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Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP)

Sport and exercise psychology professionals have recently been highlighted in television and film, bringing the academic field of sport and exercise psychology into new light. The goal of the SEP program at WVU is to help students combine a passion for sports with an evidence-based approach to psychology.

Although some students find employment in a sports-related field (e.g., coaching, recreation and fitness) after graduating from the program, most students who wish to pursue a career in SEP go on to graduate school. These students find jobs working with performers in a variety of settings, including college and professional sports, the military, performing arts, public health and counseling.

To practice in the field, graduate-level training in SEP is needed.  Students are prepared for the academic field through coursework in sport psychology, sport sciences and professional development. Our students are consistently gaining entry into a variety of graduate programs, for example counseling, public health, business, law and physical or occupational therapy among many others. 

What our alumni have to say:

  • Keeley C.

    "The Sport and Exercise Psychology program was the most rewarding experience of my life. My experience at WVU led me down a path that helped me reach all of my dreams and ensure success throughout the rest of my life."

    Keeley C.

    B.S. SEP, 2013
  • Marina G.

    "Majoring in Sport and Exercise Psychology was a life-changing experience. With the help of the faculty and graduate students, I was able to pinpoint my career goals. These goals continue to drive me everyday."

    Marina G.

    B.S, SEP, 2013
  • Bobby S.

    "I would not be where I am today without WVU's sport and exercise psychology program. My SEP degree has not only prepared me for my future, but has opened doors to more opportunities than I ever thought possible."

    Bobby S.

    B.S. SEP, 2013
Coursework

What you'll study

This program balances core training and professional development that guides students along their path in a dynamic field.

Build your foundation

Students pursuing this program are either admitted into the pre-major program or directly admitted into the major. The pre-major courses allow students to gain an understanding of sport and exercise psychology, by introducing them to coursework in basic psychology, sociology, kinesiology, exercise physiology and science concepts. 

Develop your passion

Once admitted into the major students will take a variety of specialized sport and exercise psychology courses in areas such as exercise psychology, social psychology, psychological aspects of sport injury, physical activity promotion, and performance enhancement. The senior capstone class challenges students to pursue an independent research project in their area of interest.

Find your path

Along with core SEP curriculum, this program offers a series of professional issues courses to prepare students for graduate school and/or the workforce upon graduation. Students can expect to have a high degree of interaction with faculty who will help to guide their professional development.

Program faculty

Who you'll learn from

  • Clement

    Damien Clement

    Professional Highlights

    • Assistant Dean, WVU Honors College (July 2017 – Present)
    • Resident Faculty Leader, Summit Hall (2015-16)
    • Recipient West Virginia University Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching (2015)
    • Recipient Association for Applied Sport Psychology Dorothy V. Harris Award (2014)
  • brookes 

    Dana Brooks

    Professional Highlights

    • Past-president of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (now Society of Health and Physical Educators).
    • Past-president of Midwest District AAHPERD and West VirginiaAAHPERD
    • Fellow in the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education
  • voelker

    Dana Voelker

    Professional Highlights

    • Studies body image, eating, and exercise behaviors in athletes
    • Teaches sport and exercise psychology and research methods
    • Certified Consultant of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology
  • Ed Etzel

    Edward Etzel

    Professional Highlights

    • Certified Consultant, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • Fellow, Association of Applied Sport Psychology
    • Listed on US Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry
    • Olympic Gold Medalist, Shooting 1984
    • WVU Athletics Sport Hall of Fame
  • Watson

    Jack Watson

    Professional Highlights

    • Licensed Psychologist
    • Past-President, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • Fellow, Association for Applied sport Psychology and American Psychological Association, Divison 47
  • giacobbi 

    Peter Giacobbi

    Professional Highlights

    • H-Index of scientific productivity of 23
    • Active advocate of science education, and public health.
  • Sam Zizzi

    Sam Zizzi

    Professional Highlights

    • Research fellow and certified consultant in the association for applied Sport Psychology
    • Principal investigator and research coordinator for the WV PEIA weight management program
    • An enthusiastic teacher who has been recognized multiple times for teaching and advising excellence
  • Scott Barnicle Profile Photo

    Scott Barnicle

    Professional Highlights

    • Conducted research on the results of a long-term applied mental training program with basic training soldiers in the United States Army.
    • Served in applied sport psychology roles with Boston College, University of Idaho, University of South Carolina.
    • Dissertation evaluated a sport enjoyment-focused mental training program within Division I women's soccer.
Beyond The Classroom

Field Experiences and Research

Students have tremendous opportunities to go above and beyond the classroom by taking part in research, community service, conferences and study abroad experiences.

Active engagement in research

Students are required to write a research proposal as part of their capstone experience. Additionally, students are encouraged to seek out research opportunities with graduate students and faculty. These experiences are crucial for successfully navigating the graduate school application process and contribute to a well-rounded professional resume.

Community service involvement

Since students must complete 50 hours of community service while in the program, the SEP Club has taken a prominent role in organizing at least two community service events per month, open to both club and non-club members. These events not only provide students with opportunities to accumulate community service hours to meet their graduation requirement, but more importantly, they help students to establish and build connections with the Morgantown community. Some of the community service events that students have participated in the past included cooking dinner at the West Virginia Grief Center, volunteering at the Animal Friends Thrift Shoppe and assisting with Decker’s Creek Adopt a Highway.

Professional and student conferences

Conferences are ideal opportunities for students to network with other undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members from a variety of universities. Attending conferences demonstrates genuine interest in graduate school which could potentially distinguish a student from similarly qualified candidates. Some students have presented their capstone research projects at conferences. Recently, students have attended the annual conference of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Students have also attended regional conferences at Temple University, Miami University, Michigan State, Bowling Green University and Ball State University.

Study abroad

Most years the SEP program hosts a faculty-led study abroad trip to add a sport-related cross-cultural component to students’ studies. Recent faculty-led study abroad trips include destinations such as: Czech Republic, Denmark, South Africa, Swaziland and Sweden. 

Career Preparation

After Graduation

Upon graduation 40 percent of our students are employed and 60 percent attend graduate school. Approximately 66 percent of all SEP graduates have completed an advanced degree.


Commonly sought research focuses among alumni

  • Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Public Health
  • Exercise Science
  • Rehabilitation Counseling

Example employers and job titles of graduates

  • Ciera N. - Master Resilience Trainer-Performance Expert, Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, Columbia, South Carolina
  • Justin C. - School counselor, Uniontown, Pennsylvania
  • Tim C. - Head JV Wrestling coach, Howard County, Maryland
  • Cunningham M. - Exercise Physiologist, Teays Valley, West Virginia
  • Brad H. - Attorney, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Sean F. - Department Chair, Marian University, Wisconsin
How To Apply

The Admission Process

 

How to apply

  • Apply to WVU: WVU Admissions Application
  • On your WVU Admissions materials indicate Pre-Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP) as your major of interest.

Prerequisites and requirements

Students can be directly admitted into the SEP program if they meet any of the following requirements:

  • ACT composite score of 25 or a SAT combined (math + critical reading) score of 1140 and a minimum GPA of 3.8
  • ACT score of 26 or a SAT combined (math + critical reading) score of 1180 and a minimum GPA of 3.6
  • ACT score of 28 or a SAT combined (math + critical reading) score of 1260 and a minimum GPA of 3.5

If you do not meet the above requirements for a direct admit into the SEP program you will be admitted into the pre-SEP program. This is not a competitive pre-major. Pre-SEP courses (must be completed before admission to SEP Program).

Additional program admission information

Admission application form deadline: May 15, August 1, and December 15

SEP pre-major requirements

The following courses and requirements must be completed as a pre-SEP major in order to be accepted into the SEP program.

  • BIO 102/104 (Need a C or better)
  • ENGL 101 (Need a C or better)
  • SEP 210 (Need a B or better)
  • SEP 271 (Need a B or better)
  • SEP 272 (Need a B or better)
  • PSYC 101 (Need a C or better)
  • SOCA 101 (Need a C or better)
  • Minimum required GPA – 2. 5 Cumulative GPA
  • 20 hours of community service as verified by the West Virginia University’s Center for Service and Learning
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