Based on the requirements of underwater acoustic stealth, the classification and research background of acoustic coatings are introduced herein. The research significance of acoustic coatings is expounded from the perspective of both the military and civilian use. A brief overview of the conventional design process of acoustic coatings is presented, which describes the substrates used in different countries. Aimed at the local design of acoustic coatings, research progress on passive and semi-active/active sound absorption structure is summarized. Focused on the passive acoustic coatings; acoustic cavity design and optimization, acoustic performance of acoustic coatings with rigid inclusions or scatterers, and acoustic coatings with a hybrid structure are discussed. Moreover, an overview of the overall design of acoustic coatings based on the sound field characteristics of the submarine is also presented. Finally, the shortcomings of the research are discussed, breakthroughs in acoustic coating design research are forecast, and the key technical issues to be solved are highlighted.