Sport and Exercise Psychology

Doctoral Program

Graduate studies within the College of Physical Activity and Sport Studies can lead to a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP). Students admitted into the SEP doctoral program may also complete a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. Students can be admitted into the doctoral program in SEP with either a baccalaureate degree or a master's degree. 

The sport and exercise psychology program has procedures and requirements which are specific to the program. In general, they include the following:

  • Selection of an advisor (The program faculty, in consultation with the student, assigns an advisor to assist in planning the student’s program.)
  • Selection of a plan of studies committee (The student, in consultation with the advisor, selects a plan of studies committee. This committee assists the students in developing a plan of studies which will include relevant coursework, evaluation of competencies, and an estimated time frame for its completion.)
  • Plan of studies approval (The plan of studies committee will meet with the student by March 1st of the first year in the program to ratify the plan. The approved plan of studies functions as the document against which completion of program requirements is assessed.)
  • Completion of required coursework (The student completes the coursework required by the plan of studies. The number of credit hours required and the time required to complete the coursework varies, but a minimum of three years [six semesters] of coursework is normally required for students entering with a master’s degree.)
  • Qualifying Project (A qualifying research project, approved by the advisor, that informs the dissertation will be completed and submitted for publication. This project will be presented to a majority of the faculty within the program and approved to count for the comprehensive exam requirements).
  • Prospectus defense (Following the successful completion of the qualifying project, the student will write and defend a prospectus for the dissertation. The prospectus will be evaluated by the student’s dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is often identical to the student’s plan of studies committee, though additions or changes may be made to the plan of studies committee at this time in order to constitute the dissertation committee.)
  • Admission to candidacy (Once the qualifying project and prospectus defense are successfully completed, the student is admitted to candidacy. Admission to candidacy is permission to proceed with dissertation research as described in the prospectus.)
  • Defense of the dissertation (The student will write and orally defend an original research project as described in the prospectus. Successful defense will be determined by the quality of the written document as well as by the quality of the oral defense in a forum open to the academic community. All members of the student’s dissertation committee must be present for the dissertation defense. Successful defense of the dissertation with submission to a professional journal results in the awarding of the degree. The dissertation must be successfully defended within five years of admission to candidacy.)
  • During the Ph.D. program, students are required to submit multiple works to peer-reviewed journals and national conferences.

Application Deadline

Application procedures for the Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Psychology must submit their online admission application to the Office of Admissions website (www.wvu.edu) to be processed by the December 15 deadline for fall admission. Students must also submit an official undergraduate transcript(s) and application fee (online).  Supplemental required materials (GRE scores, resume, goal statement, and three letters of recommendation) must also be uploaded and submitted online. Once all the materials have been received, the admission application will be ready for the screening committee to review after the deadline date. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.  Prospective students should not apply to the Master’s Program in Community Counseling at this time.  They should wait to apply once they are accepted into the PhD program. International applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their admission application and supplemental materials by October 1st to allow extra time for processing.

Admission Criteria

The following criteria is used to evaluate applicants for admission to the doctoral program:

  • Undergraduate degree grade point average of 3.0 from an approved institution
  • Master's degree grade point average of 3.5 from an approved institution (if applicable)
  • Graduate Record Examination score - Verbal, Quantitative, and Writing percentiles above fifty percent. (Student files will be reviewed with scores lower than fifty percent.)
  • Three letters of recommendation (required to be submitted online - NO HARD COPIES), to be submitted electronically through the application process
  • Official transcripts submitted to the Office of Admissions as instructed in the online application
  • Professional goal statement (one-two page paper on professional backgrounds, goals, and reasons for pursuing doctoral degree at WVU) to be submitted electronically through the application process
  • Curriculum vitae to be submitted electronically through the application process
  • Personal interview, if invited

Degree Requirements

Students who are accepted into the Ph.D program in Sport and Exercise Psychology will receive the M.S. degree upon completing the requirements described below.

SEP 640Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity3
SEP 615Research Methodology in Physical Education3
SEP 726Advanced Measurement and Research in Physical Education3
SEP 765Dissertation and Thesis Seminar3
SEP 697Research3
SEP 698Thesis or Dissertation3
COUN 501Counseling Theory and Techniques 13
COUN 606Counseling Theory and Techniques 23
Advisor Approved Electives12
Total Hours36

Additional course requirements needed to meet 36 minimum total credits will be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor. Refer to the Sport and Exercise Psychology Ph.D. Suggested Plan of Study.

Degree Requirements

Students will form a Plan of Study committee and have their Plan of Study approved by March 1 of their first year in the program. This Plan of Study will outline all of the courses needed to complete the requirements for the M.S. in Sport and Exercise Psychology (if necessary) and the M.A. in Counseling as well as the Ph.D in Sport and Exercise Psychology as both Masters degrees are required to earn the Ph.D.

Curriculum Requirements

Disciplinary Core
SEP 719Group Influences in Sport *3
SEP 720Psychological Sport Performance Enhancement *3
SEP 721Counseling College Student-Athletes *3
SEP 722Exercise and Health Psychology *3
EPID 766Physical Activity Epidemiology3
SEP 723Psychological Aspects of Sport Injury3
SEP 727Ethical/Legal Issues in sport Psychology3
Professional Practice Core
Teaching Practicum6
Teaching Practicum (Repeated)
SEP 686Internship in Sport and Exercise Psychology6
SEP 647Supervision Sport Psychology3
Statistics/Research Design Disciplinary Core
EDP 614Statistical Methods 23
Advisor Approved Introductory Graduate-level course in Research Methods3
EDP 711Multivariate Methods 13
Research Practice Core
SEP 697Research6
or SEP 797 Research
SEP 798Thesis or Dissertation3
Master of Science in Sport and Exercise Psychology36
Master of Arts in Counseling or related field (credits determined by MA program)
Research Publication Requirement
Submit 2 data-based articles for publication in peer-reviewed journal
Submit an additional article (literature review or data-based) for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or present a data-based study at a national conference (published abstract)
Oral Defense
Comprehensive Examination
Prospectus Defense
Dissertaion Defense
Total Hours90

Major Learning Goals

Sport and Exercise Psychology

The goal of the program is for students to graduate with the essential skills and knowledge necessary to prepare them to immediately begin a career in the field of sport and exercise psychology.

  • Content Knowledge - Students will demonstrate knowledge and disciplinary concepts related to sport and exercise psychology.
  • Reflection and Critical Thinking - Students will demonstrate reflection and critical thinking in order to refine professional knowledge and practice.
  • Programming and Assessment - Students will demonstrate evidence-based knowledge and skills (and best practices) for assessing needs and for designing, implementing and evaluating performance enhancement skills across domains.
  • Professionalism and Ethics - Students will demonstrate professional behaviors, including commitment to excellence, valuing diversity and collaboration, service to others, and techniques for lifelong learning.
  • Technology - Students will be able to demonstrate the use of different forms of technology to assess skills and provide meaningful feedback.

Courses

SEP 615. Research Methodology in Physical Education. 3 Hours.

PR: Graduate standing or consent. Application of historical, descriptive, and experimental research strategies and designs to physical education. (Also listed as PET 615.).

SEP 620. Individual Interaction in Sport and Physical Activity. 3 Hours.

PR: SEP 615. Designed to acquaint the student with the reciprocal relationships between sport and physical activity and the societies and culture from which sport emerges.

SEP 640. Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. 3 Hours.

PR: SEP 615. Psychological effects and implications of participation in sport and physical activity. Emphasis is on the personality and behavior and motivational dynamics of sport involvement.

SEP 647. Supervision Sport Psychology. 1-6 Hours.

Supervision of graduate-level applied sport psychology consultation.

SEP 686. Internship in Sport and Exercise Psychology. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Graduate student status in SEP PhD Program. Sport behavior supervised experiencing various aspects of sport psychology teaching, research, and/or practice at on-campus or off-campus sites.

SEP 690. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised practice in college teaching of sport studies. Note: This course is intended to insure that graduate assistants are adequately prepared and supervised when they are given college teaching responsibility. It also provides a mechanism for students not on assistantships to gain teaching experience. (Grading will be P/F.).

SEP 691. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

SEP 692. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

SEP 693. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

SEP 694. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

SEP 695. Independent Study. 1-6 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

SEP 696. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

SEP 697. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

SEP 698. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision during the writing of student reports (698), or dissertations (798). Grading is normal.

SEP 699. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students nor seeking coursework credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is P/F; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.

SEP 719. Group Influences in Sport. 3 Hours.

PR: SS 640. An examination of how and why behavior and performance are afffected by interactions with others in sport. An emphasis is placed upon group functioning.

SEP 720. Psychological Sport Performance Enhancement. 3 Hours.

An in-depth examination of commonly used interventions designed to maximize the performance of individual athletes and teams.

SEP 721. Counseling College Student-Athletes. 3 Hours.

An exploration of psycho-social aspects of college student- athletes' life experiences and common counseling concerns to include individual and systems intervention used to assist this at-risk group.

SEP 722. Exercise and Health Psychology. 3 Hours.

Major theories and techniques of health behavior change and health behavior assessment especially with respect to exercise.

SEP 723. Psychological Aspects of Sport Injury. 3 Hours.

Explores the psychosocial antecedents to athletic injury and factors related to the psychological experience and treatment of the injured athlete.

SEP 726. Advanced Measurement and Research in Physical Education. 3 Hours.

PR: SS 615. Extension and application of basic concepts of measurement and statistical evaluation to physical education.

SEP 727. Ethical/Legal Issues in sport Psychology. 3 Hours.

Graduate-level seminar on ethical and legal aspects of research, teaching and practice in sport and exercise psychology.

SEP 765. Dissertation and Thesis Seminar. 3 Hours.

PR: Graduate standing and PET 745 or consent. Critical analysis of the graduate student's dissertation or research proposal. (Required for all doctoral students.).

SEP 790. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hours.

PR: Consent. Supervised practice in college teaching of sport studies. Note: This course is intended to insure that graduate assistants are adequately prepared and supervised when they are given college teaching responsibility. It will also present a mechanism for students not on assistantships to gain teaching experience. (Grading will be S/U.).

SEP 791A-Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6 Hours.

SEP 791Z. Advanced Topics. 1-6Hr. PR:Consent. Investigation of advanced topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses.

SEP 792. Directed Study. 1-6 Hours.

Directed study, reading, and/or research.

SEP 793A. Special Topics. 1-6 Hours.

A study of contemporary topics selected from recent developments in the field.

SEP 794. Seminar. 1-6 Hours.

Special seminars arranged for advanced graduate students.

SEP 795. Independent Study. 1-9 Hours.

Faculty supervised study of topics not available through regular course offerings.

SEP 796. Graduate Seminar. 1 Hour.

PR: Consent. Each graduate student will present at least one seminar to the assembled faculty and graduate student body of his or her program.

SEP 797. Research. 1-15 Hours.

PR: Consent. Research activities leading to thesis, problem report, research paper or equivalent scholarly project, or a dissertation. (Grading may be S/U.).

SEP 798. Thesis or Dissertation. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. This is an optional course for programs that wish to provide formal supervision during the writing of student reports (698), or dissertations (798). Grading is normal.

SEP 799. Graduate Colloquium. 1-6 Hours.

PR: Consent. For graduate students not seeking coursework credit but who wish to meet residency requirements, use the University's facilities, and participate in its academic and cultural programs. Note: Graduate students who are not actively involved in coursework or research are entitled, through enrollment in their department's 699/799 Graduate Colloquium to consult with graduate faculty, participate in both formal and informal academic activities sponsored by their program, and retain all of the rights and privileges of duly enrolled students. Grading is P/F; colloquium credit may not be counted against credit requirements for masters programs. Registration for one credit of 699/799 graduate colloquium satisfies the University requirement of registration in the semester in which graduation occurs.


Faculty

Professors

  • Dana D. Brooks - Ed.D. (West Virginia University)
    Dean
  • Edward Etzel, Jr. - Ed.D. (West Virginia University)
  • Jack Watson - Ph.D. (Florida State University)
    Chair, Sport Sciences
  • Samuel Zizzi - Ed.D. (West Virginia University)

Associate Professor

  • Peter Giacobbi - Ph.D. (University of Tennessee-Knoxville)
  • Damien Clement - Ph.D. (West Virginia University)

Assistant Professors

  • Dana Voelker - Ph.D. (Michigan State University)

Teaching Assistant Professor

  • Scott Barnicle - Ph.D.
    University of Idaho