NEW ONLINE PROGRAM - What is a Sport Psychologist? Learn more with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at Kent State University

sport psychologists analyze an athlete's performance on an exercise machine

The scientific field of sport and exercise psychology has increasingly received attention in the last two decades. National and regional labor market demands in a sport exercise and psychology field will be expected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030.

And to date, there are few universities in the country that offer an undergraduate major in Sports, Exercise and Performance Psychology that provides students with an in-depth overview of the area and the skill development to readily apply that knowledge to their chosen sports career or competent to be accepted at a SEPP graduate program.

The new 100% online Bachelor of Science degree in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology (SEPP) examines the mental aspects of athletic competition and performance.

Sound interesting? These are some of the courses students will take in the program:

  • Motivation in Sport
  • Performance and Movement Settings
  • Stress: Recognition and Management
  • High Performance of Athletes in Sport
  • Psychology of Exercise

What is a Sport Psychologist?

To facilitate coping with the demands of student-athletes, sport specialists, trainers, and sport organizations, there has been a call for seeking knowledge and techniques to increase exercise adherence and help athletes with psychological rehab from injuries, team dynamics, or coaching education.

Sport psychologists help professional and amateur athletes overcome problems, enhance their performance, and achieve their goals.1 They explore the link between the psychological and physical factors that may affect an athlete’s performance.

Sport psychologists are necessary because mental skills and strategies help athletes overall by dealing with stress, training more efficiently, and concentrating better, among others.

Principle areas of study may include2

  • Cognitive and behavioral skills training for performance enhancement. Goal setting; imagery and performance planning; concentration and attention control strategies; development of self-confidence, self-esteem, and competence in sports; cognitive-behavioral self-regulation techniques; emotion management, sportsmanship, and leadership skills.
  • Counseling and clinical interventions. Athletic motivation; eating disorders and weight management; substance abuse; grief, depression, loss, and suicide; over-training and burnout; sexual identity issues; aggression and violence; athletic injury and rehabilitation; career transitions and identity crises.
  • Consultation and training. Team building; sports organization consultation; systems interventions with parents and families involved in youth sports participation; education of coaches regarding motivation, interpersonal and leadership skills, and talent development; education of coaches and administrators regarding early identification and prevention of psychological difficulties.

Graduates of the online Bachelor of Science degree in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology may work in a wide range of settings, including

  • Club sports teams
  • Fitness and recreation centers
  • Youth sports organizations
  • High schools, colleges, or universities
  • Recreational, amateur, and elite level of competition

Why Kent State University?

The Physical Education & Sport Performance program at Kent State University is among the best in the United States in preparing teachers who exemplify best practices in the PK-12 setting and professionals who promote high-quality physical activity opportunities for individuals across the lifespan.

With a high demand for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology programs, the newly developed SEPP online degree at Kent State University fills a void within the existing programs at Kent State when sport, exercise, and performance are becoming even more visible within the field. The NCCA accredits certifying programs based on the highest quality standards in professional certification to ensure the programs adhere to modern standards of practice in the certification industry.

An added benefit of the new major at Kent State is the combined bachelor/master’s pathway that allows exceptional, well-prepared undergraduate students early admission into the KSU M.A. Sport Administration major. Students in a combined degree program take graduate-level coursework as undergraduate students, thus enabling courses to be applied toward both degree programs. This pathway will prepare students to complete requirements for the Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) accreditation by AASP upon completing their master’s and provide an alternative route for students who are not pursuing a graduate degree in sport psychology.

What is Unique about this Kent State University program?

The Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology online program at Kent State is unique and necessary because:

  • It allows students an opportunity to incorporate application and instruction in the field of sport, exercise, and psychology; and do so in accordance with proficiency guidelines of the AASP as well as those of the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • It allows students with interest in exercise, coaching, sport, or performance as their primary area to choose the unique program of SEPP at Kent State. This specialization will recruit new students to the university and offer additional alternative degree programs to students who might otherwise select to study in areas ranging from sport administration to teacher education, general psychology, or exercise science. Even though the new SEPP minor is only in its second term (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021), it has attracted students from those diverse programs and a few students from outside of Ohio who were able to take courses while continuing with their full-time teaching job.
  • It provides an opportunity for students to complete a fully online program that would let them follow two different paths after graduation; (a) to incorporate and apply their new knowledge into their chosen sport-related field (e.g., performance coach, mental conditioning, performance specialist, or life-skills coaching) and (b) continuing further study into a graduate program in sport and exercise psychology.
  • It is distinct from the typical structure of majors in that this proposed program allows students to complete it entirely online. This is a new option that appeals to diverse students. The 100% online delivery will allow them to interact with professors in a virtual environment while having complete flexibility and autonomy to balance their studies with their jobs (or other responsibilities) while retaining the same excellence in quality curriculum and teaching with the latest online learning technology. With the unfortunate arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on colleges and universities, the allure of being able to complete a fully online major via distance learning is an even more enticing and inclusive opportunity. One could argue that the timing is significant to the development of this program.

NEW PROGRAM! Enroll today in the online Bachelor of Science in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at Kent State University

The online Bachelor of Science degree in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology provides students, athletes, and those preparing for careers as coaches and sport practitioners with the knowledge of psychological theory and skills to enhance human behavior in the sport and exercise settings and the performing arts. The major differs from existing sport-related bachelor’s degree programs due to its focus on psychological processes related to sport performance, as opposed to existing programs that focus on pedagogical, physiological, or business aspects of sport performance.

The Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology major explores social-psychological concepts such as motivation, self-confidence, anxiety, or burnout, and how these concepts interact with the sport environment to influence athletes (e.g., losing focus under pressure or having self-doubts during a game) and performance.

The program prepares students with essential knowledge of psychological aspects of sport performance and ethical practice to work in wide-ranging sport-related fields or to further their education in their chosen careers via graduate programs and mental performance certification by the Association of Applied Sport Psychology.

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Explain the role of the individual and the environments in sport and exercise behavior.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the foundation of motivation in sport sciences, learning, and personal life.
  • Define and illustrate the concepts, tools, and application of mental skills and performance enhancement.
  • Design and evaluate an applied research study from inception to conclusions.
  • Define the standards for competence, domestic and global diversity, and ethical principles (i.e., AASP and APA) and its role in sport psychology professional practice.

For more information on Kent State’s Online Bachelor of Science in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology, visit https://onlinedegrees.kent.edu/degrees/bachelor-of-science-sport-exercise-performance-psychology.


1 Retrieved on November 22, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/sport-rehabilitation/psychologists#:~:text=Sport%20psychologists%20help%20professional%20and%20amateur%20athletes%20overcome%20problems%2C%20enhance,performance%2C%20and%20achieve%20their%20goals.

2 Retrieved on November 22, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/sports.

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