Coach U Certified Coach Program: Reviews from Real Coaches

coach u review

Thinking about becoming a certified coach with Coach U? In this independent review, we’ll explore the certification programs this institution offers and what they cost. We’ll also share some honest reviews from coaches who graduated from their program to help you figure out whether it’s the right next step on your coaching journey.

What is Coach U?

Coach U is like the OG of all coaching certifications. It was founded in 1988 by Thomas Leonard, who later also established this little organization you might have heard about, the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Coach U emerged in response to the escalating demand for formalized coach training in the 80s. Leonard’s vision was to create a standardized platform where aspiring coaches could receive comprehensive training with solid ethical standards.

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Coach U first offered individual coaching sessions and later introduced specialized training programs such as the Core Essentials and Professional Essentials. These programs cover fundamental coaching skills in line with the core competencies defined by the International Coach Federation (ICF). They focus on the practical aspects of developing a successful coaching practice at various stages of one’s career.

Over the years, Coach U has continued to evolve, adapting its curriculum to meet the dynamic demands of the coaching profession. The institution has played a significant role in shaping coaching methodologies and standards, contributing significantly to the professionalization of coaching.

The Founder of Coach U

Coach U was founded by the entrepreneur and life coach Thomas Leonard in 1988.

Coaching was an even less regulated industry with no trusted education programs back then, so he took it on as his mission to change that. He established a comprehensive training platform with the core competencies to start a coaching career. His institution and belief in the transformative power of coaching laid the groundwork for the industry’s future.

Thomas Leonard established Coach U, but other leaders coming after him have also played key roles in making the institution what it is today. They all shared a commitment to top-notch coaching education, making sure Coach U stays a leader in the industry even today. Now, Coach U is living proof of its founders’ dedication to quality education and promoting ethical coaching practices.

Programs at Coach U

Coach U offers a range of certification and training programs for coaches at different stages of their careers. The Core Essentials program is a solid foundation for beginners, providing a comprehensive online curriculum covering essential coaching skills. It’s a 78-hour program you can complete at your own pace over 6 to 8 months.

The Professional Essentials program can be a great next step for those looking for something more advanced. This advanced course explores topics such as the ICF Core Coaching Competencies and the development of coaching packages. Like the Core Essentials, it’s also accessible through online learning.

Coach U offers the Core Essentials Fast Track Program if you’re in a time crunch but still want to earn your certification. This option condenses the learning process into six intense days of coaching education, supplemented by pre- and post-program events.

All these programs are accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), ensuring a quality standard in coaching education. Coach U’s commitment to virtual learning makes it flexible for individuals with various schedules.

Some of the highlights of Coach U as a training provider:

  • Offers virtual classes and self-paced learning options
  • Established institution with a rich history in coaching
  • Multiple programs catering to different coaching levels
  • Emphasizes quality education and ethical coaching practices.
  • Offers support for students during and after the program
  • Provides a community for networking and ongoing learning
  • Well-recognized in the coaching industry

How Much Does a Certification with Coach U Cost?

Investing in your coaching education is a big decision, and Coach U has a clear breakdown of the costs for their certification programs at the time of this writing. Here’s the scoop:

  • Core Essentials: The foundational program costs $6,095.
  • Professional Essentials: For those aiming for a more advanced level, the Phase II of the program is also priced at $6,095.
  • Complete Professional Coach Training Program: Opting for the comprehensive training that includes both Core Essentials and Professional Essentials will set you back $11,190 (and save you $1,000)

While the price tag is hefty, a comprehensive certification program like this can be an important investment in your future as a coach. Coach U is known for its quality education and ethical coaching practices, making the cost a potential stepping stone to a successful career in coaching.

Consider your long-term goals in this field and how important it is for you (and your clients) to be certified by a prestigious organization. If this is way out of your budget and certification isn’t that important in your niche, it might not be worth going into debt just to acquire this qualification.

Weigh your career objectives and the benefits this program can provide before you commit financially. Make sure to check their website to make sure you have the latest pricing. 

Coach U Reviews From Graduate Coaches

We’ve gathered some reviews from coaches who have completed certification programs at Coach U. Read what they say about their experience below.

Please note that we haven’t taken this particular certification ourselves. If you’re looking for more detailed reviews from program participants, we suggest you reach out to these coaches or other professionals who took this certification.

“The Confidence That I Can Be Part of The Mission of The Coaching Profession”

Jamie, a past student of the Core Essentials program at Coach U has highlighted the supporting community connections she’s gained through the certification program.

“I completed 78 coach-specific training hours, 19 hours with a mentor coach, 20+ coaching hours, an exam, and a performance evaluation of my coaching competencies that qualified me (in part) for application to the International Coaching Federation.

Better though: a fulfillment of my purpose, a network of like-minded mentors and colleagues and the confidence that I can be part of the mission of the coaching profession – to have a positive impact on our world through the support of others.”

She added that her next step will be to acquire ACC credentials with the International Coaching Federation (ICF). It’s clear from her review that she deeply resonated with the core values of the ICF, and it was important for her to choose a training program accredited by the institution.

ICF-certified programs often have a higher price tag because of the added benefit of being qualified by a highly reputable organization. When choosing a certification, consider whether this aspect is your top priority.

“The Faculty Were Super Supportive”

Bryan Grisso, PhD has graduated from the Core Essentials program at Coach U. In his review, he mentions that the training gave him an entirely new perspective on coaching.

“It’s been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined as I learned (and unlearned) so much about coaching (…) I have met phenomenal, like-minded coaches from all over the world. Throughout the Coach U curriculum, we shared experiences, stories and coaching philosophies.

The faculty were super supportive as I initially held a lot of misunderstandings about the coaching practice. One of my favorite instructors, Elias Scultori, MCC, explained that clients often focus on the situation and the coach’s role is not to solve the problem but to support the client in understanding their relationship to the situation. This was profound since I often fall into the advice trap”

His experience shows that even if you’ve been in this field for a while, a comprehensive certification program can introduce you to a new mindset, both by your instructors and through the eyes of your peers.

Pros and Cons of Getting Certified with Coach U

Choosing the right certification program is a pretty big milestone in your coaching journey. There are several advantages of getting certified with Coach U, the question is whether these benefits really add that much value to your career.

Here are a few pros and cons of signing up for a program at Coach U.

Pros of Getting Certified with Coach U

  • High reputation: Coach U is one of the first certification programs in the coaching industry. This legacy brings great instructors and time-tested frameworks. Plus, you can apply for ICF credentials upon graduation.
  • Lectures on coaching packages: Many other certification programs are criticized by coaches because they overlook the business side of coaching. As a result, graduates lack the competencies they need to acquire clients. The Professional Essentials program at Coach U covers how coaches can build packages and provides a supporting network to help them start their businesses.
  • Core competencies and ethical standards: Coach U strongly emphasizes this. Graduates walk away with practical skills and get familiar with the highest ethical standards in coaching.

Cons of Getting Certified with Coach U

  • High tuition fees: Cost is, not surprisingly, a major consideration here. To get the most out of your certification at Coach U, you’ll need to take their Core Essentials and Professional Essentials program, which will come up to $11,190.
  • Broad scope: The Coach U certification programs offer comprehensive training, but it might not be for you if your focus is on a specific niche or skill. For example, if you just want to get better at making new clients with the latest marketing strategies, you’ll end up overpaying for your tuition — and you’ll still need supplementary education to fill the gaps in your knowledge.


Whether getting certified by Coach U is worth it for you depends on your individual goals and preferences.

If you value a comprehensive curriculum by a reputable organization and a supporting network of coaches, these programs can give you a powerful foundation for your career in coaching. However, if you’re looking for an opportunity with lower costs and a more specialized curriculum,  then you might have to look elsewhere.

Remember, the right certification is not just a credential; it’s an investment in your future.
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coach u review

By Annamaria Nagy
Annamaria Nagy is a Brand Identity Coach and Copywriter. She's been writing for over 10 years about topics like personal development, coaching, and business. She was previously the Head of SEO at the leading transformational education company, Mindvalley.
January 5, 2024

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