PhD in Counseling Psychology

Through the UNT Department of Psychology’s APA-accredited Counseling Psychology program, graduate students are able to pursue a Ph.D. in counseling psychology with a specialized elective cluster in sport and exercise psychology. Through this doctoral program and specialization, graduates obtain a broad professional education as a mental health practitioner while also receiving specific training in working with athletes, coaches, and sport teams. Upon completion of their clinical internship, graduates will be able to pursue licensure as a psychologist in any state in the U.S. and seek Certification as a sport consultant through the Association of Applied Sport Psychology. This training model, a sport psychology emphasis embedded in an APA-accredited counseling psychology program, is unique and one of the many reasons that students from all over the U.S. and abroad want to pursue their graduate sport psychology education and training at UNT.

Ph.D. Counseling Psychology with an Emphasis in Sport Psychology
A specialization in sport psychology is offered through an elective cluster within the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology. The Counseling Psychology program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association, and this combined program trains students to be independent, licensed psychologists who also have the knowledge, skills, and experience to work with athletes, coaches, teams, and sport organizations. In addition, through the sport psychology elective cluster, students may elect to take additional coursework to meet the certification or specialization criteria of professional sport psychology organizations, such as the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

A. Philosophy and Objectives - The counseling psychology program and sport psychology elective cluster provides training to graduate students within the broad context of the scientist-practitioner model. This training is accomplished through prescribed coursework in general psychology, counseling psychology, and sport psychology and the exercise sciences. In addition, students gain applied experience through separate individual, group, and sport psychology practica that are done throughout their 4-6 years in the program.

It is very important for students to know that their training in counseling psychology is the primary focus of the program and is conducted by the program’s faculty in the Psychology Department. If you are NOT fully invested in being trained as a counseling psychologist (in addition to the specialization), then the UNT program would NOT be a good fit for you. Students’ sport psychology training is conducted, in part, through the UNT Center for Sport Psychology and Performance Excellence, which is a multidisciplinary center devoted to offering sport psychology interventions, research, and training. Through the Center, students complete all sport psychology practica and conduct scientific research in the field. In addition, students have opportunities for professional development in sport psychology through attending and presenting at professional conferences, developing and leading workshops, developing and writing grant proposals, and writing articles for publication.

B. Admission Requirements - Doctoral applicants must meet the admission requirements of the UNT Toulouse School of Graduate Studies and be admitted to the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program.

All students who meet the counseling psychology program’s admission requirements and are selected by the admission committee (see the Counseling Psychology program for details) will select an elective cluster as part of their degree program. For the Sport Psychology elective cluster, motivation, intelligence, discipline, enthusiasm, self-awareness, and interpersonal poise, as well as communication, research, and writing skills are highly valued. Furthermore, previous or current sport and exercise experience, although not required, is considered an asset.

In the admission application, individuals must provide all requested information. In the statement of goals, applicants should describe their interest in seeking a doctoral degree in counseling psychology, career aspirations, previous academic and practical experiences, and their fit with the UNT Counseling Psychology program. In this statement, applicants also should address their interests in the sport psychology elective cluster training they can receive at UNT. However, applicants must clearly communicate to the admission committee why becoming a licensed Counseling Psychologist is their primary goal. The Admission Committee’s goal is to match the applicant’s interests and qualifications to the resources and objectives of the program. Information and application forms for the Counseling Psychology Program may be obtained through the Psychology Department (940-565-2671) or the Department’s website.

C. Degree Requirements - This program requires a serious commitment on the part of the applicant. The general counseling psychology program requires over 100 semester hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, and a one-year supervised pre-doctoral internship at a location that is likely to be in another state. For those pursuing the sport psychology elective cluster the number of semester hours will be higher, though the exact number will depend on previous graduate coursework taken and the number of additional courses needed to meet other certification requirements. In general, if you enter the program with a master’s degree and transfer a number of graduate hours, you may be able to complete the counseling psychology program (with sport psychology elective cluster) in 5 years (which includes the one-year predoctoral internship). If you are entering the program with only an undergraduate degree, you should expect to finish in 6 years.

In addition to the general psychology and counseling psychology core requirements, students in the sport psychology elective cluster will engage in the following activities:

1. Coursework - students must take:

         a. KINE 5125 or PSYC/KINE 6125 Exercise and Sport Psychology II* - 3 credit hours

And choose two of the following three courses:

         b. KINE 5175 or PSYC/KINE 6175 Social Psychology of Sport II* - 3 credit hours

         c. KINE 5185 or PSYC/KINE 6185 Applied Sport Psychology II* - 3 credit hours

         d. PSYC 6200 Theory and Practice of Sport & Performance Psychology - 3 credit hours

*Students will consult with their advisor to determine which course to take based on each individual's previous training and experience.

2. Sport Psychology Practicum - students are required to take Psyc/Kine 5850 (Sport Practicum) during the first three years they are in the program (and elective cluster). Students receive both individual and group supervision by Center faculty for each sport psychology practicum. For those students who want to fulfill AASP certification requirements, we strongly recommend that they take sport psychology practicum during their fourth and fifth years as well.

3. AASP Certification – pursuit of this certification is not required for the elective cluster, though students are encourage to satisfy AASP requirements so they may become certified upon graduation.  By completing the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. and the sport psychology elective cluster, students will have met the following requirements for AASP certification:

        a. Doctoral degree from a regionally-accredited institution of higher education.

        b. Coursework in knowledge areas K1 (Professional Ethics and Standards), K2 (Sport Psychology), K4 (Psychopathology), K5 (Helping Relationships), K6 (Research Methods and Statistics), K7 (Psychological Foundations of Behavior), and K8 (Diversity and Culture).

        c. Mentored experience working with athletes, coaches, and sport teams/organizations.

To meet all AASP certification requirements, however, students may need to take one additional course in the K3 (Sport Science) knowledge area.  For this knowledge area, courses may be taken at the undergraduate (upper division) or graduate level, and may include Biomechanics, Exercise Physiology, Motor Learning, Sociology of Sport, or History of Sport.  The UNT Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation offers these courses, so students would be able to meet this requirement while in the doctoral program.  If students have taken one of these courses prior to entering UNT, then they would not need to take another. Please check with the Director of the Center for Sport Psychology to determine if a prior course fulfills the K3 criterion.

In addition to the above requirements, to become a Certified Mental Performance Consultant through AASP, students will need to pass the certification exam.  This exam is the last step in the certification process and students become eligible to take it once their application has been approved through AASP.

4. Research - it is recommended that students work with one of the Center for Sport Psychology and Performance Excellence faculty as their research advisor. Students' professional development is fostered via presenting at conferences and publishing in refereed journals. Students are encouraged (but not required) to devote at least one of the student's two required research projects to issues within sport and/or exercise psychology.

5. Internship - a full-time, one year internship is required prior to receipt of Counseling Psychology doctoral degree. Because there are few APA-accredited internships whose primary focus is sport psychology, the CSPPE faculty work with students to identify training sites that best fit their abilities and suit their career goals.

D. Financial Assistance - students may apply for departmentally funded assistantships as well as university-based fellowships. The department and Center strive to support all doctoral students whenever possible.

The Center offices are located in Terrill Hall. The offices are designed around the missions of the Center and provide space for student research, center meetings, and individual consultations. Sport psychology consultants are welcome to use the Center’s resources, including computers and video-technology, to enhance their educational experience and professional development. Although the Center’s facilities are available for sport psychology interventions, most practica and consultation work is done outside of the offices within the Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Denton, TX area.