Sport and Exercise Psychology Degree

A relatively young sport and exercise science discipline, sport and exercise psychology is playing an increasingly large role in the participation and performance of people and athletes alike.

As a sport psychologist, you can work alongside elite athletes, applying your knowledge to support their performance. You will help them to cope with injury, mental health problems, motivation, and competition pressure. As an exercise psychologist, you might work with the general population, encouraging sports participation as a promotion of mental and physical health benefits, as well as its ability to reduce anxiety and depression, and other prevalent mental health issues.

Highlighted courses and degrees in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Coursework

An undergraduate degree in sport and exercise psychology will cover the basic concepts of the area. You will build a foundation of knowledge in general and clinical psychology, with a focus on sport and exercise specific psychology. Your understanding will include how a sport psychologist can work with other members of a multidisciplinary team in order to optimise an athlete’s performance. All of your modules will be designed to prepare you for future employment, and developing you as a practitioner.

Your degree will be delivered through lectures and seminars, as well as practical sessions and case studies. You may be presented with the opportunity to participate in a work placement module or year. This will allow you to develop your skills in a real world environment, experience the client-practitioner relationship, and further explore your psychological approach.

Specialisations

Depending on where you choose to study, you may be able to specialise towards the end of your degree. This specialisation can influence the area in which you choose to work after you have graduated. Common specialisations include:

  • Psychological Principles
  • Human Cognition
  • Health Psychology
  • Exercise Participation Issues
  • Contemporary Issues in Sport Psychology
  • Elite Performance in Sport

If your degree requires you to write a dissertation in your final year, this will give you the chance to further research a favoured area of sport and exercise psychology.

Accreditation and Certification

The accreditation of your degree will depend on where you choose to study. Different countries have different accreditation systems. It may also be influenced by the content of your course. Typically, you can expect to be awarded a Bachelor of Science (BSc), or occasionally a Bachelor of Arts (BA).

Some degree courses may be accredited by the relevant academic or professional governing body. For example in the UK, courses can be accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS), or the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). If your degree is accredited by the BPS, you will become eligible for Graduate Basis of Chartered Membership (GBC). This membership will allow you to take your next step towards becoming a professional psychologist.

Timeframe and Further Studies

Generally, an undergraduate degree in sport and exercise psychology will take three to four years. Foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates can last up to two years when studied full-time. It is highly common for sport and exercise psychology degrees to be focused on application and practitioner development, meaning that you are likely to be expected to take part in a placement, which may increase your study time.

On successful completion of your degree, you can choose to either seek employment in your chosen area, or further your studies. Continuation of your studies could be in the form of a postgraduate degree, such as a masters or PhD, or a graduate diploma or certificate.

You should be aware that if your degree is not accredited by the BPS or BASES (or the international equivalent), you will need to take a conversion course or study for additional qualifications before you are able to work as a professional sport and exercise psychologist or scientist.

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Entry Requirements for Degrees in Sport and Exercise Psychology

The entry requirements for a degree in sport and exercise psychology will depend on where you choose to study. Requirements will differ at each institution. Some universities might require you to sit an entrance exam, where others rely on previous exam results. Some universities might prefer you to have studied certain subjects, and others may consider previous relevant work experience.

You should check each institution to see what entry requirements they have for their sport and exercise psychology programmes.

If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.

Typical entry requirements:

  • UK6.5 IELTS
  • USA3.0 GPA

Fund Your Studies

Tuition fees for international students are not fixed. This means that they can vary greatly from institution to institution. You should make sure that you are aware of how much your course will cost you. If you are required to take part in a work placement, this might incur additional fees. Your institution will be able to provide you with more information about this.

You may be eligible for a scholarship or funding. This could be awarded by your institution, or by a separate funding body. For more information, visit our scholarships and funding section to read more about funding your studies.

Typical course fees (per year):

  • UK£13,600
  • USA$30,000

Career Options

Sport and exercise psychology graduates will find that there are many career opportunities available to them. If you choose to work in a role directly related to your degree, jobs could include sport psychologist, exercise psychologist, or health specialist. If you choose to work in a role not directly related to your degree, jobs could include PE teacher, sport scientist, or sport coaching.

Your wide range of transferable skills will allow you to pursue a career in a variety of industries. You will have gained skills such as effective communication, analytical thinking, time management, and working with different types of people. These skills, whilst focused on sport and exercise psychology, are also useful and highly applicable in all fields, within sports, and in unrelated areas, for example human resources.

Guides to related subjects

Learn about subjects similar to Sport and Exercise Psychology with these related StudyLink guides

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