You can prepare to help athletes maximize their mental well-being and physical performance by developing specialized counseling skills with the online graduate certificate in sports counseling from PennWest California.

This 100% online program in sport counseling is designed for counselors, counselors in training, educators and other helping professionals, and can be completed in during the summer terms.

PennWest California's counseling education programs are among the best in Pennsylvania, and the sports counseling graduate certificate program is rooted in the American Counseling Association code of ethicsStudents learn skills and develop expertise to improve therapeutic relationships and efficacy with sport counseling courses based on best practices, including:

  • The foundations of sports counseling.
  • The contextual dimensions of sports counseling.
  • Knowledge and skills for the practice of sports counseling.


Unlike sports psychology, which focuses primarily on athletic performance, sports counseling takes a holistic approach to the mental well-being and psyche-emotional needs of athletes.

  • Incorporate principles of counseling, career development, movement science, psychology and human development into effective therapeutic relationships.
  • Operate from a multicultural perspective and a strength-based model of counseling.
  • Assist athletes at any level, from youth to professional.

Student have a unique opportunity to learn practical skills and treatment strategies for counseling athletes who are dealing with death, loss and grief situations. This unique PennWest California course examines research on grief counseling and intervention, as well as death, loss and grief in sports.

PennWest California students also have the opportunity to expand their skillset by pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in sport management studies. 

The American Psychological Association (APA) lists sports counseling among the fastest growing careers in counseling and psychology. This is due in large part to the love of sports in the United States, reports the Psychology School Guide.

Athletes of all ages and levels of skill are facing increased pressure to perform and perform well, thus increasing the need for more and more counselors with a specialization in working with athletes. The APA does not provide an exact figure for the expected growth in this area of work. But based on the need for qualified sports counselors in a variety of work settings, one can expect that the field will grow faster than average.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of clinical, counseling and school psychologists is projected to grow 14% through 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Greater demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers and social service agencies should drive employment growth.

Sports counselors working for collegiate athletic departments can easily earn sports counseling salaries between $60,000 and $80,000 per year, according to the APA. At large universities, that income can exceed $100,000.

PennWest California’s sports counseling program enhances sport counseling career opportunities for counseling professionals working with athletes and their families within a variety of settings, including:

  • Schools and higher education institutions.
  • Interscholastic programs.
  • Community and social agencies.
  • Outpatient clinics and rehabilitation centers.
  • Private practices.
  • Professional and amateur sporting agencies.

The School Psychology Guidereports: Sports counselors that offer clinical or counseling services generally must be licensed in the state in which they practice. Sports counselors may need to participate in continuing education courses in order to retain licensure. Further training and advanced degrees are necessary for sports counselors who wish to obtain sports counseling certification through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

Help advance your professional pathway for a sport counseling career with PennWest California’s online graduate certificate. Apply now!   


A close-up of a cross-country track.

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