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Master of Science, with a Concentration in Sport and Exercise Psychology

The field of sport and exercise psychology is an interdisciplinary science that explores the relationship between various psychological factors and participation in sport and/or physical activity. The two-year program in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion offers students the choice to pursue a graduate education in the field of sport and exercise psychology by either following an applied or research track. Each option integrates theory-based research and the application of key concepts associated with performance enhancement and life skill development. In this context, successful completion of this program will result in a strong understanding of the various psychosocial factors that influence sport participation and performance.

Upon admission to the program, students will be assigned a faculty advisor who will assist in course selection and planning. The exact program of study specified in an individual program plan will depend on previous coursework and/or individual goals.


Applied Track

Applied Track Curriculum (Core courses)

Total Hours (minimum): 39

The applied curriculum aims to prepare students for professional certifications (e.g., CMPC) and careers (e.g., sport and performance consultant, coaching, master resilience trainer, strength and conditioning coach, academic advisor, etc.) in applied sport and exercise psychology. In addition to a 300 (minimum) hour supervised internship, students in the applied track will complete graduate coursework in various professional fields related to sport and exercise psychology, including counseling psychology, sport leadership, and exercise science. Students in the applied curriculum will be required to sit for written and oral comprehensive examinations.

View the Applied Track Curriculum

Students in the applied track will have the opportunity to choose from various approved internship sites and settings, allowing them to build a foundation in applied sport and exercise psychology/mental skills training. A certified consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CMPC) will supervise all internships, preparing students for CMPC designation post-graduation.

Possible internship opportunities include:

  • Performance Psychology Consultant:
    • NCAA Division I, II, III schools
    • NAIA schools
    • Collegiate Club Sports
    • Kentucky High School Athletics Association
  • Life Skills Coordinator positions at major NCAA institutions
  • Performance enhancement specialist at a Military Performance Enhancement Center
  • Local community organizations (e.g., YMCA)
  • Behavioral Health Consultant – Student rec center/Wellness Program
  • Performance Enhancement Specialist at major sports facilities (e.g., IMG Academies)
  • Local coaching workshops
  • Local marathons or athletic events

Research Track

Research Track

Research Track Curriculum (Core courses)

Total Hours (minimum): 39

The research curriculum is recommended for students who intend to continue their education at the doctoral level and/or pursue a career in academia. Students in the research track are encouraged to register for an upper-level research and statistics course and will complete a master’s thesis on an original topic related to the psychological aspects of sport and/or physical activity. Students following the research curriculum will be required to sit for an oral defense of their thesis project. In some cases, students in the research track may pursue limited applied experiences (e.g., co-consulting, shadowing, etc.) at the discretion of the program faculty.

View the Research Track Curriculum

Students entering the research track will complete an empirically-based thesis project that will allow students to further their knowledge in a research topic that interests them. Each thesis is expected to explore an original research idea to be submitted for conference presentation, publication in an empirical journal, and/or lead to future dissertation research topics

Admissions Criteria

  • An undergraduate degree in a field closely related to sport and exercise psychology (e.g., psychology, exercise science, health and/or wellness, health sciences, etc.).
  • minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (on 4.0 scale)
  • Personal interview (for those invited)

Required documents to include with application:

  • A current CV or professional resume.
  • Three letters of recommendation. At least two must be from a person with direct knowledge of applicants academic capabilities (e.g., instructor, research supervisor, advisor, etc.).
  • A professional goal statement describing the applicants professional background, motivations for seeking a graduate education in SEP, why the current program and desired “track” are an ideal fit, and career/research aspirations.

The priority application deadline is January 15. We encourage all application materials to be submitted by then to ensure a full review.

Ready to Apply?

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photo of Dr. Marc Cormier
Dr. Marc Cormier, CMPC
Associate Professor and Program Director
Photo of Dr. Ashley Samson
Dr. Ashley Samson, CMPC


More About the Program

Watch an introduction of the program by Dr. Marc Cormier, Program Director!

The mission of the Sport and Exercise Psychology program at the University of Kentucky is to build a community of future practitioners and leaders in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Consistent with our profession, we are committed to justice and equity, through diversity and inclusion. We strive to foster a culture of respect, belonging, and empowerment among our students. As a program, we find value in diverse backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, and ideas, and we intentionally seek to embrace and celebrate the unique qualities and identities of our community and beyond. These are the pillars of ethical and successful Sport and Exercise Psychology professionals and are the baseline expectation for our program.

Milestones: Celebrating Five Years!

  • APA Division 47 Thesis Award – 2017 – Rena Curvey
  • AASP Dissertation Award – 2019 – Shelby Baez
  • AASP Early Career Practitioner Award – 2021 – Marc Cormier
  • UK Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Award – 2021 – Marc Cormier
  • American Volleyball Coaches Association – AVCA – Diversity Award – 2021 – Sara Parson
  • AASP Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Advocacy and Social Justice (IDEAS) Award – 2022 – Rena Curvey
  • AASP Teaching Excellence Award – 2022 – Marc Cormier
  • Elected to AASP Executive Board as Student Representative – 2022 – Emily Murphy
  • Lyman T. Johnson Scholar – University of Kentucky 2021-2023 – Kaylee Palomino
  • Named to inaugural Graduate Program Accreditation Council with AASP – Marc Cormier
  • 100% of graduates enter desired workforce or further graduate programs/medical schools
  • 100% pass rate on first-attempt on the CMPC exam