A Sports Psychology degree is typically a graduate level degree that specializes in the mental health and wellness of athletes. Many undergraduate students major in General Psychology and then go on to pursue their specialization in Sports Psychology from an accredited graduate school. There are plenty of online Masters degrees in Sports Psychology to choose from, which can be ideal for students who want to gain work experience while pursuing their specialization.
Are there online programs?
Yes, many online Master's in Sports Psychology allow students the flexibility of an academic schedule along with internship and other clinical experience.
Are there online Bachelors programs in this area?
Unfortunately no, Sports Psychology is typically a graduate level degree. However, many undergraduate students major in General Psychology or Sports Administration and then pursue Sports Psychology graduate school in the future. Consider viewing all online Bachelors in sports degrees
Are there online Masters programs in this area?
Yes, online Master's in Sports Psychology are well-regarded degrees in this field as they allow students to gain applicable experience while completing their academic responsibilities.
Are there COSMA or NASSM accredited programs in this area?
Since COSMA and NASSM are accreditations specific to Sports Administration, the Master's in Sports Psychology degree is accredited through a different agency. The gold standard of accreditation for a Master's in Sports Psychology is from the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).
Top 5 AASP accredited schools for Sport Psychology
#1 University of Denver-Master of Arts in Sport Coaching
The University of Denver offers an online Master of Arts in Sport Coaching through their Graduate School of Professional Psychology that is highly respected across the country. Required courses in this degree include organization and administration of sport, sociocultural aspects of sport, motor learning, strength and conditioning injury prevention design, psychology of athletic performance, and social-psychology of sport. This degree is ideal for students who want to focus on motivation and performance in Sports Psychology. While it is tailored towards coaches, the program emphasizes a multidisciplinary perspective that benefits all professionals working in the sports world. The program allows students to take up to five years to complete the program at their own pace. Online programs operate on a rolling admissions basis. The Master of Arts in Sport Coaching will cost students $60,720 total.
For a campus-based option, the University of Denver also offers a Master's in Sport Performance and Psychology that includes one year of practicum experience as well as a required thesis on a topic of the student's interest. Courses in this degree include theoretical aspects of sport and performance psychology and sport and performance psychology interventions. Admissions requirements for both programs include two essay-based questions, a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with at least a 3.0 GPA, and recommendation letters. The Master's in Sport Performance and Psychology will cost students $95,040 total.
#2 California University of Pennsylvania-Master's of Science in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, Sport Psychology Concentration
California University of Pennsylvania offers an online Master's of Science in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a Sport Psychology concentration that can be completed in just 12 months of full-time coursework or 17 months of part-time coursework. The program includes courses such as special topics in sport psychology, psychological aspects of sport injury, and psychological perspectives of sport performance. Students are also able to add on a dual-concentration in Applied Sport Science, Nutrition, Performance Enhance and Injury Prevention, Wellness Coaching, and others as well. Admissions requirement include a Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA. Lower GPAs may be considered for conditional admissions. The Master's in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a Sport Psychology concentration will cost in-state students $18,576 total and out-of-state students $27,864 total.
For students who are not interested in pursuing a Master's, they can also complete a 12-credit post-bachelor's Sport Psychology Certificate. This certificate offers a tangible way to show a specialization in Sport Psychology to future employers. This certificate will cost in-state students $6,192 total and out-of-state students $9,288 total.
#3 University of Western States-Master's of Science in Sport and Performance Psychology
The University of Western States offers an online Master of Science in Sport and Performance Psychology. Courses required in this program include sport psychology, psychology of performance, applied sport psychology, and mental skills training. This program also gives students the option to add on a Positive Coaching concentration which includes course in communication and leadership in sport. Students are eligible and encourage to take the Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) exam following completion of the degree. Students are also required to complete a capstone course on a topic of their interest. Admissions requirements include a Bachelor's from an accredited institution with a 2.75 GPA. The Master of Science in Sport and Performance Psychology will cost students $30,888 total.
The University of Western States also offers a 24-credit graduate certificate in Sport Performance Psychology. This certificate includes courses in sport psychology, applied sport psychology, and mental skills training as well. The Sport Performance Psychology certificate has the same admission requirements as the Master's and will cost students $13,728 total.
#4 Lock Haven University-Master's of Science in Sport Science, Sport and Exercise Psychology Track
Lock Haven University offers an online Master of Science in Sport Science with a Sport and Exercise Psychology Track that can be completed in just one year of full-time academic load. This program features courses in sport and exercise psychology for performance enhancement, psychology of athletic injury, and stress management for the physically active. Students are eligible to take the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) exam following completion of their degree. The program also offers a capstone course in the field of interest to the student. Students also have the option to complete the Sport Management track at the same time as the Sport and Exercise Psychology track if they are interested in learning the business of sport as well.
Admissions requirements for this program include a Bachelor's degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA. A Master's of Science in Sport Science with a Sport and Exercise Psychology track will cost students $22,500 total.
#5 Adams State University-Master of Science in Applied Sport Psychology
Adams State University features an online Master of Science in Applied Sport Psychology that boast both academic credit and internship opportunities. This program has required courses of sport psychology, applied sport psychology, mental strength and conditioning, and diversity and equity in sport. Students are eligible and encourage to take the Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) exam following completion of their degree. Students also must complete two internships with partner organizations that give students applicable clinical experience. Admissions requirements into this program include a Bachelor's from an accredited institution and letters of recommendation. A Master of Science in Applied Sport Psychology will cost students $16,308 total.
Typical curriculum for this area
This foundational course covers an introductory level of Sports Psychology. It review basic terms and definitions of motivation, mental illness, and resilience. Much of this course lays the groundwork for more advanced psychology courses later in the degree. Many terms will be familiar to undergraduates whom have Bachelor’s degree in psychology, however, this course will be specialized to the field of sport and performance.
Psychology of Athletic Injury
Learning the Psychology of Athletic Injury is a key responsibility that many Sports Psychology graduates will face. Athletes typically have a strong identity associated with playing their sport and when they get injured, they can feel that a part of their identity is lost. Not only that, but athletes are most comfortable in a tightly packed schedule alongside their teammates. When they are injured, they can feel isolated from teammates and the rest of the sporting community. Therefore, Sports Psychology graduates learn management strategies to help athletes persevere through these challenges.
Psychology of Performance
In Psychology of Performance courses, students learn advanced theories about motivation and competitive drive. This can includes theories of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as well as intervention strategies best suited to jump-start motivation. Courses of this nature are applicable to almost all motivation, therefore, are extremely marketable to future employers even outside of the sports world. A Psychology of Performance course can help inform how Sports Psychology graduates design therapeutic interventions or consult with coaches.
Mental Preparation and Skills Training
The course of Mental Preparation and Skills Training is a pivotal course for the consulting expertise of a Sports Psychology graduate. Mental preparation often includes teaching athletes techniques such as mental repetitions using imagery, mental relaxation techniques, and establishing of pre-competition routines. Typically, Sports Psychology graduates use this course to address feelings of anxiety surrounding sport competition or to help with coaches facilitate team bonding.
While Motor Learning courses do have more biomechanical origins, the relationship between the muscles and the brain is a fundamental facet of Sports Psychology. Motor learning describes how people become comfortable performing any muscular movement or pattern. Understanding the theory behind how first-time learning performance differs from competition performance helps inform coaching plans as well as how Sports Psychology graduates may approach new clients. Managing first-time learners effectively can reduce frustration amongst athletes and garner trust between Sports Psychology graduates and their clients.
What jobs or careers could you have with a degree in this area?
The most classic career path for a Sports Psychology degree is to become a Sports Psychologist. Oftentimes, these individuals work for professional or collegiate teams to support the mental health and wellness of athletes. They are the go-to healthcare provider when mental health issues or emergencies arise. They also help design mental wellness plans in collaboration with coaches and athletic trainers. Sports Psychologists are trusted members of the allied healthcare team of a sports organization. Athletes, and staff, rely on them to be a source of support and resources to help prepare for competition as well as everyday life.
Wellness or Performance Coach
A Wellness Coach or a Performance Coach help consult recreationally active people in fitness studios, corporate settings, or their own private practices. They are often enlisted if athletes are just starting on their fitness journey or have hit a plateau towards their goals. Performance Coaches are experts in motivation and typically have a strong understanding of strength and conditioning fundamentals. This helps them design fitness and mental wellness plans that align with their clients’ goals. Performance or Wellness Coaches have the advantage of working in a wide variety of health industry settings, therefore, typically have more flexibility and variety with their clientele.
Athletic Team Coach
Though it may not be the most obvious career path, many coaches in professional or collegiate positions benefit from Sports Psychology degrees. A strong understanding of athlete behavior, motivation, and learning helps coaches design practice plans and competition strategies with the athlete in mind. Moreover, coaches have to deal with athletes of many different personalities and attitudes, therefore, a foundation in psychology supports coaches’ relationships with every athlete on their team. Lastly, coaches work in a large staff and even larger organization, and a Sports Psychology degree enables them to have excellent communication strategies.
Sports Psychology Researcher
For those students who enjoy asking and answering questions, the role of Sports Psychology Researcher is an excellent career. Sports Psychology Researchers typically work in a laboratory setting. They design, plan, and execute research studies related to their niche interest in sports psychology. This can include looking into intrinsic motivation, delving deeper into motor learning, or looking at sports psychology in youth athletes. Many Sports Psychology Researchers go on to pursue their doctorate level degrees and even act as professors at their institutions.