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There is no denying that coaches are among the most influential professionals in the field of athletics but they are also in high-demand in other careers such as in the fitness, wellness, education and the healthcare industry. A master’s of coaching education will provide students with the education and experience required to effectively design and manage health and wellness programs for the workplace, whether for individual clients, community, or corporate settings. We’ve looked at all online master’s in coaching education programs nationwide and compiled a list of the most affordable degrees available for 2018. For a look at the highest quality programs, check out our ranking of the best online master’s in coaching education.

Why a Master’s Degree in Athletic Coaching or Coaching Education?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration, the coaching profession is expected to reach double-digit growth in just a decade,and job options are extremely varied. For instance, Sports Coach or Scout, Athletic Trainer, Umpire, Referee and other Sports Official all have a projected growth of 14-20%.

Other occupations with a bright outlook include Education Administrator/Director and Life Coach. In fact, some programs offer a life coaching specialty due to the fact that more and more organizations are now soliciting the growing field of coaching to enhance overall performance, employee retention and satisfaction, as well as general life improvement.

In the ever-growing industry of sports, it has become increasingly important to stand out from such competition and earn advanced qualifications based on national standards. While not all programs grant professional licensure, most are built around the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)-the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education.

The main emphasis of a masters in coaching is athlete development. Students will receive a comprehensive coaching education and learn the principle theories influencing the field of coaching as well as fundamental coaching and leadership skills. With a concentration in the field, prospective coaches can expect to gain the competence to implement competitive tactics and strategies appropriate to the sport environment. Course content emphasis is on designing and managing fitness programs for individuals, groups, and organizations.

The application-rich curriculum focuses on any topics influencing health and performance; including application of current research, adaptations to exercise, training techniques, exercise prescription, biomecanics, nutritional practices, testing and evaluation, as well as psychological aspects of performance.

Students will acquire the mental training strategies, competitive tactics, and sports mentoring techniques necessary to improve athletic performance. Further, they will learn to implement programs for exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle change by implementing fitness programs for professional sports clubs, schools, colleges,gyms, and allied health industries.

1. American Public University

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American Public University, established in 1991, is a private, proprietary, online-only university with an emphasis in providing higher education to public service communities such as the members of the military, security, and public safety professionals. Although APU does not offer physical classrooms, the establishment has corporate and academic offices in Charles Town, WV. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission–among the 6 regional accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education–American Public is currently ranked #92 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report. American Public University matriculates 39,662 undergraduate students, guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 19:, and the average transfer credit is 34 credits.

American Public University’s Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences is entirely online and tailored for sports/health science professionals who want to deepen their study of physical, physiological, and psychological health while also helping others improve functionality. Led by professionals in the field of sports and health, the program equips participants with the knowledge to design movement programs that optimize quality of health and sport performance. You will learn to assist clients, patients, or organizations to meet their overall athletic, fitness, and general health goals. Students will also gain an extensive background in nutrition, fitness training, and current changes in fitness technology to help individuals improve their quality of life. The 36-credit-hour curriculum requires 21 core courses and 12 concentration-related elective courses. Develop critical thinking, apply qualitative and quantitative research to the Sports and Health Industries, and focus on the latest advances in human bioenergetics, nutrition, movement, and learning. There are 3 General Concentrations to choose from to further specialize in your chosen field: Science and Human Performance, Health & Wellness Management, and a General concentration. Course examples include Sport Psychology and Nutrition for Sports Performance. The General concentration allows you to design your own focused area of study; the Exercise Science and Human Performance concentration teaches researchers and practitioners the concepts and applications needed to appraise and enhance athletic performance; and the Health and Wellness concentration prepares students to effectively design and manage wellness programs for the workplace, both for individual clients and corporate settings. The program guarantees affordability with a $350 credit-hour cost.

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  • Affordability: $350 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

2. University of Missouri

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The University Of Missouri (MU or Mizzou), started in 1839, is the flagship public and Missouri’s only public research and doctoral-level institution. Mizzou is one of only six public universities nationwide to host a school of medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agriculture, and law all on the same campus located in Columbis, MO. The historic 1,262-acre campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and hosts a botanical garden, with over 40,000 plants throughout. Mizzou is currently ranked #120 National Universities and #77 Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report. University Of Missouri enrolls around 28,000 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 19:1, and 39.8% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

University of Missouri’s Master of Education in Educational, School and Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in positive coaching (M.Ed. in positive coaching) is part of the counseling psychology program and 100% online. This Master of Education program targets athletic coaches, sports coordinators, and academic advisers who wish to further their careers. Emphasis is on Positive Coaching and the understanding, skills, and strategies necessary for instruction, teaching, counseling, and leading others. The program has an average completion time of just one year for full-time students. The 30-credit-hour program requires 9 core credit hours offered in 16-week courses and 18 credit hours elective courses. Students will learn to emphasize the positive interventions used by professional coaches to motivate and lead individuals–and teams alike–to achieve their optimal performance. Core courses include: Sport and Applied Coaching Psychology, Positive Psychology, and Applied Positive Coaching. Electives courses include: Administration of Athletics Programs; Athlete Training & Conditioning; Health Behaviors: Drug & Sexuality Education; Ethical and legalaspects of athletics; Gender and multicultural issues in sports; and many more. There is also a capstone on Positive Leadership in Sport (3 credit-hours). The program provides prestige due to an accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council. Moreover, the program offers affordability because of a $352 credit-hour cost. Note that this program does not grant teacher certification nor any professional licensure.

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  • Affordability: $352 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

3. Carson-Newman

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Carson-Newman (C-N) is a private, coed, Christian liberal arts university that follows Christian principles in all aspects of its curriculum. Highly recognized for academic excellence, C-N was recognized with the Presidential Award, an honor that only thenation’s top institution for community service can receive.Founded in 1851, the 120-acre campus is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, just a 30 minutes car ride from Knoxville.Located in the Southern Highlands, students have access to the famous Great Smoky Mountains National Park –the most popular park in the U.S.C-N currently ranks #66 Regional Universities South and #26 Best Value Schools and was named Top 10 among Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report. Carson-Newman enrolls roughly about 2,000 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, and 59.7% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

Carson-Newman’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree with an emphasis in Coaching is offered in a blended format entirely online and is designed for currently-licensed teachers and individuals who are looking to deepen their coaching skills. Emphasis is placed on a formal education that meets the standards set by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) and the program can be completed in as little as 5 semesters. The 36-credit-hour program requires 9 core courses and 3 elective courses. Foundational courses include: Foundations of Leadership; Effective Home, School, and Community Relations; Philosophy and Ethics in Sport; Psychology of Sport Performance; Injury Management; Integrating Research and Learning; and more. The program offers affordability thanks to a $390 credit-hour cost.

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  • Affordability: $390 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

4. West Virginia University

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West Virginia University (WVU), founded in 1867, is a public, land-grant, space-grant, and one of only about a dozen schools nationwide that are land-grant, doctoral research universities with a comprehensive medical school.82% of full-time faculty members hold the highest academic degree in their field and 19 of them have been named Carnegie Foundation Professors of the Year .Foundational values of the school can be found in their innovative, caring approach and strong ethical values in academics, athletics, and community service. The school is located in Morgantown, WV–ranked the #1 Small City in America by and among the Best Sports Cities by Sporting News. The 1,892-acre campus is located near the cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Washington D.C and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for of its beautiful and historic arboretum. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, WVU currently ranks #187 National Universities and #99 Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report. West Virginia University matriculates about 22,350 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 19:1, and 38.1% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

West Virginia University’s Master of Science in Sport Coaching (M.S.) is delivered exclusively online, and admission preference is given to individuals with sport-related prior education and/or experiences. A highly-regarded program that will help you gain the skills needed to work with young athletes, the M.S. focuses on the development of young athletes as a whole and includes promoting athletic abilities, character development, and life skills. The program has an approximate completion time of 2 years and will prepare you for the coaching profession in schools, community, or private clubs. Some examples of career paths the degree prepares you for include: Sports Coach, Umpire, Referee, and other Sports Official; Secondary School Teacher; Education Administrator/Director, etc. The 31-credit-hour program includes coursework like Strength and Conditioning Methods for Coaches, Coaching Techniques,Training Theories for Coaches, Positive Youth Development, Create Healthy Competitive Environments, Psychology of Coaching, and many opportunities for coaching internships. The program guarantees affordability because of a $546 credit-hour cost.

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  • Affordability: $546 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

5. Georgia Southern University

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Georgia Southern University (GSU), founded in 1906, is a public, doctoral and research institution that is part of the University System of Georgia. The school sits on a rural 900-acre and its primary campus is located in the town of Statesboro, GA–roughly 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, GA and 170 miles north of Jacksonville, FL–with additional campuses in Savannah and Hinesville, GA. Georgia Southern University ranked between #231-#300 in National Universities, #177 for High School Counselor Rankings and #118 for Best Engeneering Programs by U.S. News & World Report. GSU recently made theU.S. News & World Report Top 20 Most Popular Universities list. The university enrolls approximately 18,000 students. Georgia Southern offers a student-faculty ratio of 22-to-1 student-faculty ratio where 25.4% of classes cater to less than 20 students.

Georgia Southern University’s Master of Science with a Kinesiology & Coaching Education Emphasis is offered entirely online for both experienced coaches seeking to enhance their understanding/skills and aspiring coaches alike. Courses cover performance enhancement, athletic training, coaching administration, and coaching effectiveness. The 36-credit-hour program has an approximate completion time of 4 semesters, and the curriculum is in accordance with National Coaching Standards for the Level 5 Coaching Status. Specific coursework examples include: Teaching Analysis, Psychology Of Peak Performance,Team Dynamics, Injury Prevention, Research Methods for Coaches, Sports Biomechanics, Sports Administration Issues In Coaching, Sport Coaching, Sports Physiology, and a Coaching Practicum. The program provides affordability thanks to a $410 credit-hour cost.

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  • Affordability: $410 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

6. Greenville College

Greenville College

Greenville College (now Greenville University), established in 1892, is a Christ-centered liberal arts university that offers a community-oriented campus where the spiritual dimension is woven into academic life. The school occupies a 50-acre campus in Greenville, Illinois and is currently ranked #99 Regional Universities Midwest by U.S. News & World Report. Greenville College matriculates approximately 994 undergraduate students, guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 14:1, and 57.4% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

Greenville College’s Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Coaching (MAE) is online, specifically targeting busy adults with a very flexible scheduling. Emphasis is on mentorship, such as character development, while integrating faith. The program will cover specific strategies on how to motivate and boost performance, sport skills analysis, and priorities that coaches need for longterm building of athletes. This includes how athletes prepare, nutrition, evaluation of current training practices, administrative planning & implementation, leadership in coaching, communication with staff & parents, and development of effective scouting procedures. The 33-credit-hour curriculum has an estimated completion time of 2 years and begins with foundations courses in Education. Students then gain insight into the principles of management; integrating the Christian faith into coaching; game management strategies; skills analysis; coaching evaluation; and Issues about gender, ethnicity, & cross cultural differences from an educational perspective. Finally, a Capstone Research Project provides a reflective study with a focus that prepares teachersto serve in a culturally diverse world. The program guarantees affordability thanks to a $418 credit-hour cost.

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  • Affordability: $418 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

7. Southwest Minnesota State University

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Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU), established in 1963, is a public, coed, liberal arts institution and a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Core values include: academic excellence focus, civic & community commitment, global approach, diversity & inclusion, and environmental & sustainability principles. The program offers rigorous academics and continual professional development with a strong regional impact and global perspective. The school sits on a rural 216-acre campus in Marshall, Minnesota–named one of America’s Best Small Cities and a pleasant drive from the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Sioux Falls, SD and Fargo, ND. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)–the North Central Association of Colleges and School’s (NCACS) higher education accreditation authority–SMSU is currently ranked #Tier 2 (#126-#165) Regional Universities Midwest by U.S.News & World Report. Southwest Minnesota State University matriculates about 6,810 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 17:1, and 43.2% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

Southwest Minnesota State University’s Master of Science in Physical Education: Coaching of Sport is delivered online and follows the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NAPSE) coaching guidelines. The program promotes project-based learning, and students demonstrate knowledge and skills mastered through two practicum experiences in a hands-on environment. Particular emphasis is placed on the study of methods of implementing educational principles, methods of teaching, and motivation to enhance sport performance and anything pertaining to the athlete’s overall experience. The 34-credit-hour program curriculum focuses on practice planning; game preparation and evaluation; communication; psychology; ethical conduct; instructional strategies; and legal aspects of sports. Sample courses include: Philosophy & Ethics in Coaching; Research Foundation in Sport; Sports Skills, Tactics, and Evaluation in Coaching; Physical Preparation and Conditioning; and more. The program provides affordability due to a $436 credit-hour cost and because SMSU ranked 6th out of 22 in the state of Minnesota for lifetime return on investment ( SMSU also boasts a 99% placement rate for graduates.

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  • Affordability: $436 credit-hour cost, SMSU ranked sixth out of 22 in the state of Minnesota for lifetime return on investment (, boasts a 99% placement rate shortly after graduation
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

8. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University, founded in 1949, is a premier for-profit university with a christian worldview. The school can be found on a 100-acre campus in Phoenix, the state capital of Arizona, and offers values-based traditional, online and evening education. Notably, Phoenix was just named America’s best pizza city by Travel + Leisure, and is also known for having some of the best Southwestern and Mexican food around. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission–which is recognized by the Council For Higher Education Accreditation–Grand Canyon ranks #Tier 2 National Universities and #281 High School Counselor Rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

Grand Canyon University’s Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology with an Emphasis in Life Coaching offers the flexibility of an online delivery, but the M.S. targets career-oriented professionals looking to balance life and work. Rooted in psychology, sociology and counseling, the program develops invaluable professional mentors by enhancing your leadership, cognition, and motivation skills. Through specific strategies and skills, participants will deepen their ability to train, mentor,and coach. The program prepares students to work with clients to help them define and meet their wellness goals while helping them identify their strengths and weaknesses. The 36-credit-hour program has an average completion time of 20 months and requires 10 core courses. The curriculum emphasizes the framework, exercises, motivation, and accountability needed to help future clients change and improve their professional and personal lives. Coursework will touch on motivation, leadership, psychology, sociology, communication, and data analysis. A capstone project with an emphasis in life coaching concludes the program. The program guarantees affordability because of a $500 credit-hour cost and up to 12 credit-hours (1/3 of the program requirements) can be transferred.

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  • Affordability: $500 credit-hour cost, Up to 12 credits (or 1/3 of the program)
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

9. Concordia University–Irvine

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Concordia University–Irvine (CU-I), is a private, Christ-centered institution that was founded in 1972. The school’s mission is rooted in the following seven educational principles: Systematic Inquiry, Clear Communication, Health & Well-Being, Sociocultural Responsiveness, Aesthetic Responsiveness, Christian Literacy & Life, and Servant Leadership. The establishment sits on a suburban 70-acre campus in Irvine, California. Concordia–Irvine currently ranks #41 Regional Universities West and #36 Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report. Concordia University–Irvine registers about 2,000 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 18:1, and 53% of classes cater to less than than 20 students.

Concordia University–Irvine’s Master’s in Coaching and Athletics Administration (MCAA) is designed for the working professional. The online MCAA will strengthen your teaching, coaching, leadership, and athletic administrative skills while also helping you grow professionally and improve your coaching abilities, ethical leadership, and character development in a faith-based environment. With this nationally-acclaimed MCAA, you will also gain access to a national professional network and work in varied environments spanning from junior high athletics to division 1 teams. The customizable curriculum requires 5 core courses and 4 elective courses, all taught by experienced instructor-practitioners. The program is very flexible, so you can earn either a Master of Science or Master of Arts degree in Coaching and Athletics Administration and choose an online or blended format. Core courses include: Principles of Coaching and Leadership; Ethics And Sport; Legal Aspect of Sport; Research Methods and Analysis; and a capstone, which is a professional portfolio on the chosen specific area of coaching. Electives differ for the MA and the MS and include: Sport Medicine & Performance, Biomechanics, Nutrition for Sport, Athletic Finance, Advanced Theories, and Strategies for Coaching. The program promises prestige thanks to being named one of the “fastest growing private nonprofit master’s institutions” by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Finally, the program provides affordability with a $525 credit-hour cost.

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  • Affordability: $525 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A

10. Bellevue University

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Established in 1966, Bellevue University has been a leader in adult education since its beginnings. Located in Bellevue, Nebraska, Bellevue is a private, non-profit, regionally accredited institution serving over 13,000 students. Bellevue University has been offering online degree programs since 1996, and is known to equip students with career-relevant knowledge and skills. Bellevue is one of the most affordable online options today and is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission through the U.S. Department of Education. The university offers over 80 degrees and has set the standards of excellence in a variety of categories relating to performance and results. For instance, the school was named among the most innovative universities and ranked #1 for “Most Generous Credit Transfer Policy” by Online Course Report in 2017. Finally,, it was ranked in the top 25 for “Best Affordable Online Masters in Computer Science” from

Bellevue University’s Master of Science in Leadership and Coaching Degree (MLC) is an online Master’s degree in Leadership and Executive Coaching where you will master and apply the knowledge and skills necessary to improve your leadership influence in any organization. This program will sharpen your strategic leadership and conceptual skills, prepare you to face organizational challenges, and be purpose-driven and competitive in the global marketplace. At the end of the program, you will understand how effective leadership influences performance. The 36-credit-hour curriculum covers theories of Organizational behavior, Team dynamics, Strategic leadership, and more. Additionally, students who complete the program successfully will earn a Certificate of Completion in Executive Coaching. Notably, the program also offers 3 internship tracks: executive coaching performance, executive coaching skill, and executive coaching competency. The program provides affordability thanks to a $565 credit-hour cost.

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  • Affordability: $565 credit-hour cost
  • Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A