Sport Coaching

Master Degree

As sport evolves, coaches need to evolve. The Sport Coaching master’s degree trains students to be lifelong learners who can adapt to modern demands on the coaching profession. This degree is designed for teachers and full time professionals who coach at the scholastic, community and club levels. WVU professors in Coaching Education have designed a curriculum that focuses on the knowledge and skills to be an effective coach. Additional focus is placed on holistic athlete development, including sport skills, life skills, long-term development and periodized training.

The online format allows working professionals to complete courses during fall, spring and summer, without having to be on-campus. The course load is reduced (4-7 credits per semester) to allow students to balance the master's program with family, work and coaching responsibilities. Courses promote online interaction and peer support within and between cohorts.

The Sport Coaching master’s program can be completed in two years.  The program utilizes the International Council for Sport Coaching Excellence’s International Sport Coaching Framework and professional development guidelines from coaching education and coach development industry leaders. 

Admission Criteria

The following supplemental materials will be used to evaluate applications for admission to the master’s program:

  • Undergraduate degree grade point average (2.75 minimum for regular status) from an approved institution
  • Minimum of two references (three references preferred)
  • Resume emphasizing your coaching/sport experiences
  • Professional goal statement (one to two pages on professional background, goals, and reasons for pursuing the master’s degree

Note: Students who do not meet the 2.75 grade point average requirement may be admitted as a provisional graduate student only if their GPA is between 2.50 and 2.75. If a student is admitted as a provisional student they are required to attain a 3.0 GPA in their first 9 hours of adviser approved course work in order to remain in the program and to be reclassified as a regular graduate student. 

Applications must be submitted with application fee to the WVU Admissions Office GEMS web site at: Applicants are required to submit an official undergraduate transcript(s) to the WVU Office of Admissions, PO Box 6009, Morgantown WV  26506-6009. Please do not submit hard copies of transcript(s) or letters of recommendation to the CPASS office. Applicants will need to upload their resume and goal statement to the GEMS admission web site. The applicant will submit names and addresses of recommenders to the web site and the system will send an email link to the recommenders to complete the required form and attach a letter of recommendation if they so desire. Incomplete applications (those without all required supplemental materials) will not be reviewed. 

Priority Deadline is August 1st.

No more than twelve graduate hours may be taken toward the master's degree as a non-degree seeking graduate student.

Degree Requirements

A grade of C- or higher must be earned in all courses
ACE 610Training Theories for Coaches3
ACE 618Psychology of Coaching3
ACE 622Motor Behavior for Sport Coaches3
ACE 630Coaching Education Administration3
ACE 639Create Healthy Competitive Environments3
ACE 641Positive Youth Development in Sport3
ACE 650Sport Movement Analysis3
ACE 661Strength and Conditioning Methods for Coaches3
ACE 688Coaching Techniques3
ACE 680Evaluation in Coaching (Methods of Program Evaluation for Coaching)1
Program Evaluation for Coaches Requirement2
Program Evaluation for Coaches (Program Evaluation for Coaches)
ACE 684Evaluation Based Planning for Coaches (Evaluation-based Planning for Coaches)1
Total Hours31

Suggested Plan of Study

First SemesterHours
ACE 6613
ACE 6883
Second SemesterHours
ACE 6223
ACE 6393
Third SemesterHours
ACE 6103
ACE 6413
ACE 6801
Fourth SemesterHours
ACE 6503
ACE 6821
Fifth SemesterHours
ACE 6303
ACE 6821
Sixth SemesterHours
ACE 6183
ACE 6841
Total credit hours: 31

 ACE 682 Program Evaluation for Coaches is completed twice for a total of 2 credits.

Major Learning Goals

Sport Coaching

The goal of the program is for students to graduate with the essential skills and knowledge to work with athletes in a variety of contexts across their lifetime.  

  • Content Knowledge – Students will demonstrate knowledge and management concepts related to the pedagogy of sport coaching.
  • Reflection and Critical Thinking – Students will demonstrate reflection, collaboration, and critical thinking skills in order to refine professional practice and promote lifelong learning.
  • Programming and Assessment – Students will demonstrate evidence-based knowledge. skills (and best practices) for designing, implementing and evaluating practice plans and programs that are based on assessments of players' needs.
  • Professionalism and Ethics – Students will demonstrate professional behaviors, including commitment to excellence, valuing diversity and collaboration, service to others, and techniques for lifelong learning.
  • Technology – Students will be able to demonstrate the use of different forms of technology to assess skills and provide effective and compelling feedback to players.


ACE 591A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation in advanced topics that are not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ACE 592A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

ACE 593A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ACE 594A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ACE 595. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty-supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ACE 602. Action-based Research for Coaching. 3 Hours.

Examination of action based research as applied to sport studies. Emphasis placed on learning the skills of disciplined inquiry to inform and change ones practices in the future.

ACE 610. Training Theories for Coaches. 3 Hours.

This course is designed to promote critical thinking, problem solving and use of current training theories for best practice in coaching across all levels to develop and nurture talent.

ACE 618. Psychology of Coaching. 3 Hours.

In-depth understanding of the psychology of coaching athletes and application of this knowledge into coaching practices for optimal athlete development and performance. Contemporary issues also covered.

ACE 622. Motor Behavior for Sport Coaches. 3 Hours.

PR: Graduate standing. Designed to increase coaches' understanding of how athletes learn motor skills. Theories of motor learning, techniques to provide effective instruction, practice design, stages of learning, assessment, and coaching strategies to structure training and practice to optimize skill acquisition and performance.

ACE 630. Coaching Education Administration. 3 Hours.

An administrative focus on leadership, finance, fundraising, planning, facility development, personnel supervision, public relations, rules and regulations, purchase and care of equipment and the conducting of athletic events.

ACE 639. Create Healthy Competitive Environments. 3 Hours.

PR: ACE 602 and ACE 610. Course explores topics related to techniques of training, ergogenic aids, performance enhancement, and the coach roles and responsibilities in designing, creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment.

ACE 641. Positive Youth Development in Sport. 3 Hours.

PR: ACE 688. Review literature and outreach programs in positive youth development. Emphasis on development of psychosocial assets in youth such as life skills and character.

ACE 645. Contemporary Issues in Sport. 3 Hours.

Contemporary issues in sport; to make you a more successful coach, expose you to situations in today's coaching profession, and prepare you to plan for situations that may arise.

ACE 650. Sport Movement Analysis. 3 Hours.

This course applies the laws of physics to sport activities with the objective of finding the most efficient use of the human body to achieve the highest levels of performance.

ACE 661. Strength and Conditioning Methods for Coaches. 3 Hours.

Present basic exercise performance methodologies to assist in coaching athletes. Types of training include speed drills, agility drills, conditioning workouts, flexibility exercises, balance-improvement drills, and proper training- environment safety techniques.

ACE 663. Advanced Strength and Conditioning Coaching Techniques. 3 Hours.

PR: ACE 661. Present various exercises in hands-on setting to utilize in training. Proficiency is taught in Olympic movements, free weights, machine weights, and plyometrics. Speed and agility track exercises will be included.

ACE 665. Strength and Conditioning Program Design Coach. 3 Hours.

PR: ACE 661. Students in this course will learn to design programs in athletic resistance training, plyometrics, conditioning, and agility, and students will learn to handle detraining, sports specificity, and periodization for offseason and competition programs.

ACE 671. Women in Sport. 3 Hours.

ACE Graduate: Study the history of women in sport, and investigate issues that are directly related to women in sport as participants, coaches, administration, parents and fans.

ACE 680. Evaluation in Coaching. 1 Hour.

Key principles of research methods, evaluation, and planning to identify and organize instruments for data analysis and formulation of a Program Evaluation Strategy. Knowledge and skills needed to initiate a well-designed evaluation of their team, program, and self (as a coach). Course is online.

ACE 682. Program Evaluation for Coaches. 1 Hour.

Integration of a Program Evaluation Strategy (PES) utilizing program materials and concepts in an applied professional setting. The PES will be implemented and evaluated over two full semesters. Students must have a position coaching in an applied sport setting. Course is online. (1 credit; repeated twice).

ACE 684. Evaluation Based Planning for Coaches. 1 Hour.

PR: ACE 680 and ACE 682 with a minimum grade of B-. This course enhances coaches’ understanding of their own coaching through reflection. Insights, limitations, and future coaching strategies to overcome limitations in students’ coaching practices are presented as a way of reflecting to facilitate coach development.

ACE 685. Coaching Internship. 1-6 Hours.

Students will complete a contract detailing terms of the learning experience. The levels of coaching include but are not limited to elementary schools, little league, secondary schools, and collegiate levels.

ACE 688. Coaching Techniques. 1-6 Hours.

Students will complete a contract detailing terms of coaching technique topics relevant to their individual coaching experience.

ACE 691A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

ACE 692A-Z. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

ACE 693A-Z. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

ACE 694A-Z. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

ACE 695. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

ACE 696. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

ACE 697. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

ACE 698. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision as needed during the writing of student reports, theses, or dissertations. (Grading is Normal).

ACE 699. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate student not seeking coursework credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is Normal; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.

ACE 900. Professional Development. 1-6 Hours.

Professional development courses provide skill renewal or enhancement in a professional field or content area (e.g. education, community health, geology.) The continuing education courses are graded on a pass/fail grading scale and do not apply as graduate credit toward a degree program.

ACE 930. Professional Development. 1-6 Hours.

Professional development courses provide skill renewal or enhancement in a professional field or content area (e.g. education, community health, geology.) These tuition-waived, continuing education courses are graded on a pass/fail grading scale and do not apply as graduate credit toward a degree program.


Associate professors

  • Kristen Dieffenbach - Ph.D. (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
  • Valerie Wayda - Ed.D. (West Virginia University)
    Chair, Coaching & Teaching Studies

Assistant professors

  • Jason Bishop - Ph.D. (University of Virginia)
  • Ryan Flett - Ph.D. (Michigan State University)

Teaching Assistant Professor

  • William (Guy) Hornsby III - Ph.D. (East Tennessee State University)

Adjunct Instructors

  • Kathy Ginter - Ph.D. (University of Tennessee)
  • Jerry Handley - M.S. (West Virginia University)

Associate Professor Emeritus

  • Daniel Ziatz