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Schools for Aspiring Life Coaches: How to Choose

Life coaching is a developing field based on helping clients take control of their lives, either personally or professionally, by setting and attaining goals. Some graduate counseling or psychology programs offer courses in life coaching, but targeted training in the field is commonly offered through continuing education programs.

Life coaching classes are typically provided through a certificate in the subject and can be located through 4-year university extension programs in their continuing and professional education departments. Private institutes also offer this type of training program, but usually do not award certificates.

10 Schools for Life Coaching

All of the following schools offer certificates and training programs in life or leadership coaching. Many of the reported costs include course textbooks and supplies.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Program Cost (2016-2017)*
Academy of Leadership Coaching & NLP N/A <2-year, Private, for profit Training program $9,995
University of California - Davis Davis, CA 4-year, Public Certificate $8,305
University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison,WI 4-year, Public Certificate $8,900
George Mason University Fairfax, VA 4-year, Public Certificate Entry-level program: $8,995
Advanced program: $6,800 (Tuition only)
Rutgers University Newark, NJ 4-year, Public Certificate $10,450
Georgetown University Washington, D.C. 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Certificate $11,995 (Tuition only)
University of Rochester Rochester, NY 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Certificate $11,500
Fielding Graduate University Santa Barbara, CA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Certificate $8,640 (Tuition only)
Gestalt Institute of Cleveland Cleveland, OH <2-year, Private, not-for-profit Training program $9,850 (Tuition only)
The Coaches Training Institute N/A <2-year, Private, for-profit Training program $11,140

Sources: *School and program websites

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when choosing a school or program for life coaching:

  • Students should consider whether or not a program is suitable for where they are on their career path. Some programs only admit applicants with a bachelor's degree or those with several years of professional experience.
  • Students may want to consider whether or not a school is accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), as this is the organization responsible for issuing certifications.
  • A program's curriculum might also factor into school choice. Some programs include core courses as well as electives, while others may forego the electives.
  • Students may want to take into account any practical training or hands-on experience offered by a program.

Professional Life Coaching Certificate

Life coaching certificate programs require successful completion of around 4-7 courses, usually in a designated order. Coaching courses are designed to teach students to communicate effectively with clients, build strong trust relationships and listen fully. Additionally, students learn to teach clients to stay on topic in discussions and on task in their lives. Business development courses are often included and deal with helping new coaches set up small businesses, manage accounts and advertise effectively. Certified coaches or health care professionals generally teach the courses in life coaching programs. The topics covered during the courses include:

  • Life coaching essentials
  • Conversation skills
  • Designing a coaching relationship
  • Mentorship as a coach

Students interested in becoming life coaches can enroll in a college or university certificate program or pursue training through a professional institute. Program costs at these two types of schools are comparable, and the curricula can usually be completed in a year or less.


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