Online Master’s Programs in Coaching

If you wish to advance in your coaching career and gain a deeper knowledge of practices and theories within the field, consider pursuing an online master's in coaching. A master's in coaching online equips learners with the tools they need to succeed in their careers without quitting their current jobs or sacrificing personal responsibilities.

Read on to learn more about what to look for in a program and how this degree can contribute to a satisfying, lucrative coaching career.

Overview of an Online Master's Program in Coaching

An online master's in coaching prepares graduates for careers in coaching at the grade school, collegiate, or professional level. Specifics vary by program, but most students take courses involving coaching pedagogy and leadership techniques. The following list contains common courses for master's in coaching programs.

Common Classes and Coursework


Principles of Coaching and Leadership

It's important to understand your profession's core foundation. This course generally occurs in the first semester and lays out the groundwork for future courses. In class, learners study general principles and philosophies about coaching and how to apply them in their daily work.

Analysis of Research in Physical Education

By studying scholarly research and findings, learners determine the best methods for instructing their students or players. Similar courses may examine pedagogical research or studies in physical fitness. Students also learn to critically analyze data to make judgments, a useful skill in all post-graduate courses.

Instructional Design and Content

This course equips students with the tools to create and implement effective instructional plans. No matter the level, this course provides methods for organizing practice plans and leaving a positive impact on your team's success. Topics often include time management, philosophies on coaching, and curriculum ideas specific to different content areas.

Coaching Practicum

Gaining on-the-job experience with a veteran coach serves as the ideal way to learn, so many physical education master's programs require field experience. For some students, this may take a semester, whereas others might complete multiple practicums. During this time, students work alongside experienced coaches, gaining practical coaching skills. Milestones include faculty observations and reflection essays.

Contemporary Issues in Sports

Understanding your field's current culture allows for improved practice plans and player interactions. In this course, students learn about modern issues facing the sports world, including race, gender, physical disabilities, and coaching ethics. Learners review case studies pertaining to these issues to gain a better understanding of what best serves their teams.

Skills You Will Gain

Online coaching master's degree programs prepare graduates for successful careers in their field. The skills you developed while learning from knowledgeable instructors and participating in meaningful assignments stay relevant at any coaching level. Leadership skills serve as a major focal point in many courses, as coaches must lead their teams to success and establish a strong team atmosphere. By studying philosophies and case studies focused on prominent coaches and figures, learners soon develop their own ideas on the subject.

Online master's degrees in coaching allow graduates to reach their full potential

Organizational and planning skills also play a major role in this degree. Coaches must develop effective training plans and strategies for successful games or competitions. Learning to create and implement these plans makes room for team success, making this an important skill to study.

Students also receive opportunities for hands-on experience. This helps learners develop their skills and teaches them how to form positive relationships with their colleagues and team members. Strong interpersonal skills allow coaches to excel in their fields and produce teams that consistently grow.

Online master's degrees in coaching allow graduates to reach their full potential. Finding the right program helps you work toward your dream job and equips you with the skills to produce impressive, consistent results.

Average Degree Length

Obtaining an online degree provides an accessible path for coaching professionals to advance their careers. Online classes allow for flexibility in completing course requirements, which proves beneficial for students with additional responsibilities. Requirements vary by program, so prospective students should conduct thorough research to find the best program for them.

Most programs require 30-36 credits and a two-year completion time. Many schools allow students to complete these requirements at their own pace. Accelerated online master's in coaching degree programs let students increase their course loads or complete shorter, more frequent terms, allowing them to graduate more quickly. Students may also choose to extend their time at school and take fewer credits each semester, allowing them to more easily balance their school and personal life.

How to Find a Top Program

With so many options, finding the right program often feels time-consuming and overwhelming. Prospective students can seek out specific indicators for quality schools online. Knowing what to look for in a top program saves prospective students time in their school search.

  • Accreditation

    Accrediting bodies examine schools and verify their education's quality. Some schools receive national accreditation, but regional accreditation demonstrates higher education quality and allows students to transfer credits to other institutions more easily.

  • Diversity

    Students learn better when studying alongside people with diverse views and backgrounds. Most online programs include virtual collaboration and discussion with other classmates, meaning more diversity allows these activities to go deeper.

  • Test Scores

    Test score data demonstrates student success in a program. If enrolled students regularly perform well on standardized tests, this usually indicates quality teaching in the classroom.

  • Instructor Credentials

    Many colleges provide details about their faculty members' recognitions and publications on their websites. Finding a program with teachers who hold high regard in their respective fields indicates potential for higher quality education.

  • Student Resources

    Learning resources make a difference in students' overall education experience. Schools that provide access to scholarly publications and professional organizations benefit students' ability to grow to their full potential.

Coaching Careers After Earning Your Master's

An online master's degree in coaching opens up several rewarding career paths. Some graduates pursue high-level positions at the public school or collegiate level, or they might take a different route by teaching college courses or pursuing administrative careers. Other graduates move on to coach professional or semi-professional teams. Wherever you end up, this degree prepares you for a successful, enjoyable professional life. Explore career choices in the table below for more details on options for graduates.

Keep in mind that even more options exist for graduates, and additional certifications and licensures open up doors to additional jobs.

Athletic Director (Public School)

These professionals work for school districts by overseeing all athletic activities, ensuring teachers and players meet specific standards. Though not required, teaching experience generally lends itself well to this career.

Average Annual Salary: $60,018

Athletic Director (College/University)

Similar to the public school athletic director, this detail-oriented position maintains the athletic departments at colleges and universities. These professionals often oversee the budget, staff, and requirements for accreditation.

Average Annual Salary: $76,404

Professional Athletic Coach

Responsibility, pay, and job availability vary significantly depending on the coaching level. At all levels, coaches plan and implement practice strategies and help lead their team to improve. Important abilities include leadership and interpersonal skills.

Average Annual Salary: $45,298

Agents and Managers for Artists, Athletes, Entertainers, and Other Public Figures

Sports agents help promising athletes advance in their careers by seeking out beneficial opportunities. They also ensure their clients receive fair treatment from their employers.

Average Annual Salary: $94,750

Dietitians and Nutritionists

An education master's program in coaching includes information that overlaps with the knowledge necessary for a nutritionist, someone who helps others maintain healthy eating habits. With a 15% career growth rate, this makes an ideal career path for graduates.

Average Annual Salary: $60,370

Source: BLS

Additional Certifications for Coaching

Acquiring additional certification represents an excellent way to learn about a specialized subject that interests you. It also impresses employers and could set you apart from other job candidates. The following list contains some certification and licensure that might interest a coaching professional, but it only represents a small sample. Some online master's in coaching programs even provide graduates with specialized certification.

Personal Fitness Trainer Certification

If you think working one-on-one with clients to help them achieve fitness goals sounds rewarding, consider pursuing certification as a personal trainer. Many certification programs, including online programs, provide learners with the tools they need to succeed. This certification typically concludes with a comprehensive exam.

Amateur Sports Coaching License

To coach sports at the amateur level, coaches must receive additional licensure. These certifications differ by sport and typically feature multiple options, depending on your desired coaching level. Courses typically include training on the general rules and regulations teams must follow, depending on ranking.

Sports Management

If managing and investing in sports teams interests you, a certification in sports management provides the necessary skills. Combining business and sports, students learn to make wise financial decisions while overseeing a team, including marketing and program development. This certification provides opportunities for professionals who want to operate behind the scenes, rather than as coaches.

Professional Organizations and Resources for Coaching Students

No matter where you stand in your career, the resources available in your field should help to promote your professional growth. The list below contains several helpful organizations and resources that benefit students and professionals alike.

  • American Council on Exercise For those wishing to acquire additional certification or further their education, the American Council on Exercise provides several options. If you hope to work as a personal or group trainer, browse this source for great options.
  • Athletic.net Community Forum Joining coaches representing diverse levels and concentrations, Athletic.net's community forum allows professionals to connect and ask questions about anything pertaining to the field.
  • National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics With nearly 16,000 members, this organization unites collegiate athletic directors and provides useful information and an annual conference for networking. Early-career members also enjoy access to the mentoring institute, which pairs them with experienced professionals to guide them through their beginning steps.
  • National Federation of State High School Associations This organization unites high school extracurricular sponsors, from coaches to music directors. In addition to advocacy and helpful information for its members, the National Federation of State High School Associations hosts several events and conferences each year.
  • National High School Athletic Coaches Association Promoting leadership in the high school coaching field, this organization advocates for professionals and seeks to help coaches build positive relationships with their students. With an annual conference gathering professionals from across the U.S., members may connect with other coaches to learn about current in the industry.
  • National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association hosts several helpful professional development opportunities. High school athletic directors may work toward their certification program, providing them with stronger credentials to impress employers. The organization also offers leadership training and continuing education opportunities.
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association Job Board Designed for strength and fitness coaches looking for new positions, this job board posts information on careers across the globe. If fitness coaching interests you, this job board simplifies the career-finding process.
  • North American Society for Sports Management If you end up in the sports management field, this organization serves many purposes. Members enjoy access to informative journals and admission discounts on their annual conference. The organization also provides research and continued education grants to selected applicants.
  • Positive Coach Association The Positive Coach Association commits itself to inspire healthy relationships between coaches and students through positive reinforcement and leadership. Their website features resources for professionals and students, including workshops and online classes.
  • WeCoach Sponsored by the Alliance of Women Coaches, WeCoach provides female athletic coaches with knowledgeable mentors as they navigate their careers. The organization seeks to empower female professionals and help them reach their full potential.
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