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).

View the CMPC® candidate handbook here.

Downloadable Program Planner

To improving advising, please complete this downloadable MS-SPP program planner and send it to your program representative when you schedule your advising appointment.

Download the program planner

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. For the positive coaching concentration, students must enroll in the three positive coaching courses and then choose one elective course.

LEAD6335 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 

LEAD6340 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 positive communication skills 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. (4+0) 

LEAD6350 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: LEAD6335 

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.

Curriculum

The Master of Science in sport and performance psychology offers advanced training for leaders in psychology, coaching, education, health care, business and administration. Using positive psychology and the applied sport psychology scientist-practitioner model of training, the program is designed to help students develop the necessary skills to take their performance to the next level. The curriculum will support students in preparing for the certified mental performance consultant (CMPC®) exam by providing coursework opportunities in the K1-K8 standards of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology. The master’s degree is comprised of 53 quarter-credits.

Curriculum Sequence

View the curriculum sequence by quarter.

Course Descriptions

Click to open the course descriptions for each curriculum section below.

Core Courses

COUN6101 Ethics and Professional Identity (4 credits) 

Students will learn and evaluate current legal and ethical guidelines used in the counseling profession and in sport psychology profession. 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, couples, families, groups, teams, and organizations. Students will also learn what it means to integrate a professional counselor identity into their lives. (4+0) 

COUN6110 Personality and Counseling Theories (4 credits) 

This course will introduce the five forces of counseling theories: Psychoanalytic, Cognitive-Behavioral, Existential-Humanistic, Multicultural, and Social Justice, including history, key values, therapeutic relationship, process of change, therapeutic content, and interventions. Students will evaluate the relationships between specific theories, counseling techniques, interventions, and research on evidence-based practice. (4+0) 

COUN6120 Research Methods and Program Evaluation (4 credits) 

Students will engage with content, discussions, and assignments emphasizing the importance of research in the counseling profession, including analysis of published literature on evidenced-based practices. Students will become critical consumers of research by learning about qualitative and quantitative research assumptions, methods, and program design considerations. Steps of program evaluation are also featured. Students learn language, theory, and assumptions related to descriptive, correlational, and inferential statistics. (4+0) 

COUN6155 Sport in Society (4 credits) 

This multicultural counseling 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 and social justice. 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. (4+0) 

COUN6210 Psychology of Performance Excellence (4 credits) 

This course explores the deliberate application of theory, research, and intervention strategies to help clients pursue excellence. The construct of excellence is thoroughly explored, including common roadblocks and the type of contexts in which the skills and knowledge are used in the field of clinical mental health counseling, sport and performance, intrapersonal relationships, and career. Topics include happiness, contentment, life satisfaction, resiliency, values, character strengths, emotional intelligence, optimism, hope, flow, and mindfulness. (4+0) 

COUN6215 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. (4+0) Prerequisite: COUN6101, COUN6550 

COUN6225 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) 

COUN6230 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. (4+0) Prerequisite: COUN6101, COUN6550, COUN6215 

COUN6550 Sport Psychology (4 credits) 

This course focuses on the necessary link between science and sport, encouraging each student to begin to build the bridge from concept to integrated application in real world settings. Students synthesize and apply evidence-based practices in sport psychology to enhance performance, health, and satisfaction. Best practices research in both sport psychology and clinical mental health counseling inform student’s course work. Motivational Interviewing theory and techniques are covered. (4+0) 

SPP7570 Capstone Project (1 credit) 

This course requires students to produce a professional and academic portfolio that encompasses their academic experiences and professional aspirations. The portfolio includes courses taken, selected research papers and academic work as well as any professional experience pertinent to their current degree program. (1+0) 

Electives

COUN6115 Human Growth and Development (4 credits) 

This course provides an understanding of human growth and development over the life span including theoretical approaches. It emphasizes physiological, cognitive, social, emotional, personality, attachment-based, spiritual, and moral development from conception to death. Analysis of developmental models from a multicultural perspective adds depth to case conceptualization. (4+0) 

COUN6145 Psychopathology and Appraisal (4 credits) 

Students will examine psychopathology principles, professional literature, and current issues associated with assessing, diagnosing, planning treatment, and treating mental health symptoms and disorders. Students will critically evaluate diagnostic models, methods, and approaches used in the diagnostic process. Students will learn to use the DSM-5 classifications, criteria required for diagnosis, and diagnostic issues associated with diverse populations to examine cases. (4+0) 

COUN6150 Multicultural Counseling and Advocacy (4 credits) 

This course introduces theory and research related to culturally competent counseling, including multiculturalism, cross-culturalism, intersectionality, social justice, and advocacy. Students consider the characteristics of diverse populations as they inform counseling and advocacy practices that promote optimal wellness and growth for individuals, couples, families, and groups. Students also assess the influence of their characteristics, attitudes, and beliefs on the counseling process. Students will examine their roles in promoting social justice at multiple levels and evaluate approaches for prevention of clinical mental health issues in a diverse society. (4+0) 

COUN6240 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) 

COUN6245 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) 

COUN6250 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) 

COUN6255 Field Problems in Sport and Performance Psychology (1-4 credits) 

Field problems courses are to increase the scope of the program and to give students special opportunities to complete advanced research 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. (4+0) 

LEAD6335 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 

LEAD6340 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 positive communication skills 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. (4+0) 

LEAD6345 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; teach and model the process of success; lead a group of individuals to becoming a highly effective team; communicate with followers as we would wish to be communicated with; respect and protect the self-worth of others; practice how to be demanding without being demeaning; and practice 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) 

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. 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) 

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) 

MSE6530 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. (4+0)