The Daily Gamecock

USC plans to launch new sport psychology degree, environmental law certificate in 2025

USC is introducing two new academic programs in 2025 that will focus on athlete counseling and environmental law.

The university's board of trustees approved two new degree programs in February: an applied sport psychology and counseling degree and an environmental law and sustainability post-baccalaureate certificate.

Both programs are awaiting approval from the SC Commission on Higher Education If approved, the university said it hopes the applied sport psychology and counseling program will begin in fall 2025, and that the environmental law and sustainability certificate program will commence in spring 2025.

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Sport Psychology and Counseling came from an increased need for mental health support for athletes, said Thomas Hodges, the dean of USC's College of Education. 

“Particularly in an institution like ours, you’re in the public view quite a bit as an athlete, and so I think we all know that that’s taxing and challenging for athletes,” Hodges said. “And we want to make sure that they, and the students that follow them out into these careers, have the necessary skills and support from those who are coaching them and supporting them along the way.”  

The program could help set a pathway for students to obtain a Master of Science in Coaching Education and help pursue careers such as becoming an athletic coach or mental performance coach, said Ryan Carlson, the chair of the Department of Educational and Developmental Science. 

One of many options for students aspiring to become mental health counselors or therapists is to get a graduate degree in counselor education.

The program could help future coaches have a better understanding of the ways that mental health affects a player’s well-being and performance, Carlson said. This could help future coaches learn how to make their players mental well-being a priority.   

The asynchronous, online environmental law and sustainability program would be the eighth post-baccalaureate course at USC.  The certificates are designed for people who have already earned a bachelor's degree and want to continue their study in a specific field or discipline.  

The approved 18-hour credit courses include Introduction to the U.S. Legal System, Environmental Law and Policy, Climate Change Seminar, Coastal Law and Environmental Justice Seminar. Students can also choose to take either Energy Law or Administrative Law.

Students with the certificate could potentially pursue a career in the private sector or government, helping businesses become more sustainable by being more proactive, said William Hubbard, the dean of USC's Joseph F. Rice School of Law.    

“It's better for business and for them and for society if companies addressed the environmental issues on the front end of a project rather than getting all the way through a project or launching into a long-range plan without that kind of input,” Hubbard said.  

He said the university will host a conference at the law school over the summer to help advertise this program to build partnerships with local groups who are interested in the environment and sustainability. 

The law school will also measure the success of the program by how many people participate in the program, Hubbard said. 

“Obviously, we need a critical mass of people taking advantage of (the program) to make it worthwhile, to keep it,” Hubbard said. “But over time, what I think it will mean is that South Carolina will be a state that is better protective of its beauty and natural resources.”