United States Online Sports Psychology Graduate Programs

At the graduate level, online sports psychology programs are offered as certificates, masters and doctoral degrees. The American Psychological Association recognizes sport and performance psychology as a proficiency for licensed psychologists.i As an academic discipline, sports psychology covers exercise science, behavior psychology, and sports medicine.

Why Consider Online Sports Psychology Programs?

Online sports psychology programs may appeal to busy adult professionals and students from the fields of sport science and psychology. Most programs address the principles and methods needed to work with amateur and professional athletes. Consequently, a sports psychology degree might appeal to current and future psychologists, coaches, athletic trainers, educators, and mental health counselors.

Develop Your Applied Sports Psychology Skills

Although there are many concepts within applied sport and exercise psychology, there is also a general three-fold objective that practitioners may learn to use.ii

  1. Teach the mental skills that are necessary to perform with consistency in training and competition.
  2. Increase discipline, focus, and enjoyment in sport and exercise.
  3. Help individuals reach their optimal performance potential.

Other techniques include how to set and reach goals, concentrate, stay motivated, and learn to relax. These practices may help an individual manage anxiety, stress, or anger as they develop confidence.

Take Online Sport Science and Psychology Courses

Students in graduate-level sports psychology online programs may take all or most of their coursework through a web-based course management system. Some of the topics students might explore are likely to draw from several disciplines.

  • Kinesiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Sports Management
  • Sports Physiology
  • Sport Nutrition
  • Athletic Training
  • Counseling, Developmental, Clinical and Social Psychology

Prepare to Pursue Sports Psychology Certification

Some online sports psychology programs follow a specific set of courses that are approved by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). ii Students with a masters or doctorate degree that have met these course requirements and completed a minimum of 400 hours of mentored and applied experience may be prepared to apply for ‘Sport Psychology Certification’ by the AASP. ii Called the CC-AASP, this type of credential does not denote the practitioner as a licensed sports psychologist.

Move Through at Your Own Pace

Some online sports psychology degree programs are interactive and may allow you to connect with faculty and access school resources at any time, 24/7. While it is usual that students must submit work assignments on time, there is often quite a bit of flexibility too. In some cases, students move through material at their own pace entirely. Other programs use a cohort system where students progress through their program together.

Stay Connected

Some online sports psychology programs may involve brief visits or residencies at the university. These might involve conferences, professional exchange forums and elective sessions. Or, they may help as sessions that orient students to one another, their faculty, and the online platform. This may help establish a network of peers or foster collaboration.   

Prepare to Pursue a Variety of Possible Career Paths

Naturally, you want to find an online sports psychology degree that aligns with personal and professional goals.

  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist iv   
  • Licensed Sports Psychologist iv
  • Professor or Researcheriii
  • Director of Athletics iv
  • Coach or Head Athletic Trainerv
  • Mental Health Counselorvi

Online Sports Psychology Degree Requirements

Online sports psychology programs typically require students to have earned a bachelors or masters degree in counseling, psychology, or social sciences from a regionally accredited university. Also, possibly a certain number of credits of psychology or kinesiology and a minimum GPA of 3.0. While some schools waive the GRE, others may look for a certain score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). In addition, a school may require things like references, a candidate’s prior experience in athletics, coaching, psychology research, and letter of intent.  

Online Sports Psychology Graduate Certificate

Students who want to further their knowledge with graduate level coursework might earn their sports psychology certificate online. Some programs may follow a course sequence that is approved by the Association of Applied Sports Psychology. In this case, a full-time student may be able to complete the program in under a year, as there could be about six courses. As courses are usually the same ones as in masters or doctoral degree programs, students may be able to use their earned credits towards a full degree. Otherwise, they may be prepared, in the short-term to pursue the CC-AASP status.

Online Masters in Sports Psychology Programs

Students who earn an online sports psychology masters degree may have a choice between a Master of Arts and Master of Science in sports psychology. While both types of programs may entail core and concentration courses, the MS in sports psychology mail entail about 54 to 60 credits. This tends to include an integrative research project and approach the study through the lens of quantitative analysis. This may help a student prepare to pursue a PhD in sports psychology in the future.  

Sports Psychology Masters with AASP Coursework

Some online MA in sport-exercise psychology programs may base their course of study on the education requirements outlined by the AASP. Students in these programs may gain a solid grasp of several key aspects of applied sport psychology. For instance, they might take courses that explore normal and abnormal psychological functions. Also, their course topics may dive into the physiological, motor, and psychosocial aspects of sport behavior.

Graduates of this type of program may be prepared to pursue and apply to the AASP for ‘provisional status’ as certified consultants.vii Also, some students may wish to continue onto a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Clinical Psychology.

Online PhD in Sports Psychology

Students who are drawn to organizational behavior might consider an online PhD in sports psychology degree. In this type of program, students may take an empirical, or research-based, approach to human behavior. For instance, they might explore behavior modification, the psychology of leadership, and the basics of performance. Since the PhD is a research and academic degree, students often must collect data so they can write and defend their dissertation.

Education Requirements for Licensed Sports Psychologists

Students who want to pursue a career as a clinical, counseling, and research psychologist typically need a doctorate degree.viii In addition, to use the title ‘licensed psychologist’, requires, in most states, licensure. iv Per the APA, sports psychology is a skill set that is acquired after a doctorate in a primary area of psychology and licensure as a psychologist.i In other words, one might earn a PhD in sports psychology but not be a licensed psychologist.i

Find Accredited Online Sports Psychology Programs

Online sports psychology programs may be found at regionally accredited institutions. While the Association of Applied Sports Psychology does not accredit programs, it does offer approved course sequences in some accredited universities.

Take the Next Step

Filter your search for online sports psychology programs by level: graduate certificate, masters, or PhD. Then compare paid programs to land on one that mirrors your own goals. When you do, easily contact the schools on your list with one click.

Some online programs may have multiple start dates to add to their convenient format. Take your next step now so you don’t miss out!


[i] apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/sports.aspx | [ii] appliedsportpsych.org/about/about-applied-sport-and-exercise-psychology/ | [iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1193.00 | [iv] onetonline.org/link/summary/27-2022.00 | [v] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-9091.00 | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm | [vii] appliedsportpsych.org/certified-consultants/ | [viii] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm

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