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Former Sport Admin Students Offer Perspective on New PhD Program

By: Brian Lentz, senior sport studies major

Recently, the Department of Kinesiology at Mississippi State University announced plans to offer a PhD degree program, beginning in the fall of 2015. Students in the program have the option of pursuing a concentration in one of two areas: exercise science or sport studies.

In the past, several Mississippi State kinesiology alumni seeking to obtain doctoral degrees had to look elsewhere, including students like Colin Cork. Cork, who is currently a PhD student at the University of Arkansas, is one of many students to pursue a doctoral degree after graduating from the MSU sport administration program.

“The experience of attending the sport administration program at MSU is one that set me on my current path,” Cork said, who completed his master’s in 2014. “My instructors really challenged me with both my coursework and in thinking about my future. Their guidance throughout my two years was crucial to the success and experiences that I am having now.”

Dr. Wonyoung Kim is another former MSU sport administration student. After earning his master’s degree in 2009, Kim went on to complete his PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi. Today, he is an assistant professor in the sport management program at Wichita State University.

“Pursuing a doctoral degree is quite different than a master’s degree,” Kim said. “Studying in the master’s program was more focused on coursework and getting practical experience at MSU, whereas my doctoral study at Southern Miss was more focused on developing research projects that added to the collective knowledge base of the field of sport management.”

For students entering the doctoral program in the fall, Cork offers some advice from his own experiences of adjusting to doctoral studies.

“The adjustments made from a master’s program to a doctorate can be tremendous when not taken into perspective,” Cork says. “One of the most crucial adjustments that I had to make was handling the additional responsibilities that come with being a doctoral student and teaching assistant. I like to equate being in this position as having three separate jobs with the amount of responsibility that comes with each.”

Kim also adds that obtaining his PhD was definitely a hectic experience, but credits his previous experience at Mississippi State to be beneficial in earning his goal.

“One of the most valuable lessons that I learned at MSU was how to communicate with students and colleagues. Through my graduate studies, I learned how to set specific goals for my professional development and manage time diligently. The diverse learning experiences in the sport administration program at MSU helped me to achieve my goal.”