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Applied skills develop student leaders

New major, hands-on experience and collaboration in sport science offer specialized training for students.

Student explaining her research poster during student research day

An on-line master of science program blends industry best practices and practical skills. A new major offers internships for real hands-on experience in the field, preparing graduates to lead physical activity programs in community, campus, commercial and resort settings. An innovative collaboration provides an opportunity to use applied sport science within a combination of service and research to help coaches and athletes better understand the training process.

Master of Science, Sport Management Online Program

WVU’s innovative master of science in sports management emphasizes hands-on experience and collaboration, with a curriculum based around industry best practices, detailed research and the acquisition of practical skills. Students work alongside faculty members and practitioners who excel in their areas of expertise.

Unlike many online master's sport management programs, WVU offers its in-state tuition rate to all online students, regardless of residency status, creating a practical choice for applicants from around the country, making its overall tuition significantly lower than other universities’ tuition.

The Sport Management graduate program, offered by CPASS, is designed to advance the careers of established sport professionals and help those individuals wanting to enter this highly sought-after field. Faculty members recognize the challenges facing the sports industry and prepare students for career advancement.

The program offers two separate areas of emphasis for students. First, a 30-credit hour limited residency that includes two weeks on campus during the first summer with an emphasis in Comprehensive Sport Industry Management, for those students who desire to work within the broad industry of sport management (e.g., youth, collegiate and professional sport).

Secondly, students may choose a 30-credit hour, fully online emphasis in Interscholastic Athletic Administration for those students who wish to work in middle or high school sport administration. This fully online emphasis allows students to start the program year-round.

The limited residency program uses a cohort format. Students work through the curriculum as teams, taking most courses together in a set sequence. The cohort model allows for deeper connections with peers and offers greater opportunities for collaborative learning. Students in the residency program gain a first-hand look at a major Division I, Power 5 athletic department through direct access to facilities and interaction with coaches and managers, featuring 18 varsity sports, a self-sustaining budget of more than $90 million and 200 plus employees.

During this residency, students participate in group projects, workshops and guest lectures. To enhance their careers, students expand skill sets including event management, administration and governance, staffing, marketing and resource development.

As a major portion of cohort work, the practicum involves a three-credit learning experience that lasts throughout the duration of the program. Rooted in WVU’s principles of best practices and practical learning, the practicum functions as an in-depth field research project, enabling students to work with a real-world sports organization.

Examples of previous practicum projects include branding development for local athletic programs, sports facility upgrade and renovation projects and ticket sales marketing strategies. While students complete their practicum projects individually, cohort members continue to collaborate to share and critique research methodologies, strategies and outcomes.

The fully online option focuses on training students to work in interscholastic athletic administration. In this 30-credit hour master’s degree, students learn the roles, responsibilities, challenges and opportunities associated with a career in sport management. The program provides students with the educational experiences necessary to qualify them for the Registered Athletic Administrator (RAA) certification, or to sit for the Certified Athletic Administrator exam (CAA) administered by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administration Association (NIAAA).

WVU's Sport Management program has helped produce graduates who have made major contributions in the sport industry. The program degree commands respect in the sports industry and graduates credit the network and relevant career experience in helping to propel their careers to new levels.

New major features custom physical activity degree within a three-year program

A unique major now available through the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences focuses on the importance of regular physical activity in promoting health, reducing risk for chronic disease and improving quality of life.

Students in the Physical Activity and Well-being major will complete specialized training in movement sciences, personal training and physical activity instruction. The students will choose an area of emphasis to further customize degrees in adventure and outdoor learning, aquatics, recreational sport or well-being.

“The new major is designed for students who are passionate about physical activity to channel that vocation into a career. The major allows students to customize their degree toward the instruction of specialized forms of physical activity,” explained Valerie Wayda, CPASS associate professor and chair, department of coaching and teaching studies. 

“We re-packaged a sequence of existing courses in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences into this new major. It’s a unique combination of courses that can’t be replicated by any other major on WVU’s campus,” Wayda added.

The plan of study focuses holistically on the health-related outcomes associated with physical activity throughout the lifespan. The related courses and hands-on learning experiences are taught from social and behavioral perspectives, preparing graduates to work with a diverse range of clients from youth to older adults in a growing, global industry.

“We are excited to create an opportunity for students to complete a minimum of three internships for real hands-on experience in the field,” Wayda commented. Program graduates are prepared to develop and lead physical activity programs in community, recreational, campus, commercial and resort settings, added Wayda.

Students in the major may complete two degrees, a bachelor’s and a master’s, in four or five years. The three-year program involves eight semesters, including summers. 

Students may seek certifications from nationally recognized agencies, such as the American Council for Exercise, National Swimming Pool Foundation and the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. The new degree represents a career area where employment is projected to grow faster than average for all occupations.

Advancing the field 

A new collaboration between CPASS and the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) will give students experience with high-level collegiate sport in a team environment, the inner workings of applied sport science and conducting human performance research alongside WVU faculty. This is a special combination for WVU students to get hands-on experience and advance their careers. “CPASS has an ability to provide a unique combination of great academic training and real-world experience,” said Josh Hagen, a human performance scientist and director of the WVU Human Performance Innovation Center within RNI. His work with Guy Hornsby, a teaching assistant professor of athletic coaching education at CPASS, who worked with East Tennessee State University’s U.S. Olympic Committee Designated Olympic Training Site and as a strength coach within collegiate U.S. military, has been a big part of the success of the collaboration.

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