MASPP Frequently Asked Questions
What is sport and performance psychology (SPP)?
SPP is primarily focused on teaching people mental and emotional skills to perform at their best more consistently and when it matters most. This includes helping people understand the commitment, confidence, courage, motivation, and choices necessary to develop their capabilities.
Although the field is most widely known simply as ‘sport psychology’ this title is a misnomer. Athletes and sporting environments are a key target for SPP, but the skills and abilities we teach are applicable to any performance situation. Thus, we teach Sport & Performance Psychology and work not only with athletes, but also performing artists, musicians, military personnel, doctors, surgeons, lawyers, business people, and anyone else interested in learning to perform optimally.
I’m thinking about applying to GSPP and want a doctoral degree. Can I apply straight to the PsyD program?
You can apply to the PsyD program, but you will not receive adequate training in SPP to be a competent practitioner. At this time, doctoral students may choose to complete their Specialty Focus in SPP; however, while this option will expose students to SPP principles, it is simply not enough training to be a competent SPP practitioner. Therefore, if you want to include SPP as part of your practice, you will have to complete specialized SPP training at the master’s level.
What can I do with a Master of Arts degree in SPP?
There are a variety of paths in which the MASPP would be beneficial. Coaches, athletic trainers, sport administrators, and athletic academic advisors all benefit from and are more marketable with a MA in SPP. Some people are able to successfully build a private practice in SPP with a master’s degree; however, this is the exception rather than the rule and most students interested in practicing SPP are encouraged to continue on to a doctoral program.
Is the MASPP program accredited?
The American Psychological Association (APA) accredits programs in psychology to certify a level of rigor and accountability within the programs. However, accreditation is only done for doctoral programs. The PsyD program in the Graduate School of Professional Psychology is APA accredited, however, the MASPP is not accredited as this is not possible (for any master’s program).
What kind of jobs do alums have?
Some of the positions that alumni have obtained include: sport psychology consultant for the Army Center for Enhanced Performance, youth development manager for USA Rugby, sport psychology consultant for Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, and coaches. Some alum have started private practices for performance consulting. Students have also been admitted to doctoral programs in Clinical, Counseling, or Health Psychology. Learn more about SPP alumni by clicking here.
For what types of jobs are you preparing your students?
We are primarily preparing students to be sport and performance psychology consultants. For students who choose this path, we recommend they complete a doctorate degree in psychology after the MASPP. Other jobs students with the MASPP are prepared for include coach, athletic academic counselor, and a variety of other positions in sport or performance environments.
How do you know if a sport psychologist is competent?
It is difficult to assess a sport psychologist’s competence, but there are some things to look for:
1) Training: practitioners should have at least a master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., sport and performance psychology, psychology, exercise science),
2) Experience: as part of their training, competent practitioners will have received many (i.e., > 100) hours of supervised experience,
3) Active membership and involvement in relevant professional organizations (e.g., AASP, APA, ACSM, ISSP),
4) Certification and/or Licensure (see below). Be very cautious of anyone who does not publicly list their degrees and institutions, professional involvement, and certification/licensure,
5) Be leery of any outrageous claims (e.g., guarantees of performance improvements) and unfounded claims (e.g., greatest sport psychologist in the world).
Is there a license for SPP?
In the United States, there is no license for SPP.
OK, what about a certification?
The largest and most credible certification in the United States is regulated by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). AASP certifies both master’s and doctoral level sport psychology consultants, granting them the title CC-AASP (Certified Consultant-Association for Applied Sport Psychology). AASP certification addresses people who practice ONLY in the realm of performance enhancement/mental skills training, and does NOT address working with any sort of mental health issue, counseling, or therapy.
I read on a sport psychologist’s website that they have made many media appearances. Is this a good way to check their competence?
No. The media’s only interest is in who will give the juiciest quote in the shortest amount of time. They do not verify competence. We would suggest being cautious of sport psychologists whose only way of signifying competence is by touting their media appearances.
I’m a licensed psychologist right now and want to work with athletes. What do I need to do to become a sport psychologist?
SPP is much more than doing mental health work with someone who happens to be a performer or athlete. SPP involves different issues and specialized interventions. While some Sport and Performance Psychologists do some mental health counseling as a part of their job, these duties are in addition to their SPP duties. Thus, as you can see in the documents below, SPP requires training in psychology and sport science.
Division 47 of the American Psychological Association (Exercise & Sport Psychology) has developed a proficiency in sport psychology which includes the specialized knowledge required.
Lastly, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) is the largest body certifying sport psychology in the United States. Review AASP’s requirements for becoming a certified consultant.