Whether you want to update your current teaching license, develop more proficient skills, or further your professional development, earning an advanced degree in this fast-growing field helps to solidify future prospects, increase pay, and help to make you a better educator. Indeed, salaries in sport coaching are seeing a dramatic rise, and the job market for sport coaches is expected to grow by 20% through 2031 according to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. This high demand means even greater opportunity, and even more reason to try to set yourself apart from the competition.
In a coaching education master’s program, you will cover the core body of knowledge such as physical, physiological, psychological, and functional adaptations at great length. Included will also be the principles of:
- sports skills & tactics
- physical conditioning
- management of sports programs
- sport administration
In addition, you will focus on the sport psychology principles required in a coaching environment including:
- character development
- coaching pedagogy
- confidence building
As a student, you’ll need to think carefully and use research along with applicable techniques that optimize athletic performance. You will gain the necessary scientific and practical skills to coach at all coaching levels. An online master’s degree in coaching education helps sports professionals advance in their career while balancing work and life. For your convenience, we have compiled a list of the 10 best online master’s degrees in athletic coaching education according to the following metrics:
- Affordability (1/3): Combined analysis of overall tuition of the program, financial aid or scholarship assistance programs, and estimated cost per credit hour for out-of-state students.
- Flexibility (1/3): The number of flexibility-enhancing elements specific to the degree program including teaching philosophy concentrations, degree specialties, prior learning or life experience crediting options, accelerated or self-paced courses, personalized student advisement/guidance, and competency-based credit options.
- Academic Prestige (1/3): The academic prestige of the parent institution operationally defined through the score of combined rankings and/or reviews of prominent education review entities such as US News & World Report and The Princeton Review.
1.) Georgia Southern University – Statesboro, Georgia
Online Master of Science in Kinesiology – Coaching Education Concentration
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $4,986/year in-state and $19,890/year out-of-state
Georgia Southern University (GSU), established in 1906, is a public, doctoral and research institution that is a member of the University System of Georgia. The school can be found on a rural 900-acre campus in town of Statesboro, GA–roughly 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, GA and 170 miles north of Jacksonville, FL. Georgia Southern University matriculates roughly 22,000 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 22:1, and 24.8% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Georgia Southern University offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology with a Coaching Education Emphasis through their School of Health Sciences and Kinesiology. This fully online masters in coaching education is designed for both experienced coaches and for students entering the field. This online coaching master’s degree is only of only three holding national accreditation by the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education. The curriculum follows National Coaching Standards for Sports Coaches. Graduates are recognized as well-practiced coaches, effective managers, and mentors who will have better prospects of promotion in their field. Over an expected completion time of 13 months, the 30-credit-hour curriculum requires 10 core courses designed to improve coaching and mentoring skills and techniques in four main areas:
- Performance Enhancement
- Program Administration
- Athletic Training
- Coaching Effectiveness
The program follows a cohort format with new cohorts forming each summer. Applicants must be coaching while in the program.
2.) University of Missouri – Columbia, Missouri
Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Positive Coaching and Athletic Leadership
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: In-state $10,447/year, out-of-state $28,605/year
The University of Missouri (MU or Mizzou), founded in 1839, is the flagship public land-grant research institution of the Missouri university system. MU is one of only six public universities in the country to host a school of medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agriculture, and law all on one campus. The historic 1,262-acre campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and maintained as a botanical garden, with over 40,000 plants throughout, in Columbia, MO–just south of downtown. University Of Missouri matriculates approximately 28,000 undergraduate students, provides a student-faculty ratio of 20:1, and 40.1% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
University Of Missouri’s Master’s in Education, School, and Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Positive Coaching and Athletic Leadership is a fully online program. It is designed for coaches and sports coordinators who already have a bachelor’s degree in the field. The online masters in coaching is well-suited for athletic coaches of all levels.
The required core courses focus on developing a coaching and mentoring culture in all aspects of sports. Emphasis is on the understanding, skills, and strategies of highly effective teaching, learning, and leading at the individual and team level, while electives prepare coaches to provide effective support for the development of others and improve their performance. Courses cover areas like:
- Positive Coaching
- Administration of Athletics Programs
- Ethical & Legal Aspects of Athletics
- Athlete Training & Conditioning
- Gender & Multicultural Issues in Sports
Courses are offered in eight-week sessions. Full-time students can complete their masters in coaching online in just one year while part-time students can finish in about two and a half years.
3.) Ball State University – Muncie, Indiana
Master of Arts in Athletic Coaching Education
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: In-state $9,636/year, out-of-state $26,334/year
Ball State University (BSU), established in 1918, is a public, co-ed research university sitting on a contemporary 1,100-acre campus in suburban Muncie, IN–just an hour northeast of the entertainments of Indianapolis. BSU is touted specifically as a doctoral, high research university and is part of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, offering over 20 master’s degrees online. Ball State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission–the primary educational accreditation organization of the central United States. Ball State University enrolls approximately 14,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 15:1, and 42.1% of its classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Ball State University’s Master of Arts in Athletic Coaching Education is a flexible, world-class online program for students who need to balance day-to-day work with professional development. Indeed, BSU has been a pioneer institution offering online coaching programs since 2002, and this program allows professional coaches to complete an internship conveniently at their workplace. Students can complete their degree entirely online with no on-campus residency requirement.
The 30-credit-hour program has an expected completion time of 5 semesters (when taking 2 classes per semesters) and requires 11 core courses based on the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) National Standards for Sports Coaches. The program provides prestige because faculty members include Olympic and NCAA championship coaches who, themselves, are still active in the field and in athletics-related research. New cohorts begin in the spring and summer.
4.) Southern Mississippi University – Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Coaching and Sport Performance Master of Science
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: In-state $9,340/year, out-of-state $11,340/year
Founded in 1910, Southern Mississippi University (SMU) is a public research university whose online programs have been recognized as the best Mississippi institution for online education. The school campus is characterized by history and tradition, with lots of green space and a pedestrian-friendly environment in the middle of the city. Headquartered on a 1,090-acre campus in Hattiesburg, MS, the secondary campus is in Long Beach on the Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Southern Mississippi University matriculates approximately 10,258 undergraduate students, promises a student-faculty ratio of 15:1, and 43.8% of classes cater to less than 20 students.
Southern Mississippi’s Master of Science in Coaching and Sport Performance is for individuals who not only love sports but who also are great mentors, motivators, and communicators. Led by trusted faculty, you will gain an advanced understanding of:
- training and leadership techniques
- human mental and physical development
- sports skills
- the latest technological advancements in athletic evaluation
The program prepares students for sports and fitness coaching for all ages, from high-level performance, strength, and conditioning coaching to athletic performance coaching and more. The 30-credit-hour program requires nine core courses and either a thesis or practicum. This program will prepare students all around with coursework covering areas of:
- Applied Sport Psychology
- Motivation and Behavior in Kinesiology and Nutrition
- Advanced Sport Coaching Methodology
- Strength and Conditioning Training and Technology
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Kinesiology and Nutrition
- Dynamics of Skill Acquisition
The program is designed for part-time students who are working and going to school. Most students can complete their degree in two years.
5.) West Virginia University – Morgantown, West Virginia
Master of Science in Sport Coaching Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: In-state $10,602/year, out-of-state $27,450/year
West Virginia University (WVU), established in 1867, is a public, land-grant, space-grant, research-intensive institution with a dedicated faculty that boast numerous awards and achievements. Foundational values of the school are seen in their innovative, caring approach and strong ethical values in academics, athletics, and community service. The school is located in Morgantown, WV on a 1,892-acre campus that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for of its beautiful and historic arboretum. WVU also maintains another renowned clinical campus for the university’s medical and dental schools at Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, WV.
Located near the Pennsylvania border, students can easily take road trips to the cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Washington D.C. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, WVU currently enrolls approximately 19,000 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, and 49.8% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
West Virginia University’s Master of Science in Sport Coaching is offered exclusively online. This top coaching degree equips students with skills and techniques to work with young athletes in school, community, and club environments. The curriculum focuses on whole athlete development–sport talent, life skills, and character development. It is specifically designed for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in the field and/or prior experience. The 31-credit-hour curriculum has an average completion time of 2 years and consists of, but is not limited to, the following classes:
- Strength & Conditioning Methods for Coaches
- Coaching Techniques
- Positive Youth Development in Sport
- Creating Healthy Competitive Environments
- Coaching Education Administration
While an internship is not required, students should have access to teams and athletes in order to complete assignments and projects.
6.) Concordia University – Irvine, California
Master’s in Coaching and Athletics Administration
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $8,528/year
Concordia University–Irvine, established in 1972, is a private institution rooted deeply in a Christian belief system. The school’s mission abides by seven educational principles: Systematic Inquiry, Clear Communication, Health & Well-Being, Sociocultural Responsiveness, Aesthetic Responsiveness, Christian Literacy & Life, and Servant Leadership. The establishment occupies a suburban 70-acre campus in Irvine, California. Concordia, Irvine registers about 1,700 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 14:1, and 53% of classes cater to less than 20 students.
The Master’s in Coaching and Athletics Administration is designed for the working professional with an emphasis on practical learning. Through this application-rich approach, you will develop leadership techniques and athletic administrative skills. The 36-credit-hour program requires five core and four elective courses that will help students develop character and ethical leadership in a faith-based environment. Students will strengthen their coaching methods, and develop a vast professional network of peers, colleagues, and instructors.
This coaching program is a great choice for students who want to create a customized program. Concordia offers summer intensives, allowing students to focus on their training. Elective courses allow students to tailor their education and cover areas like:
- Facility Planning and Event Management
- Applied Exercise Sciences and Strategies for Coaching
- Faith-Based Coaching
- Psychology of Coaching
Students complete a culminating project, showcasing their work throughout the program. This allows students to be ready to find employment right after graduation.
7.) Ohio University – Athens, Ohio
Master’s in Coaching Education Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: In-state $9,444/year, out-of-state $17,436/year
Ohio University is a public university located in the southeastern Ohio foothills. They are home to over 28,000 online and on-campus students. Ohio University features over 250 majors, minors, and certificate programs. In addition to the residential campus in Athens, there are five regional campus locations throughout the state.
Ohio University offers an online Masters of Coaching Education focused on ways to make a positive impact on athletic performance. The program is fully online with no residency requirements. The flexible curriculum is built around national standards for sport coaches and is great for busy professionals. Courses are taught by coaching experts and include:
- Injury Prevention and Risk Management
- Performance and Conditioning for Athletic Coaches
- Management and Leadership in Sport
All students complete a coaching portfolio to fulfill the capstone requirement. Most students can finish their degree in under two years.
8.) Michigan State University – East Lansing, Michigan
Master of Science in Sport Coaching, Leadership, and Administration
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: In-state $20,202/year, out-of-state $39,696/year
Michigan State University (MSU), started in 1855, is a public research university. MSU is one of the country’s first land-grant colleges, and one of the largest institutions in the country. MSU is a well-regarded institution and has even been coined a “public ivy”. The establishment can be found on a suburban campus along the banks of the Red Cedar River in the college town of East Lansing–a short trip away from the beaches of Lake Michigan. Michigan State University registers about 39,000 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, and 23.8% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Michigan State University’s Master of Science in Coaching concentration is an individualized and challenging program. This coaching program is a great choice for high-performance coaches who are committed to the profession. Courses are delivered through a balance of asynchronous online instruction and synchronous virtual instruction. Students have the opportunity to come to campus for engagement events to meet faculty and other students. Course offerings include:
- Ethics in Sport Coaching and Leadership
- Legal Aspects of Sport
- Promoting Positive Youth Development through Sport
Students must complete a practicum or internship. This hands-on learning opportunity is a great way for students gain practical experience.
9.) University of Denver – Denver, Colorado
MA in Sport Coaching Online
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $36,234/year
Founded in 1864, the University of Denver (DU) is a private, nonsectarian institution. The school sits on an urban, 125-acre campus in Denver, CO–less than 2 hours from Rocky Mountain National Park. It is relatively small, with a total of about 22,000 students. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, DU offers a student-faculty ratio of 9:1, and 53.2% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
University of Denver’s Master of Arts in Sport Coaching (MASC) is a rigorous, innovative, and fully online program that is part of the Graduate School of Professional Psychology. The program is designed to be flexible and individualized. Psychologists and sport psychologists have always been pioneers in research and education in the area of coaching. DU can proudly claim to offer the only master’s program in coaching hosted by a school of psychology in the nation.
The program can be completed in as little as 1 year (2-3 years on average), and the curriculum prepares students to:
- deal with various coaching issues
- integrate theoretical and practical knowledge
- hone strong decision-making capabilities
The 36-credit-hour program requires 11 core courses, including a capstone, and 8 elective courses such as:
- Exercise Physiology
- Athletic & Performance Nutrition
- Social-Psychology of the Body
- Health & Performance
- Sport Technology
The curriculum provides an interdisciplinary approach and offers courses from biology to biomechanics, and from sociology to psychology. The program is affordable in part because of DU’s reputation for offering generous financial aid.
10.) Drexel University – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Online Master of Science in Sport Coaching
Average Graduate Student Tuition Rate: $36,234/year
Drexel University, founded in 1891, is a private research institution with an interdisciplinary and global perspective on education that operates three campuses in Philadelphia. Drexel focuses on experiential learning and operates one of the country’s oldest, largest, and most renowned cooperative education programs. Students have the opportunity to network with more than 1,600 employers worldwide–including industry leaders like Amazon, Google, etc. Students may earn up to 18 months of paid, full-time work experience in their chosen field. The school sits on a lively, urban 96-acre campus in Philadelphia, PA–just minutes from the downtown Center City district–conveniently located between New York City and Washington, D.C. Fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Drexel registers approximately 14,000 undergraduate students, and 57.8% of classes cater to less than 20 students.
Drexel University’s Master of Science in Sport Coaching Leadership is a customizable program designed for all level and sport(s) of interest This athletic coaching education program will prepare graduates to meet challenges both in life and on the field. The 45-credit-hour curriculum requires 12 core and 3 elective courses; students are encouraged to create their own custom-designed concentration. Course offerings include:
- Sport Performance and Energy Systems
- Athletic Recruiting
- Ethics in Coaching
- Evidence-Based Evaluation
Uniquely, the program features a 7-10 day international residency. The program is structured into four 10-week quarters per year allowing students to take more classes at a time. Drexel graduates earn salaries 11.6% above the national average, and 48% of students receive a job offer from a former co-op employer, giving graduates a great return on investment.