How to become a Master Certified Coach (ICF MCC)

After years of practice and experience as a PCC Coach (ICF Professional Certified Coach) you might feel inspired to upgrade your coaching skills to offer a better service to your clients. So you probably think to walk the path towards the MCC ICF Credential.

Who is an MCC Coach?
Master Certified Coach (MCC) Credential-holders are highly trained (200+ hours) and experienced (2,500+ hours) coaches. They have demonstrated knowledge and highly proficient application of the ICF Core Competencies, Code of Ethics, and definition of coaching. If you are a coach and you’d like to master your coaching practice, read on to learn how to achieve this prestigious credential.

What does it mean to be a Master Coach?
A Master Coach is someone who, through her/his conversations, helps others accelerate their learning and increase their performance. The Master Coach is a catalyst for sustainable behavioral transformation in individuals.

What is an ICF MCC Credential?
MCC is a credential offered by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The ICF offers 3 levels of credentialing, and the MCC (Master Certified Coach) is the highest level, preceded by the first level which is the ACC (Associate Certified Coach) and then the second level, the PCC (Professional Certified Coach).

What is an ICF coaching credential?
ICF Credential-holders are part of a self-regulating group of elite coaches who provide accountability to clients and the coaching profession as a whole. They pursue and complete rigorous education and practice requirements that provide unquestioned legitimacy to their commitment to excellence in coaching.

Earning an ICF Credential requires hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence in professional and ethical practice. ICF Credentials and Standards honors the efforts of ICF Credential holders and they are committed to ensure that the Credential paths are aligned with the highest standards of certification practice in order to maintain and increase the value of ICF Credentials for all who hold them and for the clients you serve.

How do you become an MCC coach?
Requirements for an individual to avail ICF’s MCC Program

  • a minimum of 200 hours of coach-specific training
  • a minimum of 10 hours of mentoring
  • a minimum of 2,500 hours (2,200 paid hours) of coaching experience, with at least 35 clients
  • performance evaluation: two audio recordings and written transcripts of coaching sessions submitted to ICF

Unlike the ACC credential and the PCC credential where you can choose from the ACTP, ACSTH, or Portfolio path, there is only one application path for the Master Certified Coach. Things are going to change in 2022 with the ICF news in terms of coaching education.

How is an ICF MCC coach different from an ACC or PCC coach?
According to the ICF, there are only currently about 1,300 MCCs in the world — and this is for good reasons! (See the numbers from ICF Factsheet Aug 2020 in the image on the right). MCCs express a high level of coaching which ends up in impactful results for the clients. MCCs are uniquely qualified to work with the clients’ essence, through their ‘being’ in order to promote purposeful ‘doing’. MCCs promote the clients’ autonomy in the coaching process and they manage to unearth the clients’ true potential.

As described by ICF, ACC-level coaching tends to focus on the “what,” it aims to coach the problem through questions like “What is the issue that needs fixing?” Here discovery takes place on a surface level, and the coach helps the client identify their next steps. It is OK, it is good coaching, but it does not promote a consistent transformation. It is managing the problem vs mastering life.
PCC-level coaching tends to include some “what” and it address the issues that the clients are presenting, but this type of approach places more emphasis on “who” is the client, the whole person. So the dialogue starts with the problem and then goes deeper into self-discovery, by addressing the highest logical levels (values, vision, mission) and by allowing the clients to gain new perspectives and new awareness.

At the MCC level the coaches are able to fully focus on coaching the “whole person”, on coaching ‘the being’ to allow new awareness to emerge and to be used to create new lasting behavioral changes. The coach trust in the client in full and whole, the MCC Coach knows that what needs to be done after the session will emerge naturally.

Among the other characteristics, what sets MCCs apart is their ability to be curious beyond the first issue that the client brings up. Their discovery questions evoke awareness and facilitate the client’s growth at that human level rather than the surface level of the problem.

What skills does the MCC master?
The MCCs coaches are client centered, the client is their focus and not their own performance as a coach. MCCs use the coaching conversation in a compassionate way for the benefit of the client’s self-awareness, not in an enquiry mode to highlight the elements of a problem that needs to be solved.

One of the hardest part for a PCC coach to move to the MCC level is to let go of the need to be seen as an expert who has something that the client does not have. The master coach has completely let go of this need. Being fully focused on the clients’ agenda is such a subtle attitude that most of the coaches do not grasp in all its aspects, that is why the road to the MCC credential is a challenging one that needs humbleness and strength at the same time.
A master coach knows how to hold space for the clients, how to acknowledge their most valuable observations, talents and resources and celebrate ‘who’ the client is in the moment.

It might sound weird, but Master Coaches do not need their clients to walk away with a revelation during the coaching conversation. The MCC coach asks their client to reflect on what they are learning, and what is important for them in the present moment. The MCC cultivate trust and evokes new awareness in the conversation, so that the client can envision and create new sustainable behaviors to achieve what they want.

Our view
Although the MCC is the highest level of ICF certification, we can easily say that many PCC Coaches do coach at the level of mastery even if they don’t hold yet the MCC credential.
I personally coached for more than 2.500 hours when I applied for my MCC Credential, I have covered far more than 200 hours of training and worked with different trainers and mentors to enhance my coaching level. I asked for help to get trained and be able deliver the highest level of coaching to my  clients and to all the students whom I train and mentor to become coaches.

Going for the MCC is however a very personal choice.
It is up to you whether you would like to pursue the MCC credential and walk the path to get there.
If you are interested in learning more about coaching the path to the MCC credential, how to get there, what re the best choices for you and what does it take…
…then contact me! I’d be happy to share my experience, my knowledge and my tools with you.

Cristina Campofreddo, MCC
email me to:


For those who are new to the coaching profession:

What is coaching?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The results can be life changing. Clients often say they’ve created a new outlook on life – finding inspiration, courage, confidence, and answers to long-burning questions within themselves.

What is ICF?
ICF is the world’s largest and most recognized organization of professionally trained coaches. Representing executive coaches, life coaches, leadership coaches, relationship coaches, career coaches and more, ICF’s mission is to advance coaching so that it becomes an integral part of a thriving society.



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