Online Master of Coaching Education
Master of Coaching Education In Context

A Master of Coaching Education degree can give students an advanced understanding of sports performance, coaching effectiveness, mental techniques, conditioning, and nutrition for future careers in the sports world.

The degree is designed for aspiring and existing coaches at the junior/youth, high school, college, professional, and Olympic levels who are looking to further their knowledge and careers.

Who is the primary audience of the Master of Coaching Education?

There are two categories of students who may be interested in earning a Master of Coaching Education degree:

  1. Coaches who want to progress and develop in their current role.
  2. Lifelong learners and coaches who want to get into coaching or develop their foundational coaching skills.

Both groups will typically have previous coaching experience and should have a true passion for athletics. The Master of Coaching Education is a highly applied degree, so students without existing and demonstrated coaching competencies at the required level may need to take additional coursework if they are accepted into a degree program. [25-33]

What will I learn pursuing a master’s in coaching education degree?

While working toward your coaching education master’s degree, you should learn skills that include advanced coaching, problem-solving, analysis, and critical reflection. You will have the opportunity to learn the technical skills that allow you to assess where performance gaps exist and to create programs that close those gaps and allow your athlete or team to reach its goals. You also may learn about the increasingly professional and commercial world of sports, studying subjects such as sports law and sports marketing, as well as more specialized topics such as injury prevention and ethics and diversity in sport. [25-33]

Courses are designed to teach you the competencies you need to fulfill your role as a coach. You will have the opportunity to enhance your ability to: [6]

  • Identify individual performance needs and then create and implement training programs that deliver against them
  • Build an extensive network of coaching professionals
  • Develop your coaching philosophy and leadership strategies
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and individual athletes
  • Deliver coaching that improves athletes’ physical and mental fitness for performance gains
  • Provide motivation, support, direction, encouragement and drive to make athletes game-ready
  • Make in-game decisions about strategy and player substitutions
  • Instruct athletes on the technical requirements, techniques, rules and sportsmanship standards of the sport
  • Lead with a strong understanding of legal and ethical obligations
Is the Master of Coaching Education right for me?

If you are looking to excel in your field and work as a professional coach, or to coach at higher levels, then this degree could give you the edge you need to reach your goals. With the Master of Coaching Education, you might qualify for prestigious, well-paid roles with college teams, individual professional athletes, professional sports teams, Olympians, and aspiring young talent through specialist sports academies.

Why earn the Master of Coaching Education degree?

Students who pursue their master’s in coaching education do so with a number of motivations. Common reasons include:

  • Better earning potential. The average sports coach earned $31,460 in 2016, but the top 10% of these professionals earn more than $71,940 per year. [3]
  • The chance for career advancement. A master’s degree in coaching education can give you the edge over other coaches in the field with the standard bachelor’s level degree. [4]
  • Certification and recognition in the coaching field.
  • The chance to change careers.
  • Better job security. The master’s in coaching education can strengthen your CV and can help you increase your earning potential.
  • The knowledge to become a better coach. A master’s is an advanced degree that can allow you to further your skills in technical subjects at a detailed level.
  • Personal satisfaction of earning a degree. The Master of Coaching Education offers powerful character-building benefits. As well as learning in-depth sports coaching at the technical level, students will gain a greater appreciation and skill set in vital fields such as communication, organization, administration, and psychology, all essential skills for helping to coach and train excellent athletes.
How do I choose a master’s in coaching education program?

These are some of the things you should consider as you weigh up your choices.


Each institution will offer a slightly different curriculum, so you’ll want to pick one that aligns most closely with your interests and career goals, especially if you hope to gain technical knowledge in a specialist coaching area. For example, if you are interested in coaching contact sports such as football, injury prevention and treatment could be of particular interest as a focus. If you are interested in the business side of sports — perhaps for a sports management career — a curriculum with sports law, sports marketing, and sports management might be a better fit.


Regional accreditation is very important for an educational institution, and you’ll want to look out for other key accreditations too.


Review the faculty to look for experience that aligns with your own interests. The right faculty can really enhance the learning experience and extend your networking opportunities beyond the classroom.

School or program reputation or rankings

Rankings can be useful, but be sure to check the factors against which each program has been ranked, and make sure that the ranking has been produced by an impartial/independent body. Reputation may be more valuable for you in the coaching field than rankings.

Program delivery method

You can choose to undertake your degree full-time, part-time, on campus, online, or some combination. An online program could give you the flexibility that you need to coach and work while studying.


Tuition and fees are a key factor for many students. Remember that your Master of Coaching Education degree is an investment for the future and that financial aid may be available. Return on investment is key: Don’t waste money on a non-accredited, poor-quality course that will not help you achieve your end goals.

Success of previous students

It can be very helpful to know what previous students have gone on to do. Read case studies, press releases, reviews, and testimonials online and in institution literature. If you can, consider attending a student recruitment day if there is one available, where you may be able to meet former students. Find out where professional coaches that you admire studied.

The role in education

Because most professional coaching roles are within academic institutions, such as high schools or universities, one of the requirements of the coach is to ensure that his or her athletes are achieving grade requirements in order to continue with their sport. This involves liaison with teaching staff and tutors. [7]

Who hires coaches?
  • Professional sports teams
  • Provincial state and national amateur sports teams
  • Local amateur sports teams
  • School boards
  • Colleges and universities
  • Community-based sports organizations
  • Private and public high schools
  • Recreational facilities
  • Private gyms and private athletics clubs
  • Youth sport and recreation leagues

Graduates of a Master of Coaching Education program could also seek roles as physical education teachers or specialist fitness trainers and instructors at a senior level. [6]

Who might pursue a Master of Coaching Education?

The master’s in coaching education is an ideal program for current coaches who want to become better professionally at what they do, and for those who wish to progress in their career. The degree can be an asset when applying to salaried coaching roles advertised by hiring colleges, teams, and other bodies.

Things to consider

Many Master of Coaching Education programs are synchronous and cohort-based, where they are geared around hands-on coaching. Based on a survey of online Master of Coaching Education programs, some curricula offer internship electives or opportunities for real-world experience, but it is not always required. If a student does not have coaching experience or would like to expand his or her current experience, the school may assist with securing a position on a voluntary or experiential basis in order to complete the program.

However, there are also a number of high quality and accredited online master’s in coaching education programs to consider. These typically offer the chance for residencies and other on-campus events, such as speaker opportunities, but otherwise are completed solely online and on your own schedule.

Master of Coaching Education Careers and Advancement

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of coaching jobs is expected to grow by around 6% between 2014 and 2024. This will create 14,800 new professional coaching jobs in an industry that already has 250,600 roles. The main driver behind this growth is the anticipated rise in high school enrollment, leading to opportunities in high school sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, and track and field. There are also plenty of international opportunities to consider. [12]

Forbes reported that the U.S. sports market was worth over $60 billion in 2014. That number is expected to rise to more than $73 billion by 2019. [13]

Coaching also ranks as an attractive career in education, with an unemployment rate of just 4.8% and a growth rate of 6%. [6]

Careers in the field

Coaches teach athletes the skills that they need to succeed in their chosen sport. Many coaches also work as scouts, spotting talented athletes on the rise. The average salary for a coach is $31,460 per year, but remuneration varies widely in professional coaching, and the BLS reports that the highest 10% made more than $71,940. [6]

There is the potential to earn big as a coach in certain sports. While rare, coaches at the professional or college level can command massive salaries.

For example, college football head coaches at the NCAA Football Bowl Series (FBS) level make an average of $1.75 million a year. College coaches at the lower NCAA levels make less. Assistant coaching staffs tend to be sizeable, and assistant or position coaches at the highest levels can make six figures. [17]

Scouts seek out new players, assess their abilities and evaluate their chances of succeeding at their sport. Scouts operate at college, amateur, and professional levels.

Both coaches and scouts tend to work varied and irregular hours that might include weekends, evenings, and holidays. Full-time coaches will very often work long hours (more than 40 hours a week) when their sport is in-season. Extensive travel is required for sporting events and for meeting talent when working in a scouting capacity.

High school teachers roles can specialize in physical education and coach school teams. The average salary was $58,030 in 2015. [11]

Other possible roles

There are a number of other roles for which the Master of Coaching Education can help prepare you. Some of these include: [24]

  • Director of athletics
  • Specialist strength and skills coach
  • Sports administrator
  • Sports development officer
  • Sport analyst [22]
How do the career opportunities vary from state to state and internationally?

Coaching roles are available in nearly every town and in every state. The largest employers are secondary and elementary schools. The diversity of the role means that coaches are needed for a variety of sports for all levels — from youth league teams through budding Olympians and pro sports teams.

Master of Coaching Education Curriculum

Reputable Master of Coaching Education programs will structure their curricula around the requirements of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), which defines the national standards for coaches. [9]

This involves crafting the curriculum around the eight domains of coaching for creating winning teams and athletes, as recognized by the National Standards for Sport Coaches. These encapsulate a recognized and core body of knowledge based on scientific evidence, with identifiable competencies required of coaches at all levels. They include: [5]

  • Philosophy and ethics of sport coaching
  • Safety and injury prevention
  • Physical conditioning
  • Growth and development
  • Teaching and communication
  • Sports skills and tactics
  • Organization and administration
  • Evaluation
Core courses

The curriculum of a coaching degree online and on-campus will vary by institution. Based on several online Master of Coaching Education programs, typical core courses you may encounter include:

  • Foundations in sports coaching
  • Management and leadership for sports coaches
  • Psychology of sports coaching
  • Performance and conditioning
  • Injury prevention and risk management
  • Sports analysis
  • Coaching ethics
  • Research for coaches
  • Coaching effectiveness
  • Sport law
  • Administration and organization of sport
Are online programs the same as campus-based programs at most universities?

Yes, both online and on-campus programs will typically be the same, but the learning experience is different. An on-campus program can give you the social angle of study alongside peers, as well as the chance to speak and interact individually with your professors and tutors.

Online programs, on the other hand, offer digital channels that allow students and faculty to interact, including video, live chat, and bulletin boards. Online study programs also allow you to study flexibly and at your own pace so you can work around your home life, professional obligations, and other commitments.

Do online master’s in coaching education programs require an on-campus residency?

Yes, some online master’s in coaching education programs might incorporate an on-campus element in the form of a residency, events, speaker opportunities, or other occasions where students can meet peers and faculty and benefit from face-to-face learning.

Concentrations and specializations

Your program may give you the option to select a concentration or specialization. This allows you to focus on a particular topic in depth, guiding your program path and helping to determine your electives. It can also position you strongly for certain career opportunities after you graduate.

Concentrations aren’t always required in a Master of Coaching Education program, but if the institution you are considering does offer them, they can be a valuable means of gaining a deeper understanding of a specific coaching-related field.

What concentrations can I do while earning a master’s in coaching education?

The concentration choices available will vary by program, but some common concentrations include: [25-33]

  • Performance coaching
  • Sport administration
  • Interscholastic athletics
  • Intercollegiate athletics
  • Sport psychology
  • Sports analytics
Common electives

Electives will vary by program, but most Master of Coaching Education programs include choices such as: [25-33]

  • Adapted physical activity
  • Changing physical activity and behavior
  • Women’s sports history
  • Sports finance
  • Sports business
  • Advanced motor development
Experiential learning, internships, and practicums

Experiential learning components like internships and practicums may be required for completion of your Master of Coaching Education degree. These field placements allow you to experience your field of study within a live working environment. Typically taking one or two semesters, they will allow you to apply your academic learning to real-world situations.

The benefits of experiential learning

For coaching and coaching education, field placement can give you the chance to demonstrate and refine the technical skills that you are learning with real athletes. The experience can help you:

  • Gain hands-on experience in a field
  • Give you the chance to learn from experienced professionals in the field
  • Strengthen your CV
  • Network

Most students who enroll in a Master of Coaching Education program will have significant coaching experience already and are likely to continue coaching throughout their program, especially if they enroll in an online program. Those that do not have this experience can still be admitted to most programs.

How can I find an internship or practicum?

Internships are advertised widely, and your institution typically will offer you support in securing one as necessary. Many formal programs are organized and sponsored by large sports organizations and sports brands such as Adidas and Nike. Check with sports associations, which might advertise internship opportunities on their careers pages.

There are also internship opportunities in sports coaching available overseas through private organizations.

Do programs like this require thesis or capstone project?

A thesis or capstone project may be included as a requirement of the program. A thesis is a thorough academic study of a specific topic or issue, which will typically take one or two semesters to complete. A capstone course or research project is the alternative and may have a more practical or applied focus.

“Capstone” means “finishing structure or stone.” A capstone course or project can demonstrate research skills, critical thinking, reflective abilities, and academic evaluation skills. The project is typically taken toward the end of the program, once a certain number of credits have been achieved, along with a preparatory research course. Project proposals are approved by the program faculty. [20]

Master of Coaching Education Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Coaching Education Admissions Requirements

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Coaching Education Alternative Degree/Field of Study Options

A wide range of degrees exists in athletics and coaching. These qualifications may be differently named, but their programs often offer content comparable to the Master of Coaching Education.

Master of Coaching Education Professional Associations and Organizations

There are various associations that can be of value to Master of Coaching Education students and graduates. Membership can offer access to industry networking, information and news, job postings, further training, and other benefits. Relevant associations include:

  • National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)
  • American Football Coaches Association (AFCA)
Master of Coaching Education Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

What accreditations should I be looking for?
In addition to regional accreditation, you should be aware of some of the following specialized agencies:

  • National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
  • National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), recognized as an accrediting agency by the Council of Higher Education (CHEA) [15]
Master of Coaching Education Licensure and Certification
The Master of Coaching Education does not lead to licensure, as coaching does not require a license to practice. However, the qualification signals a recognized level of learning and competence in the field. Graduates who hope to teach instead of or in addition to coaching will typically need their teaching license. Requirements for teaching licenses are state-specific. High school coaches will also need to be CPR-certified.
What is state authorization?

State authorization is regulated by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), and it is important for online and distance learners. It ensures that colleges offering programs to students out of state are offering the same degree of educational requirement as would be required within state.

NC-SARA oversees the standards of consistency and quality for these interstate programs. A map of participating states and institutions can be found on the NC-SARA website. Note that Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts are not currently party to the organization. [16]

History of the Degree

Coaching as an activity dates back as far as the ancient Greeks, but it wasn’t always an official role. According to Oxford University, it wasn’t until 1830 that the term “coach” began to take on its modern definition, and not until 1861 did the term become associated with sports. [10]

Even then, “coach” was not recognized as an official position within the sports world until the 1880s with the professionalization of sports in Britain. [18] The first official designation of a coach at a major school was Lucius N. Littauer of Harvard in 1881. But it wasn’t until 1892 that coaching became a paid profession, when Amos Alonzo Stagg was hired at Springfield College in Massachusetts. [25]

During the early years of professional coaching, coaches were often retired athletes, team captains, or university alumni. [25] With the growth of professional sports, like baseball and football, and the rise of professionalized coaches came a need for advanced skills and strategy on the field. While coaches in the sports arena were already established by 1914, it was during this time that coaches like Knute Rockne of Notre Dame started gaining celebrity status. Rockne still is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in college football history. [27]

As coaching became increasingly professionalized, organizations dedicated to sports and coaching become more and more commonplace. The first association in the field was the Amateur Athletics Association, established in 1880. [28] Though coaching had become a professional role and sports was steadily growing in popularity throughout the 21st century, the first coaching course wasn’t offered until 1981. [8]

Since then, the number of coaching programs has increased, and in 2002, the first online athletic coaching education program in the U.S. was offered by Ball State University. [23] Sports coaching has grown tremendously since its inception, but the profession is still evolving. The first disability coaching degree for Paralympian coaches offered by the University of Worcester in 2012, which seeks to create a more inclusive approach to the coaching profession. [19]

Master of Coaching Education Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Loan forgiveness
Loan forgiveness programs are a possibility for graduates who go on to become certified teachers after graduation. If you hope to pursue a career in education or another public sector job, be sure to check the U.S. Department of Education for further details on loan forgiveness. [21] [14]