Salary Outlook with Ph.D. in Sports Psychology Degree

Sports psychology has been recognized as a specialty by the American Psychological Association (APA) for many years. Professionals who want to earn this degree generally want to work as a licensed sport psychologist, but there are other options as well.

With a Ph.D. in sports psychology, you may work as an academic researcher, athletic coach, health program director, performance coach, professor, or sports rehabilitation specialist. Note that at least 20 NCAA Division 1 universities have a sports psychologist on staff, and dozens more have outside contracts with a sports psychologist.

If you want to earn this degree, you will need to devote four to six years of study, plus pay a lot of money. So, it is wise to consider the salary outlook with a Ph.D. in sports psychology. Below is more detailed information.

Salary Outlook

The first thing to take a look at is the salary potential for all psychologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual salary for all psychologists is $79,000 as of 2018. The lowest-paid psychologists earned only $43,000 per year, while the highest-paid earned at least $129,000 per year. (

BLS data also shows all other psychologists, which includes sports psychologists, earn a typical salary of $100,700 per year with an advanced degree.

Also, the APA notes that sports psychology is a hot and growing field. It is estimated that university athletic departments may pay sports psychologists from $60,000 to $80,000 per year. The highest salaries in those roles can be more than $100,000 per year. ( reports the average sports psychologist salary is $71,139, with a range between $39,000 and $112,000. (

Some professionals with their Ph.D. in sports psychology may want to work as college professors. BLS states the median salary for all postsecondary instructors in 2018 was $78,700. All psychology instructors earned a median salary of $76,700. ( The competition for full-time positions can be fierce.

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High Salary Growth in Ph.D. in Sports Psychology Job

The occupation of sports psychologist offers a strong salary potential, with salaries for those with Ph.D.s in the field working for major sports programs ranging from $80,000 to more than $100,000 per year. Division 1 college programs in the US routinely employ sports psychologists as good sports programs attract the best student-athletes and make money for the university. (

Ph.D. Job Outlook

There is stronger demand as a whole in the psychology field, with 14% job growth expected by 2026. (

Also, the sports market in the US currently generates more than $400 billion in revenue each year. The American passion for sports means athletes have a lot of pressure on them to perform. Sports organizations and departments are looking for a competitive edge, and they are looking to hire more sports or performance psychologists.

APA reports there are many exciting job opportunities for sports psychologists in Division I sports, as well as the military. Some sports psychologists find plenty of work in private practice, helping athletes in all sports.

Featured Online Ph.D. in Sports Psychology Programs

Students interested in an exciting career in sports psychology may choose to earn a Ph.D. in General Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology at Grand Canyon University. (

Performance psychology at GCU focuses on key aspects of human psychology in professional sports performance, especially psychomotor performance. This Ph.D. is designed for learners who want to apply research sports psychology, specifically how emotion, cognition, and motivation affect peak sports performance. Graduates of this online Ph.D. program will understand how to use psychological principles to boost and enhance sports performance.

The Ph.D. in Performance Psychology is focused around these aspects:

  • Theoretical foundations of cognition, emotion and behavior in sports
  • Theories and constructs of psychomotor skill and motor control to boost performance and learning
  • Behavior modification techniques to boost individual sports performance
  • Sports psychology theories to enhance leadership
  • How to apply psychological principles that underly superior sports performance

Professionals who want to advance their careers in medicine, sports, business, sales, marketing, and psychology can benefit from this Ph.D. degree. The program integrates research and hands-on methodology that you will need to complete your dissertation. Many students with this degree work in psychotherapy, training, higher education, research, and fitness and nutrition.

Required courses include:

  • Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Theory
  • Behaviorism
  • Statistics
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Principles of Behavior Modification
  • Performance Enhancement
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Earning a Ph.D. in sports psychology can be the ticket to a rewarding career both financially and personally. With the great interest in competitive sports in the US, there is more need for excellent sports psychologists working for high school, college and professional sports programs.

Also, the US Army currently is the biggest employer of sport psychologists. In military settings, Performance Enhancement Specialists work with soldiers, families, and civilians to build resilience in the face of adversity, whether it is being deployed for the third time or dealing with the death of a loved one in combat.

Sports psychologists with their Ph.D. also work often in private practice as they work with high school and college athletes to give them an edge. Some parents of high school athletes will pay a lot of money out of pocket to have their student-athlete mentally trained to perform at their peak so they can earn a sports scholarship.

Many lucrative opportunities exist with a Ph.D. in sports psychology, so this degree is worthy of consideration by those with a passion for enhancing sports and personal performance.