Best Online Master’s in Coaching Degrees

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Are you ready to find your fit?

If you love pushing yourself and your team to achieve tough, rewarding goals, a master’s degree in coaching might be for you.

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Coaches are invaluable to a team’s overall success. A good coach knows how to implement educational methods and pedagogy just as a teacher might, and has the leadership and communication skill necessary to derive a team to success.

This rewarding field provides lifelong benefits, allowing you to interact with talented athletes in a growing industry of sport. Obtaining a master’s degree in coaching will allow you – and your team – to rise to the top and to overcome any obstacles that come your way.

Online degrees are ideal for individuals seeking graduate-level education in coaching. They allow students to work while completing their studies, and many can be completed either full- or part-time to allow you to accommodate your studies to your existing schedule. These programs are also typically more affordable and require less of a time commitment than their on-campus counterparts.

Compare this list to our master ranking of the Best Online Colleges and Universities.

Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Coaching Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
2 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
3 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
4 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
5 Ball State University Muncie, IN
6 Xavier University Cincinnati, OH
7 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
8 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
9 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
10 University of Denver Denver, CO

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What kind of master’s degree in coaching should you get?

Consider your ideal sport in this decision. Think about what kind of position you would like to hold, as well as your ideal school. For example, if you are interested in teaching at an elementary level, you might want to consider a program that is more ingrained in aspects of physical education. Coaches at the professional level might instead think about programs that focus more on leadership, recruitment, and kinesiology.

When considering your sport of choice, think about your institution of choice, as well. For example, if you’re interested in coaching skiing, you would want to research the best winter sports. By envisioning these personal goals, it will be easier for you to decide on the best program for your time and money.

How much money do people make with a master’s degree in coaching?

The salary range for individuals with master’s degrees in coaching will vary widely depending on where and in what setting they work. For example, coaches working in a high school setting are typically paid a set amount of a stipend for a given season. However, physical education teachers will make much more, averaging $60,000 a year, while professional coaches can make several million in a single season.

Better yet, these jobs are expected to grow exponentially, increasing at a rate of six percent over the next ten years. As sports become more popular and ingrained in our culture, more skilled and dedicated coaches will be needed to help meet these needs.

What can you do with a master’s degree in coaching?

Master’s degrees in coaching are beneficial for individuals who plan to work, or currently work, as coaches at any level. These degrees help provide graduates with the experiences and credentials necessary to move up in the workforce.

They are also designed for those seeking to become teachers of physical education, as well as those looking to move into sports administration. You might work as a health and wellness coach, a high school teacher, or a coach for a professional sports team with one of these degrees.

What are the requirements for a master’s degree in coaching?

Most coaching degrees require that students begin their studies with a related undergraduate education in a topic such as physical education, kinesiology, or sports psychology. However, this varies widely by institution, and many do not require any prerequisite knowledge at all.

While enrolled, you can expect to take a range of classes in communication, leadership, and coaching fundamentals. You will learn about coaching pedagogy and exercise science, as well as areas such as nutrition and motivational techniques.

What are the best master’s degrees in coaching?

The best master’s degrees in coaching are those that will service your individual career and educational goals, both now and in the future. Some programs are designed to help professionals attain success at all aspects of coaching, ranging from the elementary school level all the way up to professional athletics, while others allow you to specialize in a particular sport.

Think about your budget, time constraints, and personal goals before deciding on your school, and consider our rankings below to help you get started on the search for a perfect online master’s degree in coaching.

2018 Ranking

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Michigan State University
    Location

    East Lansing, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Offering a small yet comprehensive Master of Science in Kinesiology, Michigan State is a solid choice for students seeking to expand their understandings of movement and activity at the graduate level. This department is top-ranked and prepares students through interdisciplinary, collaborative research emphasizes the importance of physical activity across the lifespan. While students are fully trained in the techniques, strategies, and theory behind coaching throughout this program, they also graduate as well-prepared practitioners capable of educational research and leadership.

    Program Features

    Regardless of whether they choose to study online or on-campus, Michigan State students have exceptional opportunities to engage with various business, organizational, and industry partnerships to help develop policy initiatives. These initiatives are often put directly into practice and are usually related to promoting healthy lifestyles. Students will take broad, far-reaching courses in topics such as:

    • Athletic Administration in Higher Education
    • Sport Law for Administrators and Coaches
    • Psychosocial Bases of Coaching
    • Issues and Techniques in Student-Athlete Development

    Notables

    Michigan State is home to several virtual and physical research laboratories and initiatives that allow students to gain experience in movement, exercise science, and other areas. The most prominent facilities include the Motor Learning and Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory, which allows students to research the fundamental questions of motor learning, and the Center for Physical Activity and Health, which has helped to position the university as a leader in global activity change.

  2. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Master of Science in Sport Management at the University of Florida, offered with a unique concentration in High-Performance Coaching, is a great fit for students seeking to learn how to assist athletes in their quest to achieve top athletic performance. Through this concentration, students will work closely with actual athletes to determine their physical and mental capabilities, and will also draw from the latest research to create individualized solutions to common coaching dilemmas.

    Program Features

    This program requires 15 credit-hours of coursework as part of the specialty, which satisfies all overall elective requirements for the master’s degree. The specialization focuses on the psychological and physiological elements of athlete performance. In addition to a range of electives, students will take classes in topics such as:

    • Sport Psychology
    • Performance Enhancement
    • Athlete Health and Safety
    • Training High-Performance Athletes

    Notables

    In addition to the concentration in High-Performance Coaching, the Sports Management degree also features specialties in Athlete Development and Sport Law. Students can meet the requirements for various certifications in sport management as well. This nationally ranked program is taught by experienced faculty within the university’s college of law, allowing students to draw from a unique background in legalese that is beneficial in a real-world setting.

  3. Georgia Southern University
    Location

    Statesboro, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Master of Science in Coaching Education at Georgia Southern is designed for professional coaches, as well as those simply looking for a broad background in the subject. The program is one of few that follows National Coaching Standards and allows graduates to begin coaching at any level or type of sport. Students pursue a range of health- and exercise-related courses, making this broad program a good value for anyone seeking a comprehensive overview of the subject.

    Program Features

    Starting at less than $500 per credit-hour, this affordable program is even more affordable when pursued online. Through the online dimension, students have access to the same research and collaborative opportunities as they would receive access to on campus. A total of 12 classes are required, including studies in:

    • Psychology of Peak Performance
    • Sport Coaching I
    • Team Dynamics
    • Injury Prevention

    Notables

    The Department of Health and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern is ranked as one of the best in the country, offering a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees including athletic training, food science, and sport psychology. All programs and courses are highly interdisciplinary, allowing students to collaborate with other students within the department as well as across campus – even when pursued in the online setting.

  4. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Master of Science in Exercise Science at the University of South Florida is designed with both potential educator, fitness instructors, and coaches in mind. It is designed for fitness professionals and educators who are currently employed and allows students to study a variety of topics, including instructional design and movement theory. All courses are easy to access from Blackboard learning technology, allowing students to interact on their own time as well as in live time with instructors and peers.

    Program Features

    This program allows students to choose from one of two unique study programs. These programs allow for differentiation based on individual career goals, such as physical education in public schools or coaching in a private setting. Available tracks include Strength and Conditioning, Health and Wellness, and Exercise Science, leading to 32 total credit-hours for completion. Required courses include:

    • Theories and Models of Health and Physical Activity
    • Lifespan Fitness
    • Psychology of Exercise
    • Topics in Strength and Conditioning

    Notables

    This unique program allows students to work closely with faculty members on research areas of interest. Currently, the most popular research areas include powerlifting, physique enhancement, environmental and occupational health, and sports nutrition. The department has years of experience in providing distance-, laboratory-, and field-based experiential education opportunities, giving graduate students a leg up for decades of success in the workforce.

  5. Ball State University
    Location

    Muncie, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Ball State has offered exceptional online education for decades, with an online degree in coaching education that was the first to be offered of its kind. The degree, which was the first to go online in 2002, establishes the most important dimensions of coaching education. This flexible online program is taught by distinguished, quality faculty with real-world experiences in coaching and kinesiology. Students receive access to cutting-edge research, receiving an education that is exceptionally valuable in the competitive job market of today’s athletic industry.

    Program Features

    The program in Athletic Coaching Education at Ball State is taught by distinguished faculty who have experiences coaching at all levels, from high school stars to Olympic legends. A range of classes is available at Ball State, including:

    • Teaching and Motivation for Coaches
    • Physical Preparation and Conditioning
    • Organization and Administration for Coaches
    • Foundations of Physical Education Research

    Notables

    The success of Ball State alumni cannot be understated, with many of them working in coaching positions for schools in the Big 10 and Mid-American Conferences, among others. The degree allows students to take only two classes per semester while still managing to graduate in less than five years. This flexibility is important, allowing working professionals to remain employed while receiving a valuable education in coaching.

  6. Xavier University
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Xavier University’s online Master of Education in Coaching Education and Athletic Development helps students meet the ever-changing needs of coaching in a modern school setting. Students receive interdisciplinary training in sports psychology, physical therapy, and other topics, as well as extensive experiences in the actual art and science of coaching. This program provides exceptional opportunities for students to conduct and engage with the latest research.

    Program Features

    In addition to the collaborative and research-based opportunities available as part of this program, students will also gain a finely honed understanding of the personal and community responsibilities a coach might have. Coursework emphasizes engagement in the community and overall leadership providing students with the twenty-first-century skills necessary to be successful in any environment. Available courses include:

    • Psycho-social Aspects of Coaching
    • Coaching Ethics and Philosophy
    • Sport Leadership and Team Building
    • Sports Safety, Risk Management, and Injury Prevention

    Notables

    Xavier is a small Jesuit Catholic university that puts character and community building first in its list of required core competencies. Because of the ability it ingrains in its students to reach out to others and interact fully with the community, Xavier graduates are highly successful at finding jobs. Over 98% of all Xavier graduates are employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. The professional development services available at Xavier are like none other, with this active group providing students with access to career fairs, interviewing trainings, and even resume building workshops.

  7. University of Arkansas
    Location

    Fayetteville, AR

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Arkansas’ online Master of Education in Physical Education is designed for future teachers as well as for those seeking careers in coaching and recreation. This program is ranked one of the best online programs by U.S. News and World Report, taking most students around two years to complete. Offered entirely online, this program is GRE-exempt, making it easier for students from all backgrounds to obtain a high-quality education in coaching, physical education, and leadership.

    Program Features

    Thirty-three total credit-hours are required. While the program of study will vary for each individual student based on their coaching aspirations, most students will take classes such as:

    • The Physical Education Curriculum
    • Professional Issues in Physical Education and Sport
    • Risk management in Physical Education and Athletics
    • Scientific Principles of Movement and Performance

    Notables

    This highly affordable program, starting at just $420 per credit-hour, offers students multiple methods of paying for their education. For example, the Arkansas Teacher Opportunity Program provides myriad scholarships and grants to qualified students. Because coursework is delivered entirely online, it is also typically easier for busy working professionals to remain employed while taking classes, helping to save both time and money.

  8. Drexel University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the heart of Philadelphia, PA, Drexel offers a fully online Master of Science in Sport Coaching Leadership that provides students with a broad overview of every aspect of coaching. This program incorporates coaching theory, preventing and treating injuries, sports psychology, and even budgeting. While this program is offered entirely online in an asynchronous format, students are required to attend a week-long residential program in an international setting, which allows them to interact with fellow students and professionals from around the world.

    Program Features

    Students in this program are able to specialize in coaching a sport of their own choosing. Available specializations include lacrosse and rowing, with custom concentrations available in other areas as well. Regardless of the concentration, required core courses include:

    • Ethics in Coaching
    • Coaching Theory and Principles
    • Pedagogical Strategies in Coaching
    • Sport Performance and Energy Systems

    Notables

    This program is designed with high-level coaches in mind, including coursework in NCAA compliance and recruitment methods. Because the curriculum is divided into four 10-week terms, it is highly flexible, allowing students to move quickly through course material. Drexel is rated as one of the best colleges in regards to value and quality by U.S. News and World Report, and provides graduates with resumes that stand out (in a good way!) to potential employers.

  9. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    West Virginia University’s Master of Arts in Athletic Coaching Education features one of the strongest and proudest alumni bodies out of any schools within this ranking. The department emphasizes the importance of pride, academics, community services, and athletics, encouraging future coaches to remain involved within the communities that they coach. Offered online, this program encourages students to network with the local community, helping to provide internship and job opportunities both before and after graduation.

    Program Features

    Requiring 36 credit-hours, this program can easily be completed in under two years, even when pursued part-time. This fast-paced program includes field experiences in coaching, and is highly collaborative. Students work closely with peers to develop collaborative experiences. Students will take several core courses, such as:

    • Training Theories for Coaches
    • Psychology of Coaching
    • Motor Behavior for Sport Coaches
    • Coaching Education Administration

    Notables

    Graduates of this program are highly successful at finding jobs, benefiting from the university’s strong alumni connections. Students are encouraged to reach out to graduates both recent and not, nearby or far away. The program is affordable and taught by innovative faculty who involve students daily in their on-campus and online-based research. The personal and professional connections in this program cannot be understated, and lead students to a lifetime of coaching success.

  10. University of Denver
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Master of Arts in Sport Coaching at the University of Denver resides within the college’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology. This unique location allows students to be at the forefront of athletic developments and to enrich their understandings of coaching principles with psychological underpinnings. This program is the only one in the country to be offered in such a format, and allows students to work closely with sports research specialists and industry partners alike.

    Program Features

    The program is highly flexible, allowing students to pursue various areas of interest while at the same time completing a core set of required courses. Available concentrations include strength and conditioning, which is a unique specialization taught only at the University of Denver. Thirty-six credit-hours of study are required, including:

    • Organization and Administration of Sport
    • Sociocultural Aspects of Sport Coaching
    • Motor Learning and Sport Pedagogy
    • Strength and Conditioning and Injury Prevention Program Design

    Notables

    Students work closely with faculty mentors as well as engaged alumni throughout the course of their studies, gaining skills in interpersonal abilities as well as coaching techniques. The program is taught by respected faculty members who have experience at all levels of coaching, ranging from the high school to professional levels of the industry. Students have the opportunity to pursue unique concentrations that allow them to receive prestigious professional recognitions that help them obtain the most coveted jobs upon graduation.

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