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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

The information on this site pertains to the Summer College 2018 program. If you would like to be notified when 2019 information and applications are available, please join the Summer College announcement list. We also invite you to become a fan of our Summer College Facebook Page.


Sport Psychology

Dates: June 23-July 14, 2018 (3 weeks)
Credits: 3 credits
Eligibility: current sophomores, juniors, seniors
(see eligibility requirements)


"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career," says basketball great Michael Jordan. "I've lost almost 300 games.... I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

In what ways have Michael Jordan's failures helped him achieve such monumental success on the court? How do athletes overcome the pressures of performance, and how do they prepare themselves mentally for competition? How do they cope with injuries? You'll explore these questions and more in this fascinating program on sport psychology.

Under the leadership of Mary Turner DePalma, this intensive three-week course will familiarize you with the important theories and concepts in the field of sport psychology. You'll learn about its objectives and its research methods, and you'll learn to identify appropriate applications of psychology in the sports context, for both professional and personal development.

Topics will include:

  • the history of sport psychology;
  • the impact of drive, stress, sleep, nutrition, and drug use/abuse on athletic performance;
  • character development in youth sports;
  • extrinsic and intrinsic motivation;
  • goal setting and appraisal;
  • clinical issues, from referrals to conducting interviews, screenings, and assessments;
  • contemporary legal issues in sports; and
  • leadership.

Guest speakers will include Tom Howley, strength and conditioning coach at Cornell and associate director of athletics, and Greg Shelley, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences at Ithaca College. The program also includes a one-on-one meeting with the instructor.

You'll be expected to participate actively in classroom discussions, and your assignments will help you develop reading, writing, and orating skills.

By the end of the program you'll have new insights into the factors that affect athletic performance and the ways in which "coaching for the mind" can help athletes and lay people alike.

Course expectations

Students are expected to:

  • attend all classes,
  • participate in class discussions,
  • give two oral presentations,
  • submit one paper,
  • complete all quizzes and exams, and
  • read 40–50 pages per night.

International students: Due to the volume and complexity of the reading material, we recommend this program for students who have earned a 103 or higher on the TOEFL exam and at least a 7 on the IELTS exam.


You'll be enrolled in the three-credit course Sport Psychology (PSYCH 1990).

This course meets Mondays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Maximum enrollment: 22

Note: You may combine this program with any three-week 2 program to create a six-week Dual Program.

Required textbooks

Title Author Cost
Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology Weinberg & Gould $115.00
Sleep to Win! Secrets to Unlocking your Athletic Excellence in Every Sport Maas & Davis $14.95

Special scheduling


  • Wednesday, July 4: In observance of Independence Day, we will not have classes.
  • Monday, July 9: College Admissions Workshop, 2:30–3:45 p.m.

Checkout dates and times

Before making travel plans, review the checkout dates and times for your program. We strictly adhere to these deadlines.

Program directors

Mary Turner DePalma

Mary Turner DePalma graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in both psychology and sociology. She continued her education at Cornell, where she earned a PhD in psychology. Now a professor of psychology at Ithaca College, DePalma teaches courses in motivation, health psychology, and positive psychology. She has an active program of research that examines the psychosocial factors associated with diabetes self-care.

While DePalma's formal educational training is based in psychology, she has an extensive background in sports. She is a former Division I college runner and a member of the University of Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame. One of the "founding mothers" of the women's track and field program, DePalma was one of the program's original recruits and one of the program's first two NCAA qualifiers on the track. Thirty years after her graduation, you can still find her name on the program's top-10 lists in the indoor mile and the indoor 800.

DePalma has two children. Her daughter, Taylor DePalma, graduated from Cornell’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in 2017 and was part of the starting lineup with the Cornell women's basketball team. Her son, Turner, is a student at Cornell in the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Cornell football team. DePalma stays active by participating informally in sprint triathlons, sprint Spartan races, and half marathons.

Student experiences

"Cornell University Summer College was a life changing experience for me. It was amazing in every sense of the word. I got to meet people from across the world, study with very distinguished faculty, live in an Ivy League setting, and have plenty of opportunities for fun. I would for sure do this again if I could." — Zach Zytnick