Graduate Degrees in Coaching: Program Options

The coursework for graduate degree programs in coaching can differ greatly, depending on academic emphases. Learn about two master's programs available, certification requirements and job outlook in this field.

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Essential Information

Education and training requirements for coaches fluctuate. Some individuals begin by coaching young children on recreational teams and then grow into high school-level coaches. High school coaches who are chiefly classroom teachers are usually required to have earned college degrees; those who do not teach in the classroom must meet their state's requirements for certification before they can become coaches.

The majority of graduate degree programs in coaching fall under two categories: the Master of Arts in Coaching and Athletic Administration or the Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction. Master's degree programs that focus on athletic coaching are primarily designed to improve and enhance coaching skills by evaluating the methods and techniques other coaches are using. Research topics and strategies from which the field of coaching is based are also covered.

Admission to programs vary, though a bachelor's degree is typically required as well as prior teaching experience. Students must also be eligible to receive a teaching license. A number of graduate degree programs in coaching can be completed either wholly or partially online. Graduation from a master's degree program in coaching normally requires the completion of either a written thesis or an integrated project seminar.

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Master's Degree in Coaching

Program coursework often includes the completion of about 36 credit hours, including a thesis or integrated project. Students take classes related to education and sports coaching to provide a more interdisciplinary approach. Some of the classes common to graduate degree programs in coaching can include the following:

  • Issues and perspectives in American education
  • Techniques and methods for assessment and research
  • Curriculum development and integration
  • Integrative project seminar or research thesis

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for coaches and scouts in May 2015 was $40,050 ( In 2015, approximately 224,110 coaches were employed mostly in a school environment, but some others worked at health clubs and sports associations.

The BLS indicates that job growth for coaches from 2014 to 2024 will be about as fast as average at 6% estimated growth. Those who are interested in becoming a coach at the collegiate or professional level should realize that it will likely take a number of years of successful coaching experience prior to being considered.

Continuing Education Information

A graduate from a master's degree program in coaching can choose to continue his or her higher education by pursuing a doctorate degree program in coaching or similar field of study. There are a number of continuing education opportunities for coaches in the form of coaching clinics that tend to concentrate on specific sports and specific areas of coaching.

Those interesting in becoming coaches for athletic programs and teams have a few options available for graduate study, depending on whether they wish to focus more on curriculum or the practice of coaching itself.

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