Sport Coaching (ACE)

As sport evolves, coaches need to evolve. The Sport Coaching master’s degree program prepares you to be a lifelong learner who can adapt professional practices to meet the changing needs of today’s athletes. This program is perfect for individuals who have a coaching placement at the collegiate, scholastic, club or community level.

The Sport Coaching master’s program is designed for success-oriented individuals who are motivated by career advancement. Conveniently, this 30-credit hour program can be started in any term. The fully online format is ideal for busy coaches who need to balance demanding schedules with other priorities including family, work and continuing education. In alignment with our institutional commitment to quality and affordable graduate education, all students in our online programs pay the equivalent of in-state tuition. The value of a degree from West Virginia University is supported by the Center for World University Rankings (2017) which places us among the top 1.5% of universities in the world.

What our alumni have to say:


    The WVU Online Master's ACE program is a coach's dream. The online classes fit into my busy teaching and coaching schedule but were also challenging. The classes were paced very well and instructors used the technology to suit the class. I also did not feel detached from the rest of the class as many online classes tend to do. The constant communication and feedback made for a rich, online learning environment.

    Chris C.

    MS ACE, 20



What you'll study

Our holistic approach to coaching centers on training the whole athlete physically, mentally, and technically while developing their interpersonal and life skills off the field.

The Sport Coaching curriculum is aligned with the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) Sport Coaching Framework. This multi-dimensional framework outlines the fundamental competencies that sport coaches must master to facilitate the peak development of their athletes and teams. Attention is also paid to strategies for protecting and maintaining the personal well-being for the coach both in- and out-of-season. 

The program provides you with a variety of classes to enhance current practices and to support aspirational coaching opportunities. The fully online courses are generally 8-weeks, letting you focus on one content area at a time. The standards-based curriculum addresses the following essential content areas: professional knowledge, applied sport science, pedagogy and content, and leadership development. All courses are designed to build relationships with faculty and peers, grow professional networks, and advance your career in coaching.

Professional Courses

Our issues-based approach to curriculum development emphasizes the real-world challenges and opportunities confronting coaches of youth sport. This unique approach is reflected in our course content which includes coaching techniques, training theory, positive youth development, strength and conditioning methods, movement analysis, motor behavior, psychology of coaching, and interscholastic sport administration and leadership.

Learning Communities

The unique sequencing of introductory, professional, and capstone courses focuses on the facilitation of professional learning communities and reflective coaching practice. As a signature feature, the program includes introductory (ACE 508 Coaching Techniques) and capstone (ACE 585 Coaching Internship) courses that book-end your graduate experience ensuring a fast start and strong finish.

Program faculty

Who you'll learn from

  • Guy Hornsby

    Guy Hornsby

    Professional Highlights

    • Professional experience as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the D-1 Collegiate level and within U.S. Special Operations
    • Head Coach of West Virginia Weightlifting, a USAW registered club and a WVU sport club
    • Coordinates Monongalia County, High School Strength and Conditioning, Graduate Assistant Program
    • Involved in sport science / athlete monitoring efforts through collaboration with WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute
    • Oversees ACE strength and conditioning minor
  • Kristen Dieffenbach

    Kristen Dieffenbach

    Professional Highlights

    • United States Center for Coaching Excellence (USCCE) - President
    • International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) - Research Committee
    • Research emphasis on coach development, professionalization of coaching and moral reasoning in coaching
    • Written and run grants and contracts with the USOC, USA Cycling, USA Hockey, USADA and other sport organizations.
    • Over 20 years professional coaching experience with athletes from the youth through Olympic level, specializing in working with long term athlete development
  • Valerie Wayda

    Valerie Wayda

    Professional Highlights

    • National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education 2015 Distinguished Service Award
    • Fellow of the North America by the North American Society (NAS) of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals.
    • Vice-President for National Association for Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education (2011-2012)
  • Portrait of Jeremy Yeats

    Jeremy Yeats

    Professional Highlights

    • Six years of experience as an assistant professor
    • Two years of experience as a graduate coordinator for an online M.A. program
    • Several active lines of inquiry
Beyond The Classroom

Field Experiences and Research

Actively engage in field-based research projects to improve coaching effectiveness and athlete performance on the playing field.

Coaching and team evaluation

The MS in Sport Coaching is a non-thesis degree; instead, you learn to collect and analyze data to facilitate beneficial coaching outcomes. We place emphasis on the use of research-informed approaches and data-based decision-making in coaching. You will also reflect on the strengths and limitations of your current coaching beliefs and systems as a basis for continual personal improvement.

An online degree with hands-on experience

Across your plan of study, you will apply concepts and skills learned to your own coaching. This emphasis on practical application will take on various forms and culminate in your coaching internship. You can complete internship related teaching and learning activities using an existent team or group of athletes with whom you are already working.

Career Preparation

After Graduation

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2017), fewer than 10% of American adults over 25 have a master’s degree. Join that select group and expand your related career opportunities.

Commonly sought research focuses among alumni

  • Coaching athletes for improved sport performance across a developmental continuum
  • Designing, implementing, and evaluating strength and conditioning programs for athletes
  • Using evidence-based coaching and instructional strategies in practice and game situations
  • Organizing and managing physical activity and youth sport opportunities in multiple settings
  • Leading coach development efforts through professional associations and organizations
How To Apply

The Admission Process

How to apply

Applications must be submitted online to the WVU Admissions and Records Office along with your official undergraduate transcripts. Apply online at the WVU Admissions and Records website. Incomplete applications (those without all required materials and documentation) will not be accepted.

Prerequisites and requirements

  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (4-point scale)
  • Sport resume including coaching background, sport participation, sport-related awards, and employment and/or experience (e.g., athletic administration, officiating, volunteering)
  • Professional goal statement: 1-2 written pages on professional goals and reasons for seeking admission
  • No GRE scores required

Additional program admission information

Admission application form deadline:

Admission application form deadline: We accept applications for this program on a rolling basis until August 1st for a fall term start, December 15th for a spring term start, and May 1st for a summer term start.  

During the admission process, preference is given to individuals with coaching experience. All students need access to sport teams and athletes on a regular basis given the applied nature of many course assignments. This program does not result in conferral of a coaching or teaching license of any type. Please consult directly with your respective employer or credentialing agency prior to enrolling if seeking continuing education units. 

Applicants with a GPA below 2.75, may be admitted as a provisional graduate student. Once admitted provisionally, students are required to achieve a 3.0 GPA in their first 9-hours of graduate course work to be reclassified as regular status and remain in the program. 

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements . 

The previously listed materials are submitted online as part of the WVU Graduate Admission application. Applicants must submit their official copies of transcripts and test scores directly to the WVU Office of Admissions, PO Box 6009, Morgantown, WV 26506. 

All graduate students must achieve and maintain a 3.0 GPA or better (4-point scale) prior to graduation.

Learn more

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Lindsay Augstine Portrait
Lindsay Augustine
Student Services Specialist
Sean Bulger
Director of Online Learning and Professor

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