Last Updated on March 9, 2023
Master’s in Sport Psychology Guide
Sport Psychology Graduate Programs – Everything you need to know in 2023
Sports Degrees Online has created this guide for students and professionals who are considering a Sport Psychology Graduate Program. Our team has done the research and the groundwork to help you understand why mental health expertise is important for every team and athlete, and where the field is heading.
In this guide…
The Emergent Field of Sport Psychology
Sport Psychology Master’s Program Rankings
How to Choose the Right Sports Psychology Master’s Program
Specializations in Sport Psychology Graduate Programs
How Much Does a Master’s in Sport Psychology Cost?
Sport Psychology Frequently Asked Questions
This page also touches on factors that prospective students should consider while searching for a sport psychology master’s program and provides details about some of the best sport psychology programs currently being offered
Sport Psychology Master’s Programs
In an era where science and technology seem to be a bigger part of life than ever, Sport Psychology remains perhaps the most significant aspect of sport and athletics. For all the ways that technology, science, and analytics changed the game, human beings are still the ones competing. The proliferation of data has given teams and individuals the opportunity to analyze the game in ways that were never before possible, yet the mental side of the game remains as important as ever. This guide will explore the importance of treating the whole person when working with the athletes of today, and why pursuing a master’s degree in the field is a wise choice for individuals who aspire to find a career working with teams and athletes.
As defined by the American Psychology Association,
“Sport Psychology addresses the interactions between psychology and sport performance, including the psychological aspects of optimal athletic performance, the psychological care and well-being of athletes, coaches, and sport organizations, and the connection between physical and psychological functioning.”American Psychology Association
Sport psychology can be used at the micro level–working with individual athletes and their coaches, or with individuals who are hoping to find a new exercise regimen to get in better shape. It can also be used at the macro level, working with teams from youth leagues, through scholastic sports, and all the way to the professional level to help cohesion and camaraderie as athletes work toward their goals.
It is frequently utilized at the organizational level, where athletic directors or executives will determine a broader philosophy which then applies to everyone within the system. It can be applied in a wide variety of contexts, from youth teams to local fitness center to professional sports franchises.
The Growing Need for Mental Health Professionals in Sport
Over the past year, there have been a number of situations where mental health issues have made sports headlines. Since the arrival of the pandemic, the number of NBA players discussing mental health issues has reached an all time high. Naomi Osaka bravely declared “It’s OK to not be OK” as she withdrew from the French Open, and Simone Biles reminded everyone that athletes are human, too as she stepped away from competition at the summer olympics games. These are just a few of the more visible stories over the past year, but the same issues are affecting athletes at every level.
While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly played a significant role, there is little dispute that these issues have been simmering beneath the surface for some time. And even though the pandemic will eventually pass, expect the mental health issues that it revealed to be a significant issue for athletes at every level for a long time to come.
Sports Degrees Online’s
Sport Psychology Master’s Program Rankings
Sports Degrees Online has done extensive research into all of the Sport Psychology Degree programs currently offered in the U.S. to make the process of choosing the right program a bit easier. Our matrix includes a variety of criteria including program flexibility, internship opportunities, AASP/CMHP preparation, and more. While choosing the best Sport Psychology Master’s Program is a personal decision, we hope that this list will help you on your journey.
#1 University of Denver
Location: Denver, CO
Program: MA Sport and Performance Psychology
Details: The University of Denver’s Sport Psychology program has earned Sports Degrees Online’s Best Overall Sport Psychology program. The faculty has several AASP Certified Mental Performance Consultants (CMPC) on staff to deliver this impressive 72-credit program. The University of Denver’s program requires 480 hours of practical experience, ensuring that graduates have extensive real world experience in a variety of settings. The program culminates with the Master’s Project, which is submitted as a portfolio of personal reflections – which after this curriculum, might well be transformative.
#2 Florida State University
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Program: M.S. in Sport Psychology
Details: Florida State’s Sport Psychology program is housed in its College of Education and taught by a department in comprised of four full-time Sport Psychology professors. Students in the program will have the opportunity to participate in research projects at FSU’s Sport Psychology Laboratory, which has been well-equipped has produced noteworthy findings since its inception. Florida State also offers a Sport Psychology PhD program as well as Sport Management M.S. and PhD programs, offering intriguing possibilities for students seeking to specialize their academic journey.
#3 Springfield College
Location: Springfield, MA
Program: MS or MEd in Sport and Exercise Psychology, MS in Athletic Counseling
Details: Springfield College has long established itself as a leading institution in sport psychology, offering both a Master’s and PhD in Sport and Exercise Psychology. The program is offered either as a thesis track (for PhD bound students) or non-thesis track which prepares students to be CMPC certified with extensive field experience. Springfield College also offers a master’s degree in Athletic Counseling that provides students with preparation in counseling and psychology that will enable them to provide support services to athletes related to sport performance, personal development, and mental health in a variety of settings.
#4 University of Western States
Location: Portland, OR
Program: Master of Science in Sport and Performance Psychology
Details: The University of Western States Master’s in Sport and Performance Psychology program has a strong focus on applied learning, which is complemented by its diverse faculty. Students learn from a diverse, CMPC-certified faculty of adjunct professors with different areas of expertise. The program offers a concentration in Positive Coaching, and the department also offers an EdD option as well.
#5 University of Minnesota, Mankato
Location: Mankato, MN
Program: Master’s in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology
Details: Minnesota State University Mankato’s Master’s in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology has earned a strong reputation in the field. The program also has a partnership with the Counseling and Student Personnel Master’s Program. allowing interested students to earn both degrees in three years. Minnesota State’s program is led by two CMPC faculty members, and the curriculum is designed to help interested students work toward CMPC certification. Research from the in-house “Center of Sport and Performance Psychology” has been noted in national media including the New York Times and ESPN, and the facility also serves the athletes, performers, and citizens of the community.
#6 Holy Names University
Location: Oakland, CA
Program: Master of Arts in Applied Sport and Performance Psychology
Details: Holy Names University’s Master of Arts in Applied Sport and Performance Psychology is offered in three delivery formats – fully online (with a 2 week campus residency), on campus, or hybrid – making it the most flexible program to make Sports Degrees Online’s top 20 list. The program features two mini-camp opportunities to get a feel for working directly with students on campus in addition to other formal experiential opportunities. The program curriculum is advised by Holy Names University’s Applied Sport and Performance Advisory Board, which consists of industry experts and former professional athletes in the region. The program is designed to help students become CMPC certified, and the program director is CMPC certified.
#7 California State University, Long Beach
Location: Long Beach, CA
Program: M.S. in Kinesiology, Option in Sport and Exercise Psychology
Details: California State Long Beach’s program is designed to prepare graduates for a successful future working with teams and athletes. Long Beach has multiple CMPC certified faculty members, and the curriculum allows for students to work toward the certification over the 36 credit program. CSULB has a robust Kinesiology department, and graduates of the program can be found teaching in many of the programs included on this list. Students have access to a wide variety of settings – 26 different locations in recent years – in the greater Long Beach area, allowing a great deal of variety and specialization.
#8 University of North Carolina Greensboro
Location: Greensboro, NC
Program: M.S. in Kinesiology, Concentration in Sport and Exercise Psychology
Details: UNC Greensboro’s Kinesiology department offers master’s students three different ways to pursue a sport and exercise psychology concentration, in addition to a PhD option. For those seeking CMPC certification, the Applied Sport Psychology track ensures that students are prepared upon graduation. Two other tracks allow students to customize their Sport and Exercise Psychology with courses in complementary areas or pursue a research track that could begin the path to a PhD. With six faculty teaching the sport and exercise psychology concentration, UNC Greensboro offers students an impressive team to learn from and collaborate with.
#9 Ithaca College
Location: Ithaca, NY
Program: Master’s in Exercise and Sport Sciences, Concentration in Mental Performance
Details: Ithaca College’s Master’s in Exercise and Sport Sciences is offered in two Concentration areas – Human Performance and Mental Performance. Areas of concentration within Human Performance include Mental Performance Enhancement, Counseling, and Psychophysiology. The program is designed to meet AASP requirements for CMPC certification upon graduation, and program alumni have worked in settings ranging from MLB World Champions (Boston Red Sox), high ranking military officials, and collegiate coaches.
#10 TCU (Texas Christian University)
Location: Ft. Worth, TX
Program: Master’s in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology
Details: TCU’s Master’s in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology as one of five concentration areas. TCU’s staff includes a CMPC certified faculty, and the university houses a variety of research labs including the Sport and Exercise Psychology Lab.
#11 University of Florida
Location: Gainesville, FL
Program: Master of Science in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology (M.S. APK), Human Performance concentration
Details: The University of Florida’s Master of Science degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology (M.S. APK) includes a Human Performance concentration where students can elect the Sport and Exercise Psychology concentration. The College of Health and Human Performance at the University of Florida also houses the Performance Psychology Lab, and NIH funded facility that conducts noteworthy research in the field. This program is available either online or on campus.
#12 Michigan State University
Location: East Lansing, MI
Program: M.S. in Kinesiology, Psychosocial Aspects of Sport and Physical Activity Concentration
Details: Michigan State offers a Psychosocial Aspects of Sport and Physical Activity Concentration in the Master’s in Kinesiology program, one of seven concentration areas. Offered through the College of Education, the department also offers a Master’s in Sport Coaching and Leadership as well as a PhD in Kinesiology with a sport psychology concentration. Students focusing on Sport Psychology are able to customize their curriculum by taking courses in psychology, counseling, and sociology – allowing a high level of customization for those seeking to complement their degree in other areas.
#13 The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Location: Knoxville, TN
Program: Master’s in Kinesiology, Concentration in Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior
Details: The University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Master’s in Kinesiology features three concentration areas, including Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior. This program is highly selective, with a cohort of 10-20 students each year out of upwards of 100 applicants. The program curriculum covers sport psychology topics like goal setting, self-talk, ethics, imagery, practice design, focusing attention, feedback scheduling, and virtual/augmented reality.
#14 National University
Location: San Diego, CA
Program: Master of Arts in Sport Psychology
Credits: 67.5 quarter credits
Details: Founded by a retired Navy Captain, National University was established to provide excellent learning opportunities at an affordable price, a tradition which the Masters in Sport Psychology program delivers. National University has multiple AASP certified faculty on staff, and in addition to the Sport Psychology Master’s program, a dual degree with a PhD in Clinical Psychology is also offered for students who intend to go deep into the field. This program is offered 100% online.
#15 Indiana University
Location: Bloomington, IN
Program: MS in Kinesiology, Exercise Psychology track
Details: Indiana University’s Kinesiology Department offers five different concentration areas, including Exercise Psychology.
#16 Texas A&M University, Kingsville
Location: Kingsville, TX
Program: Master’s in Kinesiology, Concentration in Performance Psychology
Details: Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s Master’s in Kinesiology, Concentration in Performance Psychology program offers multiple options depending on student objectives. The research project option includes an internship and is designed to fulfill the requirements for the CMPC certification, allowing students to become certified should they pass the exam upon completion of the program.
#17 Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
Location: Edwardsville, IL
Program: Master’s in Kinesiology, Specialization in Exercise and Sport Psychology
Details: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Masters in Kinesiology is offered with a specialization in Exercise and Sport Psychology that can be completed in 12-22 months. The program is delivered on campus, online, or in a hybrid format, making it accessible to a wide variety of students. SIUE’s program places a focus on mentorship, and program tuition rates make it an excellent value. There are three professors with diverse interests who lecture in this specialization, and study is focused around helping people involved in sport or fitness activities improve both their performance and general well-being.
#18 Adam’s State University
Location: Alamosa, CO
Program: Online M.S. in Applied Sport Psychology
Details: Adams State University’s Online M.S. in Applied Sport Psychology is housed in the school’s Kinesiology department, which also offers Coaching, Exercise Science, and Sport Administration master’s programs. The Applied Sport Psychology curriculum offers an impressive number of AASP qualifying courses, making CMPC certification very straightforward within the program for interested students. For students interested in also taking courses related to coaching or sports administration for future flexibility, Adams State University’s program is an intriguing option.
#19 Bowling Green State University
Location: Bowling Green, OH
Program: Master’s in Kinesiology, Specialization in Sport Psychology
Details: Bowling Green State University’s Masters in Kinesiology is offered with five areas of specialization, including both Exercise Psychology or Sport Psychology. The kinesiology department faculty features several professors who teach graduate level courses in sport and exercise psychology, offering diverse research interests for students to collaborate on. The kinesiology department works with each student to create a curriculum that suits their career goals.
#20 Northern Illinois University
Location: Dekalb, IL
Program: M.S.Ed. in Kinesiology and Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Psychology emphasis
Details: Northern Illinois University’s M.S.Ed in Kinesiology and Physical Education is offered with three areas of emphasis, including Sport and Exercise Psychology. NIU has three full time professors in the sport and exercise psychology emphasis area, and students work with their advisors to create an academic plan that matches their goals.
Sport Psychology Graduate Programs and Treating the Whole Individual
With the rise of mental health issues at every level – from high school and collegiate athletes all the way up to the professional ranks – the importance of having trained and certified sport psychology professionals on staff is growing by the day. Since the need is growing so quickly, it is widely advised that individuals who hope to work with teams and athletes strongly consider pursuing the certifications and degrees which will make them the most employable.
Professor Judy Van Raalte, who recently spoke with Sports Degrees Online, believes that the field of sport psychology is evolving. According to Professor Van Raalte, in the near future…
“a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or clinical psychology plus a CMPC (Certified Mental Performance Consultant) is going to be the entry level point for the field as the field has shifted to a whole person approach.”Professor Judy Van Raalte, Springfield College
Gone are the days when the duty of care of teams and organizations ended as soon as athletes stepped off the field or court. Whereas sport psychology once dealt more strictly with the performance of teams and athletes, it has become widely accepted that athletes must be treated as whole people in order to effectively diagnose and treat issues that they are dealing with. For this reason, sport psychology professionals who are trained to treat each athlete as a whole person will continue to become more sought after in the years to come.
By approaching athletes as whole people, coaches and sport psychologists today are setting young people up for success not only in sport, but also in life. Sport Psychologist and Indiana University Professor Jesse Steinfeldt put this approach in perspective in a recent interview with Sports Degrees Online,
“I have been successful [as a coach] – my teams have won state championships and league titles and all that jazz – but my biggest successes are best measured in the smiles I help kids put on their faces and in the transferrable skills that former players of mine are able to use as they strive to become the best versions of themselves on and off the courts.”[Professor Jesse Steinfeldt, Indiana University]
What to Expect from a Master’s in Sport Psychology Program
Sport Psychology is a diverse field because it relates to the challenges and goals of each individual and team. Since the nature of athletic competition and the challenges of the participants varies across all sports, so too must the skill sets of the sport and exercise psychologist who work with them.
Some sport psychologists focus on individual athletes in sports like tennis, golf, weightlifting, figure skating, and running. Others specialize in working with coaches and managers where the success of a team cohesion and cooperation. Sport psychologists can find themselves working at every level too – some spend their time designing programs for youth and motivating individuals to commit to a healthy lifestyle while others work with athletes and teams at the very top level of the sport.
Because sport psychology is so diverse, master’s in sport psychology programs often offer unique specialization areas which allow students to concentrate a specific area of interest. Prior to pursuing a masters degree in sport psychology, it is strongly advised to determine which area of this field you’d like to specialize in before choosing a program since different programs naturally have their own strengths. Be sure to ask your academic and professional advisors early in the process to consider a variety of perspectives before making your decision.
Graduate and PhD students are strongly advised to do extensive research about what strengths each prospective program – and each professor within that program – before making a final decision. This is because a students concentration areas and research are often influenced by their professors and mentors within their program of study.
How to Choose the Right Sport Psychology Program for You
As the sports industry has grown, so too has the need for a host of other careers in the sports, including sport psychology. In turn, this demand has led to a great many universities now offering master’s degrees in sport psychology. While it is obviously wonderful to have so many programs to choose from, it also makes the process of due diligence in considering all quality options incredibly challenging and time consuming.
You are likely to discover that there are far more options than you would have expected at every price point, and determining the strengths and features of competing programs can sometimes be an arduous task. For this reason, we advise taking the time to complete a spreadsheet so you can consider the metrics that are most important to you side-by-side between similar programs.
Investing time and energy on the front end of the diligence process will save money, time, and remorse later as it ensures you won’t have any regrets about programs or options that you didn’t learn about until it was too late. We recommend trimming your list down to a top six-to-eight schools which will naturally include a couple of preferred or “reach” universities along with some safety schools to fall back on in case you don’t manage to get admitted to your top picks.
Another key piece of due diligence in choosing a program should involve speaking directly with current students to hear their impressions and feedback. For students who aspire to be Sport Psychology practitioners, there are two key questions that prospective students should ask of current students if possible. The University of Denver’s Mark Aoyagi explains the importance of supervision on a master’s in sport psychology program,
“Make sure and do your due diligence as to what supervision looks like in that program. That will tell you something about the field placement, and it will tell you something about the engagement of the faculty with the students. If the faculty is farming out supervision to adjuncts or outside people, just understand that those are people who are not as tied to the program. It’s going to be a different experience than if you were with people who you were with day to day providing that experience.Professor Mark Aoyagi, University of Denver
Since putting theory into practice is literally where the rubber meets the road in sport psychology, receiving timely feedback from true professionals is an invaluable opportunity to hone your skills.
Another key aspect is hearing from students what their experience has been with regard to specific parts of the program. Regardless of whether a program is delivered remote or on campus, it is incredibly valuable to hear from current students what their experience has been. Again, Dr. Aoyagi shares the value of speaking with current students,
“The faculty has a different perspective on what happens in the program than what the students do. The faculty may think that they do something very well, and it is not that they are trying to mislead, but a student may say that they disagree and think that the school does not do that thing very well. It is the student experience that matters. I always say connect with students in the program and ask them “what is supervision like?” or “what are the alumni doing?” Are they doing something similar to what you want to be doing after you graduate?”[Professor Mark Aoyagi, University of Denver]
Specializations in Sport Psychology
There are three main fields or specializations that students typically pursue upon completing a master’s of sport psychology program.
- Sport Psychology Consulting and Mental Performance Consulting.
- While legally speaking most people in this field cannot refer to themselves as sport psychologists, this can be a very interesting path for a lot of students. Generally, students will attain a master’s degree in sport psychology (usually from a kinesiology program). The degree is usually categorized as a Master of Education, or a Master of Science, but can also be a Master of Arts.
- People working in this field are taking a hard look at different factors that can enhance performance in sport, but do not consider mental health aspects.
- One possible route for students to consider is gaining a certification through the Association For Applied Sport Psychology.
- Mental Health in Sport
- To break into this field, students typically pursue a master’s degree in social work, clinical psychology, or counseling psychology. These degrees could be categorized as either a Master of Social Work or a Master of Arts depending on the degree structure and university. To be competitive and prepared to work in this field, specifically in sport, students should have studied sport and sport psychology as part of their program.
- Professionals in this field are concerned with addressing the mental health of athletes as opposed to their sport performance. Because of this, they are licensed professionals, certified to deliver mental health care.
- Sport Psychologist
- A sport psychologist meets the qualifications of the above fields, thus being able to address mental health in sport as well as performance in sport.
- A sport psychologist is a licensed professional providing professional guidance and care and is equipped to help increase performance, and address mental health concerns.
A master’s in sport psychology degree offers the opportunity to specialize in areas such as attention and concentration, motivation, sport performance enhancement, sport sociology, and psychology of rehabilitation and recovery. It will also familiarize graduates with potential applications of the degree through networking relationships with professionals who are already in the workforce.
Why Should I Study a Master’s in Sport Psychology?
A master’s degree in sport psychology prepares graduates to specialize in working with teams and athletes across the wide world of sports and fitness. Whereas most undergraduate psychology degrees would likely not include any sport-specific courses, a sport psychology master’s degree is comprised exclusively of psychology applications relevant for sports, teams and athletes.
There is already a great deal of research out there which proves how important mentors and other social agents can be for young people. Professor Alan Chu, of the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, explains,
““From many years of research, we know that motivation influences burnout, dropout, and even mental health issues in athletes we discussed earlier. Because organized sports involve intense training and wins and losses – which youths and young adults are not always ready to handle – it is particularly important for social agents (e.g., coaches, teachers, parents) to build a positive environment for athletes’ intrinsic motivation and coping skills. This intrinsic motivation can go a long way to keep athletes in sports now and in the future when things are hard. Also, it is not surprising that teams and athletes that are intrinsically motivated tend to be healthier, perform better, and win more.”[Professor Alan Chu, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay]
For graduates who are passionate about psychology, sports, and health and wellness, a master’s degree in sport psychology not only equips you with the tools you need to help young people “be happier and perform better” – it might be the key to the career path of your dreams. Sport Psychology offers the opportunity to affect real change and make a difference in the lives of young people. Again, Professor Jesse Steinfeldt explains,
“I think that we can use sport to effectuate meaningful change in athletes’ lives on the micro and the macro levels – from individual life lessons that produce transferrable skills outside of sport to social justice advocacy efforts wherein athletes can use their platform to influence policy and other aspects of society where injustice arises. Sport is such a beautifully fertile field to examine social dynamics…and to effectuate meaningful change in peoples’ lives.”[Dr. Jesse Steinfeldt, University of Indiana]
A PhD or PsyD is required for licensed, practicing sport psychologists at the very top of the discipline, but there are a great deal more positions for which a master’s degree is all but required. A masters in sport psychology prepares graduates for a wide variety of positions in the wide world of sport, and this degree might be the perfect opportunity to build highly valuable skills in a growing field.
This is an inherently interdisciplinary field, and depending on which area you would like to focus in, expertise in complementary areas related to sports and wellness will be required if not incredibly useful. For this reason, a master’s degree in sport psychology could be an attractive addition for individuals with a foundation in psychology who are already educated in fields like exercise science, kinesiology, athletic administration, or sport management.
An advanced degree in sport psychology equips graduates with bona fide credentials that can be applied to the broad–and growing–sports industry, while also teaching a valuable skill set that is applicable across the business world and beyond. For those who are passionate about sports, this degree could make the difference in qualifying yourself for the career you have always dreamed of.
At the end of the day, the goal of Sport Psychology professionals is to help the teams and athletes they work with to live their best lives both in sport and in life. Professor Mark Aoyagi, Co-Director of Sport and Performance Psychology at the University of Denver, recently explained his own approach this way to Sports Degrees Online,
“My goal… is to work through the medium of sport and performance domains to influence the people in those domains and learn how the journey toward being a more complete, whole, and satisfied person can also be compatible with a highly successful, high-achieving, tip-of-the-sward performer… [That’s a summary of how I use Sport Psychology now – thinking about] how to optimize people, systems, and ultimately society to get the most out of themselves both individually and collectively, and to use high-pressure and high-stakes environments as a testing ground and a proving ground for how to do that.”[Dr Mark Aoyagi, University of Denver]
What is Required for Acceptance into a Master’s in Sport Psychology Program?
The vast majority of universities and schools require a bachelor’s degree with a GPA over 3.0 to be considered for a master’s degree in sport psychology along with GRE test results. Prior fields of study are not restricted to be accepted into most programs, though some schools do have some prerequisite courses. Professional experience in a related field is generally preferred but not required. Keep in mind that some programs are highly competitive while others are able to accept the majority of their applicants.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field with similar core courses is required to be considered for a master’s. However, even if you did not complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology, it is not too late to pursue an advanced education in the field of sport psychology. Like any other master’s degree, there are prerequisite courses for a sport psychology master’s program, and a bachelor’s degree in fields like exercise science or kinesiology would likely provide you with most – if not all – of the prerequisite courses.
A sport psychology master’s program – together with a CMPC Certification – could be the ideal capstone to help get you break into a meaningful career working with teams and athletes as a sport psychology professional.
Applying for a Sport Psychology Graduate School Program
To get started, it is wise to gather key pieces of information about each program, including GRE and GPA requirements, application deadlines and semester start dates, and the length of each program so that you don’t lose track of these items. You will always need to provide proof of your transcripts and letters of recommendation, so there is no reason to delay collecting this information so you have it ready to go when you need it.
Concerning your recommendation letters, do what you can to build these relationships early–and always ask for them well in advance–to make sure that your recommendations are solid and sparkling. They can sometimes make the difference between being accepted and not, so invest the time and energy to make sure you will win in this area.
Advantages to Studying your Master’s in Sport Psychology Degree on Campus
Many of the advantages for studying your master’s degree on campus relate to the networking and in-person connections that many universities provide through their sports programs, internships, and mentorship with nearby professional and minor league teams. While there are other ways to find these opportunities, the ease of which many programs plug in to them at some universities is certainly a selling point. The chance to collaborate in-person with other like-minded individuals who share your passion for the sports industry is also an incentive for studying on campus.
Should You Consider an Online Sport Psychology Degree?
Despite the above advantages to studying on campus, there is no question that earning your Master’s in Sport Psychology degree through an online program also has a great deal of upside.
For many working professionals with busy lives, it is simply impossible to dedicate a full year to living on campus –possibly far from home and responsibilities – to getting a master’s degree. However, since online degrees offer both synchronous and asynchronous studying, many students are able to carve out time around their busy schedules to complete their coursework.
Whereas just a few years ago online degree programs were viewed as inferior alternatives to on-campus programs, that stigma is now a thing of the past. The global pandemic has ushered in a new age where online programs are now accepted as equal to classroom learning. Universities offering both online and on-campus degree programs now grant the same degrees whether students attended in person or online and there is no difference in the final diploma.
As the entire world has adapted to living online, networking, internship and career placement services and events have now gone virtual as well, so online programs can now offer the same networking opportunities as on-campus programs.
Master in Sport Psychology FAQs
There is a range depending on the location of the practice, and the job title. According to Scott Goldman, PhD, and Director of Clinical and Sport Psychology at the University of Arizona, a sport psychologist working for a university’s athletic department could earn between $80,000-$100,000/yr. While looking across the entire sector of the sports industry, Payscale has determined that the average salary is $73,646 nationwide, but people working in higher cost of living areas should expect to earn more.
This varies based on the term of employment, but generally speaking, a sport psychologist is responsible for helping athletes increase their performance, set and achieve goals, and overcome issues. If working for a college or university, the NCAA is generally looking for the athletic department’s full-time sport psychologist to provide individual counseling, coordinate substance abuse, and eating disorder services, as well as educate staff on relevant issues while consulting with athletic administrators on psychological care issues within the athletic department. If you are working for a professional sports team, then the requirements will likely change and is probably more focused on individual and team performance. A private sport psychologist would be meeting with clients and attending to their needs ad hoc.
There are three main areas that hold the bulk of sport psychology jobs: colleges and universities, professional sports teams, and private practices. College and universities employ both clinical and applied sport psychologists whether they work for the athletic department as a coach or consultant, or as a professor who is either teaching or researching. Professional and semi-professional sports teams employ both full-time and part-time sport psychologists, and sometimes have multiple psychologists on staff depending on their budget. And of course someone who is in private practice could be consulting with individual athletes or teams in a variety of ways. Check out our Sport Psychology Career Guide for more information about these jobs.
Tuition for a master’s degree in sport psychology vary widely between schools–with some 100% online and others on prestigious campuses–and programs can range from $18,000 to $100,000+ for a two-year degree. For on-campus programs, additional expenses (housing, etc.) will also need to be accounted for. Many universities offer financial aid for qualifying students, so it is always worth asking if any assistance might be possible.
Most schools offer the master’s degree in sport psychology in two years of full time study, and it is quite common for many schools to offer popular alternative schedules as well. Many schools also have an option to study the master’s degree on a part-time basis.
Depending on the institution, many programs also include preferred placement for internships or work on capstone projects with local professional sports teams. These opportunities can be a great way to leverage existing networks to pursue attractive positions that could potentially be a good fit for you, though these practical components.
Program graduation requirements can vary a great deal between different schools, with some programs placing great emphasis on capstone research projects with an eye toward a PhD. Other programs prepare students for a clinical path and require extensive field experience. As our ranking list above shows, some programs require just 30-36 credits while others require 54 credit hours or more.
Sport Psychology Master’s Program Ranking Methodology
Below is Sports Degrees Online’s matrix used for ranking our Best Overall Sport Psychology programs:
AASP Cert Prep Available = 2pt.
Faculty With AASP Certification = 1 pt
Offers some sort of hybrid or distance Learning = 1pt
Solid variety of internship opportunities = 1 pt
Percent of students receiving financial aid : < 20% = 1pt, 20-60% = 2pts, >60% = 3pts
Selectivity/Institutional quality <60% = 4pt, <70%=3pt, <80%=2pts, <90% =1pt
Staff to student ratio 16 or under = 1pt, >16 0pts
Depth and relevance of coursework related to sport psychology = up to 1.5pts
Other Notable & International Programs:
St. Mary’s University
Location: Twickenham, England
Program: Applied Sport Psychology, MSc, PGDip, PGCert
Credits: 180 (All modules have a credit value of 20, except for the research project which has a credit value of 60)
Tuition: Home: £9,750 | International: £14,550
Details: The St Mary’s University Master’s in Applied Sport Psychology has a discipline-focussed curriculum, developing knowledge and applied skills that are critical to practitioners. This includes topics like well-being, stress and emotions, resilience, motivation, cultural and relational sport psychology, counseling skills, applied motor skills, and professional practice in sport psychology. The programme is taught on the London campus in England and takes 12 months full time or 24 months part-time. St Mary’s places students in the heart of all it does and is rated top five in the country for student experience and top ten for teaching quality in the Good University Guide.