What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Coaching Program?

If you’re interested in pursing a master’s degree in coaching but have to hold down a full-time job, an online graduate program may be the best option for your needs. Flexible attendance and scheduling policies allow you to arrange your course load around your schedule while still enjoying the same high-quality education you’d receive from an on-campus program. Take the time to look at a variety of schools before deciding on a program to ensure you enroll in the one that works best for your needs.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Coaching

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Sports and Athletics Coaching Prepares the student to work as a team coach. This can include courses on advanced biomechanics, physiology, emergency sports medicine, leadership development and project management. Team coach or scout for a professional or scholastic sports team
Pedagogy Provides the knowledge needed to teach physical education in schools, from kindergarten to college. Graduates of this concentration will have been trained in human developmental stages as well as the psychology of sports for different age groups. Physical education instructor in an educational institution
Special Populations Equips students with the skills they need to teach physical education to students with a range of disabilities. Courses will cover the effect of physical activity on physical and mental disabilities, giving educators a better understanding of how to best help their students. Special needs physical education instructor in an educational institution

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Coaching

The curriculum for an online master’s in coaching program can vary greatly between schools. Each program will have different strengths, and choosing a concentration will also impact the courses you take. When selecting your program, consider your career goals and make your choice based on the option that most closely aligns with them.

Despite the variations between programs, some courses are common across the board. If you’re wondering what a master’s in coaching program schedule looks like, classes you may be asked to take include:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Instruction for Sports and Teams Develop effective coaching plans and are learn how to use leadership techniques to inspire their teams.
Applied Sports Psychology Understanding the psychology behind athletics, including how to build and keep motivation, how to push athletes to do their best and how to help athletes move past a disappointing loss.
Nutrition and Dietary Science Focuses on the impact nutrition plays in maximizing athlete performance.
Exercise Science and Physiology Explore and document how the human body works and applying that knowledge to increase athletic performance through tailored workouts.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Coaching?

Most online master’s in coaching programs are designed to be completed in two years, with average required credits falling between 30 and 36, but there are many factors that can influence completion time. Some schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to obtain their degree in as little as a year in exchange for a heavier course load. Students can also select a part-time schedule, which increases the number of semesters needed but allows the student the freedom to keep up with other life obligations.

Another factor to consider is the synchronicity of the program. An asynchronous setup allows each student to move through courses at their own pace, dependent only on their understanding of the material and completion of the assignments. Synchronous programs start students out in a group with other students and require that the entire class moves forward together. Although synchronous programs prohibit working ahead, they offer better networking opportunities and support from classmates, while asynchronous programs allow students to complete their required classes quicker.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Coaching Prepares For

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Professional Coaching License Licensed coaches are qualified to work for professional teams in the sport they’ve selected when obtaining their license. These licenses are often obtained through the sporting league’s national association after a coach has met all the licensing requirements, which vary among sports. Choosing a specific sport concentration for an online master’s in coaching program may prepare you for this license.
State Educator License In many states, youth athlete coaches are required to obtain their teaching license to be eligible to work with a school team. The exams are usually administered by the state, and requirements will vary by location.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Coaching

Choosing an accredited school is an easy way to ensure you’re getting the quality education you’re paying for. Accreditation is given to programs that offer curriculum that meets or exceeds the standards of the accrediting agency. Credits from an accredited school are more likely to transfer to other schools, and the degree you obtain looks better to potential employers. Some licenses and certifications require a degree from an accredited school to obtain.

Accrediting agencies to look for are national, regional and industry-specific. Recognized national accrediting agencies include the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Regional agencies offer the added benefit of increasing the credit transfer rate between schools in that region. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges are just two of the six major regional accrediting agencies. Industry-specific accreditation demonstrates that a program offers all the tools necessary for students to be competent in the field they’ve chosen. The National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) is an example of an industry-specific agency.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Coaching Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

When searching for a coaching position, negotiating power is built on the records of the teams you’ve coached. Greater team success equals a greater demand for your coaching services. Having a master’s degree in coaching comes with the benefit of more specialized training and the development of better coaching skills. This can help you get your foot in the door if you’re new to coaching and don’t yet have an established track record. The skills you learn during your additional years at school may also reflect positively on your team as you use those skills to help them improve. This could improve your win-loss record and help you land more lucrative coaching positions in the future.

Expected Salary

Career options for coaching majors are somewhat limited unless you take into account the variety of sports that need coaching. While entry-level coaching salaries tend to lean toward the lower end of the scale, choosing a career in a field with better salary potential may allow you to command a higher wage with your master’s degree. The table below shows the salary ranges for a few job titles for those with a master’s degree in coaching.

Job Title Salary Range
Athletic Coach $19,613-$71,818
Coach or Scout $19,866-$99,933
Physical Education Teacher $29,855-$70,285
Strength and Conditioning Coach $25,637-$62,364

Source: PayScale.com

Earning a master’s degree in coaching equals additional experience in your field, and more experience is one of the factors that usually translates into better salary potential. Looking at the following table will give you an idea of how the experience that comes with the completion of an online master’s in coaching program can affect your wage.

Source: PayScale.com

Career Opportunities

Coaches who have completed their online graduate degree program will have a few career choices open to them, depending on the concentration they chose. Many career paths have the added benefit of being similar enough in nature for professionals to switch positions should a better opportunity become available.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Coaches and Scouts Coaches are responsible for leading athletic teams, whether professional or amateur, and developing athletes for peak performance. Scouts are responsible for identifying and attracting potential athletic talents. Coaches often engage in scouting activities as well. $32,270 per year 13%
Physical Education Teacher (Kindergarten & Elementary School) P.E. instructors for elementary schools teach students a variety of sports in an effort to encourage physical activity and teach good sportsmanship. These professionals may also double as health class instructors in some schools and could act as coaches for team sports. $56,900 per year 7%
Physical Education Teacher (High School) High school P.E. teachers often head specialized physical education classes such as strength training. Most P.E. instructors are also responsible for coaching one or more high school sports teams. $59,170 per year 8%
Physical Education Teacher (Special Education) A special education P.E. instructor works with children and adolescents who are affected by some form of disability. These professionals use physical education to keep their students active and help them improve their fine motor skills. $58,980 per year 8%

Professional Organizations

Coaching is a constantly evolving profession, so it’s important for coaches to stay informed on the latest news and techniques in the industry. Professional organizations are a good way to do that and enjoy additional perks and benefits. Here are a few organizations available to coaches.

NAYS Coach Training and Membership Program: The NAYS organization was created as a support for youth sport coaches and offers members educational tools, networking opportunities at planned events, coaching resources and exclusive programs and discounts.

American Football Coaches Association: The AFCA was started to provide football coaches with the developmental training they need to be successful in their field. Membership in the organization includes access to several professional tools, an updated job board and industry publications.

United Soccer Coaches: United Soccer Coaches offers members industry publications, a general liability insurance policy as well as discounts on other insurance needs, e-learning opportunities, access to its full resource library and networking opportunities through its annual convention.

National Association of Basketball Coaches: Membership with the NABC provides coaches with hosted networking opportunities, professional development clinics, industry publications, member’s-only discounts and a voice to advocate for coaches’ interests in college basketball.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Coaching

Even though online graduate programs are generally more cost-effective than on-campus programs, you may still need help paying for your degree. Fortunately, there are several avenues available to help students with their graduate tuition. Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) should be your first step to find out whether you qualify for any federally funded grants or loans. If additional financial assistance is needed, private loans or scholarships are also an option.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

JCC of North America Graduate Scholarship

Award: $10,000

Deadline: February 1

Eligibility: Open to graduate students of any faith, pursuing their master’s in eligible health and educational fields, who commit to working at a Jewish Community Center for at least two years after graduation.

Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarship

Award: $1,750

Deadline: October 15

Eligibility: Open to graduate students, pursuing health education or physical education degrees, who have at least 12 months of school remaining at an accredited U.S. college or university, have at least a 3.5 GPA, are a current member of SHAPE and show strong character.