Online Master's in Sports Psychology

Written by: Psych Degree Starter Editorial Team   •  Dec 20, 2023

Online Masters in Sports Psychology

The world of sports is not just about physical prowess. The mental aspect plays a significant role in achieving success. Sports psychologists work in an expanding field that is changing the way athletes prepare and perform at the highest levels.

What Is Sports Psychology 

Sports psychology is a unique branch of psychology that intertwines the study of human behavior, emotions, and cognition within the realm of sports and exercise.

This specialized field aims to comprehend the psychological factors affecting an athlete’s performance and determine how participating in sports can impact an individual’s mental health, resilience, and overall well-being.

From addressing performance anxiety to boosting team cohesion, sports psychologists use evidence-based methods to improve both individual and team outcomes.

Why Earn a Master’s in Sports Psychology 

As the significance of mental well-being gains attention in the world of sports, there’s a growing demand for trained professionals who can cater to athletes’ psychological needs.

A master’s in sports psychology not only provides an in-depth understanding of psychological principles related to sports but also equips students with tools to apply these principles in real-world situations.

Graduates can make impactful contributions to the athletic community, from grassroots initiatives to elite sports environments, by optimizing athlete performance, ensuring mental well-being, and promoting a healthier sports culture.


Enhanced Expertise in Sports Performance Enhancement 

Acquiring a master’s in sports psychology provides individuals with advanced training on how to improve athletic performance through psychological techniques.

These may include cognitive-behavioral strategies, visualization exercises, and mindfulness practices. By understanding the psychological underpinnings of athletic performance, professionals can provide tailored interventions to athletes, ensuring they reach their peak potential.

Understanding the Psychological Effects of Injury and Rehabilitation 

Injuries are an unfortunate reality in sports, often leading to significant emotional and psychological distress for athletes.

A master’s degree in sports psychology delves into the psychological aftermath of injuries, such as coping mechanisms, mental roadblocks during rehabilitation, and the importance of mental resilience.

Professionals equipped with this knowledge can play a pivotal role in an athlete’s recovery journey, ensuring they regain not just physical strength but also mental fortitude.

Opportunity to Work with Professional Athletes or Sports Teams 

A master’s in sports psychology can open doors to working with elite athletes and renowned sports teams. These professionals often require dedicated sports psychologists to navigate the high-pressure environment, deal with media scrutiny, and maintain optimal performance levels.

With specialized training, graduates can offer exclusive insights and strategies tailored to the unique challenges faced by professional athletes and teams, ensuring they stay at the top of their game mentally.

Reasons to Study Online


Online courses offer unparalleled flexibility, allowing students to study at their own pace. For working professionals or those with family obligations, this means they can schedule their coursework around other commitments. This flexibility ensures that education is accessible, no matter how hectic one’s lifestyle might be.


Studying online exposes students to a diverse range of peers from different cultural, geographical, and professional backgrounds. This diversity enhances the learning experience, offering fresh perspectives and insights into global sports psychology practices. It also builds a robust international network, beneficial for future career opportunities and collaborations.


Online programs often have fewer overheads compared to traditional on-campus courses. As a result, many institutions pass these savings onto students in the form of reduced tuition fees. Additionally, students save on commuting, housing, and other miscellaneous campus-related expenses, making online education a more economical choice for many.

How Much Does a Master’s in Sports Psychology Cost? 

Costs for online master’s in sports psychology programs are typically in the $20,000 to $40,000 range, but degree program costs vary widely based on type of degree, institution, and location.

It’s crucial to note that while online programs may be cheaper in terms of tuition, some other costs, like books or software, might apply. However, the overall expenses are often lower than those associated with traditional formats.

Master’s in Sports Psychology Online Curriculum 

Typical courses include:

  • Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology: This course introduces students to the foundational theories and principles of sports psychology, examining the intersection of sports, exercise, and mental health.

  • Performance Enhancement Techniques: This course dives into the techniques and strategies employed to boost an athlete’s mental and physical performance, focusing on aspects like visualization, mindfulness, and cognitive restructuring.

  • Team Dynamics and Leadership: This module explores the psychological elements driving team cohesion and the role of leadership within sports teams.

  • Psychological Rehabilitation of the Injured Athlete: Here, students learn about the emotional and psychological aftermath of sports injuries and strategies to help athletes cope and recover mentally.

  • Mental Skills Training for Athletes: This course offers insights into developing critical mental skills like concentration, confidence, and self-awareness, enabling athletes to perform under pressure.

  • Ethical Issues in Sports Psychology: Students explore the ethical considerations unique to sports psychology, ensuring they maintain professionalism and integrity in their practice.

  • Cultural and Societal Impacts on Athletes: This course examines how societal norms, cultural values, and global events can impact an athlete’s psyche and performance.

What Are the Admission Requirements for Master’s in Sports Psychology Online Programs?

Pursuing a master’s degree in sports psychology is a commendable decision that promises both personal and professional growth. However, to get started on this journey, prospective students must meet certain requirements set by educational institutions. These criteria ensure that enrollees have the foundational knowledge and commitment to thrive in the program.

Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution 

Every master’s program generally requires applicants to have completed an undergraduate degree. For sports psychology, this bachelor’s degree doesn’t always need to be in psychology, but having a background in psychology, sports science, or a related field can be advantageous.

Letters of recommendation 

Letters of recommendation are testimonials from professionals, usually academic instructors or workplace supervisors, vouching for the applicant’s aptitude and readiness for graduate-level work. These letters provide insights into the applicant’s strengths, work ethic, and suitability for advanced study in sports psychology.

Personal statement 

A personal statement is an essay that outlines an applicant’s motivations for pursuing a master’s in sports psychology, their career aspirations, and why they believe the chosen institution is the right fit. It allows the admissions committee to gauge the applicant’s passion, commitment, and clarity of purpose.

GRE scores or prior coursework in psychology 

Some institutions may require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as part of the application process. These scores provide an objective measure of the applicant’s readiness for graduate study. Alternatively, if an applicant has completed significant coursework in psychology during their undergraduate years, it might offset the need for GRE scores.

Accreditation for Master’s in Sports Psychology Programs 

Accreditation is a crucial factor when considering any educational program. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific academic and professional standards set by a recognized body. For sports psychology programs, potential accrediting bodies include the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).

Before enrolling, it’s essential to ensure that the chosen program has proper accreditation, guaranteeing that the education you receive is of high quality and recognized by potential employers.

Career Options for People With Master’s in Sports Psychology

Sport Psychologist for professional teams 

Sport Psychologists associated with professional teams help athletes improve their performance, manage stress, and deal with the high-pressure environment of professional sports. They work closely with athletes, providing tailored psychological interventions, performance-enhancing strategies, and coping mechanisms.

Athletic counselor 

Athletic counselors offer therapeutic support to athletes dealing with issues like injury-related trauma, anxiety, or transitioning out of a sports career. Their role revolves around ensuring the mental well-being of athletes, helping them navigate both personal and professional challenges.

Researcher in sports psychology 

Researchers in this field delve into the psychological processes involved in sports and exercise. They might study the effects of group dynamics on team performance, the impact of mental training on athletic success, or the psychological aspects of sports injuries. Their findings often influence coaching techniques, athlete training, and sports policy.

Coaching consultant 

Coaching consultants, equipped with a sports psychology background, advise coaches on optimizing team performance, building team cohesion, and enhancing athlete-coach relationships. Their insights are rooted in psychological principles, ensuring teams function harmoniously and efficiently.

Master’s in Sports Psychology Salary and Job Outlook 

The average annual salary for psychologists exceeds $80,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) . However, salaries vary widely depending on the specific role, the location of the employer, and the experience of the psychologist. Increasing awareness about the importance of mental health in sports could help boost demand for sports psychologists.

According to the BLS, the field of psychology is expected to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Information for Master’s in Sports Psychology

Higher education can be a financial strain for many, but the good news is that numerous scholarships and financial aid options are available for those pursuing a master’s in sports psychology.

Scholarships Specific to Sports Psychology 

Several institutions and organizations offer scholarships tailored for students in the sports psychology field. Examples include the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) student research grant or the NCAA Graduate Student Research Grant Program. These scholarships are usually merit-based, requiring excellent academic performance and a demonstrated passion for the field.

General Graduate Scholarships 

Beyond field-specific scholarships, students can also apply for general graduate scholarships. These scholarships are open to any graduate student, regardless of their field of study, and are often provided by universities, private organizations, or charitable foundations. Requirements may vary, but factors like academic excellence, community involvement, and leadership qualities are commonly considered.

Federal Financial Aid 

Students in the U.S. can consider federal financial aid options. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step. Once processed, students can be eligible for various federal loans, work-study opportunities, and sometimes even grants. It’s essential to be aware of loan repayment terms and conditions.

Institution-specific Financial Aid 

Many universities offer financial aid packages tailored for their students. These can range from tuition waivers, graduate assistantships, or departmental grants. It’s recommended that students check with their specific institution’s financial aid office for available opportunities.

Master’s in Sports Psychology FAQ

How Much Can You Earn With a Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology? 

As previously mentioned, the average annual salary for psychologists is approximately $80,000, according to the BLS .

How Long Does it Take to Earn a Master’s in Sports Psychology? 

Typically, a master’s in sports psychology takes about two to three years to complete. However, this duration can vary based on whether the student is enrolled full-time or part-time, the curriculum’s complexity, and any additional requirements like internships or thesis projects.

Is Getting a Master’s in Sports Psychology Worth it? 

Absolutely! With the growing recognition of the importance of mental health in sports, the demand for trained sports psychologists is increasing. This degree not only provides specialized knowledge and skills in the field but also opens up diverse career opportunities, from working with elite athletes to research and academia.

Can I Earn a Master’s in Sports Psychology Entirely Online? 

Yes, many reputable institutions offer fully online master’s programs in sports psychology. These programs are designed to provide the same rigorous education as their on-campus counterparts but with the flexibility to accommodate students from various backgrounds and geographic locations.

What is the Difference Between Clinical Sports Psychology and Applied Sports Psychology? 

Clinical sports psychologists are licensed to diagnose and treat mental health disorders in athletes, addressing issues like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. On the other hand, applied sports psychologists focus more on performance enhancement, team dynamics, and mental training, often working directly with teams or individual athletes to optimize their mental game.

Do I Need to be Licensed to Practice as a Sports Psychologist? 

While a master’s degree equips individuals with a deep understanding of sports psychology, those who wish to offer therapeutic services and diagnose mental health conditions need to be licensed in their state. The requirements for licensure vary but typically involve completing a doctoral program, obtaining supervised professional experience, and passing a state exam. However, those focusing on performance enhancement and consultation might not require a license, but certification from bodies like AASP can be beneficial.

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