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There is no denying that sports coaches are among the most influential professionals in the field of athletics.  They are also in high demand in other industries like:

  • fitness
  • wellness
  • education
  • healthcare

Master’s degrees in coaching education provide students with the education and experience required to effectively design and manage health and wellness programs in a variety of settings.  We’ve looked at online graduate education programs in coaching from across the country and compiled a list of the most affordable degrees available. For a look at the highest quality coaching graduate 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. Examples of job options with positive growth potential include:

  • Sports Coach or Scout
  • Athletic Trainer
  • Umpire, Referee, and Other Sports Official
  • Fitness Trainer and Aerobics Instructor

Other occupations with a bright outlook include Education Administrator/Director and Life Coach. Some master’s in coaching programs offer a life coaching specialty because more and more organizations are now soliciting the growing field of coaching to:

  • enhance overall performance
  • increase employee retention and satisfaction
  • general life improvement

In the ever-growing industry of sports, it has become increasingly important to stand out from the competition.  One way to get ahead is by earning advanced qualifications based on national standards. While not all coaching degrees online 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 master’s degree 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 sports environment. Course content emphasis is on designing and managing fitness programs for:

  • individuals
  • groups
  • 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
  • biomechanics
  • nutritional practices
  • testing and evaluation
  • 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
  • allied health industries

1. American Public University – Charles Town, West Virginia

american public universityOnline Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $6,660/year

American Public University, established in 1991, is a private, proprietary, online-only university.  They emphasize providing higher education to public service communities such as the members of the military and public safety professionals. Although APU does not offer physical classrooms, the establishment has corporate and academic offices in Charles Town, WV. APU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission–among the 6 regional accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.  American Public University matriculates 38,969 undergraduate students and guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 22:1.

American Public University’s Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences is entirely online.  The program is tailor-made 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 the quality of health and sports performance. You will learn to assist clients to meet their 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. Students will:

  • develop critical thinking skills
  • apply qualitative and quantitative research to the Sports and Health Industries
  • focus on the latest advances in human bioenergetics, nutrition, movement, and learning

Students can customize their studies by choosing from four different concentration areas including:

  • General
  • Exercise Science and Human Performance
  • Health & Wellness Management
  • Exercise and Chronic Disease

Core course offerings include:

  • Sport Psychology
  • Nutrition for Sports Performance
  • Advanced Exercise and Sport Physiology

The General concentration allows you to design your focused area of study.  Students who choose the Exercise Science and Human Performance concentration learn the concepts and applications needed to appraise and enhance athletic performance.  Health and Wellness concentration students learn to effectively design and manage wellness programs for the workplace, both for individual clients and corporate settings.

2. University of Missouri – Columbia, Missouri

university of missouri e1480788796734Master of Education in Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology with an Emphasis on Positive Coaching and Athletic Leadership


Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $10,447/year in-state and $28,605/year out-of-state

The University of Missouri (MU or Mizzou), started in 1839.  It 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 Columbus, 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. The University Of Missouri enrolls around 23,696 undergraduate students and offers a student-faculty ratio of 18:1.  Just under 40% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

University of Missouri’s coaching education program is offered through the Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology.  The program is delivered 100% online. This Master of Education program is designed for professionals who want to further their career as:

  • athletic coaches
  • sports coordinators
  • academic advisers

The program emphasizes positive coaching.  Students gain the skills and strategies necessary for:

  • instruction
  • teaching
  • counseling
  • leading

Most full-time students can complete their degree in just one year.  The 30-credit-hour program requires 9 core credit hours offered in 16-week courses and 18 credit hours of elective courses. Students learn to emphasize 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
  • Applied Positive Coaching

Electives courses include:

  • Administration of Athletics Programs
  • Athlete Training & Conditioning
  • Health Behaviors: Drug & Sexuality Education
  • Ethical and Legal Aspects of Athletics
  • Gender and Multicultural Issues in Sports

Online master’s in coaching students complete a capstone on Positive Leadership in Sport (3 credit hours).

3. Carson-Newman University – Jefferson City, Tennessee

Carson NewmanUniversitylogo 232 e1527706832964Master of Education Curriculum and Instruction: Coaching Emphasis


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $9,207/year

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 the nation’s top institution for community service can receive. Founded in 1851, the 120-acre campus is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, just a 30-minute 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. Carson-Newman enrolls roughly about 1,700 undergraduate students and offers a student-faculty ratio of 14:1.  Almost 60% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

Carson-Newman’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree with an emphasis on Coaching is offered in a 100% online format.  This coaching masters degree online is designed for students who want to gain athletic coaching knowledge.  Emphasis is placed on a formal education that meets the standards set by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE).

The 36-credit-hour program requires nine core courses and three electives. 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

Graduates are prepared for roles in:

  • teaching leadership
  • classroom management
  • athletic coaching

Students can complete their degree in just five semesters.

4. West Virginia University – Morgantown, West Virginia

westvirginiaUniversity e1521138989640Online Master’s in Sport Coaching 


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $10,602/year

West Virginia University (WVU) was founded in 1867.  WVU is 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.  Nineteen of them have been named Carnegie Foundation Professors of the Year. The foundational values of the school can be found in its innovative, caring approach and strong ethical values in:

  • academics
  • athletics
  • community service

The 1,892-acre campus is located near the cities of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Washington D.C.  WVU is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its beautiful and historic arboretum. West Virginia University matriculates about 19,600 undergraduate students and offers a student-faculty ratio of 18:1.  Just under 40% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

West Virginia University’s online master’s in coaching is delivered in an asynchronous format.  Admission preference is given to individuals with sport-related prior education and/or experiences. The athletic coaching education program focuses on the development of young athletes as a whole and includes promoting:

  • athletic abilities
  • character development
  • life skills

The 31-credit-hour master’s in coaching 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

Students can gain professional experience by completing a coaching internship.

Students can complete their masters degree in coaching in just two years.   Graduates are prepared for coaching positions in:

  • schools
  • community
  • private clubs

5. Georgia Southern University – Statesboro, Georgia

georgia southern e1497910758428Online Master’s in Kinesiology with a concentration in Coaching Education


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $4,986/year in-state and $19,890/year out-of-state

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.  GSU has additional campuses in Savannah and Hinesville, GA.  The university enrolls approximately 27,000 students. Georgia Southern offers a student-faculty ratio of 22-to-1 student-faculty ratio where about 25% of classes cater to less than 20 students.

Georgia Southern University’s online master’s in coaching education is a cohort-centered program.  New students are admitted to a cohort during the summer session.  The program is one of only three programs nationally accredited by the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education.  The curriculum follows the National Standards Sport Coaches for high school, college, and elite-level coaching.  Courses cover areas like:

  • performance enhancement
  • athletic training
  • coaching administration
  • coaching effectiveness

Specific course examples include:

  • Psychology Of Peak Performance
  • Sports Biomechanics
  • Sports Administration
  • Issues In Coaching
  • Sport Coaching

6. Greenville University – Greenville, Illinois

greenville university online e1681411844354

Master’s in Education: Coaching Concentration


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,784/year

Greenville University 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.  Greenville College matriculates approximately 890 undergraduate students and guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 11:1.  Almost 60% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.

Greenville’s masters in coaching online meets the needs of busy adults who need a program with a flexible schedule.  The curriculum is grounded in Christian values, focusing on areas like character development and leadership.  Students will learn strategies they can use to help motivate athletes and boost performance. Courses cover areas like:

  • advanced sport coaching methodology
  • leadership in coaching
  • sport skill analysis
  • coaching evaluation

The 33-credit-hour curriculum takes most students two years to complete. All students complete a capstone research project that provides a reflective study that prepares teachers to serve in a culturally diverse world.

7. Southwest Minnesota State University – Marshall, Minnesota

southwest minn e1527707019479Master’s in Physical Education Coaching of Sport Online


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,748/year

Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) 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
  • 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.  SMSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)–the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS) higher education accreditation authority. Southwest Minnesota State University matriculates about 6,550 undergraduate students with a student-faculty ratio of 16:1.

Southwest Minnesota State University’s athletic coaching education program is delivered online and follows the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NAPSE) coaching guidelines. This master’s in coaching promotes project-based learning.  Students demonstrate knowledge and skills mastered through two practicum experiences in a hands-on environment.

The 34-credit-hour program curriculum focuses on areas like:

  • practice planning
  • game preparation and evaluation
  • psychology
  • ethical conduct
  • instructional strategies

Sample courses include:

  • Philosophy & Ethics in Coaching
  • Research Foundation in Sport
  • Sports Skills, Tactics, and Evaluation in Coaching
  • Physical Preparation and Conditioning

SMSU also boasts a 99% job placement rate for graduates.

8. Grand Canyon University – Phoenix, Arizona

Grand Canyon UniversityMaster of Science in Psychology: Life Coaching Degree


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $10,655/year

Grand Canyon University, founded in 1949, is a premier for-profit university teaching from a Christian worldview. The school can be found on a 100-acre campus in Phoenix, the state capital of Arizona.  GCU offers values-based traditional, online, and evening education. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission–which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Grand Canyon University’s masters degree in life coaching online is a flexible program designed for adult learners.  The program is rooted in psychology, sociology, and counseling.  Through specific strategies and skills, participants will deepen their ability to:

  • train
  • mentor
  • coach

The program prepares students to help their clients define and meet wellness goals while identifying their strengths and weaknesses. The 36-credit-hour program has an average completion time of 20 months.  Students must complete 10 core courses including:

  • Introduction to Coaching
  • Individual Coaching
  • Business and Organization Coaching
  • Assessment/Facilitation

All students complete a capstone project with an emphasis on life coaching.  Graduates with a life coaching degree are prepared for a variety of entrepreneurial and organizational careers.

9. Concordia University- Irvine, California

concordia irvine e1490741560619Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration Online


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $8,528/year

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
  • Servant Leadership

The establishment sits on a suburban 70-acre campus in Irvine, California. Irvine registers about 1,600 undergraduate students and offers a student-faculty ratio of 15:1.  Just over 50% of classes cater to less than 20 students.

Concordia University-Irvine’s Master’s in Coaching and Athletics Administration (MCAA) is designed for the working professional. The online coaching degree will strengthen your skills in areas like:

  • teaching
  • coaching
  • leadership
  • athletic administration

Students will grow professionally and improve their coaching abilities in a faith-based environment.

With this nationally acclaimed MCAA, students 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 both core courses and electives, all taught by experienced instructor practitioners. Core courses include:

  • Principles of Coaching and Leadership
  • Ethics And Sport
  • Legal Aspect of Sport
  • Research Methods and Analysis

All students complete a capstone, which is a professional portfolio on the chosen specific area of coaching.  Most students can complete their degree in just 15 months.

10. Bellevue University – Bellevue, Nebraska

bellevue e1488488688946Online Master’s in Management – Executive Coaching


Average Graduate Student Tuition: $11,340/year

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 11,000 students. Bellevue University has been offering some of the most affordable online degree programs since 1996.  Bellevue is known to equip students with career-relevant knowledge and skills. The school is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission through the U.S. Department of Education. The university offers over 80 degrees and has set standards of excellence in a variety of categories relating to performance and results.

Bellevue University’s executive coaching master’s degree program was designed to help students level up their career.  Management major courses include:

  • Management of Metrics and Measurement
  • Management of Resources
  • Management of Organizational Relationships

Once students complete their core management courses, they select courses from their concentration.  Concentration courses include:

  • Ethical and Professional Principles of Executive Coaching
  • Executive Coaching Communication Skills and Assessment
  • The Role and Relationship Dynamics of Executive Coaching

All students complete an internship course to gain professional experience.

The 100% online format is ideal for working professionals.  Students can complete assignments when it is most convenient.  Each student is supported by a Student Coach to help them stay on track.