Sport Coaching (ACE)

The Master of Science in Sport Coaching program prepares you to be a lifelong learner who can adapt professional practices to meet the changing needs of today’s athletes. Students in our program learn by applying the latest recommendations for best practice to their own coaching. This program is perfect for individuals who have a coaching placement at the collegiate, scholastic, club or community level.

The MS in Sport Coaching 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. 

The MS in Sport Coaching program at WVU has been ranked #9 Best Online Master’s in Coaching Degrees and #3 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Coaching Degrees according to

Student Spotlight
Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood instructing a student on squat lifts

Ryan Wood was searching for a graduate program that focused on the science of coaching. He based his decision in part on the positive testimonials from close friends who have earned their graduate degree at WVU. Wood says that WVU has given him a different perspective on the important role he has as a coach in generating the motivation of students and athletes.  


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. The most current recommendations for best practice in sport coaching are infused across the curriculum.

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. You will work collaboratively with faculty and peers in the program to apply key concepts and skills learned to real-world challenges.

Program faculty

Who you'll learn from

  • Image of Guy Hornsby in front of WV flagImage of Guy Hornsby in front of WV flag

    Guy Hornsby

    Professional Highlights

    • Head Coach of West Virginia Weightlifting and Volunteer (throws) Coach for WVU Track and Field  
    • Coaching Science Coordinator at WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, Human Performance Innovation Center  
    • West Virginia State Director for the National Strength and Conditioning Association 
  • 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 managed grants and contracts with USOC, USA Cycling, USA Hockey, USADA and other sport organizations
    • More than 20 years professional coaching experience with athletes from youth through Olympic level, specializing in long term athlete development
  • Portrait of Michael Ryan outside

    Michael J. Ryan

    Professional Highlights

    • Program Coordinator for Athletic Coaching Education, CPASS 
    • 10 years of undergraduate and graduate teaching experience in Exercise Science and Kinesiology
    • National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) State and Mid-East Sectional Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year
    • 20 years of coaching experience at the Division 1 and high school levels
    • Coached seven WVSSAC State Championship Teams in cross country and track
  • Valerie Wayda

    Valerie Wayda

    Professional Highlights

    • West Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance 2018  Recreation/Leisure Leadership Award
    • National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education 2015 Distinguished Service Award
    • North American Society (NAS) of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals Fellow
  • Portrait of Jeremy Yeats

    Jeremy Yeats

    Professional Highlights

    • Program Coordinator for Physical Education and Kinesiology, CPASS
    • Research emphases in education policy, the use of music in sport, physical activity breaks, and social justice
    • Seven years experience as a Teaching Assistant Professor or Assistant Professor
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. The ultimate measure of your learning remains its positive impact on both your coaching effectiveness and the sport experience of the athletes and teams you lead.

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.

Common career 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

Apply online at the WVU Graduate Admissions website. Incomplete applications (those without all required materials and documentation) will not be accepted.

Prerequisites and requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants to the Master of Science in Sport Coaching program must upload the following documentation within the graduate application: 

  • Resume: including coaching background, sport participation, sport-related awards, and employment and/or experience (e.g., athletic administration, officiating, volunteering)
  • Personal Statement: 1-2 written pages on professional goals and reasons for seeking admission

You will not be able to submit your application until the above documents are uploaded. Once the application is submitted and (unofficial/official) transcripts are received, your application will be reviewed for an admission decision. International applicants will not be reviewed with unofficial transcripts. No GRE required.

Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (4-point scale) for regular admission. 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.

Please contact the Office of Student Success at (304) 293-4800 for more information about the application process.

Additional program admission information

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.

Admission 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 are encouraged to submit their application with unofficial transcripts from all previously attended institutions. Submitting unofficial transcripts speeds up the application review process as most graduate programs make admission decisions using unofficial transcripts. 

If you are offered acceptance, you are required to  submit official transcripts from all previously attended institutions to be fully admitted into your intended graduate program. You will not be able to register for classes until the official transcripts are received. The preferred method to submit your official transcripts is through a secure, online service such as eScript, The National Clearing House, or Parchment, to

Alternatively, if you are unable to submit an electronic version of your official transcript, the physical, sealed, un-tampered with documents can be mailed to:

WVU Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 6510, Morgantown, WV 26501


WVU Graduate Admissions,  1 Waterfront Pl, 2nd Fl Morgantown, WV 26505

Directions for submitting International, official transcripts

International applicants must submit proof of English language proficiency.  

Learn more

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Lindsay Augustine
Assistant Dean for Student and Enrollment Services
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Sean Bulger

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