Graduate sports psychology programs explore the interplay between sports and the mind, and are available at the certificate, masters, and doctoral levels. Sports psychology graduate programs may help you meet your career goals!
Some sports psychology degrees may help students fulfill sports psychologist education requirements.i Others might appeal to current coaches, athletic trainers, educators, and counselors who want to develop specific skills. For instance, the ability to help a professional or amateur athlete set and reach goals. Or, to perform consistently, manage anxiety, and concentrate while being physically active.
Sport psychology, also called sport and performance psychology, uses psychological knowledge and skills to address peak performance and well-being of athletes, the developmental and social aspects of sports participation, and systemic issues connected with sports and related organizations. It is a multi-disciplinary field that spans psychology, sports science, and medicine.ii
When surveyed, 37% of physical education professors and coaches reported they held a doctoral degree, 23% a masters degree.iii
Sports psychology graduate programs may prepare students to launch or further a career as a sports psychologist. Essentially, there are four steps to try to become a sports psychologist.
Sports psychologists address problems faced by athletes and sports participants. For instance, they have a keen grasp of how self-confidence is developed. They understand how emotion is managed and how to help someone overcome fear or lack of mental focus. And, they are able to identify clinical interventions to keep an athlete motivated or cope with burnout.
While all graduate sports psychology programs may cover core topics related to exercise, psychology and performance, not all of them have the same emphasis. If you aspire to pursue a career as a full-time sports psychology consultant, you might look for programs that highlight applied sport psychology.
Or, if you want to be a professor, look for a sports psychology program that fosters opportunities to teach and research. And, of course, if your aim is to provide one-to-one counseling as a licensed psychologist, you need to think about a PhD or PsyD degree.
You want your interests, whatever they are, to be addressed by the sports psychology schools you apply to. Also be sure to consider your experience and goals when determining the level of your sports psychology degree.
Do you want to help improve athletic performance through sport-exercise psychology? Sports Psychology Masters programs often prepare students to apply psychological principles in the field. This means they are typically practical in nature, focusing on ways to develop programs and methods to address athletic performance, motivation, and recovery.
A masters in sports psychology program may award a Master of Science in Sport Psychology and Master of Arts in Sport-Exercise Psychology degree. MA in Psychology with a concentration in Sports programs may also be available.
Are you interested in the psychology of human performance? A PhD in sport psychology may prepare graduates to apply theories of emotion, cognition, and motivation to understand ‘peak’ performance.
These sports psychology programs are not intended to prepare graduates for the practice of psychology (or counseling or related discipline). Nor do they lead to licensure or credentialing as a mental healthcare practitioner. Instead, these are often research focused programs which may allow students to prepare to add new knowledge to the field of sport and performance psychology.
Do you want to further your education? Some sports psychology graduate certificate programs offer a course of study that meets the education requirements for 'certified consultant’ through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CC-AASP).iii Often, this type of program helps develop a student’s ability to create performance-enhancement programs for athletes and performers.
Postdoctoral Certificates in Sport Psychology may also be available for those who already hold a doctorate in Psychology. These may allow current practitioners to explore a new area of interest. Follow up with individual programs for details.
Applied sport and exercise psychology brings both theory and research into the field to educate athletes, parents, coaches, fitness professionals, and athletic trainers about the psychological aspects of their sport or activity.v However, AASP Certified Consultants (CC-AASP) are not necessarily titled ‘sport psychologist’, (unless they have the education and licensure).
The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) is an international, professional organization that offers certification to those who have masters or doctorate degree. To obtain their credential (CC-AASP), a student must show they have completed specific coursework, a minimum of 400 hours of mentored and applied experience and been evaluated by the AASP’s Certification Review Committee. iii The AASP is not an accreditation agency, but students are advised to look for regionally accredited sports psychology graduate programs and schools.
Sports psychology graduate programs can be found online or in the traditional campus format. Online sports psychology programs allow students to access coursework anywhere with an internet connection. This may increase the number of potential programs available, as well as provide an additional degree of flexibility and convenience.
Campus-based sports psychology programs, on the other hand, may offer more opportunities to interact with classmates and professors. Students participate in the traditional classroom experience and have access to campus resources such as libraries and labs. Attending a sports psychology school also may make it easier for students to work with professors on research, or complete internship and practicum requirements.
It's important to note that some online sports psychology programs may still have in person components. In these cases, students may be required to participate in brief campus visits or find a placement nearby. The way schools manage this varies, so follow up directly to learn more.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for psychologists is estimated to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024.i Sports Psychology graduate programs may also prepare students to enhance or pursue other possible career paths.
Entry level education requirements vary and may range from a bachelors degree to doctorate for these positions. While sport psychology programs may enhance your pursuit of these careers, it is best to conduct your own research into what other elements may be required.
The first step to earning your degree is to find a program that suits your needs. To begin your search for sport psychology graduate programs, review the listings on this page. Or use the on-page menus to find a certificate, masters or PhD in sports psychology program.
You can also look for sports psychology schools by city, state, or country. Or, if you need a flexible format, search for online sports psychology degrees. Also, if you decide your path is more focused on sports management, we have sports management and administration degrees available as well.
Easily compare your options and contact the schools with an on page form. Your future awaits!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm | [ii] apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/sports.aspx | [iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1193.00 | [iv] appliedsportpsych.org/certified-consultants/ | [v] appliedsportpsych.org/about/about-applied-sport-and-exercise-psychology/ | [vi] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-9091.00 | [vii] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1123.00 | [viii] onetonline.org/link/summary/27-2022.00 | [ix] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9039.02