Curriculum – MS SPP

About the SPP Master's Program

Using positive and applied sport psychology, our MS program is designed to optimize your skills in sport and performance psychology and transform your abilities to inspire and motivate others to enhance performance and maximize human potential. This flexible and interactive degree is 100 percent online and empowers you to take courses to meet your individual job and certification needs. Our curriculum offers a vast array of sport and performance psychology coursework and is designed specifically to help students complete the specialized coursework requirements to become a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).

Click here to download the MS Sport and Performance Psychology curriculum sequence.

Positive Coaching Concentration

University of Western States is one of a select group of institutions officially recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) for offering a graduate-level positive coaching  concentration. This concentration focuses on strategic leadership and coaching used to enhance both physical and mental performance, and is offered as part of the Sport and Performance Psychology master’s program. It reaches beyond coaching on the sidelines and includes how to perform optimally as the coach and leader. Topics covered in this concentration will build on sports performance-based knowledge and focus on the importance of positive coaching, leadership and communication to help your team, business or organization reach full potential. Students are able to choose three of the five available courses for a total of 12 credits.

COUN7440 Applied Motor Learning (4 credits)
This course identifies the various ways that people learn to move and how the principles of motor performance and learning can be useful to those in teaching, coaching, and consultant positions. This course takes an applied approach to understanding motor control, motor development, and motor learning. Emphasis is given to understanding how skilled movement is gained, regulated, and adapted. Students will learn the factors that influence skill acquisition and how to design effective practices for consistent performance. (4+0)

COUN8100 Skill Acquisition and Human Performance (4 credits)
This course examines the acquisition of skills and human performance from the perspectives of motor learning, cognitive learning, and affective learning. Students are allowed to select sports and positive coaching readings in order to complete a series of reports. These sports and positive coaching readings will consist of topics such as self-determination theory, theory of planned behavior, leadership, communication, skill acquisition, and risk management. The focus of this course is to enhance the student’s knowledge concerning positive coaching and the profession of sports coaching. (4+0)

LEAD7140 Positive Coaching (4 credits)
This course will apply the principles of positive coaching to increase effectiveness and improve performance in the areas of sport, exercise and wellness. Students will recognize and learn to communicate evidence-based positive coaching principles to strive for excellence; achieve optimal performance; teach and model the process of success; lead a group to becoming a highly effective team; communicate with followers as we would wish to be communicated with by our leaders; respecting and protecting self-worth of everyone; practice how to be demanding without being demeaning; and how to shape an individual’s will without breaking their spirit. (4+0) *Prerequisite – COUN6536 Foundations of Counseling

LEAD8310 Communication in Leadership Positions (4 credits)
This course examines effective communication in leadership positions and teaches how to use positive communication techniques and processes within higher education, business, athletic administration and coaching positions. Students will gain an awareness of the positive communication skills it takes to succeed in these professions as well as resources for continual improvement. Students will practice using effective leadership communication skills through simulated leadership scenarios. Students will complete a mock job interview for a future leadership position of their choice. This is to help students conceptualize the dynamics of leadership position interviewing to be more successful. (4+0)

LEAD8485 Positive Leadership in Sport (4 credits)
A positive leadership philosophy requires positive leadership delivery. This course is designed to prepare leaders to bridge content knowledge to practical application. Students will use core competencies learned within their concentration to develop their leadership approach. (4+0) *Positive Coaching Concentration Prerequisite: MSE7415 Positive Coaching

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Master of Science in Sport and Performance Psychology will have the competency to:

  • Describe major concepts and current trends in research pertaining to the mental health counseling and sport psychology.
  • Identify and explain the legal and ethical issues involved with counseling practice and consulting in sport psychology.
  • Demonstrate the ability to design activities and ethical interventions in sport and performance contexts that will lead to improved performance and satisfaction.
  • Communicate through discussion and writing the terminology, concepts, and connections between science, counseling and sport psychology practice.
  • Recognize and integrate a variety of techniques available to improve health, enhance performance, and improve overall wellness.

8 CC-AASP Knowledge Competency Areas:

  • K1 – Sport Psychology Professional Ethics and Standards
  • K2 – Sport Psychology
  • K3 – Sport Science (Physiological Bases of Sport, Historical/Social/Motor Bases of Sport)
  • K4 – Psychopathology
  • K5 – Helping Relationships (Counseling Skills)
  • K6 – Statistics and Research Methods
  • K7 – Psychological Foundations (previously C9-C12)
  • K8 – Diversity and Culture

Textbooks

You can buy your textbooks online. Find the SPP textbook list here.

Quarter 1

COUN 6505 - Professional Practice and Counseling Ethics 4 credits

Students will learn and evaluate current legal and ethical guidelines used in the counseling profession and in sport psychology consulting. Students will apply ethical decision-making models and formulate effective evidence-based collaborative strategies used to resolve ethical dilemmas and legal issues that arise when working with individuals, organizations, and teams. The focus is on ethical decision-making through an understanding of legal and ethical standards of practice.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

COUN 6550 - Sport Psychology 4 credits

This course involves the application and synthesis of the best evidence-based practices in sport psychology that have been shown to result in optimal performance, health, and satisfaction. Students will be introduced to the most effective science based theories, research, and best practices in sport psychology. The course experience will focus on the necessary link between science and sport, encouraging each student to build the bridge from concept to integrated application in real world settings.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

Quarter 2

MSE 6565 - Research Methods 4 credits

This course will explore research topics in the disciplines of sport science, understand how research methods can be utilized to form theories, learn how to critically review the published literature, and write a comprehensive literature review that can be incorporated into the Capstone Project requirement.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

COUN 7445 - Psychological Preparation and Mental Skills Training 4 credits

This course will examine how to help individuals better identify, understand, and manage their mental skills, responses to stress, performance preparation strategies, and focusing techniques designed to help performers be more effectively under pressure. Topics to be covered include positive self-talk, confidence, concentration, motivation and goal setting, peak performance states, self-regulation techniques to control arousal, and coping strategies for dealing with the multiple demands facing a competitive athlete.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

Quarter 3

MSE 6530 - Sports Nutrition 4 credits

This course will cover the relationship between macronutrient and micronutrient intakes and athletic performance. Detailed knowledge of how exercise influences dietary intake, digestion, absorption, energy metabolism, and storage of nutrients will be discussed. In addition, dietary planning for weight gain and weight loss, sport specific concerns and conditions that present to athletes of all age groups regarding nutrition, and the use of dietary supplements as ergogenic aids will be explored.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

SPP 7400 - Sports in American Society 4 credits

This course will examine the influence of the social context on sport. Attention is given to the influence of society on sport as an institution and the role of sport as an agent of social change. Examines how sport affects the social world we live in. Topics explored include the intersection of sport and gender, race/ethnicity/culture, socioeconomic class, media relations, violence, deviance, and sexuality.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

Quarter 4

COUN 7410 - Psychology of Performance Excellence 4 credits

The purpose of this course is to examine the theories, research, and intervention strategies related to the pursuit of excellence. This course explores the deliberate interventions necessary to support the development of excellence and expertise. Students will learn the nature of expertise development, the necessary steps to achieve excellence, and common roadblocks. The concept of excellence will be investigated in many contexts, such as sport and performance, intrapersonal, relationships, and life in general. Topics to be explored include: happiness, contentment, life satisfaction, values, character strengths, emotional intelligence, optimism, hope, flow, and resiliency.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

COUN 7415 - Applied Sport Psychology 4 credits

This course integrates and synthesizes the theoretical concepts of sport and performance psychology into meaningful application. Strategies, knowledge and skills will be presented to develop the student’s ability to create performance- enhancement programs for athletes and performers. A case study approach will be employed.

Hours: 4 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G

Quarter 5

Electives Min 20 Credits Total - Elective Options

Elective courses (a minimum of 20-quarter credits)

Courses listed in the sports performance and coaching science concentration may be taken as elective courses.

COUN6536 Foundations of Counseling (4 credits)
This course will introduce basic counseling theories and review major contemporary counseling theories, models, procedures, and the helping relationship.The relationship between specific theories, counseling techniques, interventions, and applications of research findings in counseling will be analyzed. This course surveys the principles underlying individual, group, organizational, family systems, and multicultural approaches to counseling. The course will discuss counseling methods utilized in both individual and group settings. (4+0)

COUN7210 Applied Health Behavioral Theory (4 credits)
This course will consist of a careful review of the theories of health behavior. Emphasis is placed on how health behavior theory can explain health behavior and assist in program design. Case-study examples of how health behavioral theory has been successfully used in school, community, athletic, medical and worksite wellness settings for health promotion interventions will be investigated. (4+0)

COUN8420 Psychopathology: Diagnosis and Treatment (4 credits)
Students will examine psychopathology principles, professional literature, and current issues associated with assessing and treating mental disorders. Students will critically evaluate diagnostic models, methods, and approaches used in diagnosing and treating individuals and groups. Students will also explore the current DSM classifications and diagnostic issues associated with diverse populations. (4+0)

COUN8440 Directed Study in Sport and Performance Psychology (1-4 credits)
Directed study courses are taught to increase the scope of the program and to give students special opportunities to complete advanced courses and projects. With instructor approval to register for the course, students must complete the UWS course contract for field problems/directed study form. This form is to be filled out by the student and must be approved by the instructor and program director prior to enrollment. Policy: A contractual agreement for credit hours must be equivalent to the standard unit of credit as declared by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. “One credit hour will be awarded for a course meeting one hour per week for 11 weeks, exclusive of enrollment, orientation and vacation time. Organized examination days may be counted as instructional days.” In addition, the university expects two hours of study outside of class for each instructional hour. (1-4+0)

LEAD6520 Leadership and Administration in Athletics (4 credits)
An examination of the human dynamics in sport organizations and how athletic directors, sport leaders, and human resource management can affect universities athletic departments and sport organizations effectiveness. Emphasis will be placed on positive leadership and administration practices as well as how leadership theories can help with understanding the evolution of a strong mission, strategic plan, and enhanced performance of human resources. The course will examine differences in leadership and administration for different sports settings including professional sports, universities, high schools, and other related sport businesses. (4+0)

LEAD8450 Positive Leadership in Business (4 credits)
This course will apply the principles of positive psychology to increase effectiveness and improve business performance. Students will learn applications of positive psychology to strive for excellence; achieve optimal performance; teaching and modeling the process of success; leading a group of individuals to becoming a highly effective team; communicating with followers as we would wish to be communicated with; how to respect and protect the self-worth of others; how to be demanding without being demeaning; how to shape an individual’s will without breaking their spirit. The course also includes the application of recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and neuroscience to resolve contemporary issues in the workplace. (4+0) *Prerequisite: LEAD6520 Leadership and Administration in Athletics

MSE6220 Biomechanics (4 credits)
This course is designed to provide a broad understanding of biomechanics from a qualitative perspective. This course will focus on human movement from a biomechanical perspective including identifying specific muscles and muscle groups and describing exercises for strengthening and developing those muscles. Common injuries experienced by the general population and exercises to help prevent and/or strengthen those areas will also be explored. (4+0)

MSE6500 Exercise Physiology (4 credits)
This course focuses on the physiological responses and adaptations to exercise experienced by the cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, and neuromuscular systems of the body. The laboratory component of this course will include methods of data collection and measurement relating to energy expenditure, maximal oxygen consumption, onset of blood lactate, electrocardiography, and other selected measures. *Prerequisite: Prior physiology coursework (or instructor approval). (4+0)

MSE8215 Sport and Exercise Performance Enhancement (4 credits)
This course is designed to provide students with the ability to assess and prescribe anaerobic and aerobic exercise programs for sports performance enhancement. Students will obtain hands-on experience designing programs to meet the needs of athletes from a variety of sports. (4+0) *Prerequisite: Exercise Physiology

SPP7245 Athletic Nutrition planning and Supplements (4 credits)
This course is designed to prepare students for the certified sports nutritionist exam offered through the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). It involves the detailed study of improving and supporting athletic performance through nutrition. How exercise influences dietary intake, digestion, absorption, energy metabolism, and storage of nutrients will be thoroughly discussed. Students will gain practical experience in supporting body composition and physique changes for specific sports/positions as well as performance optimization in endurance, power and speed applications. Nutrition principles and aspects such as meal timing, the use of sports supplements and ergogenic aids will be discussed in detail. The relationship of nutrition to circadian rhythms and sleep to support recovery will also be examined. (4+0)

Hours: 0 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic

Quarter 6

Electives Min 20 Credits Total - Elective Options

Elective courses (a minimum of 20-quarter credits)

Courses listed in the sports performance and coaching science concentration may be taken as elective courses.

COUN6536 Foundations of Counseling (4 credits)
This course will introduce basic counseling theories and review major contemporary counseling theories, models, procedures, and the helping relationship.The relationship between specific theories, counseling techniques, interventions, and applications of research findings in counseling will be analyzed. This course surveys the principles underlying individual, group, organizational, family systems, and multicultural approaches to counseling. The course will discuss counseling methods utilized in both individual and group settings. (4+0)

COUN7210 Applied Health Behavioral Theory (4 credits)
This course will consist of a careful review of the theories of health behavior. Emphasis is placed on how health behavior theory can explain health behavior and assist in program design. Case-study examples of how health behavioral theory has been successfully used in school, community, athletic, medical and worksite wellness settings for health promotion interventions will be investigated. (4+0)

COUN8420 Psychopathology: Diagnosis and Treatment (4 credits)
Students will examine psychopathology principles, professional literature, and current issues associated with assessing and treating mental disorders. Students will critically evaluate diagnostic models, methods, and approaches used in diagnosing and treating individuals and groups. Students will also explore the current DSM classifications and diagnostic issues associated with diverse populations. (4+0)

COUN8440 Directed Study in Sport and Performance Psychology (1-4 credits)
Directed study courses are taught to increase the scope of the program and to give students special opportunities to complete advanced courses and projects. With instructor approval to register for the course, students must complete the UWS course contract for field problems/directed study form. This form is to be filled out by the student and must be approved by the instructor and program director prior to enrollment. Policy: A contractual agreement for credit hours must be equivalent to the standard unit of credit as declared by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. “One credit hour will be awarded for a course meeting one hour per week for 11 weeks, exclusive of enrollment, orientation and vacation time. Organized examination days may be counted as instructional days.” In addition, the university expects two hours of study outside of class for each instructional hour. (1-4+0)

LEAD6520 Leadership and Administration in Athletics (4 credits)
An examination of the human dynamics in sport organizations and how athletic directors, sport leaders, and human resource management can affect universities athletic departments and sport organizations effectiveness. Emphasis will be placed on positive leadership and administration practices as well as how leadership theories can help with understanding the evolution of a strong mission, strategic plan, and enhanced performance of human resources. The course will examine differences in leadership and administration for different sports settings including professional sports, universities, high schools, and other related sport businesses. (4+0)

LEAD8450 Positive Leadership in Business (4 credits)
This course will apply the principles of positive psychology to increase effectiveness and improve business performance. Students will learn applications of positive psychology to strive for excellence; achieve optimal performance; teaching and modeling the process of success; leading a group of individuals to becoming a highly effective team; communicating with followers as we would wish to be communicated with; how to respect and protect the self-worth of others; how to be demanding without being demeaning; how to shape an individual’s will without breaking their spirit. The course also includes the application of recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and neuroscience to resolve contemporary issues in the workplace. (4+0) *Prerequisite: LEAD6520 Leadership and Administration in Athletics

MSE6220 Biomechanics (4 credits)
This course is designed to provide a broad understanding of biomechanics from a qualitative perspective. This course will focus on human movement from a biomechanical perspective including identifying specific muscles and muscle groups and describing exercises for strengthening and developing those muscles. Common injuries experienced by the general population and exercises to help prevent and/or strengthen those areas will also be explored. (4+0)

MSE6500 Exercise Physiology (4 credits)
This course focuses on the physiological responses and adaptations to exercise experienced by the cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, and neuromuscular systems of the body. The laboratory component of this course will include methods of data collection and measurement relating to energy expenditure, maximal oxygen consumption, onset of blood lactate, electrocardiography, and other selected measures. *Prerequisite: Prior physiology coursework (or instructor approval). (4+0)

MSE8215 Sport and Exercise Performance Enhancement (4 credits)
This course is designed to provide students with the ability to assess and prescribe anaerobic and aerobic exercise programs for sports performance enhancement. Students will obtain hands-on experience designing programs to meet the needs of athletes from a variety of sports. (4+0) *Prerequisite: Exercise Physiology

SPP7245 Athletic Nutrition planning and Supplements (4 credits)
This course is designed to prepare students for the certified sports nutritionist exam offered through the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN). It involves the detailed study of improving and supporting athletic performance through nutrition. How exercise influences dietary intake, digestion, absorption, energy metabolism, and storage of nutrients will be thoroughly discussed. Students will gain practical experience in supporting body composition and physique changes for specific sports/positions as well as performance optimization in endurance, power and speed applications. Nutrition principles and aspects such as meal timing, the use of sports supplements and ergogenic aids will be discussed in detail. The relationship of nutrition to circadian rhythms and sleep to support recovery will also be examined. (4+0)

Hours: 0 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic

Quarter 7

SPP 7570 - Capstone Project or Comprehensive Exam 1 credits

This course requires students to produce a professional and academic portfolio that encompasses their academic experiences and professional aspirations. This will include courses taken, selected research papers and academic work as well as any professional experience pertinent to their current degree program.

Hours: 1 lecture - 0 lab - 0 clinic
Grading: G