BS in Psychology: Sport and Performance Psychology Emphasis

Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sport Psychology

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Gain a Foundation in Human Performance and Behaviors With a Bachelor’s in Psychology: Performance Sports Emphasis

Combine your passion for sports with your desire to understand human behavior by pursuing a career in sport and performance psychology. The Bachelor of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sport Psychology degree at Grand Canyon University teaches you the foundational knowledge in this field.

Offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, this on-campus and online degree may be ideal for you if you have an interest in the performing arts, mental health, fitness and sports industries. As a performance and sports psychology emphasis student, you will be taught how to help all types of athletes and performance artists overcome psychological obstacles.

In this program, you will also have the opportunity to refine your servant leadership qualities, develop a greater appreciation for diverse populations and analyze ethical decisions made with the Christian worldview in mind.

Athletes often face significant pressure — both external and internal — to perform at their best. As a future sports psychology professional, you have the opportunity to support athletes in their quest for greatness. This performance and sport psychology emphasis offers a curriculum that will teach you about evidence-based psychological assessments and interventions.

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Course Topics in the BS in Psychology With a Performance Sports Emphasis

GCU is a private university with a supportive, welcoming learning community. The bachelor’s in psychology with a performance sports emphasis is available through on-campus coursework. Alternatively, you may take online classes. This program requires 120 credits for completion.

The core competencies and key concepts taught in these sports psychology courses are applicable to diverse aspects of human life beyond sports achievements. You will be prompted to examine the factors that lead people to strive for inner greatness. Your instructors will guide you in exploring how people are motivated to pursue objectives, and how to conduct assessments and implement interventional strategies that drive personal growth and improvement.

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills you will be taught by completing the hands-on professional capstone research project. All research projects in this program focus on developing solutions for realistic issues or problems in the field. The capstone provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate your specialized knowledge in sport and performance psychology and to explore how you might make a positive difference in your community.

Career Paths for Graduates of the BS in Psychology: Sport and Performance Psychology Emphasis

Sports offer athletes many benefits, and a sport psychology expert can help them access those benefits by staying motivated and engaged. There are performance sports psychology career opportunities in multiple settings, including the following:1

  • Professional athletic teams
  • High school and collegiate teams
  • Community outreach programs
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Performance arts coaching and management

A sports psychologist may work with athletes ranging from Olympics and Special Olympics team members to amateur sports enthusiasts. To position yourself for possible career advancement, you may choose to pursue a master’s degree. Most sport psychology careers require a graduate degree and clinical practice may require licensure. Licensure requirements can vary by state.2

FAQs for the BS in Psychology: Sport and Performance Psychology Emphasis

Before you decide whether to become a bachelor’s in psychology major, you may have some questions about the program. The following commonly asked questions and answers can help you get started on your research.

A BS in Psychology with a performance sports emphasis is the initial steppingstone that you can use to pursue an entry-level career in this field, such as some coaching and assistant coaching positions. In order to pursue higher level coaching and performance psychology positions, you will need to earn a master’s or doctorate, depending on your career goals.2

Performance and sports psychologists help athletes develop the mental resilience needed to achieve peak performance in life and in their sport. These psychologists work with professional and recreational athletes to identify problems that are disrupting performance. These can include lack of motivation, performance anxiety and trouble communicating with teammates. Sports psychologists apply evidence-based practices to help athletes enhance their participation and perform at an optimal level.

The level of education you need to become a sports psychologist depends on your career goals and the state requirements where you plan to practice. There are two types of sports psychologists — clinical psychologists and educational psychologists. To become a licensed clinical sports psychologist, you will need to complete sports psychology courses and earn a doctorate in psychology, practice for two years under a licensed psychologist and pass the licensure exam. Educational sports psychologists are typically advisors and do not diagnose and treat patients like clinical sports psychologists. Therefore, educational sports psychologists are not always licensed and may be able to work with a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

There is a growing awareness of the need to care for the mental health of athletes. Athletes have been shown to suffer from the symptoms of depression at the same rate as the general population.3 Coaches and athletic organizations are realizing that the mindset and mental health of their athletes is just as important as their physical abilities. Furthermore, athletes understand that in order to perform at their peak level, they are required to tend to both their physical and mental needs. Sports psychologists play an important role in helping athletes navigate their mental health.

On any given day, sports psychologists can be found providing athletes with various strategies and techniques to help them overcome performance hurdles. For example, they help athletes enhance their performance with visualization, self-talk, relaxation and other mental strategies. They provide athletes with coping techniques to deal with the pressures of competition or with the pain and recovery of injuries. Sports psychologists also help athletes increase their motivation to keep up with their fitness regimens.

When you’re ready to work toward a career in sport and performance psychology, the learning community at Grand Canyon University is here to welcome you. Apply today to get started on your psychology degree.


1 Cherry, K. (2023, February 28). What Is Sports Psychology? VeryWell Mind. Retrieved on August 14, 2023.

2 Staff. (2023, July 11). How To Become a Sports Psychologist. Retrieved on August 14, 2023.

3 Cleveland Clinic. (2021, August 10). Athletes and mental health: breaking the stigma. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved June 26, 2023.

Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
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Online: 8 weeks
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Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Online: $485 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
64 credits
Open Elective Credits:
16-22 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.


Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This foundation course in the science of behavior includes an overview of the history of psychology, the brain, motivation, emotion, sensory functions, perception, intelligence, gender and sexuality, social psychology, human development, learning psychopathology, and therapy.

Course Description

This course serves as a foundation for undergraduates in the field of psychology. Professional skill development, such as an introduction to scientific reasoning, research foundations, critical thinking, literature reviews, and scholarly writing are covered, as well as contemporary ethical issues in the field of psychology. Students have the opportunity to apply guidelines proposed by the American Psychological Association Code of Ethics when exploring topics. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This writing intensive course examines the nature and casual determinants of human behavior, including the definition and scientific measurement of personality. Theories explored include psychodynamic, Neo-Freudian, trait, biological, humanistic, cognitive, and behavioral theories. A Christian worldview offers perspective of nature and human personality. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course examines child and adolescent psychology through stages of development related to biological, cognitive, and socioemotional processes. From conception through adolescence, the nature of child development is explored by discussing theory, research, developmental milestones, attachment, personality, language, moral development, emotions, cultural differences, typical and atypical behaviors, methods of learning, and influences of parenting and environment. An emphasis on research methodology and interpretation is used to analyze the concepts in this class.

Course Description

This course provides a study of social and group factors affecting individual behavior. Attention is given to the development of attitudes, roles, norms, group processes, aggression and cooperation, persuasion, stereotypes and prejudices, and social awareness. The role of culture in social processes is emphasized.

Course Description

This theoretical and research-based course covers psychosocial, emotional, physical, and cognitive aspects of human development from emerging adulthood to death. Theories of development and applications to real-world situations provide a context for understanding how humans transition across stages of adulthood to death. Scientific approaches for studying developmental psychology stress the importance of research methodology and research interpretation. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course reflects psychology’s growing interest in health-related issues by offering an overview of health psychology from a biopsychosocial model. Topics include theories related to health behavior, stress, pain development and management, in addition to patient adherence. Furthermore, the discussion explores cancer and chronic illness development and management. A review of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), the hospital setting, and effects on patients are examined. Finally, the course examines health-related behaviors such as substance abuse, nutrition, and exercise. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course provides an overview of factors influencing participation in individual or group sport and performance. Additionally, outcomes associated with performance are examined. Current theory and research are presented to develop an understanding of behaviors in sport and performance settings. Further, techniques applied to enhance sport performance are examined.

Course Description

This course is a study of elementary theories of probability, distribution, and testing of statistical hypotheses. Practical experience is provided in the application of statistical methods. Prerequisite: MAT-134, MAT-144 or MAT-154.

Course Description

This course includes an introduction to the experimental study of cognition and neurophysiology. Topics include sensation and perception, memory, learning, language, metacognition, intelligence, problem solving, decision-making, mental imagery, consciousness, attention, and the development of cognition through the life span. Major theoretical perspectives and current research within the fields of cognition and neuroscience are discussed. This course also provides students with a basic understanding of the neural underpinnings of a variety of cognitive processes. Prerequisite: PSY-102.

Course Description

This course examines intersections of sociological environments and sport both in North America and globally, including social and cultural theories of social class, education, gender, religion, ethnicity, and sexuality in sport.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to current research and theories regarding coach-athlete relationships and the coaching profession, including leadership, psychosocial factors, and performance of teams and athletes. Additionally, strategies for effective coaching are presented.

Course Description

This course is a laboratory course emphasizing both the theoretical and applied aspects of experimental design and research methodology. A variety of activities are performed in such areas as learning, motivation, and perception. Prerequisite: PSY-380.

Course Description

This course studies principles influencing team building strategies and leadership skills. Foundations such as servant, situational, and charismatic leadership are examined, including leadership qualities, skills, and cultural contexts.

Course Description

The capstone project is the culmination of learning experiences for students in the psychology program at Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Students prepare a written proposal for a research project that focuses on the resolution of an issue or problem significant to professional psychological practice. The proposal includes a problem statement, review of literature, research methods, research questions, limitations, and ethical considerations for the research. The proposal needs to reflect synthesis and integration of course content and professional practice. The capstone project is guided by the baccalaureate program student learner outcomes. This capstone course needs to be completed at the end of program. Prerequisite: PSY-452.

Course Description

This is a writing intensive foundation course in the science of abnormal behavior that offers students the opportunity to study the origin and development of abnormal patterns and disorders. This course is designed to assist students in recognizing and understanding mental illness through increased awareness of emotional, functional, and physiological factors influencing mental health. Specific topics include symptoms, diagnoses, etiology, epidemiology, and treatment of various psychological disorders and syndromes.


GCU Campus Student

Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student

Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.