Coaching is a profession that has a wide range of applications in life. Most coaching master’s programs focus on sports, athletics, and fitness coaching. However, there are several other variations of the discipline, including life coaching, health and wellness coaching, and educational coaching.
Here are some of the best master’s in coaching programs from top institutions, along with additional info on job prospects, salaries, and pros and cons of signing up for a graduate coaching program.
Best Programs and Universities for your Master’s in Coaching
Best On-Campus Graduate Degrees in Coaching
Michigan State University, College of Education
MS in Athletic Training
Acceptance rate: 76%
Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, was founded in 1855 as a public land-grant university and served as a model for similar universities across the country. The university is well-known for its prestigious research laboratories, and it currently has an acceptance rate of 76%.
Its Department of Kinesiology offers a two-year program that is experiential and research-oriented, with a focus on hands-on patient care in sports medicine. The program’s evidence-based training prepares students to work in secondary schools, universities, and colleges, as well as sports medicine clinics and other industrial setups. There is a specific cost for athletic training, of around $1,000, and eligible students can apply for scholarships.
University of Arkansas
M.At. in Athletic Training (ATTRMA)
Acceptance rate: 78%
The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas was founded in 1871 and is one of the top research universities in the country. It has ten schools and colleges catering to students from 50 states and 120 countries and has an acceptance rate of 78%.
The school’s Master’s in Athletic Training takes around two and a half years to complete. It prepares students for jobs in schools, sports organizations, the military, clinics, and various commercial organizations. The program curriculum involves hands-on experience, research, and clinical rotations, giving students a practical understanding of the discipline. Base tuition is $437.54 and $1,190.02 for non-residents, with a range of funding and scholarship options available.
Best Online Master’s in Coaching Programs
Master’s in Coaching Education
Acceptance rate: 87%
Ohio University was established in 1787 as the first university to be chartered in Ohio. Located in Athens, Ohio, it is the oldest university in the state and the tenth oldest in the country. The university is known as Ohio’s best online college and has an acceptance rate of 87%.
The school’s Master’s in Coaching Education curriculum is built around national coaching standards and equips students with the necessary skills to succeed as sports coaches. The program consists of 36 credit hours and can be completed in as little as one year, with flexible options allowing students to extend this timeline if needed. The tuition is $505 per credit hour, and teaching assistantships and scholarships are available for eligible students.
West Virginia University, College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
Master of Science in Sport Coaching
Acceptance rate: 84%
West Virginia University is a public research university with multiple campuses, with its main campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. Established in 1867, it offers an extensive range of programs, including 220 graduate programs and has an acceptance rate of 84%.
You can complete a master’s degree in coaching online with West Virginia University’s Master of Science in Sport Coaching program. Designed for professionals already working in the coaching field, it equips coaches to design, implement, manage, and lead sports programs and help athletes to improve their performance. The tuition per credit hour is $324, and financial aid is available for students.
The University of Missouri, College of Education and Human Development
Master of Education in Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology (With Emphasis in Positive Coaching and Athletic Leadership)
Acceptance rate: 82%
The University of Missouri, founded in 1839, is a public land-grant university located in Columbia, Missouri. With students from 50 states and more than 100 countries, the university offers over 300 degrees in various disciplines and has an acceptance rate of 82%.
With a focus on positive coaching and athletic leadership, this Master’s in Coaching online degree involves 30 credit hours. It offers a blend of educational and athletic knowledge based on a scientific foundation that aims to equip students to become competent coaches that help athletes to be successful. The program typically runs for two and a half years and costs around $14,595. Different types of financial aid and scholarships are available for eligible students.
What Jobs Can You Do with a Coaching Master’s Degree?
You can use a master’s in coaching in a range of different fields and roles, from teaching in schools, universities, and other educational institutions to working in a clinical setting with a focus on sports medicine. Here are some of the most common jobs a coaching graduate can pursue, with the annual median salary for each.
Athletic Director ($61,934)
An athletic director may work in a school, educational institution, or another kind of organization. They generally manage budgets and coordinate athletic activities.
Physical Education Teacher ($46,643)
A physical education teacher can be employed in institutions from a kindergarten to college level to oversee physical activities and sports education.
Fitness Instructor ($45,000)
A fitness instructor helps individuals achieve their fitness goals by providing fitness training and guidance.
Athletic Coach ($44,273)
An athletic coach usually finds employment in schools, colleges, or universities and is responsible for providing training and leadership to athletes.
Sports Instructor ($39,408)
Sports instructors instruct people in sports and fitness activities. They may work for profit or non-profit organizations or be self-employed.
Besides the above roles, a master’s degree in coaching can open up opportunities to work as a sports psychologist, organizational coach, sports administrator, and gym manager.
Admission Requirements For a Master’s in Coaching Degree Program?
A bachelor’s degree is the main prerequisite you’ll need to apply for graduate coaching programs. For most programs, you don’t need an undergraduate degree in the same discipline. Some universities look for professional experience, especially online programs.
Other typical requirements for master’s in coaching programs are:
Some universities will also ask you to attend an interview, which can be a major decisive factor for the success of your application.
Pros and Cons of Master’s Coaching Degree
There are many benefits of pursuing a master’s degree in coaching. However, as with just about any degree, it also has its downsides.
Advantages of a Coaching Master’s
Positive Vibes: As most coaching positions involve training students in schools, colleges, or universities, you get to be around young and energetic people of youth. You’ll enjoy positive vibes and enjoy an active job instead of being stuck inside an office.
Range of Online Programs: There are plenty of online options to pursue a Master’s in Coaching. This makes it easy to study while continuing in your current job and meeting your family responsibilities.
Rewarding Work: As a coach, you’ll have a direct impact on the performance of students and athletes. This makes this work very fulfilling and rewarding.
Drawbacks of Studying a Master’s in Coaching
Pressure to Deliver Results: Coaches can be under high amounts of pressure to deliver wins, trophies, and other specific results.
Additional Certification: A master’s degree alone may not make you eligible for your dream role – some organizations will also demand specific licenses or certifications.
Low Pay: Though coaching offers alternative rewards, average salaries are not as high as in many other career paths, such as finance.
Alternatives to a Master’s in Coaching
Though many coaching master’s programs focus on sports and fitness, coaching itself is a vast field that encompasses several disciplines. Coaching has applications in the fields of education, health and wellness, as well as business. If you are interested in these areas of coaching, you can pursue one of the many specialized undergraduate and graduate courses in such disciplines.
For example, a Master’s in Education with a special focus on instructional coaching can allow you to pursue a career guiding educators and curriculum designers. Similarly, you could become a life coach with an MBA and assist professionals to develop their abilities and skills to meet their career goals.
Coaching Degree FAQs
What Kind of Degree is Best for Coaching?
If you’re looking to get into sports or athletic coaching, a Master’s in Coaching or Master of Science in Sport Coaching is the best option. Alternatively, if you want to pursue coaching in other disciplines, you should take on a graduate degree in a related area such as business or education.
Do You Need a Master’s Degree to be a Head Coach?
An MA in coaching is not mandatory to become a head coach. However, it can be very helpful if you want to secure this kind of position. With a master’s in coaching, you’ll be more likely to stand out as a candidate.
How Much Do Coaches Get Paid?
The average salary for most coaches ranges from $25,000 to $55,000 per year. However, certain positions can attract a much higher salary, though these usually require more experience or additional qualifications.
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Coaching?
With a master’s degree in coaching on your CV, you’ll be able to work in a variety of fields. You may work as a physical education teacher or the head coach for a sports team. You can also pursue a career in life or wellness coaching. There are also job opportunities for coaching graduates in fields like sports medicine and nutrition.
If you love to help others to improve their lives and don’t want to be stuck behind a desk, coaching could be a great career path for you. The best master’s degrees in coaching programs use a range of advanced methods, concepts, and theories to equip you with high-level skills and knowledge.
You’ll also be able to choose between a range of focus areas, such as sports psychology, athletics, organizational leadership, nutrition, and exercise science. Therefore, it’s important to keep your preferred specialization in mind when you choose a master’s degree in coaching. Strong programs also have an internship option to put what you learn into practice.
Ready to pursue your dream career in coaching with a master’s in coaching? We’re here to help you to put together the strongest application possible with our handy posts and guides.
Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.