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Sports Psychology Universities and Programs: Sports Psychology Degree Courses and Graduate Program

Professional athletes need to be mentally prepared for competition and training, and often need the help of a sports psychologist. Sports psychology universities offer comprehensive sports psychology graduate programs and specialized sports psychology courses to prepare students for a rewarding career in their field. A qualified sports psychologist works with elite athletes, Olympians and other athletes to help them build their mental training skills and keep them highly motivated to compete and succeed in their sport. Sports psychology is a growing field and a number of sports psychology programs are now available online.

Types of Sports Psychology Programs

Sports psychology programs are designed to increase performance skills and encourage mental toughness in athletes. Sports psychologists typically work one-on-one with athletes to uncover behaviors and attitudes that are preventing the athlete from performing at his or her best. Sports psychologists also perform mental aptitude assessments and provide personalized coaching for athletes who are struggling with self-limiting beliefs or problems that are preventing them from reaching their goals.

Different types of sports psychology programs available at sports psychology universities include:

  • Athlete Mental Coaching
  • Advanced Mental Training
  • Baseball Psychology
  • Tennis Psychology
  • Golf Psychology
  • Competitive Sport Psychology
  • Athlete Confidence Training
  • Kids' Sports Psychology

Sports Psychology Degrees

A sports psychology degree program is typically available at the master's level and trains students how to apply psychological principles with athletes in areas of performance enhancement, stress management, team motivation, injury and recovery. These degree programs help students understand the mental processes of athletes who are training independently and competing with a team. They learn how to guide their patients toward achieving their goals and stay motivated throughout each season of training and competition.

Students attending a sports psychology university may also have the option to participate in a performance behavior lab that trains students in how to collect and analyze data, observe athletes under the direction of a sports psychologist, and use specialized psychophysiological equipment. These types of courses may also include training DVDs and online learning modules that complement various sports psychology courses.

Types of Sports Psychology Courses

The types of sports psychology courses offered at various colleges and universities vary by program and specialization, but most schools require students to complete a bachelor's degree in a related field before applying for sports psychology graduate programs. Some of the most common types of sports psychology programs available at a sports psychology university include:

  • Applied Motor Learning
  • Motivational Coaching for Athletes
  • Sports History
  • Role of Sports in Society
  • Sports Psychology Research Methods
  • Effects of Multiculturalism in Sports Psychology
  • Therapeutic Counseling for Athletes
  • Biomechanical Exercise Physiology

In some cases, students may also have the option to take a sports psychology course online. Taking a sports psychology course online or completing a portion of the sports psychology program over the Internet can make it easier to maintain a job while completing the degree program, without compromising on the quality of the educational experience.

Attending a Sports Psychology University

Sports psychology universities offer advanced training and clinical experience for students interested in becoming sports psychologists. A sports psychology university program may operate under a university's Department of Psychology and many offer very specialized classes, a performance behavior lab and options for working professionals. Many sports psychology graduate programs include the following types of specialized courses:

  • Biological and Medical Aspects of Motor and Physical Disabilities

  • Coaching Techniques for Disabled Athletes

  • Aquatics Training for Athletes

  • Media Relations and Sport

  • Sport Marketing Management

  • Medical Recognition of Athletic Injuries

  • Financial Applications to Sport

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation Lab

  • Manual Therapy in Sports Medicine

  • Fitness Assessment and Program Development

  • Advanced Exercise Physiology

  • Applied Physiology of Resistance Training

  • Exercise and Energy Metabolism

Careers with a Sports Psychology Degree

Students who successfully complete a sports psychology degree program can pursue a number of career options at local colleges, athletic training centers, fitness centers and wellness camps. Some of the career options available to those with a sports psychology degree program include:

  • Instructor at a Park or Recreation Department

  • In-house Psychologist at a Fitness Club

  • Sports Camp Psychologist, Coach or Therapist

  • Wellness Program Coordinator or Psychologist

  • Physical Education Instructor

  • Athletic Coach

  • Personal Trainer

  • Military Professional

  • Personal Fitness Educator

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wages of salary clinical, counseling and school psychologists were $64,140 in May 2008. In that same year, approximately 31 percent of all psychologists were members of a union.



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