The National Strength and Conditioning Association has awarded SUU’s Master of Science in Sports Conditioning and Performance program the title of an “Education Recognition Program.”
According to their website, “The NSCA Education Recognition Program (ERP) recognizes regionally accredited academic institutions for their educational programs that have met, and continue to meet, educational guidelines recommended by the NSCA.”
In the decision-making process, the NSCA looks at a school’s curriculum, faculty credentials and outcomes of the program. Mark DeBeliso, director of the MSSCP program, said one reason SUU did well is because the program is strong in all three areas.
SUU started this program because coaches needed advanced degrees, but they were working. Although the program is mostly for coaches and teachers, an attorney takes classes as well.
The curriculum includes two required hands-on courses in June. The rest of the courses are online, and students can choose electives. Topics include sports conditioning, exercise physiology, biomechanics, sports medicine and athletic training.
Students also work on a thesis. Most of the theses produced in this program are related to sports conditioning. DeBeliso said 23 papers have been published in the past two-and-a-half years, with some in the Journal of Lifestyle Medicine and the Journal of Sports Science.
Six papers have been presented at the American College of Sports Medicine national conference, and five more will be presented at this year’s conference.
In recent semesters, between 80 and 90 students have enrolled in the program. According to DeBeliso, fewer than half of people in the program earned their bachelor’s degrees at SUU.
Like the students, the staff members come from diverse backgrounds. Faculty include former Olympians, registered dietitians and a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. DeBeliso said these backgrounds provide students with one-of-a-kind experiences.
“When you have an athlete who has an interest in a particular sport, it’s nice when they can be paired up and connect with somebody in the faculty who has advanced training and experience participating in the sport,” DeBeliso said. “It makes for some nice connections for the students, because then it can become a very uniquely-crafted experience for them.”