The 4 Best Master’s Degrees in Coaching for 2021

Coaching programs generally address the ethical, psychological, and sociological aspects of athletic leadership. They develop graduates’ skills in identifying and solving a variety of problems in the field.

Students may learn theoretical aspects of holistic health and sports strategy and have the opportunity to apply this understanding toward real-world problem-solving. Such difficulties may include athletic challenges relating to ethics, gender, and team dynamics.

Coaching duties typically include athletic administration; exercise and strengthening strategy development; and general guidance and support on and off the field. Physical educators coach athletes in various environments, from school gymnasiums to professional arenas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median pay for coaches is $36,330 per year. As of the bureau’s most recent report, the coaching field is growing at a faster-than-average rate of 12 percent.

Accredited Online College Programs

The 4 Best Master’s Degrees in Coaching for 2021

  1. Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI



    Founded in 1855, Michigan State University served as a model for all subsequent land-grant universities. The university is now one of the nation's largest by enrollment. It also leads in graduate coaching education, taking first place on this list. MSU's Sport Coaching and Leadership courses are delivered online through project-based assessments, reading assignments, and video lectures. Course examples include Promoting Positive Youth Development through Sport and Psychosocial Bases of Coaching. The curriculum culminates in an integrative capstone course. The capstone is offered with a hybrid section, which involves six days of on-campus instruction. The cohort program starts each year in mid-May and typically takes two years and four months to complete.

    • Graduation rate: 80%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$
    • Number of programs offered: 200+ programs
    • City location: East Lansing, MI
    • Admission requirements: Transcript, letters of recommendation, professional resume, written academic statement, written personal statement
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE not required
    • Contact: 517-355-1855
    • Website
  2. West Virginia University

    Morgantown, WV



    West Virginia University was founded under the Morrill Act as the Agricultural College of West Virginia. It is now a public, research-intensive university with land and space grants. WVU's Sport Coaching program is offered entirely online. Most courses are eight weeks in length, allowing students to focus on one class at a time. The plan of study includes courses in Leadership in Interscholastic Athletic Administration, Psychology of Coaching, and Sport Movement Analysis. Students commence the program with a Coaching Techniques course and conclude it with a coaching internship. The program can be completed in five semesters.

    • Graduation rate: 58%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$
    • Number of programs offered: 350+ programs
    • City location: Morgantown, WV
    • Admission requirements: Transcripts, professional resume, written personal statement
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE not required; TOEFL required for international students
    • Contact: 800-253-2762
    • Website
  3. University of Missouri

    Columbia, MO



    Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri was the first public higher education institution west of the Mississippi River. Today, the public research university is the largest in Missouri. Mizzou's Positive Coaching program is offered entirely online. Its curriculum covers topics including ethical and legal aspects of athletics, gender, multicultural issues in sports, and healthier school environments. The core curriculum consists of three courses: Applied Positive Coaching, Positive Psychology, and Sport and Applied Coaching Psychology. Students must also complete a culminating Positive Leadership capstone course. Most students complete the program part-time in two and a half years, while full-time students can finish their degree within one year.

    • Graduation rate: 68%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $$$
    • Number of programs offered: 300+ programs
    • City location: Columbia, MO
    • Admission requirements: Transcripts, undergraduate GPA of 3.0
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE not required, TOEFL required when English isn’t your native language
    • Contact: 573-882-2491
    • Website
  4. Ohio University

    Athens, OH



    Established in 1804, Ohio University was the first university chartered by an Act of Congress. Today, the research university is ranked #91 among the country's Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report. Many students enrolled in the program work as graduate assistants for the university's intercollegiate athletic teams. OU's Coaching Education program requires courses in Ethics and Diversity for Athletic Coaches, Management and Leadership in Sport, and Psychology of Coaching. Elective offerings include Dynamics of Skill Acquisition and The Olympic Movement.

    • Graduation rate: 62%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $
    • Number of programs offered: 250+ programs
    • City location: Athens, OH
    • Admission requirements: Transcripts, undergraduate GPA of 2.75, three years of experience coaching, professional resume, written statement of personal experience, three letters of recommendation 
    • Standardized test scores/requirements: GRE not required
    • Contact: 740-593-4400
    • Website

  • Our Methodology, Explained

    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 20%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 40%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 15%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Have Questions About a Master’s in Coaching? We Have Answers

  • What can you do with a master’s degree in coaching?

    A master’s in coaching can open up a wide range of job opportunities in athletics or administration. Those who earn a master’s degree in coaching typically go on to become sports coaches or physical education teachers, but they can also work in college or high school sports administration or other sports-related capacities.

  • How much can you earn with a master’s degree in coaching?

    What you make with a master’s in coaching will depend greatly on the role you take and your level of experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a coach was about $36,330 per year as of 2020, but those who pursue employment in sports administration or another higher-level facet of athletics tend to make much higher wages.

  • How much does a master’s degree in coaching cost?

    The cost of your degree depends heavily on where you attend school, whether the college is public or private, and other personal factors. In general, though, you can expect a master’s degree in coaching to cost between $15,000 and $25,000 or more.

  • What is required for admission into a master’s degree in coaching program?

    Each program will have its own set of requirements for admission and graduation. That said, a master’s degree in coaching program typically requires you to have a bachelor’s degree, submit your undergraduate transcripts, submit other standardized test scores like the GRE, and meet a minimum GPA requirement. You may also need a professional resume and letters of recommendation to gain admission into the program.

Erin Gobler picture

Erin Gobler


Erin Gobler is a freelance writer who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Graduate School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others. Her work has been published on sites like Fox Business, Rocket Mortgage, and The Balance.

Fact-checked by

Angelica Leicht picture

Angelica Leicht

Angelica Leicht is an editor for Grad School Hub. A proud University of Houston alum (go Cougs!), she previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

Latest Posts

See All Posts
Travel Nurse Guide: Choosing A Nursing Specialty

Travel Nurse Guide: Choosing A Nursing Specialty

June 10, 2021   |   Cynthia Paez Bowman

Nurses have always been in demand, but this is a great time to enter the field if you’re considering a career as a nurse. The nursing profession is currently set...

5 Careers for a Master’s in Forensic Psychology Graduate

5 Careers for a Master’s in Forensic Psychology Graduate

June 10, 2021   |   Staff

If you have a passion for justice combined with a fascination with human behavior, then a job in forensic psychology could equal your dream job. Obtaining your master’s degree in...

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.