USC sport science programs ranked No.1 for third consecutive year

Sport science programs at USC were ranked No. 1 in the nation by a collegiate world ranking organization for the third consecutive year.

Three programs make up USC's No. 1 ranking: exercise science and athletic training, physical education and sport and entertainment management. The programs represent the Arnold School of Public Health, College of Education and the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management respectively. 

ShanghaiRankings, also known as Academic Ranking of World Universities, ranked over 300 universities using six categories. These three USC programs were ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 11 in the world.

Jim Mensch, athletic training program director at the Arnold School of Public Health, is proud of the program's high ranking and sees it as an honor for everyone involved. 

“That ranking goes with the quality of the faculty, the quality of the students, the research that we’re putting out, where the graduates are going, things that the alumni are doing," Mensch said. "Those are all things that go into those rankings, so we’re proud that it’s not just a reflection of the faculty, but of the students and of the leadership and the administration. It’s a reflection of everyone.” 

Mensch said that the exercise science and athletic training students learn a variety of skills in their degree program. Those skills include a background in anatomy, how to prevent and tend to injuries and how to treat chronic conditions. Mensch said that the clinical education aspect of the exercise science and athletic training program gives students a hands-on opportunity to deal with real life situations.

“Those kind of experiences that I think mean a lot to students, rather than just reading about it in a textbook, seeing it on a PowerPoint slide," Mensch said. "You get a chance to deal with a live patient, somebody that’s actually having an injury with a preceptor and somebody that’s overseeing your education.”

In the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, the sport and entertainment management program teaches students how to operate and manage ticketed events, ranging from sporting events to concerts to theatrical productions. Students can look for jobs as promoters, agents for athletes, tour managers, athletic directors and other industry-related jobs. 

Matt Brown, department chair of sport and entertainment management at the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, said the reason he believes it received the top rank is because of the college's ability to bring in qualified instructors. 

Brown mentioned a few sport and entertainment veterans such as Danny Morrison, former president of the Carolina Panthers, former athletic director at TCU and Wofford College and former commissioner of the southern conference.

"We have lots of people that have high-quality research credentials, high-quality industry credentials and a lot of people who have blended in between," Brown said. 

Brown also said USC's decision to split the sport science program into sports management, entertainment management and venue and event management allows the students to dive deep into their major and future career as well as separating them from programs at other colleges. 

George Watkins, second-year sport and entertainment management student, said time efficiency and networking have been some important skills he's learned while enrolled in the program. 

He believes the staff at the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management are highly qualified, particularly Adonis "Sporty" Jeralds because of his sport management expertise and his dedication to expose students to the business.

“I think it ultimately looks good for us just to have that," Watkins said. "It just reflects on our work ethic and our study terms."

Collin Webster, associate dean for research and innovation at the College of Education and physical education professor, said students in the physical education program obtain their initial license for beginning physical educators and are taught how to be effective teachers for all ages. 

Webster also noted the ShanghaiRankings' focus on research and said the physical education's doctoral program has made moves towards requiring more research from students and holding them responsible for what tenured faculty are.

“The level of research productivity among doctoral students in the Ph.D. program in P.E. has substantially increased over the last few years, in tangent with the changes that the department made to make the program more apprenticeship-based," Webster said.

Webster said the physical education program is leading the way in changing how physical education is valued in a student's life. 

“The idea being really to kind of take physical education from what it's been — a more or less marginalized part of the school curriculum — and centralizing it and making it relevant to everything that happens in schools," Webster said. "And to really relate that to what schools are really most interested in, which is healthy, well and highly-educated kids.”

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