What Degree Do You Need to Become a Sports Psychologist?

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Are you passionate about both sports and psychology? Do you find yourself intrigued by the mental aspects of athletic performance? If so, a career as a sports psychologist might be the perfect fit for you. In this article, we will explore the educational requirements needed to become a sports psychologist and the benefits of pursuing a degree in this field. So, let’s dive in and find out what degree you need to become a sports psychologist!

What is Sports Psychology?

Sports psychology is a specialized branch of psychology that focuses on understanding and improving the mental and emotional well-being of athletes. It involves the application of psychological principles to enhance athletic performance, boost motivation, improve focus, and manage stress and anxiety. Sports psychologists work closely with athletes, coaches, and sports teams to help them develop mental resilience, overcome obstacles, and achieve peak performance.

Benefits of Pursuing a Degree in Sports Psychology

If you have a genuine interest in sports and psychology, pursuing a degree in sports psychology can be highly rewarding. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. In-depth knowledge: A degree program in sports psychology provides you with a comprehensive understanding of the psychological factors that influence athletic performance. You will explore topics such as motivation, goal setting, concentration, teamwork, and stress management, enabling you to make a significant impact on athletes’ lives.

  2. Career opportunities: With the growing recognition of the importance of mental well-being in sports, the demand for sports psychologists is on the rise. By obtaining a degree in sports psychology, you open doors to various career opportunities. You can work with professional sports teams, educational institutions, rehabilitation centers, and even establish your private practice.

  3. Personal satisfaction: As a sports psychologist, you have the opportunity to make a positive difference in athletes’ lives. Helping them overcome mental barriers, achieve their goals, and lead healthier and more balanced lives can be incredibly fulfilling.

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Educational Requirements to Become a Sports Psychologist

To become a sports psychologist, a specific educational path needs to be followed. Here’s a breakdown of the typical requirements:

Undergraduate Degree Options

To start your journey towards becoming a sports psychologist, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree. While some universities offer undergraduate programs specifically in sports psychology, it is also common to pursue a degree in general psychology or a related field. Some recommended undergraduate degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Exercise Science
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Kinesiology

During your undergraduate studies, it is beneficial to take courses that focus on sports psychology, as well as those related to human behavior, cognitive psychology, and research methods. These courses lay the foundation for your future specialization in sports psychology.

Graduate Degree in Sports Psychology

While an undergraduate degree is essential, to truly excel in the field of sports psychology, it is highly advisable to pursue a graduate degree. Graduate programs in sports psychology offer a more specialized curriculum and hands-on training. The two most common options for graduate degrees in sports psychology are:

  1. Master’s Degree: A Master’s degree in sports psychology provides you with advanced knowledge and skills in the field. It typically takes around two years to complete and offers opportunities for research and practical experience. This degree can qualify you for various positions in the sports psychology field, including working as an assistant sports psychologist.

  2. Doctoral Degree: A Doctoral degree, either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D., is the highest level of education one can attain in sports psychology. A doctoral degree typically takes around four to six years to complete and provides comprehensive training in research, psychological assessment, and therapy techniques. Having a doctoral degree opens doors to more advanced career opportunities, such as becoming a licensed sports psychologist or working in academia.

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FAQ: What Degree Do You Need to Become a Sports Psychologist?

Can you become a sports psychologist with just an undergraduate degree?

While an undergraduate degree is a necessary starting point, it is not sufficient to become a fully-fledged sports psychologist. To work independently as a sports psychologist and provide therapy services, a graduate degree is generally required.

Is a master’s degree necessary, or is a doctoral degree required?

While a master’s degree in sports psychology can qualify you for certain positions, a doctoral degree is considered the gold standard in the field. It provides a more in-depth understanding of sports psychology and opens up advanced career opportunities.

Are there any specific accreditation or certification requirements?

Yes, there are specific accreditation and certification requirements to become a licensed sports psychologist. These requirements vary by country or state. In the United States, for example, you would need to meet the licensing requirements of the state you wish to practice in. Additionally, professional organizations such as the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) offer certifications that can enhance your credibility and marketability.

Can you specialize in a specific area within sports psychology?

Absolutely! Sports psychology is a versatile field, and you can specialize in various areas based on your interests and career goals. Some common specializations include performance enhancement, injury rehabilitation, team dynamics, youth sports, and exercise psychology.


In conclusion, pursuing a degree in sports psychology is the key to becoming a successful sports psychologist. Through a combination of undergraduate and graduate studies, you can acquire the knowledge, skills, and credentials necessary to excel in this field. Remember, a career as a sports psychologist not only allows you to combine your passion for sports and psychology but also offers the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on athletes’ lives. So, if you’re ready to embark on this exciting journey, start by choosing the right degree program and take the first step towards becoming a sports psychologist!

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