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

Applied Curriculum (PDF)

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 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

Research Curriculum (PDF)

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.).
  • A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (on 4.0 scale)
  • Minimum GRE scores of: 146 verbal; 146 quantitative; 2.75 analytical.
  • Personal interview (for those invited)

Required documents to include with application:

  • Official undergraduate transcipts in a sealed envelope, mailed directly to:
    Sport and Exercise Psychology Graduate Program
    Seaton Building, Room 110
    Lexington, KY, 40506-0219
  • 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.
Apply

More About the Program

Thumbnail of video of Dr. Cormier
Click to 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

 

Meet the Students
Claire Bailey

Photo of Claire Bailey
Hometown:
Fairfax, VA

Educational Background: B.S. in Psychology & Minor in Marketing, College of William & Mary (2022)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology, Applied Track

Funding: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Life Fitness

About Me: I am a first-year graduate student originally from the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area. I attended the College of William & Mary where I studied psychology while competing as a Division I heptathlete on the track and field team.

My research background is in adolescent mental health, health-risk behaviors in college student populations, and military veteran mental health. My research interests in the Sport and Exercise Psychology field include athlete body image, psychology of sport injury, and mental health stigma in athletics. Outside of the classroom I also volunteer as a Crisis Hotline Counselor, which has reinforced my love for helping those in crisis.

My natural draw towards mental health, mixed with my life-long exposure to many different types of athletes is what inspired me to pursue a masters in Sport and Exercise Psychology. I aspire to become a CMPC and Licensed sport psychologist that specializes in athlete mental health. Helping athletes better their craft through the incorporation of counseling skills and techniques is my dream. I’m grateful to be a part of the SEP program here at the University of Kentucky and I look forward to continuing to pursue my passions here in Lexington!

Morgan Findley, MS, CES

photograph of sport psychology student, Morgan FindleyHometown: North Baltimore, Ohio

Educational Background:
BS in Kinesiology, Minor in Psychology – University of Tennessee, Knoxville

MS in Exercise Physiology, Concentration in Strength & Conditioning – University of Louisville

Current Degree:
MS in Sport & Exercise Psychology, Research Track

Funding: Graduate Assistant in Transformative Learning Department

About Me:
I am a first-year graduate student at the University of Kentucky pursuing the Master’s in Sport & Exercise Psychology. I am also an Integrated Success Coach in the Transformative Learning Dept. where I collaborate with students on promoting growth and wellbeing, creating opportunities to capitalize on their strengths, and building strategies for success in college and beyond. In past internships, I worked with the athletes at the University of Tennessee and Central High School in the area of strength & conditioning and with the Director of Mental Performance at the University of Louisville. My current research areas of interest include: the psychological aspects of injury and rehabilitation, the impact of fear as it relates to high-risk sports, and the influence of trust in the coach-athlete relationship.

I was a collegiate cheerleader throughout my undergraduate and graduate career. In 2021, my team received first place in The Cheerleading Worlds Competition (my 10+ year dream finally coming true). During my time as a competitive athlete, I realized the crucial importance of mental performance skills and mental health. I believe Sport & Exercise Psychology is the missing puzzle piece that can take good athletes/performers and turn them into great ones, all while building skills for life beyond their sport. After finishing my Master’s, I hope to pursue my PhD and later work for a major university as both a professor and mental performance coach. Outside of academics, I consider myself a dedicated cinephile and I find joy in hiking, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and (most of all) eating donuts.

Kathryn Gallenstein

photograph of sport psychology student, Kathryn GallensteinHometown:
Winchester, Kentucky

Educational Background: B.S. Psychology, Morehead State University (2021)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology, Applied Track

Funding: Graduate Assistant in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment Student Success Center

About Me: I am a Kentuckian through and through, so the chance to pursue an advanced degree at UK is overwhelmingly exciting. I played soccer for 12 years recreationally, on travel select teams, and with school. I tore my ACL, LCL, and meniscus, alongside a bone fracture, in a soccer collision when I was 17. Throughout my college experience, while being an Honors Program student, completing undergraduate research and practicum, and being socially involved, I genuinely missed being in the sports world and interacting with athletes. After taking a Sport Psychology course as an undergrad, I realized I could combine my love for psychology and mental health with the athlete inside me.

I am interested in multiple areas of study. I would like to study the psychology of injury rehabilitation, confidence building, and suicide prevention/awareness among athletes. My career dream is to become a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) upon the completion of this degree with the hopes of working with high school, collegiate, or professional athletes.

Connor Gavigan

photograph of sport psychology student, Connor Gavigan

Hometown: Aurora, CO

Educational Background: B.S. in Psychology & Minor in Business Management from Florida Gulf Coast University (2020)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport & Exercise Psychology, Research Track

Internship Site/Thesis Topic: Coaching interventions in youth sports for underserved populations

Funding: Assistant Resident Director @ Wildcat Coal Lodge

About Me: I am a second-year graduate student from Aurora, Colorado. I played competitive soccer throughout my youth and into college. I attended Florida Gulf Coast University where I played Division I soccer and received my degree in Psychology with a minor in Business Management.

My academic goals while at Kentucky are to pursue my research interest in coaching, coaching psychology, and optimizing the youth sport experience. I am also simultaneously completing internship hours with Morehead State University Athletics, a Division 1 program near Lexington, in pursuit of my CMPC credential. Long-term, I intend to further my educational development in a PhD program and contribute to the field as a faculty member and applied practitioner. Sports have always been a huge passion of mine and I am certainly excited to continue to pursue that passion here at Kentucky!

Graysen Jennings

photograph of sport pyschology student, Graysen JenningsHometown: Ankeny, IA

Educational Background: B.A in Psychology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) 2022

Current Degree: M.S in Sport and Exercise Psychology / Applied Track

Internship Site: Kentucky State University Baseball

About Me: I’m a first-year graduate student from Ankeny, Iowa, a suburb right outside of Des Moines. From a very early age, I played competitive baseball up until my sophomore year of college at a private Division III university in the Chicago metropolitan area. Afterward, I transferred to UMKC where I found a love for studying psychology in the many interdisciplinary practices it has to offer. One of these practices I gained a greater attraction for was the field of sport psychology; I can thank a former sport psychologist who came to speak at one of my junior psychology courses for this. Ever since then, I’ve done my research and am grateful to say that this career path is something I’d take great pride in.

The areas of focus within sport psychology that grab my attention are mental health, team cohesion, reflection, meditation, concentration, mental coping mechanics, confidence, motivation, social facilitation, and a few others. Every one of these principles take me back to a time when I was once that athlete hurdling through successes and struggles. I’m certain that UK will do me justice in bringing to light new ideas and teaching strategies I never knew before. It’s one thing for a field of study to be relatable (which sport psychology definitely is), but it’s another thing to be able to correct, reflect and instruct it long-term.

Here at UK, I intend to broaden my knowledge on semantic information that’ll help me excel for the coming future. I want to happily look back and say this is where I was, and this is how far I’ve come. My dream career is to become a CMPC and mental skills coordinator working with collegiate athletes of any division, as well as professional sports clubs.

Bella Johnson

photograph of sport psychology student, Bella Johnson
Hometown:Telluride, CO

Educational Background: B.S. in Athletic Training, University of Michigan (2021)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology, Applied Track

Internship Site/Thesis Topic: UK Athletics and Henry Clay Highschool

Funding: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Life Fitness Program

About Me:
I am a second-year graduate student in the SEP program at UK. Growing up in Colorado and Arizona exposed me to a love of the outdoors and sports from a young age. I grew up skiing, running cross country, and playing lacrosse. My passion for sports developed into pursuing an undergraduate degree in Athletic Training from the University of Michigan. In college, I was given the opportunity to conduct clinical work with D-1 athletes, focusing on their physical health and performance. The relationships I formed with my athletes inspired me to pursue a master’s in Sport and Exercise Psychology to learn more about how mental performance, and the skills that develop along with it, will impact the overall performance of an athlete. After finishing my master’s, I hope to pursue a career as a CMPC, working with collegiate or professional athletes. Outside of academics, I am often hiking, running, cooking, or spending time with friends and family. I look forward to my last year at UK, and the experiences that will follow!

Emily Magnone

photograph of sport psychology student, Emily MagnoneHometown:
Los Angeles, CA

Educational Background: B.S. Athletic Training – School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan

Current Degree: M.S. Sport & Exercise Psychology, Applied Track

Internship Site: undetermined

Funding: Athletic Training Fellow in UK Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Dept. – Musculoskeletal Injury Management Graduate Certificate Program

About Me: I grew up in a very active and sport-oriented family. Having the privilege of the (almost) 24/7 perfect Southern California weather, my parents encouraged my twin brother and I to try out basically every sport we could. Throughout my life, I’ve played soccer, indoor volleyball, sand volleyball, track, basketball, field hockey, and gymnastics. My love for sports continued to grow as did my love for anatomy and physiology! That inspired me to pursue further education in the field of kinesiology and more specifically, athletic training.

I made the trek out to the Midwest and received my Bachelor’s degree in athletic training from the great University of Michigan (forever Go Blue!), where I had the opportunity and privilege of working with some amazing D1 athletes during my clinical experiences. I got to work with a multitude of athletes and teams, ranging from Big Ten Champs to gold-medal Olympians! During those four years, I had a wide range of clinical experiences; I worked with the teams’ athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports nutrition department, and sport psychology department. Having the opportunity to be on the “inside” and see the inner workings of these D1 teams and athletes, I discovered my interest and passion to care for these athletes in every way possible, and that led me to sport psychology!

These adventures eventually brought me down here to the University of Kentucky, where I’ll now be getting my Master’s degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology while simultaneously working as an Athletic Trainer with UK, working with Henry Clay High School, Morton Middle School, and E.J Hayes Middle School as part of the Graduate Certificate Program. I’m not 100% sure what I want to do when I grow up, but I’m excited to see where life will take me these next few years at UK! Go Cats!

Megan Monfredi

photograph of sport psychology student, Megan MonfrediHometown:
Gibsonia, Pennsylvania

Educational Background: B. A. in Psychology, University of Kentucky (2021)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology, Applied Track

Internship Site: Lexington Christian Academy

Funding: Graduate Assistant – UK Athletics Student-Athlete Development

About Me: I am a second-year graduate student in the SEP program here at UK. I graduated from UK in May of 2021 and was excited to have the opportunity to stay at this university to pursue my Master’s. I have been involved in sports since I was 4 years old. I started gymnastics at this age and never stopped. I recently finished up my collegiate career here at the University of Kentucky and have retired from gymnastics. I was able to learn so much throughout my time as an athlete and evolving into who I am today. UK Athletics helped me to grow, learn and compete at a higher level than I ever imagined. My time as an athlete taught me many lessons and I feel that it will greatly impact my practice in the future as a CMPC.

Due to being an athlete for 19 years of my life, sports have always been a passion of mine. Throughout my time as an athlete, I was faced with a multitude of various mental obstacles. This affected me inside of the gym and outside of the gym. I want to be able to help athletes who struggle as I struggled. I hope to help them overcome these obstacles that sport and life throws at us. I feel that through my experiences I can offer a perspective that athletes can relate to and feel comfortable with.

My goal is to earn my CMPC certification upon completing this Master’s program. I would like to help athletes in team and private practice settings. I would love to work with youth, collegiate and professional athletes. I am so excited and grateful to be a part of the SEP program and all that it has to offer. I am extremely thankful for my experiences and I am blessed to be in this program. I can’t wait to see what is to come!

Kaylee Palomino

photograph of sport psychology student, Kaylee PalominoHometown:
Kaylee Palomino

Hometown: Fort Ogelthorpe, Georgia

Educational Background: B.A. in Sociology, University of Georgia (2021)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology, Applied Track & M.S. Counseling Psychology

Internship Site: Transylvania Athletics; UK Opera Theater

Funding: Lyman T. Johnson Fellowship

About Me: I am a second-year graduate student in the SEP program and a first-year student in the Counseling Psychology program from Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. I graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2021, so I call Athens, Georgia my home as well. I aspire to become a sport psychologist that specializes in counseling and teaching mindfulness techniques to college student-athletes. In my future career, I hope to enhance mental performance, reduce stress, and increase life satisfaction for student-athletes at NCAA Division-1 universities. This year, I serve as the President of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association at UK, and I volunteer with the Lexington Leadership Foundation’s Academy program. In my free time, I enjoy reading (I own over 300 books!), spending time with friends, watching college sports, hosting game nights, and napping.

Sara Parson

photograph of sport psychology student, Sara ParsonHometown:
Denton, Texas

Educational Background:
Bachelor of Science Recreation, Event & Sport Mgmt University of North Texas 2020

Master of Science Recreation, Event & Sport Mgmt University of North Texas 2021

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology, Applied Track

Internship Site: Legacy Christian Academy -Frisco, TX and University of Transylvania- Lexington, KY

Funding: Graduate Assistant – Kentucky Volleyball Team

About Me:
My love for sports started at the age of 3 when I played soccer at the Y…there was no limit from that point. I played every sport that I could, including soccer, basketball, softball, cheering, track, volleyball and beach volleyball. By high school I decided to focus on volleyball and pursued playing at the collegiate level. After playing 2 years of college volleyball, I decided I had a passion for coaching and began coaching Club volleyball.

While attending the University of North Texas, I also served as the Volleyball Operations Assistant and the Graduate Assistant. I also assisted with the daily operations of the North Point Volleyball Club, while coaching several teams and providing private lessons for girls of all ages.

My goal is to coach at the collegiate level, and I became interested in the SEP program at U.K. because I want to ensure that I have a full understanding of an athlete’s mental needs both on and off the court. As a coach I want to be able to assist players not only with their athletic skills, but with life skills also.

Lauren Poole

photograph of sport psychology student, Lauren PooleHometown:
Crofton, MD

Educational Background: B.A. Sociology, minor in Psychology – University of Kentucky (2022)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology – Applied Track

About Me: I have been interested in sports for as long as I can remember! Both of my parents are huge sports fans, which has influenced my draw to involvement in athletics. Fun fact in relation to this: my older brother and I both have middle names that are basketball references! My mother swam collegiately for the University of Maryland, which eventually led me here to UK as I am currently competing in my final season of eligibility on Kentucky’s Women’s Swim and Dive team! Here, I have had an amazing opportunity to compete with my teammates/best friends and along the way I have achieved 5x All American status, an individual SEC title, and a team SEC title. My experience competing for UK is what led to my interest in sport psychology. Participating in sessions with the university’s sport psychology staff allowed me to fully understand how important this field is for athletes. I learned how important it is for an athlete to take care of their mental health, whereas some people think that care for athletes is fulfilled by caring just for physical health. With this new understanding, I aspire to work with collegiate or professional athletes in relation to sport psychology and their mental health. I feel that having personal experience in elite sports performance as well as a formal education in this field will allow me to be an effective resource for athletes looking for assistance.

Lexi Shacklett

photograph of sport psychology student, Lexi ShacklettHometown:
Owensboro, Kentucky

Educational Background: Bachelor of Art Psychology:
Clinical and Counseling Bellarmine University (2020)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology,
Applied Track

About Me: I am a first year graduate student originally from Owensboro, Ky. I completed a B.A. in Psychology with a focus in Clinical and Counseling at Bellarmine University. While attending Bellarmine I was the President of the Women’s Club Soccer team, Vice President of the Club Sports Council, and an Intramural Referee.

Growing up, I was involved in different recreational sports leagues, then eventually stuck to playing soccer. I played competitive soccer for 10 years and recreationally for another 4 years at Bellarmine. I made a mental health decision to quit playing competitively at the end of my senior year of high school. This decision, along with the help of my academic advisor, led me to develop an interest in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Once I am finished with the program I want to receive my CMPC and work with collegiate and professional athletes.

Steven Strobis

photograph of sport psychology student, Steven StrobisHometown:
Port Orchard, WA

Educational Background: B.S Sport Science, Minor in Strength & Conditioning, Washington State University (2019)

Current Degree: M.S. Sport and Exercise Psychology, Applied Track

Internship Site: University of Kentucky Athletics

Funding: Graduate Assistant Strength Coach – University of Kentucky Strength & Conditioning

About Me: Proudly hailing from the Pacific Northwest. I completed my undergraduate degree in Sport Science with a minor in Strength & Conditioning with being lucky enough to intern for 3 years in strength and conditioning department there. During my time at Washington State University, I also completing internship work in the athletics marketing/promotions department, all while serving as the school’s mascot: Butch T. Cougar.

I am currently the head strength and conditioning coach for Kentucky’s Men & Women’s Track & Field teams, Men & Women’s Cross Country, Men’s Tennis, and UK’s 24 time national championship winning Cheerleading program. I also continue to work privately with several post-collegiate professional athletes who have wanted to continue working with me following their time in college.

Upon completion of this program, I plan to obtain my Certified Mental Performance Consultant certification, to have the experience and expertise to better enhance the physical and mental performance of my student athletes, as well as grow the awareness and benefits of sport psychology in college athletics. Outside of the classroom I enjoy watching my teams dominate on the court, mat or track, managing and creating social media content for UK Olympic Strength (@uk_oly_strength), Strength Training, spending plenty of hours gaming, exploring local hikes, and enjoying way too much coffee along the way.

Affiliated Members

Affiliated members are those that are involved in research meetings and internship meetings, but may not be enrolled in the SEP program

Emily Murphy

photograph of sport psychology student, Emily MurphyHometown:
Marion, Indiana

Previous Education: B.S. in Psychology, Indiana University (2018); M.S. in Counseling Psychology, University of Kentucky (2020)

Current Degree: Ph.D. Counseling Psychology

Internship Site: Robley Rex VA Medical Center

About Me: I am a Ph.D. student in the University of Kentucky’s Counseling Psychology program. Clinically, I have worked within Transylvania University Athletics, the University of Kentucky’s Counseling Center, and for Dr. Alison Arnold — a leading sport psychology consultant for USA Gymnastics. During the upcoming year, I’ll complete my practicum rotation at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center within the Substance Use Disorders Treatment Program to supplement the generalist training I received at the Lexington VA Health Care System Outpatient Clinic.

I have experience instructing several undergraduate psychology courses, including The Psychology of Coaching and Motor Performance and Social Psychology and Cultural Processes. I will be working for the Lexington VA Health Care System during the upcoming academic year and am currently a member of the Help-Seeking and Multicultural Measurement Evaluation Research (HAMMER) Lab and the UKY Sport and Counseling Psychology Research Lab. My research primarily focuses on the integration of sport psychology and psychotherapy, athlete activism, and multicultural training of sport psychology practitioners. Additionally, I serve as one of two Student Representatives within the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), a member of AASP’s Web Presence Committee, and am happy to answer any questions via email. e.murphy@nulluky.edu