Why Earn a Masters in Sports Psychology Degree?

This article contains information about why earning a master’s in sports psychology could be a good career move. We will detail what a master’s in sports psychology is, so you can make an informed decision. We also will give you information about some of the careers that you can enjoy with this advanced degree. Also provided is information about accreditation.

What Is a Master’s in Sports Psychology Degree?

Sports psychology is a specific proficiency that is recognized by the American Psychological Association, and it spans the related fields of psychology, sports science, and medicine. A master’s degree in sports psychology focuses on addressing mental issues that affect the performance of athletes at the high school, college and professional levels.

Some of the specialized knowledge that is covered in a sports psychology master’s program includes:

  • Research and theories in the historical, social, cultural and developmental foundations of the field
  • Issues of psychological assessment in sports and mental techniques training to enhance performance
  • Counseling and clinical issues with various levels of athletes
  • Social and developmental issues that are related to participating in sports

This graduate degree program also will cover these major areas related to counseling:

  • Behavioral and cognitive skills to train for better performance: Includes such areas as setting goals; performance planning and imagery; attention and concentration control techniques; competence and self esteem in sports; self regulation skills; managing emotions; and leadership.
  • Clinical and counseling interventions: How to motivate athletes to higher performance; weight management and eating disorders; grief, depression, loss, burnout and overtraining; violence and aggression; rehab and injury; and identity crises.
  • Training and consultation: Building team unity; system intervention with families and parents in youth sports; educating coaches regarding psychological matters; talent development.

A graduate degree in sports psychology will teach you to understand how self-confidence in one’s performance is developed. It also will teach you to understand how emotion can be effectively managed and how to assist people to overcome a fear in sports performance or a lack of mental focus.

A master of science in sports psychology is typically 60 credits in length, while a master of arts in sports psychology could be approximately 48 credits.

Common courses in master’s in sports psychology programs are on how psychology affects sports performance; achieving the highest possible athletic performance; kinesiology and biomechanics. Other classes will provide an excellent foundation in the biological basis of human behavior, how to enhance performance, and ethics in sports.

Why Earn a Master’s in Sports Psychology?

In the past, the mental side of sports performance may have been ignored, but this is no longer the case. With the advances in medicine and health care in the last several decades, the critical issue of mental health and psychology is better understood to affect athletes at all levels.

For example, basketball player Ron Artest who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers credited the help of sports psychologists with part of his success on the court. Artest understands, as do many athletes and sports teams today, that sports psychologists help players and teams to achieve goals and win.

Some of the things that sports teams are relying on sports psychologists today for include:

  • Enhancing performance
  • Coping with competition pressures
  • Recovering from serious injuries
  • Maintaining the necessary exercise regimen
  • Enjoy sports activities

The recognized benefits of sports psychology today is driving more demand for sports psychologists at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.

Demand for psychologists generally as well is increasing at a rapid pace, so you should be able to find good paying work in various areas of psychology, and potentially work on a part time basis in sports psychology if you choose.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment for all psychologists will increase by 19% by 2023, which is much faster than average. The employment for counseling, clinical and school psychologists is going to grow by a healthy 20% as well.

Demand is being driven by more need for psychological services in hospitals, schools and social services. Also, more people today have health insurance that requires coverage for psychological services.

Some licensed psychologists earn their master’s and then work full time as a counseling or clinical psychologist, and also work on a part time basis in sports psychology. This can be an effective way to build a sports psychology practice over time.

Pay in the field is strong with a median pay of $75,200 per year, so you will be able to earn a good salary in this growing field. You can expect to earn in excess of $100,000 per year if you earn your doctoral degree.

Online Degree Options

You can gain an edge in the high demand field of sports psychology with an online Master’s in Sport Psychology. This two year degree will put you on the career path to help athletes, coaches, parents and entire teams to either enhance or restore athletic performance.

This program will improve your ability to address athletic performance problems, recovery and motivation by assisting athletes to merge their mental and physical performance, by drawing upon critical knowledge areas such as biomechanics, physiology and kinesiology.

This curriculum will teach you how the principles of psychology influences athletic performance, exercise and physical activity. You will be prepared to work with coaches and athletes to boost their motivation and performance. Also, you will be taught how to use sports and fitness to improve general health and well being.

This degree program is available with Capella’s FlexPath. Most adults who are going back to school to earn a master’s degree have family and work to deal with on top of their school work. The FlexPath at Capella allows you to build the skills that you need in sports psychology but with a class schedule that fits your time needs.

Flexpath gives you an entirely self-paced curriculum. Once you have finished a class, no matter if it takes you one or three months, you can move on to another course. You may complete as many classes as you like, and two at the same time, each quarter for a single tuition fee.

FlexPath also provides you with ongoing support from tutors, feedback from faculty and personalized training from academic coaches.

When you finish your degree program, you will need to be licensed in the state in which you work. This requires you to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. You can obtain specific state information for licensure from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Earning your master’s degree will allow you to practice under the supervision of a Ph.D. or PsyD. in psychology, but you must earn your doctorate to work in private practice.


It is a good idea to verify if your master’s program is accredited by the American Psychological Association or APA. But you should know that the APA does not accredit online organizations at this time. So if you want to attend only an APA accredited program, you would need to attend an on campus sports psychology program.


There is a strong and growing need for sports psychologists and psychologists generally. Therefore, obtaining your master’s degree in the field can be the key to a very prosperous career.