Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology (SEP)

The Ph.D. program in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology at WVU is recognized as one of the premier training programs in the world. It provides students with a comprehensive curriculum delivered by highly qualified faculty. The program combines academic rigor, extensive research experiences and applied consulting opportunities to train highly competent, well-rounded future sport, exercise and performance psychology professionals.

Students initiate their own line of research, work with faculty to produce publishable manuscripts, and complete three research benchmarks in addition to their dissertation. Furthermore, students take part in supervised applied experiences working within a range of different sport, exercise and performance setting, including Division I, II, and III athletic programs. This Ph.D. program, which includes a concurrent master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, allows individuals to sit for counseling licensure upon graduation. With this combination of research and applied aspects of sport, exercise and performance psychology, the program prepares students for careers as sport psychology consultants, researchers and future faculty members. Students may also apply for a science track with more emphasis on research, which does not include the master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Many students work 20 hours/week during the semester as a graduate assistant either teaching, providing service or conducting research. In return for these contributions, graduate assistants receive a tuition waiver and stipend.

What our alumni have to say:

  • John Lubker

    "WVU provided me with the opportunity to develop both as a professional and as an academic. My success is a direct result of the training and guidance I received while a student in the SEP program."

    John L.

    Ed.D. SEP, 2006
  • Amanda V

    "The education and training I was fortunate to receive in my doctoral sport and exercise psychology program was exceptional. Moreover, the mentorship provided to me by the faculty then, and even now, remains unmatched."

    Amanda V.

    Ph.D. SEP, 2008
  • Lindsay Blom

    "The SEP faculty helped me develop holistically as a scholar and person, with high expectations and a strong desire to achieve. Dr. Jack Watson provided mentorship with autonomy and independence, and support through challenges. While at WVU, I was offered a strong classroom education, mentored practicum, research training and teaching experience."

    Lindsey B.

    Ed.D. SEP, 2005
Coursework

What you'll study

The program combines academic rigor, extensive research experiences and applied consulting opportunities to train highly competent, well-rounded future sport, exercise and performance psychology professionals. The comprehensive curriculum represents the science-practice model of psychology.

Foundational Courses

Students complete 65-75 credit hours that cover traditional SEP coursework, professional practice courses and research methods. They will have individual plan of studies meetings to finalize their doctoral curriculum with all courses needed to complete the requirements for the SEP doctoral degree.

Dissertation

Throughout the program students select a line of research that coincides with their area of interest. The SEP doctoral degree program culminates with a dissertation research project, exploring an important topic in the field of sport, exercise and performance psychology. The dissertation will be in the form of two or three publishable papers researching the chosen topic, which will be presented in a public forum. The dissertation committee must approve of the dissertation to be fully accepted.

Earn a dual degree in counseling

Once admitted into this program, students can opt to dual enroll in the master's degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Courses for these two programs are completed simultaneously. Upon completion students are eligible to sit for licensure as a a licensed professional counselor in most states. 

Program faculty

Who you'll learn from

The SEP program at WVU boasts seven faculty members dedicated to the profession of sport, exercise and performance psychology. Program faculty represent diverse backgrounds and experiences within teaching, research and applied practice.

  • 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
    • 2018 WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teachers
    • 2018 Association for Applied Sport Psychology Dorothy V. Harris Memorial Award
    • 2019 Steelcase Education Active Learning Center Grant
  • 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
      • Development and implementation of an educational program for youth coaches of the German Soccer Association
      • Collaborator on grants by the Union of European Soccer Associations and the German Soccer Association
      • Recipient of a research grant by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology
    • Portrait of Peter Giacobbi 

      Peter Giacobbi

      Professional Highlights

      • Deputy Director, West Virginia Prevention Research Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2016
      • 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 30, Scopus H-index of 22; 68 peer-reviewed publications
    • 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

    Applied Experiences

    Students have the opportunity to gain applied experience working with a range of performers, including student-athletes of Division I, II, and III athletic programs. As a result, most students accrue more than 400 hours of supervised service provision allowing them to meet the requirements for AASP certification (CMPC). In addition, the dual enrollment in a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling allows individuals to sit for counseling licensure upon graduation.

    Research

    The program boasts seven faculty members trained in sport, exercise and performance psychology. These faculty members have different training backgrounds and research specialties (see faculty profiles) allowing them to supervise students with various research interests. Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with those faculty members and are expected to produce publishable manuscripts. In their research, students are encouraged to identify topics that align with their own interests and will help them reach their professional goals.

    Graduate Assistantships

    The WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and many WVU campus departments offer various graduate assistantship opportunities. These assistantships vary, from WVU Athletics, the WVU Student Recreation Center, University Advising Center, to Teaching Assistantships in the College’s Basic Instruction Program (BIP). In addition to Graduate Assistantships, graduate programs are awarded Meritorious Tuition Waiver hours to be distributed to those students not receiving a GA. These tuition waiver hours are provided based on need and availability.

    Available Graduate Assistantships
    Career Preparation

    After Graduation

    Graduates leave the program with advanced skills in the areas of research, practice and teaching. WVU boasts one of the largest SEP alumni networks in the nation with former students working in most areas of the sport, exercise and performance psychology profession. Alumni take a genuine interest in current students and their future success. Graduates work in a variety of roles which include sport psychology consultants, researchers and faculty members.

    Example employers and job titles of graduates

    • Ian Connole, private practitioner, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Peak Performance, Dartmouth College
    • Paul Downey, Associate Athletic Director for Academics, University of Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletics
    • Adrian Ferrera, practitioner with special forces soldiers, Fort Bragg
    • Aaron Goodson, Assistant Director of Counseling and Sport Psychology, Mississippi State University
    • Brandon Harris, Associate Professor, Georgia Southern University
    • Jesse Michel, Head Mental Skills Coordinator, Houston Astros
    • Raymond Prior, private practitioner, Chicago, Illinois
    • Rebecca Zakrajsek, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee
    How To Apply

    The Admission Process

    How to apply

    Apply online at the WVU Graduate Admissions website. Incomplete applications (those without all required materials and documentation) will not be accepted.

    Prospective students should NOT apply to the dual master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at this time. If accepted into the Ph.D. program, admission fees will be waived.

    Prerequisites and requirements

    Applicants can seek admission to the doctoral program in Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology with either a baccalaureate degree or master's degree. To be considered for admission, applicants must upload the following documentation within the graduate application:  

        • Resume or curriculum vitae
        • Transcripts from all previous institutions 
        • Official GRE scores
        • Personal statement (1-2 written pages on professional background, goals, and reasons for pursuing doctoral degree at WVU, and rationale for potential faculty advisor)
        • Letters of recommendation (2)

    You will not be able to submit your application until the above documents are uploaded. Once the application is submitted and (unofficial/official) transcripts are received, your application will be reviewed for an admission decision. International applicants will not be reviewed with unofficial transcripts. Certain application requirements may be waived on a preliminary review of an application by the program. 

    Please contact the Office of Student Success at (304) 293-4800 for more information about the application process.

    Additional program admission information

    Admission application form deadline: December 1. Admission is limited to fall start only.

    Applicants are encouraged to submit their application with unofficial transcripts from all previously attended institutions. Submitting unofficial transcripts speeds up the application review process as most graduate programs make admission decisions using unofficial transcripts. 

    If you are offered acceptance, you are required to submit official transcripts from all previously attended institutions to be fully admitted into your intended graduate program. You will not be able to register for classes until the official transcripts are received. The preferred method to submit your official transcripts is through a secure, online service such as eScript, The National Clearing House, or Parchment, to graduateadmissions@mail.wvu.edu

    Alternatively, if you are unable to submit an electronic version of your official transcript, the physical, sealed, un-tampered with documents can be mailed to:

    WVU Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 6510, Morgantown, WV 26501

    OR

    WVU Graduate Admissions,  1 Waterfront Pl, 2nd Fl Morgantown, WV 26505

    Directions for submitting International, official transcripts

    International applicants must submit proof of English language proficiency

    Review process

    Following the application deadline, program faculty will evaluate applicant credentials based on the materials submitted. After that initial review, a limited number of applicants will be invited to personal online and/or on-campus interviews with the program faculty and current students prior to a final admission decision.

    Learn more

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    Want to experience WVU in person? We are ready to answer your questions about life on campus. Schedule an in person visit. Can’t visit in person? Try a virtual tour, it’s the next-best thing to being here — you can view residence halls and the WVU Morgantown Campus.

    Reach out

    Lindsay Augstine Portrait
    Lindsay Augustine
    Student Services Specialist
    Scott Barnicle Profile Photo
    Scott Barnicle
    SEP Program Coordinator and Teaching Assistant Professor