Sports Psychology Doctoral Programs in the U.S.A.

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sports-psychologyWhile certainly not nearly as abundant as the programs offered in other more popular branches of the psychological field, there are 12 doctoral programs in sports psychology that are scattered across the United States at some of the nation’s leading universities. As a specialization in both psychology and kinesiology, sports psychology is concerned with studying the mental, physiological, psychological, emotional, cultural, and social factors that make an impact on human performance in sports as well as other physical activities.

Argosy University offers a Master of Arts in Sport-Exercise Psychology. Click here to contact Argosy University and request information about their programs.

Resource:  Ultimate Online Guide to Becoming a Sports Psychologist (Mini-Course)

If you are interested in pursuing a degree that will deliver the latest mental training strategies for enhancing athletic performance at all sport levels, the following are the top doctoral programs that are available in sports psychology in the United States today. We present them in alphabetical order.

Boston University

Graduate School of Education

With a total headcount of over 33,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate level, Boston University is one of the nation’s largest private non-profit research institutions. BU sits on a 133-acre urban campus along the Charles River in New England’s largest city. As an elite member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, it is no surprise that BU is ranked as the 41st best college and 14th top up-and-coming school in the United States by the U.S. News and World Report. As the country’s 51st best education school, the Graduate School of Education is also acclaimed for having the 46th best graduate psychology programs.

Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology: Concentration in Sport/Performance Psychology

Built with a traditional scientist-practitioner model for the development of counseling practice abilities along with psychological theory, the Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology offers a unique concentration on the contributions of Sport/Performance Psychology to human wellness. While there is a non-licensure track offered, the majority of doctoral students follow the licensure track to seek state licensure as a psychologist through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards in Massachusetts. With a curriculum that generally takes five academic years full-time beyond completion of psychology master’s programs, the program prepares graduates to work primarily in academic settings to assist athletes, performing artists, teams, and sports organizations at all educational levels realize their optimal performance.

Accreditations

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)

Contact Information

Two Silber Way
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 358-4766
sbroder@bu.edu
Program Website

Florida State University

College of Education

First established in 1851 as a major selective public institution of higher learning with a world-class reputation for cutting-edge research, Florida State University is located on a 448-acre sprawling urban campus in the heart of the state’s capital city of Tallahassee with more than 30,000 students. Despite being the oldest continuous university in the state, FSU is still highly regarded nationwide for being the 91st best college and 40th top public school by the U.S. News and World Report. As the 39th best education school in the United States, the College of Education also is home to the 60th best psychology doctoral programs.

Doctorate in Sport Psychology

Designed to provide a foundational knowledge in sport psychology theory and research as a Track II program, the Doctorate in Sport Psychology program prepares qualified graduate students for assuming academic teaching and/or research positions at the university level in accordance with the scientist-practitioner model of training. Due to the specific emphasis on the psychological theories involved in athletics, some graduates may also wish to pursue careers as coaching educators or consulting professionals with amateur and professional athletes through various sports organizations. As a three year full-time program beyond the master’s degree, the curriculum requires the successful completion of advanced courses, disciplinary specialization electives, a comprehensive examination, original dissertation research, and an oral dissertation defense for graduation with a Ph.D. in Sport Psychology.

Accreditations

  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Contact Information

1114 West Call Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
(850) 644-8786
plollie@fsu.edu
Program Website

John F. Kennedy University

College of Graduate and Professional Studies

Based on a suburban campus in the town of Pleasant Hill and overlooking the San Francisco Bay with satellite locations in San Jose and Berkeley, John F. Kennedy University was founded in 1964 as an accredited independent non-profit institution within the National University System. In particular, the College of Graduate and Professional Studies offers a broad variety of flexible program options that have been designed to prepare students for enriching their educational experiences to meet career leadership goals in a supportive and transformative environment.

M.A in Sport Psychology – Clinical Psy.D. Dual Degree

For graduate students who are interested in working within a clinical mental health setting while using clinical skills to work with amateur or professional athletes, there is an innovative program available that allows individuals to work towards earning a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sport Psychology along with a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical Psychology concurrently. Rooted in the valuable opportunity to work with both clinical patients and athletes to build the knowledge needed for both fields, the program is specifically designed to produce practitioners rather than researchers. After earning both degrees within five years of rigorous full-time studies, students are able to pursue certification through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) as well as earn licensure in California.

Accreditations

  • American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation (CoA)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

Contact Information

100 Ellinwood Way
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 969-3414
arhodius@jfku.edu
Program Website

Oregon State University

College of Public Health and Human Sciences

Situated on a beautiful 422-acre suburban campus in the town of Corvallis within just an hour’s drive from the sparkling coastline of the Pacific Ocean, Oregon State University is the state’s largest four-year comprehensive public land-grant and sea-grant research institution with a diverse community of over 26,000 students. Not only has Corvallis been consistently named among the safest cities to live in the United States, but OSU has also been ranked as the 142nd best college and 73rd top public school in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Furthermore, the College of Public Health and Human Services is home to some of the 101st best graduate psychology programs in the country.

Ph.D. Program in Sport and Exercise Psychology

With a research-oriented emphasis on the social psychology of physical activity, the Ph.D. Program in Sport and Exercise Psychology is designed to address how social and psychological factors influence human participation as well as performance in exercise activities. As a full-time program that requires at least four years of full-time study beyond an accredited master’s degree, the Ph.D. curriculum covers topics in motivation, self-perception, group dynamics, leadership, behavior change, human movement, physical disabilities, epidemiology, and other principles of sport psychology. Through a theory-to-practice approach, the program aims to enable students to learn about current research and conduct original research that can be applied to practical situations in the field of sport or exercise psychology.

Accreditations

  • Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Contact Information

123 Women’s Building
Corvallis, OR 97331
(541) 737-3220
vicki.ebbeck@osu.edu
Program Website

Purdue University

Department of Health and Kinesiology

Headquartered on a vast 2,468-acre urban flagship campus in the city of West Lafayette, with four satellite locations scattered throughout the state of Indiana in the university system, Purdue University is one of the nation’s major comprehensive public land-grant research institutions, with more than 200 areas of study. With many of its programs consistently ranking among the best in the United States, Purdue is currently ranked as the 68th best college and 24th top public school in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Moreover, the Department of Health and Kinesiology is renowned for offering two of the country’s 46th best graduate psychology programs.

Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Structured with a research emphasis on studying social relationships, emotional processes, self-perceptions, and adaptation to adversity in relation to physical activity, the Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology program requires the completion of at least four years of full-time advanced graduate studies beyond the master’s degree. With the goal of training graduate students to pursue employment in academic and research settings, the program enables students to customize their coursework in collaboration with an experienced faculty member who shares similar research interests. That being said, students can expect to take courses in the areas of human lifespan development, social psychology, communications, sociology, research methodologies, kinesiology, health assessment, stress/coping, and motivational processes in sport and exercise.

Accreditations

  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

Contact Information

800 West Stadium Avenue
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 496-9483
mcdonough@purdue.edu
Program Website

San Diego University for Integrative Studies

Department of Psychology

First established in 1999 on an urban campus in the heart of Old Town in San Diego with a complementary distance learning program online from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, San Diego University for Integrative Studies is a small private unaccredited institution that offers programs focused on the relationship between the mind, body, and spirit. Within the Department of Psychology, students have the freedom to choose programs focused on sport psychology, posture therapy, expressive arts therapy, transpersonal psychology, psychobiomechanics, and even Tibetan Buddhist studies.

Ph.D. in Psychology: Specialization in Sport Psychology

In an effort to prepare well-qualified graduates for consulting with individual athletes, sports teams, athletic organizations, committees, and national governing bodies, the Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in Sport Psychology program is designed to provide the advanced knowledge base needed to effectively teach and coach in programs tailored to meet the unique needs of this population. Through a combination of advanced seminars with intensive research and internship experiences, the program enhances students’ professional skills to enhance their capabilities for better serving others. After completing a minimum of 85 quarter units in the licensing track at the graduate level, graduates will qualify for pursuing licensure as a psychologist to practice within California.

Accreditations

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) – Candidacy

Contact Information

3900 Harney Street
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 297-1999
sduisadmissions@sduis.edu
Program Website

Temple University

Department of Kinesiology

Positioned on a 330-acre metropolitan campus in the downtown hub of Philadelphia with a community of over 39,000 students, Temple University is a major leading public research institution. With the distinction of being the fourth largest provider of professional education in the United States, Temple is currently ranked as the 121st best college, 60th top public school, and 24th best university for veterans in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Within the College of Health Professions, the Department of Kinesiology is home to one of the doctoral psychology programs that have been ranked as the 52nd best in the country.

Ph.D. in Kinesiology with Concentration in Psychology of Human Movement

Ideal for graduate students who are seeking a program with a specific focus on the scientific research study of human behavior in relation to exercise, sports, and other forms of human physical activities, the Ph.D. in Kinesiology offers a concentration in Psychology of Human Movement. Through a combination of theory, research, and clinical practice in diverse areas of the field, the program aims to prepare graduates for teaching and/or research positions at Carnegie Research I institutions across the nation. Depending on specialized interests, students will learn more about performance enhancement, time management, athletic injury, substance abuse and eating disorders, motivation, gender issues, and sport psychology.

Accreditations

  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Contact Information

1316 West Ontario Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-8718
msachs@temple.edu
Program Website

University of Missouri

College of Education

As the only university in the state to participate in Division I-A intercollegiate college athletics, the University of Missouri is a large comprehensive four-year public research institution of more than 34,000 students based on a 1,262-acre urban campus in Columbia surrounded by botanical gardens. According to the U.S. News and World Report, Mizzou is ranked as the 97th best college, 44th top public school, and 12th best university for veterans in the nation. Furthermore, the College of Education has been declared the 55th best education school with the 52nd top graduate psychology programs in the United States.

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with Subspecialty in Sport Psychology

With the mission of qualifying graduates to become licensed counseling psychologists in Missouri, as well as certified consultants through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), the Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a subspecialty in Sport Psychology is offered to eligible graduate students with a master’s degree who have a strong interest in learning more about human behavior associated with sports and/or exercise. Founded with a unique partnership with the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Comprehensive Integrated Sport Psychology Service Delivery Program, the program is designed to provide students with strong preparation in psychological principles, as well as hands-on field experience in applied practice settings. Applicants must have achieved a combined GRE score of 1000 or higher and have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0 or better for admissions.

Accreditations

  • American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation (CoA)
  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

Contact Information

118 Hill Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-0699
JohnstonJ@missouri.edu
Program Website

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Department of Kinesiology

First founded in 1891 as an elite student-centered public research institution focused on fostering intellectual inquiry, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is located on a 210-acre urban campus in the central region of the state at the midway point between the major metropolitan areas of Washington, DC and Atlanta. Home to more than 14,800 students, UNCG is ranked as the 190th best college and 108th top public school in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. Even more importantly, the Department of Kinesiology is acclaimed for offering one of the 92nd best graduate psychology degree programs in the U.S.

Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Established with the goal of enhancing human functioning by acquiring cutting-edge knowledge on the study of cognitive, psychological, physiological, social, and emotional factors that influence exercise behaviors, the Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology program features a seamless integration of theory with research and practice in the effects of physical activity. As a four-year full-time advanced professional program, graduate students should pursue this degree if they are interested in pursuing career options as professors, researchers, coaches, exercise leaders, or sport psychology consultants with a wide variety of athletic organizations.

Accreditations

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Contact Information

1400 Spring Garden Street
Greensboro, NC 27402
(336) 334-5573
kin@uncg.edu
Program Website

University of North Texas

Department of Psychology

Well-known for being the country’s 25th largest student-focused public research institution with a total headcount of over 36,000 students, the University of North Texas is based on a 875-acre urban campus in the city of Denton within a close distance to the booming Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Within one of the nation’s most diverse universities, the Department of Psychology is highly regarded for offering the 141st best psychology doctoral programs in the entire United States by the U.S. News and World Report.

Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with Emphasis in Sport Psychology

Offered through a unique elective cluster within a doctoral program that has been fully accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) for excellence, the Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Sport Psychology combined program is structured to provide an in-depth training to graduate students seeking to become independent licensed psychologists for working with athletic organizations. Within the scientist-practitioner model, the program provides students extensive applied learning experiences through sport psychology practicum to work directly with athletes, coaches, teams, and whole sport agencies. While students with an accredited master’s degree can finish in four to five years, those with only an undergraduate degree are also welcomed for completion in at least six years.

Accreditations

  • American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation (CoA)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Contact Information

1611 West Mulberry Street
Denton, TX 76203
(940) 369-7767
sportpsych@unt.edu
Program Website

West Virginia University

College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences

Situated on an immense 2,737-acre suburban campus in the small city of Morgantown, West Virginia University is an elite comprehensive public land-grant research institution with more than 23,000 students. As home to the nation’s 14th most affordable out-of-state tuition rates, WVU is ranked as the 170th best college, 94th top public school, and 41st best university for veterans in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report. The College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences is also home to one of the 78th best graduate psychology degree programs in the country.

Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Available for qualified graduate students who are entering with either an undergraduate degree or master’s degree in a related human service field, the Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology program has been created to prepare individuals for obtaining certification through the Association of Applied Sports Psychology (AASP) through a diverse curriculum covering topics in sports, exercise, injury, and counseling. For completion of the program in the scientist-practitioner model of psychology, students must successfully complete a minimum of 65 credits in advanced major coursework along with intensive internship and practicum experiences throughout the state.

Accreditations

  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (NCA)

Contact Information

P.O. Box 6116
Morgantown, WV 26506
(304) 293-3393
greg.goodwin@mail.wvu.edu
Program Website

Although many individuals mistakenly believe that sports psychology is solely focused on professional athletic organizations, this specialized field area actually offers a broad range of applied practice options with athletes and non-athletes seeking to improve their performance. Sports psychologists may be interested in teaching at the university level, conducting research, coaching youth sports, or consulting with athletic organizations. Regardless of your professional goals in the growing field, be sure to check out these doctoral programs in sports psychology in the United States to acquire exceptional experiences in sports performance.

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