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Athletic Coaching Degree and Certificate Program Information

Many schools offer undergraduate, graduate certificate and master's degree programs in coaching. Students learn skills in coaching for specific sports as well as departments related to the field.

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Essential Information

Programs feature coursework in sports psychology, human movement, and coaching principles. Some undergraduate certificate programs can help students obtain state teaching licensure. Master's programs are often intended for students with experience in coaching or a related field. Students need a high school diploma or GED to register in the undergraduate certificate program. To take a graduate certificate, one must be admitted to graduate school as either a degree-seeking student or a graduate student not pursuing a degree. Some institutions require graduate students taking the certificate program as part of their degree to be enrolled in a certain program, such as sport management. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree.

Most master's degrees in coaching require applicants to have a bachelor's degree with at least a 2.75 GPA (grade point average). Applicants are asked to supply the institution with transcripts, a statement of their personal goals, a detailed summary of their sport experience, and recommendation letters. They are asked for GRE (Graduate Record Examination), GMAT (Graduate Management Aptitude Test) or MAT (Miller Analogies Test) scores. Some schools also require applicants to have coaching experience.


Undergraduate Certificate in Athletic Coaching

The undergraduate certificate program in athletic coaching allows students to pick the sport they wish to coach, including baseball, swimming, or volleyball. Certificates are geared toward individuals who wish to coach within the school system or for non-school teams. Some states require athletic coaches within the educational system obtain licensure if they're not certified teachers. Some certificate programs satisfy licensing requirements for the state where the school is situated.

Coursework prepares students to be effective leaders and health advocates of athletes regardless of the sport. Course credits required to complete the program range from 12-21. Courses include:

  • CPR and first aid
  • Human nutrition and injury management
  • Player motivation
  • Sports psychology
  • Coaching pedagogy
  • Sports programs administration

Graduate Certificate in Athletic Coaching

A graduate certificate in coaching is geared towards a certain type of coach, such as youth and recreation leagues, interscholastic, amateur, collegiate, professional, or international coaches, as well as administrators. Some certificates are earned within a degree program or separately. Individuals looking to coach in a school environment take the certificate program in association with a Master of Arts in Education. A graduate certificate is also offered by a specific department, such as kinesiology, within the university.

Courses in a graduate certificate cover various coaching issues, such as physical problems, sociological and psychological factors, and legal considerations. Students are also trained in administration and organization fundamentals. Specific courses include:

  • Athletic injuries prevention
  • Human movement
  • Coaching principles
  • Athletic recruitment
  • Sport psychology

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Master's Degree in Coaching

At the master's level, a degree in athletic coaching is offered as a Master of Science in Athletic Coaching Education, a Master of Sport Science concentrating in sports coaching, or Master of Arts in Coaching and Athletic Administration. The actual degree offered is dependent on the institution. The program is geared towards active coaches interested in improving their coaching skills. Programs cover advanced concepts involving tactical information and technical proficiency. Students also have a chance to hone their leadership skills. Students are prepared to coach either team or individual sports. An institution offers its master's programs with areas of emphasis, such as NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) or olympism (students learn about the Olympic movement).

A program follows the standards detailing the knowledge and skills necessary to be a coach as outlined by the National Association for Sports and Physical Education. Standards consist of eight domains, including physical conditioning, evaluation, sports skills, tactics and administration. Students take courses in:

  • Women and their historical and present influence on sports
  • Creating a safe environment in which to compete
  • Different methods to finance sports programs
  • How to coach elite athletes
  • Predicting athletes' behaviors using psychological principles and factors

Popular Career Options

Graduates who hold an undergraduate certificate in athletic coaching may work in a variety of settings, from athletic training facilities to colleges. Some graduates are certified teachers who have decided to take on coaching duties for their school. Typical jobs for graduates are:

  • Fitness specialist with coaching skills
  • College coach
  • Recreational team coach

A graduate certificate program in athlete coaching attracts a variety of individuals for various reasons. Individuals involved in coaching professional or collegiate sports teams or recreational leagues may take the certificate to acquire advanced training in the field of coaching. Other options include:

  • Teachers taking their master's and a graduate certificate in coaching at the same time
  • Coaches looking to advance into leadership or administration positions
  • Administrators wanting to know about coaching

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) anticipated that employment for coaches and scouts should increase by 6% from 2014-2024, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities were expected to be good for coaches of high school programs, where those who were also certified teachers had the best prospects. According to BLS statistics, coaches and scouts made a median annual wage of $31,000 as of May 2015.

A degree in coaching is available at the undergraduate and graduate levels; students can also find graduate certificate programs. Graduates can become college coaches, fitness specialists, or recreational team coaches, among other career options.

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