Are you interested in pursuing an advanced degree in sport and exercise psychology? Ready to apply? Then this is the page for you! Below you will find helpful tips written by current graduate students who themselves went through the very same process you are about to go through. The information here should provide you with a great head start to applying to graduate schools in the field. Of course, this is by no means a step-by-step guide. You have a lot of work you will have to do yourself. This page is meant to be a starting point to guide you in the right direction.
One of the first things to do is purchase (or find a recently used copy of) the Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology. This book contains information for over 100 degree programs all over the world. This information includes faculty, research interests, contact information, websites, and general program information. Additionally, the Directory includes useful information about requirements for certification and questions to ask yourself and others when applying to graduate school. This is a must-have for applying to graduate schools in sport and exercise psychology!
Finding a Good Fit
If you think you know what you want your future career to be, it is important to find a program to help you reach that goal. If you want to be a full-time consultant, look for programs that focus on applied sport psychology. If you want to be a professor, look for programs that allow you more opportunities to teach and research. You want your interests, whatever they are, to align with the programs you apply to. If you are unsure of what your future career holds, that’s okay too. Look for a program that will give you a taste of everything.
Attend the Annual AASP Conference
The AASP Annual Conference is held every year in the fall. At the conference, there is a Graduate Program and Internship Fair, where many schools and internships have a table set up. During this time, you can ask questions to current faculty, internship supervisors, and students, pick up information about the program, and interact with other students looking to apply to graduate school or internships. On top of the Graduate Program and Internship Fair, do not be afraid to introduce yourself to professors or supervisors of a graduate or internship program you are interested in during other conference events.
Attend a Regional Conference
Each region generally holds a regional conference every year. These student-friendly conferences are typically shorter and tend to be more relaxed than the AASP Annual Conference. They are at a more local level, which makes it easier and more affordable to attend! This is a great time to network with students and professors in your region.
Prepare Your Application Materials
The earlier you start this process, the better. At a minimum, you need a personal statement (or goals statement), CV, and letters of recommendation. Some programs will also ask for a writing sample. Use your academic advisor and career services center to help craft a good application.
Set Aside Some Funds
Application fees are usually around $50 per program. GRE scores, official transcripts, and sending things priority mail costs money, too. Plan on spending at minimum $80 per program. The costs add up quickly, so if you can set aside money ahead of time, do it.
If you are able to, try to visit your top one or two programs you are applying to. Some programs even have a visitation weekend where all interested graduate students can visit, with some offering funding for the trip if you apply for the visitation and meet their qualifications. By visiting your top programs, you will have a chance to personally meet the students and faculty on their home turf and for you to check out the school. Ask yourself, “Could I see myself here for 2 or 4 years?” If the answer is “no,” you should reconsider going to that program.
Create a List of Questions to Ask
Before you meet or speak with someone from a particular program, write down a list of at least five questions you want answered. Remember, you are the one applying and if you have questions about a program, you need to get them answered. A good fit means you are a good match for the program and the program is a good match for you. Your questions should help figure out if a good fit exists. The Directory of Graduate Programs in Applied Sport Psychology has a good starting list of questions that you should consider when applying to schools.
Have a Backup Plan
It might not be fun to think about, but what if you are not accepted into any programs you apply to? This could happen, and if you are prepared, then you can better overcome this obstacle. Take a deep breath and pursue plan B!