than 27,000 students across several campuses. It offers a total of 355 majors, including in areas of study such as business and economics, nursing, public health, creative arts, engineering, and agriculture, among many others. In 2022-2023 alone, the university has disbursed a total of $157.8 million in scholarships.
- The Master of Science in Sport Coaching degree program at West Virginia University helps prospective students take their coaching career to the next level with a reputable sport coaching education.
- As a national leader in the field, the sport coaching master’s degree integrates online coursework with real-world experience, action research, and professional coaching standards.
- The online program is for working adults who already have a position as a coach, whether part-time or full-time.
- The curriculum covers all aspects of the coaching profession, including ethics and law, safety, training, communication, motivation, psychology, and more.
- Students can also gain focused guidance and specific techniques to help them become effective teachers, leaders, mentors, and advocates for athletes.
Standout Features of West Virginia University’s Online MA in Sport Coaching Program:
The online master’s coaching degree is comprised of 31 credits. Students will cap the degree by completing an independent action research project of their own design. Apart from its nationally renowned faculty, this master’s degree made sure to incorporate the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) professional standards.
Did You Know?
With a vision of creating a better future for West Virginia and beyond, West Virginia University emphasizes academic excellence. In fact, students from the university have received prestigious scholarships, including Rhodes scholars, Truman scholars, Goldwater scholars, and Fulbright scholars.
University of Northern Colorado
Located between the Rocky Mountains and Colorado’s high plains, the University of Northern Colorado is home to approximately 9,000 students enrolled across more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. Students can expect exceptional opportunities and personalized education through the expert faculty and hands-on learning tradition. At present, the university enrolls more than 9,000 students.
- The University of Northern Colorado’s MS in Sport Coaching requires students to complete a total of 30 credit hours, comprising 10 required courses.
- The program curriculum is designed in a way that helps students learn how to apply the latest best practice recommendations to their own coaching.
- The online master’s in coaching program makes use of an issue-based approach that emphasizes the challenges and opportunities confronting coaches at all levels in the real world.
- The program curriculum tackles course content such as strength and conditioning methods, psychology of coaching, movement analysis, positive youth development, coaching techniques, motor behavior, training theory, and interscholastic sport administration and leadership.
Standout Features of the University of Northern Colorado’s Online MS in Sport Coaching Program:
The MS in Sport Coaching program can be started in any term. Its fully online format is ideal for busy coaches who need to juggle their demanding schedules and personal priorities. Moreover, online students can enjoy the benefits of in-state tuition.
Did You Know?
With its diverse and hard-working students, the University of Northern Colorado is proud to serve those who seek to expand their knowledge and further their education. In fact, more than one-third of the undergraduates at the university are first-generation. This means they are among the first in their family to attend college. Many of the students are also eligible for federal need-based financial aid.
Adams State University
Since its establishment in 1921, Adams State University has featured a diverse student body in a close-knit community. It has been fully committed to serving and empowering Hispanic students as well as underrepresented minorities, low-income, and first-generation students. The university’s focus is on access and affordability.
- Adams State University offers one of the best online programs in sport coaching in the country with its Master of Science in Coaching degree.
- This coaching program is designed to help aspiring coaches enhance their leadership skills and knowledge while also increasing their marketability in the world of sports.
- The program is composed of 36 credit hours, featuring a range of courses and practical experiences to prepare students for becoming highly qualified coaches.
- Students are expected to apply relevant coaching theories to different sporting environments and make ethical coaching decisions.
Standout Features of Adams State University’s Online MS in Coaching Program:
The online Master of Science in Coaching program offers all courses online, allowing students to enjoy greater flexibility and optimum convenience. The classes offered are in small sizes, which means students will get personalized interactions with their professors.
Did You Know?
Adams State University takes pride in a learning framework that incorporates an evidence-based high-impact approach to teaching. This means students’ learning experience often involves writing-intensive courses, conducting original research, collaborating on projects, and exploring interdisciplinary interests. They also have plenty of opportunities to gain valuable learning through internships and volunteer efforts.
The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi offers numerous undergraduate and graduate programs in various disciplines, including biology, art, economics, business, and education, among others. Many of its academic programs are also offered online, making it a friendly higher-learning institution for working professionals.
- The University of Southern Mississippi’s Master of Science in Coaching & Sport Performance obtained its accreditation from the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE).
- The master’s in coaching degree provides students with an advanced understanding of training and leadership techniques along with sports skills, human mental and physical development, and technological advancements in athletic evaluation.
- To earn the online program, students need to complete a total of 30 credit hours, including courses such as Dynamics of Skill Acquisition, Applied Sport Psychology, Advanced Sport Coaching Methodology, Motivation and Behavior in Kinesiology and Nutrition, and Applying Evidence-Based Practice in Kinesiology and Nutrition.
Standout Features of the University of Southern Mississippi’s Online MS in Coaching and Sport Performance Program:
In this program, students are not required to submit GRE test scores. Online students can take advantage of many scholarship opportunities. For one, fully online students can get $500 towards their first semester through the Online Student Scholarships. Students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 to be eligible.
Did You Know?
As a Carnegie R1 research institution, the University of Southern Mississippi is home to research experts in various fields, including ocean science and engineering, polymer science and engineering, and sports venue and safety and security. To date, its students have collected a total of four Truman Scholarships and 37 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.
Drexel University is a private research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1891 by philanthropist Anthony Drexel (who is also the university’s namesake) as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry, eventually becoming a university in 1970. At present, Drexel University is composed of 19 colleges and schools and has a population of over 24,200 students. It is also classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.
- Drexel University’s online Master of Science in Sports Coaching is through the School of Education. This versatile program lets students continue their passion for sports in leadership roles both on and off the field.
- The program contains a total of 45 credit hours and is largely asynchronous. The program is designed to accommodate both seasoned professionals as well as those who have no coaching experience.
- The program curriculum covers the key areas of coaching theory, human performance & energy, injury prevention, program development, sport psychology, NCAA compliance, budgeting & fiscal management, and recruitment strategies.
- The program also features a non-matriculated enrollment option that students can choose if they wish, however, non-matriculated students are not qualified for financial aid.
Standout Features of Drexel University’s MS in Sport Coaching Program:
The program features an included 7-10 day International Residency, as well as the option for students to customize their course deliverables based on their specific sports and levels of interest. The program also has the option for custom-designed concentrations, which can include Business, Creativity, Sport Management, Higher Education, Sport Coaching Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and more.
Did You Know?
Florida State University
Florida State University (FSU) is a public research university in the city of Tallahassee, a member of the State University System of Florida. It can trace its history back to 1851 with the establishment of two institutions, one of them being the West Florida Seminary.
This eventually became the Florida State College in 1901 and eventually became the Florida State University in 1947. At present, FSU is composed of 16 colleges and schools and has a population of over 45,400 students. It is also classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.
- Florida State University offers its 100% online Master of Science in Athletic Coaching. It is for current and future coaches, as well as sports professionals, and prepares them for success in the field.
- The program contains 18 credit hours of content knowledge, which covers the areas of exercise & sport psychology, motor learning, the ethical, philosophical, & sociological aspects of the profession, and more.
- The program features a curriculum that distills experience and research and covers current knowledge and best practices in the field.
Standout Features of Florida State University’s Online MS in Athletic Coaching Program:
Florida State University prides itself on its athletic coaching program that is designed by coaches for coaches, so its content is not only comprehensive but also has a real-world basis. FSU’s Athletic Coaching program is also one of the consistently top-rated programs in the country.
Did You Know?
Aside from the master’s degree, FSU also offers Athletic Coaching as an online Graduate Certificate program. FSU holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University (MSU) is a public, land-grant, research university in the city of East Lansing, Michigan. It was first established in 1855 and was then known as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. Its current name was adopted in 1964, though it was officially designated as a university in 1955.
Michigan State University is currently composed of 17 colleges, which host a population of almost 50,000 students. An Association of American Universities (AAU) member, it is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity”.
- Michigan Southern University offers an online MS in Kinesiology – Concentration in Coaching Education. The program is ideal for teacher-coaches, youth sport coaches, and high-performance coaches, as well as sport administrators, coach developers, and athletic directors.
- The program is offered primarily online, featuring both asynchronous content as well as live meetings. Students typically complete the program in 20-28 months (5-7 consecutive semesters).
- The program condenses evidence-based principles, and the program draws heavily on the experience and insights of its expert faculty.
- Depending on their background, needs, or goals, students can choose between the Coaching or Sport Administration Concentration areas, which both add up to 30 credit hours each.
Standout Features of Michigan State University’s MS in Sport Coaching, Leadership, and Administration Program:
When it comes to sport education, it is hard to beat one coming from a Big Ten University. The program covers both sport coaching and sport administration disciplines and emphasizes reflective practice and ethical decision-making. MSU is also steeped in experience when it comes to its online sport coaching & leadership programs, having offered these online since 2003.
Did You Know?
Aside from the Master’s Program, MSU also offers online Graduate Certificates in Sport Coaching (10 credit hours) and Sport Leadership & Administration (13 credit hours).
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University is a public research university with its main campus in the city of Statesboro, and additional campuses in the cities of Savannah and Hinesville. It was established in 1906 as an Agricultural & Mechanical School, eventually being changed into a normal school in 1924, and becoming Georgia Southern College in 1959.
It attained university status in 1990 and is currently composed of 8 colleges, with a population of almost 27,000 students. It is classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity”.
- Georgia Southern University offers an online Master of Science in Kinesiology, with a Concentration in Coaching Education. The program provides students with relevant and immediately applicable knowledge that prepares them for success across any sport or setting.
- The program is fully online and contains a total of 30 credit hours. This breaks down into 10 courses, which can be completed in only 13 months. The program is also designed as a cohort-based program that starts every summer.
- The program covers the key content areas of performance enhancement, program administration, athletic training, coaching effectiveness, and more. The program’s curriculum is also designed to align with the National Standards for Sport Coaches.
- Students must be coaching while in the program, and they must be able to demonstrate past work history, professional experience, and membership & participation in relevant national organizations in order to be considered for admission.
Standout Features of Georgia Southern University’s Online MS in Kinesiology, Concentration in Coaching Education Program:
Georgia Southern University’s MS in Kinesiology program is long-lived and brings a lot of experience for students, having been first launched in 1998, and delivered online since 2007. This program is also one of only three that are National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education-accredited.
Did You Know?
Concordia University St. Paul
St. Paul, Minnesota
Concordia University, St. Paul (CSP) is a private university located in St. Paul, Minnesota. It is part of the larger Concordia University System, which is affiliated with the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. It was established in 1893 as Concordia High School, eventually becoming Concordia College in 1997, and gaining university status in the same year. CSP has a population of over 5,500 students.
- Concordia University, St. Paul offers an online Master of Science in Coaching and Athletic Administration. This program prepares students to earn valuable certification credentials, as well as learn valuable skills crucial in coaching, recruiting, and leading in particular sports.
- The program contains a total of 33 credit hours and typically lasts 1.5 years. The program’s curriculum covers psychology, leadership, nutrition, sales techniques, ethics, and more.
- The program curriculum is designed with applicability in mind, so students can continue their coaching careers and immediately apply key program takeaways to their practice.
- The program concludes with a capstone project that synthesizes student’s knowledge learned throughout the program.
- CSP accepts transfers of up to 50% of the program’s credit requirements, awarded by regionally accredited institutions.
Standout Features of Concordia University St. Paul’s MS in Coaching and Athletic Administration Program:
This program is designed to prepare students to become Tudor-certified college recruiting experts or to pursue certification credentials in particular sports. Concordia University St. Paul also has one of the lowest tuition rates in the country, which is paired with financial aid, scholarships, and other options.
Did You Know?
Concordia University Irvine, CSP’s sister campus, also offers an online Master of Science in Coaching & Exercise Sciences program. The program is also 36 credit hours long and lasts 15 months.
Western Michigan University
Western Michigan University (WMU) is a public research university in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was established in 1903 as the Western State Normal School, which was originally dedicated towards teacher training, and eventually became Western Michigan University in 1957. At present, WMU is composed of 7 colleges, which host a population of over 16,600 students. It is also classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity”.
- Western Michigan University’s Master of Arts in Sports Coaching is a nationally recognized program designed to equip students with crucial knowledge that enables success in their coaching careers.
- The program contains a total of 30 credit hours, and features mostly self-paced coursework. The program can be completed within two years, although students have up to 6 years to finish.
- The program is designed with an emphasis on an athlete-centered philosophy of sport, and prepares students not only for careers as high-performance coaches, from youth to professional levels.
- WMU also features its one-of-a-kind co-curricular WMU Signature program, where students are encouraged to complete a culminating high-impact integrative project in a variety of pathways including Leadership, Health & Wellbeing, Teaching & Students Success, and more.
Standout Features of Western Michigan University’s MA in Sport Coaching Program:
Western Michigan University’s MA in Sports Coaching is one of only a handful of programs accredited by the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) and features a curriculum that follows the National Standards for Sport Coaches.
Did You Know?
Southern Arkansas University
Southern Arkansas University (SAU) is a public university in the city of Magnolia, Arkansas. It was established through an Act of State Legislature in 1909 and was originally a district agricultural high school. It was elevated into an Agricultural & Mechanical College in 1925 and eventually became Southern Arkansas University in 1976.
SAU is currently composed of 4 academic colleges, which offer over 70 undergraduate degrees and around 19 graduate degree programs to a population of over 4,300 students.
- Southern Arkansas University offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology – Coaching is a non-licensure program aimed at professional coaches and is designed to promote individual positive change in their practice.
- This online program has a total of 33 credit hours and has a typical completion time of around 2 years.
- The program is designed to build on students’ prior knowledge & experiences, particularly in the following areas: the philosophical and ethical underpinnings of the profession, safety & injury prevention, physical conditioning, growth & development, teaching & communication, sport skills & tactics, organization & administration, and evaluation.
Standout Features of Southern Arkansas University’s MS in Kinesiology – Coaching Program:
SAU consistently earns recognition for the value of its programs, and regularly makes the top tier of many rankings. This program also aligns with the competencies outlined by the National Standards for Sports Coaches and is accredited by the NCACE.
Did You Know?
Southern Arkansas University has a unique athletic nickname: Muleriders (and Lady Muleriders for women’s teams). This comes from the legend that during the early 1900s, to go to out-of-town games, the football team had to ride mules from the college’s agricultural department to get to the nearest train station, which was 6 miles north of the college.
West Liberty University
West Liberty, West Virginia
West Liberty University (WLU) is a public university located in the town of West Liberty, West Virginia. It was originally established as the West Liberty Academy in 1837, making it both the oldest higher education institution in West Virginia and older than the state itself, which was founded in 1863. It eventually became a Teachers’ College, later on becoming a State College, and a university in 2009. WLU is currently composed of 4 colleges and has almost 3,000 students.
- West Liberty University offers an MA in Education, with an emphasis on Sports Leadership and Coaching. This program is built on an Education core and expands students’ knowledge and skills base in local-level sports settings.
- The program’s curriculum includes courses on key issues in the field of educational athletics and is designed to develop individuals’ leadership and coaching skills.
- The Athletic Administration or Coaching emphasis area comprises 18 credit hours of the program’s total 30 credit hours and includes courses on coaching fundamentals, athletic administration, psychosociology of sport, conditioning, injury prevention, and sports law.
Standout Features of West Liberty University’s Master’s in Athletic Administration or Coaching Program:
Compared to other programs, this program emphasis is specifically designed for working in school, university, and community sports programs. This program is also accommodating to both active professionals, as well as those who are planning to enter the field.
Did You Know?
West Liberty University is known for placing particular importance on its athletics as an integral part of its overall educational mission. The university’s athletics teams are known as the Hilltoppers and currently participate in the NCAA Mountain East Conference for all 18 sports it participates in.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there concentration options for online programs in Coaching?
Coaching has many aspects. Interested students who want to gain a specialization to give them an edge in the ever-competitive field may want to consider their options. For programs that offer opportunities for further specialization, options often include sports administration, sport coaching leadership, athletic coaching education, and sport management.
There might also be options that involve soccer coaching education and teaching physical education. Other options could be pedagogy emphasis and special education emphasis. The possibilities are endless. Students only need to make sure to weigh their options and choose a concentration that will better align with their professional needs and goals.
What are the common admission requirements to online graduate education programs in Coaching?
Most graduate programs in Coaching require prospective students to hold a bachelor’s degree in coaching or a related field, often with a minimum overall GPA. However, many universities just need them to submit an updated resume that demonstrates their experience. Other requirements include official transcripts, personal essays, letters of recommendation, and an accomplished application form.
Do I have to be an actively practicing coach or working in the field to be admitted to a Master’s in Coaching program?
It depends. While many programs are designed for actively working coaches and would require proof of past and current work experience, other programs are designed to be more open, particularly to those who have no coaching experience but are planning to launch a career in the field.
- Master’s in Coaching programs are designed to prepare students for careers as coaches in a variety of sports and settings, from scholastic & university levels, all the way up to professional sports.
- Given the large number of sporting disciplines in existence, Master’s in Coaching programs tend to focus on fundamental principles of coaching and/or athletic administration, as well as common areas crucial to a lot of sports, such as conditioning, psychology, nutrition, injury prevention & safety, recruiting, and more.
- With a few exceptions, most Master’s in Coaching programs are generally structured as professional programs, and while most of these programs expect/require students to already have relevant experience in the field, some programs are designed to accommodate newcomers or those looking to establish a career in the field.