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Sport Coaching (ACE)

As sport evolves, coaches need to evolve. The Sport Coaching online master’s degree trains students to be lifelong learners who can adapt to modern demands on the coaching profession. 

The online MS program in Sport Coaching prepares lifelong learners who are adaptable to the modern demands of the coaching profession. This curriculum focuses on the knowledge and skills to be an effective coach with youth and adolescent athletes. The philosophy of the program is to develop a holistic approach to coaching, from training the whole athlete in the physical, mental and technical aspects of sport performance, to developing life skills and inter-personal assets off the field, while protecting the coach and maintaining personal well-being, in- and out-of-season. This is accomplished through the integration of science, experiential learning and application of technology.

This 31 credit hour master’s program is designed for individuals who have a current coaching placement, such as teachers who coach at the scholastic level or at the community/club levels. The format allows for the completion of online courses during fall, spring and summer, without having to be on-campus. The course load is reduced (5-7 credits per semester) to allow students to balance their courses with family, work and coaching responsibilities. Courses promote online interaction and peer support within and between cohorts. Tuition is offered at the in-state rate for all students with the goal of increased affordability and access.

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

This program's curriculum focuses on the knowledge and skills to be an effective coach with youth and adolescent athletes. Additional focus is placed on whole athlete development; which includes sport talent, life skills and character development.


Students are introduced to the program through psychological and theoretical approaches to coaching and training techniques. The curriculum provides master's degree students with a variety of classes to enhance current practices and to support aspirational coaching opportunities, including: coaching techniques, training theories, strength and conditioning, positive youth development, sport movement analysis and legal issues for coaches.

The program combines three objectives including the integration of science, experiential learning and application of technology. The philosophy of the program is to develop a holistic approach to coaching, from training the whole athlete within the physical, mental and technical aspects of sport performance, to developing life skills and inter-personal assets off the field, while protecting the coach and maintaining personal well-being in- and out-of-season.

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
Beyond The Classroom

Field Experiences and Research

In lieu of the traditional research track, this program focuses on applied research in which active coaches and professionals can utilize on the field.

This program is designed for active coaches and professionals. It is expected that students will have significant coaching experience prior to entering the program and will continue to coach while they are in the Sport Coaching masters program.

Coaching and team evaluation

Learn to collect and analyze data to enable beneficial coaching outcomes. 

An online degree with hands-on experience

Students will apply concepts from coursework and team evaluations within a year-long coaching experience. 

Career Preparation

After Graduation

Many students in this program utilize this degree for professional development. We encourage all applicants to verify with their employers if this program can result in salary enhancements.

How To Apply

The Admission Process

How to apply

  • Fill out your application through graduate admissions.
    • Make sure to select Sport Coaching "online". 
  • After final review, you will be notified via email with an admission decision.

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

Other prerequisite considerations

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. If seeking continuing education units, please consult directly with the respective employer or credentialing agency prior to enrolling.

Applicants who do not meet the 2.75 GPA requirement may be admitted as a provisional graduate student if their GPA is between 2.50 and 2.74. Once admitted provisionally, students are required to achieve a 3.0 GPA in their first 9-hours of advisor approved 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.

Additional program admission information

Admission application form deadline: Accepting admissions on a rolling basis until August 1 for a fall term start.