SPTE hopes to add PhD

Chairman: Doctoral degree will boost program’s reputation

The Department of Sport and Entertainment Management plans to add a doctoral program that will be the “natural next step” for the school, department chairman Andrew Gillentine said.

USC’s board of trustees approved plans for the program Friday, and if the state Commission on Higher Education signs off, the program will accept its first students in Fall 2014, Gillentine said.

With an undergraduate student body of more than 600 and a master’s degree program that brings in between 20 and 25 students each year, the department has been working toward adding its doctoral program for about three years, according to Gillentine.

“We think this is the natural next step for us, and I really think it’s a huge, very impactful step that we’re taking,” Gillentine said.

Only 21 other schools in the country offer doctoral degrees in the fields of sport and entertainment management, Gillentine said, and USC’s program will be the first to offer a holistic view of both sport and entertainment management. He said he expects the program to be “very attractive to a lot of people.”

“Being a flagship university … gives us a little bit of an advantage in some ways,” Gillentine said. “We have an excellent program and excellent faculty here already (and an) excellent university reputation. So we have a lot to live up to, but I think it’ll all be to our advantage to recruit the best students out there, even though we’re going to be brand new in this game.”

The SPTE master’s program was built with the doctoral program in mind, Gillentine said, so the department’s infrastructure is already prepared to take on the new course of study.

University faculty replenishment grants gave the department funds to hire two professors, one from the University of Texas and one from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who will start in the fall and, along with existing faculty members, will be prepared to work with doctoral students when they arrive, Gillentine said.

Gillentine’s conservative estimate is to have five students in the first year of the program, including three whose tuition will be fully paid by the school. Those fully funded students will conduct research and will work for the university while they complete their studies.

The degree will require 60 credit hours of work plus a doctoral dissertation, which full-time students could complete in as few as three years, Gillentine said. Economic and managerial theory will be among the focuses of students’ research and learning.

“We want them to develop new lines of inquiry. My goal is always, ‘What are you bringing new to the table?’ That’s what we want our Ph.D. students doing — pushing as far ahead as they can to bring something new to a study,” Gillentine said.

The program will bring in students who will likely have already spent time gaining experience in their professions, Gillentine said. They’ll then be able to contribute their unique expertises as a benefit to the university.

But the benefits of a doctoral program are broader, Gillentine said, as the school will be training the discipline’s next generation of professors who will further the influence of USC’s program.

“Now students at other universities across the country and around the world will have the opportunity to have professors that are trained here,” Gillentine said. “So if they talk about ‘when I was at the University of South Carolina’ to their students in Italy, it changes our status and the way we’re viewed. Now we have a greater influence on the academy as well as those that go out and become practitioners.”


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