Step 1: Choose Your Sports Psychology Degree Level

Sports psychology programs are available online and in-person at various degree levels, including bachelor’s, master’s, graduate certificates, and doctorate (Ph.D). Each degree offers different levels of specialization and career opportunities. Here’s a brief overview of each:

Degree TypeDescriptionDurationAdditional Information
Bachelor's Degree in Sports PsychologyProvides foundational understanding of psychology and sports science. Curriculum covers psychology, exercise physiology, and performance enhancement techniques.4 years
Master's Degree in Sports PsychologyOffers advanced coursework in performance enhancement, counseling techniques, and sports science research. Provides opportunities for practical experience through internships or supervised practice.2 years
Graduate Certificate in Sports PsychologyA shorter program for individuals with a background in psychology or related fields to gain specialized knowledge in sports psychology. Open to those with a master's degree (or sometimes a bachelor's degree).1 yearFocuses on topics specific to sports psychology. Results in a certificate and not a standalone degree.
Doctorate in Sports PsychologyHighest level of education in sports psychology. Involves in-depth research, advanced coursework, and clinical training. Ph.D. emphasizes research and academic pursuits, while a PsyD focuses on clinical practice. The Ph.D. in Sports Psychology is the most common option.4-7 yearsPsyD option is typically offered as a PsyD in Clinical Psychology in a dual degree format with a Master's in Sports Psychology.

Step 2: Find an Accredited Online or Traditional Sports Psychology Program

When choosing a sports psychology program, consider whether you prefer an online or traditional on-campus format. Both options have advantages, so choose the one that aligns with your learning style and personal circumstances. Hybrid programs, which combine online courses with limited campus visits, are occasionally available. Whether you decide on an online, in-person, or hybrid sports psychology degree, ensure that the program you select is accredited by recognized accrediting bodies, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality standards, and an accredited sports psychology degree is often required for certification and job opportunities.

To find a good program, research universities and colleges that offer sports psychology degrees near you. Consider program reputation, faculty expertise, available resources, and alumni success. Look for programs that provide opportunities for hands-on experiences, such as internships or practicum placements, as they can enhance your practical skills and networking opportunities.

Sports Psychology Program Prerequisites

Admissions requirements for sports psychology programs vary depending on the degree level and institution. However, common prerequisites may include:

Bachelor’s Degree: High school diploma or equivalent, standardized test scores (e.g., SAT or ACT), letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

Master’s Degree: Bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, minimum GPA requirements, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and possibly relevant work experience or research experience.

Graduate Certificate: Typically requires a master’s degree in psychology or related area; occasionally, programs are available to those with a psychology bachelor’s degree. Typically requires a minimum GPA, CV or resume, and official transcripts.

Ph.D. Degree: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in psychology or a related field, minimum GPA requirements, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, curriculum vitae (CV), and possibly relevant research experience or clinical experience.

Step 3: Get Licensed and Certified as a Sports Psychologist

To practice as a sports psychologist, you must fulfill specific licensing and certification requirements. These requirements vary by state and country. In the United States, most states require licensure for practicing psychologists. Licensing typically involves completing a doctoral degree, accumulating supervised clinical experience, and passing a licensing examination, such as the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).

Additionally, professional certification through organizations like the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) or the American Board of Sport Psychology (ABSP) can demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field. Certification requirements may include education, supervised experience, and passing a certification exam.

Step 4: Find a Job as a Sports Psychologist

Sports psychologist employment can be found in various settings, including sports teams, athletic departments, universities, or private practice. Your role may involve providing counseling, performance enhancement training, mental skills coaching, and research. You could work with individual athletes, teams, coaches, or athletic organizations to help them optimize their performance and mental well-being.

Building a good sports psychologist resume and solid professional network is essential, participating in relevant conferences and workshops, and seeking mentorship opportunities to enhance your career prospects is essential. Stay updated with the latest research and advancements in sports psychology to provide the best possible support to athletes. Sports psychologist salaries will vary based on location and experience level, but most can expect to make anywhere from $64,000 to $85,000 annually.