Coaches don’t just yell commands. They are motivators, mentors, and teachers.
How do you become a good coach who is skilled in these tasks? Practice, but also with training. The very best coaches are those that are always willing to improve and refine their craft, no matter what the sport or practice may be.
A master’s degree in Coaching will provide you with the foundational skills, knowledge, and hands-on training necessary to be successful in any coaching endeavor.
What kind of coaching degree should you get?
A good coaching degree will ingrain you with the fundamentals of coaching, regardless of whether that is at a high school, college, or professional level. It will provide you with the foundational skills and hands-on experiences necessary to become credentialed and well-practiced in the industry.
Students should consider online degrees, as these often provide more flexibility regarding credit load, course delivery, and faculty interaction. In addition, most online degrees can be completed at your own pace. Online degrees can also be more affordable than their on-campus counterparts.
Consider our list of the Best Online Masters in Coaching Degrees.
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Explore our featured online programs and find the right match for you today.
How much money do people make with coaching degrees?
Your average salary after graduating with a degree in coaching will likely vary depending on what type of job you choose to pursue. Graduates who accept positions as athletic trainers, particularly at the college level, tend to earn the highest starting salaries, averaging a little over $46,000 per year.
Now is a great time to get involved in coaching. With more youth becoming involved in athletics, and athletic enthusiasm at an all-time high, amateur and professional coaches alike will have plenty of access to high-paying jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in coaching are expected to grow about 6 percent over the next ten years.
What can you do with a degree in coaching?
Coaching is a broad discipline, and a degree in coaching will allow you to work in a range of diverse settings. You might work as a physical education teacher or just an educator who teaches at the high school level. You could work in collegiate or professional sports, or become an athletic trainer for a specific sport.
Some individuals receive coaching degrees and then go on to pursue careers as life coaches, wellness coaches, or health teachers. Others may go on to pursue additional studies in sports medicine, sports psychology, or nutrition. The range of opportunities is endless, and a master's degree in coaching only provides you with additional flexibility in designing the career of your dreams.
What are the requirements for a degree in coaching?
One of the most convenient aspects of a master’s degree in coaching is that most universities don’t require an undergraduate degree in a specific area in order to apply - just a degree. Some schools prefer experience in topics such as nutrition, kinesiology, and sports psychology, while others might also require GRE scores.
While enrolled, you can expect to complete a wide range of courses depending on your specific area of interest. The best programs include internships or practicum experiences, allowing you to gain real coaching experience before entering the workforce.
What are the best coaching degrees?
The best coaching degrees are those that utilize a wide variety of educational methods and theories. They emphasize topics such as sports psychology, organizational leadership, nutrition, athletics, and exercise science.
An online degree will give you access to experienced instructors from a range of athletic backgrounds, and not focus in on just one area as the entirety of the program but instead allow you to generalize your studies in their early stages.
Of course, you should also choose a program that will let you specialize in a specific area. Good programs include internship and cooperative learning experiences, giving you plenty of time to practice your newly acquired skills as a coach.
See our rankings methodology page.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
Housed at one of the most academically prestigious schools in the country, the College of Education Department of Kinesiology offers an in-depth Master of Science concentration in Coaching. Michigan State is located in East Lansing, MI, but offers some of the best online programs to students who do not wish to attend classes on campus. Courses are taught by instructors with decades of experience, including those who have worked in the renowned Institute for the Study of Youth Sports.
This master’s degree is designed for future sports and athletic directors and coaches. It combines a scientific approach to coaching, allowing students to complete their studies in an accelerated format requiring less than two years of studies. Course requirements include:
- Safety and Injury Control
- Legal and Administrative Issues for Coaches and Administrators
- Psychosocial Bases of Coaching Athletes
- Promoting Positive Youth Development Through Sport
- Stages of Athlete Development
This program is incredibly hands-on, giving students the real-world experiences necessary to succeed in any position. Internships are a core component of the program. Each student is required to gain professional experience at local schools, universities, and organizations (including participation in the on-campus Summer Coaches’ School). Each student is also required to take a certifying exam for additional prestige in job-seeking, and will work along skilled peers to foster a sense of collaboration that is key for any budding coach.
The University of Missouri offers a master’s degree in Positive Coaching that is one of the finest in the country. It includes unique principles, such as counseling psychology and positive philosophy, which allows students to grow personally as well as professionally. This school was the first public university west of the Mississippi River, and continues to offer exceptional degree programs – including over 90 that are offered exclusively and fully online.
This highly flexible program requires 30 credit-hours of study and can be completed in a variety of formats. Students may take courses in 16-, 8-, or 4-week formats, allowing for exceptional convenience. Available classes include:
- Sport and Applied Coaching Psychology
- Positive Leadership in Sport
- Positive Psychology
- Health Behaviors: Drug and Sexuality Education
- Legal Aspects of Sport and Coaching
This program is one of the most affordable, offering a low-cost education that is at the cutting-edge of all coaching degrees. It is ranked as one of the Best Online Programs for Graduate Education in 2018 by U.S. News & World Report, receiving accolades for its highly effective academics, training, and student services.
The online Master’s of Science in Sport Coaching at the West Virginia University is offered through the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences. This program is ideal for individuals who want to become coaches at schools or private organizations. Ranked as a Doctoral University with Highest Research Activity, this school applies a holistic approach to the topic of coaching and provides a comprehensive look at all physical, mental, and strategic aspects of coaching and athletic performance.
This program includes 36 credit-hours of study, all of which can be completed online and in just under two years. It is designed for teachers and coaches who are currently working and is one of the most flexible of its kind. It incorporates collaborative projects as well as faculty-guided research projects, requiring students to receive training and certifications in topics such as:
- Sports movement
- Legal issues
- Positive youth development
This program is highly affordable, offering the same tuition rates for online students as those that are offered on-campus. The program can be completed in less than two years, and is incredibly hands-on, giving students the opportunity to complete several internships. In addition, the school has a wildly active alumni body, helping students before and after graduation to find jobs, internships, and gain other professional connections.
Ohio University is a university that offers degrees focused on career competencies, and the Master of Coaching Education is no exception. The program is tailored to meet the real-world demands of the job market and accommodates working professionals as well as recent college graduates. The university even features a range of graduate assistantships and other financial aid options to help make studies affordable as well as convenient.
This program is small, taught by just 15 highly trained faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. For individuals looking for additional certifications, the university also offers an optional degree in soccer coaching. Required classes include:
- Foundations of Coaching
- Management and Leadership in Sport
- Psychology of Coaching
- Injury Prevention and Risk Management
- Performance and Conditioning for Athletic Coaches
Ohio University offers one of the top online coaching programs in the country, and is designed around the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s “Eight Domains of Coaching.” The program is adapted to a variety of sports and coaching theories, and can be completed by coaches working full-time. This university was named a 2015 Best College by The Princeton Review, receiving accolades for its high-quality academics, accessible coursework (available 24/7), and professional development opportunities.
Just south of Omaha, NE, Bellevue is a private – yet affordable – university that offers a range of distance education programs to nontraditional learners. The Master’s of Science degree in Leadership and Coaching is ideal for individuals in any field – not just athletics. It leads to a certificate of completion in executive coaching, as well as a formal graduate degree.
This program is highly practical, integrating several different techniques to prepare students for real-life experiences. Several certificates are provided upon completion of coursework, including the Certificate of Completion in Executive Coaching and the Certificate of the International Coach Federation, helping to boost students’ resumes and overall experiences. Other required courses include:
- Leadership Theories and Research
- Developing Leader Effectiveness
- Social Psychology of Leadership
- Leading Change in Organizations
This program is one of the most forward-thinking of its kind, providing its students with extensive career services to help them through every aspect of searching for jobs. Students have access to tutoring services, writing centers, and test centers, along with resume writing and job search workshops. This large campus boasts over 50,000 alumni around the world, making it easy for graduates to find well-paid and well-respected positions anywhere they look.