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

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 admitted in to the program are required to complete a number of introductory/benchmark courses. The benchmark 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 benchmark courses have been completed, 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

  • Portrait of Dana

    Damien Clement

    Professional Highlights

    • Fellow, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • Certified Mental Performance Consultant, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • 2014 Association for Applied Sport Psychology Dorothy V. Harris Memorial Award
    • 2015 WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teachers
    • Acting Dean, West Virginia University’s Honors College (2019 – 2020)
  • Portrait of Dana Voelker

    Dana Voelker

    Professional Highlights

    • Certified Mental Performance Consultant, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • 2019 Steelcase Education Active Learning Center Grant
    • 2018 WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teachers
    • 2018 Association for Applied Sport Psychology Dorothy V. Harris Memorial Award
  • Portrait of Jack Watson

    Jack Watson

    Professional Highlights

    • Certified Mental Performance Consultant, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • Past-President and Fellow, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • Fellow, American Psychological Association
    • Recipient of West Virginia University Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching
    • Portrait of Johannes Raabe

      Johannes Raabe

      Professional Highlights

      • Certified Mental Performance Consultant, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
      • Coach education for German soccer (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) and gymnastics (Badischer Turner-Bund) federations
      • 2021 Young Investigator Award by National Strength and Conditioning Association Foundation
    • Portrait of Peter Giacobbi 

      Peter Giacobbi

      Professional Highlights

      • Research focus on chronic disease risk reduction using digital and other delivery technologies 
      • Expert in the use of guided imagery in sport and exercise settings, overall well-being and managing health behavior
      • Current Google Scholar H-index of 33, Scopus H-index of 23
    • Portrait of Sam Zizzi outside

      Sam Zizzi

      Professional Highlights

      • Twice recognized as Most Outstanding Teacher at WVU CPASS
      • Recognized as the Dr. Pat Fehl Endowed Professor to focus efforts on the health and wellness of WV citizens
      • Published one of the first books on awareness in the present moment, entitled Mindfulness in Sport and Exercise Psychology (2017) with friend and colleague Mark Andersen
      • Certified Mental Performance Consultant, Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP)
    • Scott Barnicle Profile Photo

      Scott Barnicle

      Professional Highlights

      • Certified Mental Performance consultant, Association for Applied Sport Psychology
      • Listed on the United States Olympic Committee Sport Psychology Registry
      • Studies sport enjoyment and applied sport psychology intervention
      • Actively consults with professional athletes and Division 1 athletic teams
    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 20 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, assisting with Decker’s Creek Adopt a Highway, and helping out at the Ronald McDonald house in Morgantown. Additionally, two benchmark classes are designated as Service-Learning courses; SEP 210 and 312. These unique course offerings are designed to provide students the opportunity to utilize their academic background, prior course-work, and individual skills in a way that allows them to experience community need and make a real difference.

    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, Ball State University, Miami University (Ohio) and University of Kentucky.

    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: Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, South Africa, and Swaziland. In addition to unique study abroad experiences, the sport and exercise psychology program has a unique international partnership with Halmstad University, in Halmstad, Sweden. The SEP program runs a spring-break study abroad trip ever other year, where WVU students have the opportunity for cross-cultural experiences in and out of the classroom at Halmstad University and around Sweden. Additionally, every fall the majors-only section of SEP 272 interacts with peers at Halmstad University via online educational platforms and assignments. 

    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 Sport and Exercise Psychology (SEP) as your major of interest.

    Prerequisites and requirements

    Students are admitted in to the Sport and Exercise Psychology program if they meet 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

    Additional program admission information

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

    SEP benchmark requirements

    The following courses and requirements must be completed as benchmarks in 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)

    Learn more

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    Reach out

    Portrait of Lindsay Augustine
    Lindsay Augustine
    Assistant Dean for Student and Enrollment Services
    Scott Barnicle Profile Photo
    Scott Barnicle
    Teaching Assistant Professor