From school gymnasiums to Olympic arenas, strong leadership is essential to develop athletes into champions. Grad School Hub’s 25 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Coaching 2019 prepare students to inspire and lead athletic champions.
Coaching programs encompass ethical, leadership, physiological, psychological, and sociological aspects of physical education. They elevate graduates’ ability to solve problems and support athletic students and professionals both on and off the field.
Along with theoretical studies of physical wellness and sports dynamics, students are given opportunities to apply leadership skills and solve real-world problems. These problems may include injuries or unique athletic challenges concerning legal issues, multicultural approaches, and sports sociology.
Typical coaching duties include analyzing physical and emotional strengths and weaknesses; overseeing practice sessions; planning strength and conditioning exercises; and providing direction, encouragement, and motivation. Physical educators may coach people from elementary P.E. students to professional athletes.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for coaches is $32,270 annually. As of the bureau’s most recent report, the coaching field is growing at a faster-than-average rate of 13 percent.
The following list outlines the nation’s 25 Best Online Masters in Coaching. Each program is offered either fully or partially online. Grad School Hub considers programs that have been accredited by reputable accreditation organizations.
Each program is evaluated based on factors such as affordability, graduate prospects, teaching methods, and student satisfaction. More information on the ranking process is outlined on Grad School Hub’s Methodology page.
25 Best Online Master’s Degrees in Coaching 2019
#25 – Fresno Pacific University
Master of Arts in Kinesiology with Physical Education Emphasis
Fresno Pacific University is a private Mennonite Christian university in Fresno, CA. The university began as the Pacific Bible Institute in a large house with five staff members and 28 students. FPU continues to offer Biblical Seminary programs today, and religious and ethical values are integral to its academic programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university at the #39 spot among the best Regional Universities in the West.
FPU offers a master’s degree in Kinesiology, the study of body movement mechanics, with an emphasis on Physical Education. The program examines the ethics, history, and philosophical underpinnings of physical education. Required courses include History and Philosophy in Kinesiology, Psychology of Sport, and Technology in Kinesiology.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,245
#24 – Canisius College
Master of Science in Physical Education
Canisius College is a private Roman Catholic college in Buffalo, NY, a few miles from the Canadian border. It has an average class size of 17 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1. U.S. News & World Report ranks the college #10 nationally for best value. Canisius designed its Physical Education program for individuals seeking their New York Physical Education Professional Certificate. The program does not lead to initial certification, but approved course credits can be applied. Students complete a cumulative electronic portfolio with completed assignments, a mission statement, a resume, and sample lesson plans.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $20,767
#23 – Pittsburg State University
Master of Science in Human Performance and Recreation
Pittsburg State University occupies rural Pittsburg, KS as the only U.S. university with a gorilla as its mascot. U.S. News & World Report ranks PSU #26 among its list of Top Public Schools. PSU’s Human Performance and Recreation program offers three emphasis areas: General, Human Performance and Wellness, and Sport and Leisure Service Management. Students who choose the Human Performance and Wellness or Sport and Leisure Service Management emphasis must complete related internships. Each emphasis program offers either a thesis or a coursework-only route. Core courses include Methods of Research, Social-Psychology of Sport and Recreation, and a Special Investigation independent study.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,967
#22 – Drexel University
Master of Science in Sport Coaching Leadership
Drexel University is a private university with the main campus in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. In 2010, the university received a Sloan-C award for excellence in online education. U.S. News & World Report ranks Drexel #102 for Best National Universities.
Drexel’s Sport Coaching Leadership program teaches coaching elements such as budgeting, energy systems, and sports psychology. Concentrations are available in lacrosse and rowing, or students can create a custom concentration. Core courses include Development and Fundraising Strategies in Sport, Ethics in Coaching, and a Global Coaching Seminar. The program also consists of a seven to ten-day international coaching residency.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $39,021
#21 – University of Northern Colorado
Master of Arts in Sports Coaching
Founded as the State Normal School of Colorado in 1889, the University of Northern Colorado has a long history of teacher education. The public research university is ranked 150th for online graduate education by U.S. News & World Report. UNC offers a Sports Coaching degree with learning objectives including Applied Coaching Research, International Coaching Perspectives, and Sport Psychology. Its online course content incorporates recorded video presentations and video analysis software. Required courses include Bridging Theory and Practice in Sports Coaching and Sports Coaching Principles and Perspectives. In year two, students complete an internship in Sport and Exercise Science. The program cumulates in a written comprehensive exam.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,065
#20 – University of Denver
Master of Arts in Sport Coaching
The University of Denver is the earliest autonomous private university in the Rocky Mountain Region. In 2006, Men’s Fitness Magazine ranked it among the United States’ top 25 fittest colleges. Its Sport Coaching graduate program is an Applied Graduate Studies Program recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. DU’s Sport Coaching program is the nation’s only graduate coaching program offered in a school of psychology. Required courses include Motor Learning and Sport Pedagogy; Philosophy, Leadership, and Legal Issues of Sport; and Sociocultural Aspects of Sport Coaching.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $32,940
#19 – University of Central Missouri
Master of Education in Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology with Positive Coaching
The University of Central Missouri is a public state university in Warrensburg, MO. U.S. News & World Report ranks it #17 among the Top Public Schools in the country. UCM’s Positive Coaching program is intended not only for aspiring athletic coaches but also for aspiring life coaches, school counselors, and academic advisers. The coursework covers athletic training, ethics in sport and leadership, and gender and multicultural issues in sports. Most students take classes part-time and earn their degrees in two and a half years. Full-time students can finish the program within one year.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,567
#18 – Jacksonville State University
Master of Science in Education in Physical Education
Jacksonville State University is a public university with the main campus in the Appalachian foothills of Jacksonville, AL. JSU’s Physical Education program offers concentrations in Human Performance, Nutrition, and Teacher Education. Teacher certification is required for admission into the Teacher Education concentration. Core Physical Education courses include Applied Exercise Psychology; Issues and Trends in Wellness and Sport Studies; and Research in Wellness and Sport Studies. Concentrated courses include Diet and Performance, Perceptual Motor Development, and Sociology of Sport. The program incorporates online learning tools such as Blackboard and LiveText. Students generally complete the degree in two years.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,474
#17 – Northcentral University
Master of Education in Sport and Athletic Management
San Diego, CA
Northcentral University is an online non-profit university headquartered in San Diego, CA. It is part of the National University System, meaning it is managed by the government but operated autonomously. It is Carnegie-classified as a Doctoral Research University.Students enrolled in NCU’s Sports Management program are mentored by professors who hold doctoral degrees. Students can expect to interact with these professors one-on-one. The program strengthens students’ leadership skills, teaching abilities, and understanding of ethics as they apply to athletics. The curriculum includes courses which accentuate the legal, financial, and marketing aspects of modern athletic administration. Students can graduate with their degree in approximately 15 months.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: N/A
#16 – Western Michigan University
Master of Arts in Coaching Sport Performance
Western Michigan University is a state research university in Kalamazoo, MI. Its Coaching Sport Performance curriculum has been accredited at the highest level for sports coaching by the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education. WMU’s graduate coaching program is built for practicing coaching professionals. It aims to equip students for coaching careers at all athletic levels, from youth to Olympic or professional. Course offerings include Principles of Sport Nutrition and Energy Systems and Sociology of Sport and Physical Activity. Students must also engage in a Professional Development Seminar and Professional Field Experience.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,489
#15 – Greenville University
Master of Arts in Education with Coaching
Greenville University is a private Free Methodist liberal arts university in Greenville, IL. Its academic programs integrate Christian values and focus on character development principles. The university is ranked 118th in Regional Universities Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.
Greenville’s Coaching MA is designed for working coaches. Students are given opportunities to talk to experienced coaches through discussion boards and collaborative projects. Course offerings include Coaching Character, Faith Development Through Sports, and Sport Skill Analysis. The program cumulates in a capstone research paper which dives into an aspect of the student’s coaching process.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,356
#14 – Old Dominion University
Master of Science in Physical Education
Old Dominion University reaps its name from “The Old Dominion,” a state nickname King Charles II of England gave Virginia for its loyalty during the English Civil War. The university’s Physical Education graduate program offers concentrations in Adapted Physical Education, Curriculum and Instruction Concentration, and Coaching Education. Each Physical Education concentration presents a thesis and non-thesis options. Core courses include Assessment-Evaluation and Technology, Motor Learning and Development, and Planning and Administration. The core curriculum also includes research courses in Applied Statistics and Data Analysis and Research Methods in Education. Students must finish an internship, research project, or thesis as a culminating experience.
Graduate Tuition: $15,218
#13 – Ohio University
Master of Coaching Education
Ohio University was the first university chartered by an Act of Congress. Today, it is a space-grant university with Carnegie-classified high research activity. Its university mascot is Rufus the Bobcat. Ohio’s graduate Coaching Education program features a curriculum built around the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s “8 Domains of Coaching.” The program begins with an introductory Coaching Workshop. Additional courses include Ethics and Diversity for Athletic Coaches, Psychology of Coaching, and Performance Recovery: Strategies for Coaches. Students also complete a four-day on-campus Coaching Symposium during their summer term.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $21,899
#12 – Bellevue University
Master of Science in Leadership and Coaching
Bellevue University provides flexible education for working adults and ranks highly in affordability. Its graduate coaching program has the lowest tuition and fees on this list. The Leadership and Coaching program develops students’ theoretical and applied knowledge of organizational behavior, strategic leadership, and team dynamics. Required courses include Leading Change in Organizations and Social Psychology of Leadership. The curriculum culminates in an applied leadership project or thesis. Students must also complete an Executive Coaching internship and accompanying courses. Upon completion of the program, students will have earned an additional Certificate of Completion in Executive Coaching.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,349
#11 – University of Southern Mississippi
Master of Science in Sport Coaching Education
The University of Southern Mississippi is a public, Carnegie-classified high research university. Among its transformative research projects was one of two national projects selected by NASA to discover whether life can survive on Mars. It has a main campus in Hattiesburg, MS, and another in Long Beach, CA. Southern Miss’ graduate coaching program was designed with working students’ schedules in mind. The program is intended to be finished within two years on a part-time basis. Course requirements include Foundations and Trends in Kinesiology, Motor Learning, and Sport Skill Analysis. Students can choose a thesis option or practicum as their culminating experience.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,916
#10 – American Public University
Master of Science in Sports and Health Sciences
Charles Town, WV
American Public University System is a private, for-profit online education establishment serving a large military population. In 2016, 56 percent of students reported they served on active duty at initial enrollment. APU’s Sports and Health Science program studies humans’ functional, physical, physiological, and psychological adaptations. Core requirements include courses in Critical Thinking in the Sports and Health Industries, Motor Learning, and Nutrition for Sports Performance. The curriculum culminates in a Sports and Health Sciences Capstone. The capstone involves a research project in concepts and applications covered throughout the curriculum. The degree program takes two full-time years to complete.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,470
#9 – Emporia State University
Master of Science in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
Established in 1863, Emporia State University is Kansas’ third-oldest public university. U.S. News & World Report ranks it #29 within the country’s Top Public Schools. The Health, Physical Education, and Recreation program at Emporia State provide students with thesis and non-thesis options. Core courses for both options include Advanced Exercise Physiology, Applied Psychology in HPER, and Ethics in HPER and Sport. The thesis core includes an additional Design and Assessment course. Non-thesis requirements include a Statistics course and a Masters Research Project. Students following either route can choose from electives such as Art and Science of Coaching, Exercise Metabolism, and Instructional Strategies in Sex Education.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,939
#8 – University of Nebraska at Kearney
Master of Arts in Education in Physical Education Master Teacher
The University of Nebraska at Kearney is ranked 10th in Top Public Schools and #47 for Best Value Schools by U.S. News & World Report. UNK’s Physical Education Master Teacher program offers two tracks: Pedagogy Emphasis and Special Population Emphasis. The Pedagogy Emphasis prepares graduates for physical education roles in elementary to post-secondary school settings. The Special Population track emphasizes the needs of students with disabilities and leads to the Nebraska Department of Education’s Adapted Physical Education endorsement. Core courses for both tracks include Philosophy of PE, Sports, Recreation and Leisure and Education Research. All students must complete a comprehensive exam or thesis.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,520
#7 – University of Idaho
Master of Education in Physical Education and Physical Activity Pedagogy
Founded by Idaho’s territorial legislature in the year 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s oldest public university. U of I is also the state’s land-grant and primary research university. U.S. News & World Report ranks it #87 among the Top Public Schools in the country. U of I’s Physical Education program provides graduate students with a master’s degree and physical education teacher certification. Core courses include Health Methods and Administration and Programming and Marketing for Healthy Active Lifestyles. The program offers students opportunities to get involved in nationally recognized research and hands-on community partnerships.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $14,787
#6 – Georgia Southern University
Master of Science in Kinesiology with Coaching Education
Georgia Southern University is a public, Carnegie-classified Doctoral Research Institution. It is part of the University System of Georgia, with the main campus in Statesboro and additional units in Savannah and Hinesville. Its graduate coaching program is accredited by the National Committee for the Accreditation of Coaching Education. GS offers a Coaching Education concentration within its graduate Kinesiology program. The concentration offers courses in athletic training, coaching administration, coaching effectiveness, and performance enhancement. These courses include Sports Administration and Sports Biomechanics, and Teaching Analysis and Psychology of Peak Performance.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $16,121
#5 – West Virginia University
Master of Science in Sport Coaching
West Virginia University is a state research-intensive university in Morgantown, WV. WVU’s Sport Coaching program takes a holistic approach to physical education. The program considers both the development of the athlete and the personal wellness of the coach. The curriculum addresses content areas of applied sports science, leadership development, pedagogy, and professional knowledge. Course content takes an issues-based approach, incorporating movement analysis, the psychology of coaching, training theory, youth development, and more. Courses generally take eight weeks to complete, allowing students to focus on one area at a time. The program includes an introductory Coaching Techniques course and a capstone Coaching Internship.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,814
#4 – University of Arkansas
Master of Education in Physical Education
The University of Arkansas is the flagship institution of the University of Arkansas and the largest university in the state. It is ranked #78 among the Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report. U of A’s Physical Education program is designed to advance the skills of practicing physical education professionals. Prospective students must obtain an undergraduate degree in kinesiology or have experience in a related field for admission. Required courses include Project Implementation and Data Analysis, Risk Management, and Sport Psychology. All degree candidates must pass a cumulative written exam to graduate. The program takes two years to complete.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,411
#3 – Ball State University
Master of Arts in Physical Education with Coaching
Ball State University is a state research university in Muncie, IN. Its Athletic Coaching Education program is taught by faculty who have coached Olympians and NCAA champion athletes. The program uses a cohort model with class sizes ranging from 12 to 20 students, which helps students study and network with their peers. The graduate coaching program of study includes courses in Current Issues in Coaching Research, Growth and Development for Coaches, and Teaching and Motivation for Coaches. Each student also completes a physical education internship, which can be completed on-site in their community.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,369
#2 – University of South Florida
Master of Science in Exercise Science
The University of South Florida is a public space-grant university in Tampa, FL. It is classified in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. USF offers three concentrations within its graduate Exercise Science program: Exercise Science, Health and Wellness, and Strength and Conditioning. The program curriculum covers topics such as commercial and community fitness and wellness, clinical rehabilitation, and sports performance. Course offerings include Lifespan Fitness, Psychology of Exercise, and Sport in Society. Students can also complete independent studies or internships. To finish the program, students have the option to complete a comprehensive exam or research thesis.
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,398
#1 – Michigan State University
Master of Science Concentration in Coaching
East Lansing, MI
Founded in 1855, Michigan State University served as a model for land-grant universities created under the Morrill Act. Today, the university continues to exemplify academic excellence, offering Grad School Hub’s #1 online graduate coaching program. MSU’s Department of Kinesiology offers a concentration in Coaching. Students can expect to take concentrated courses such as Ethics in Athletics in Higher Education, Psychosocial Bases of Coaching, and Sport Law for Administrators and Coaches. Students can choose from four capstone options: a thesis, project, internship, or coursework-only route with certifying exam. Internships are available in the East Lansing community at high schools, local sports organizations, and within the university athletic department.