About the Department

“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi."
-William Faulkner

Mississippi is a special place to study and research.  It has a rich history of sports, tourism and economic development. The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame is a who’s who of household names.  Southern Miss itself has a distinguished sports history graduating nationally known athletes such as Bret Favre, Ray Guy, and Clarence Weatherspoon.  Playing in Conference USA gives athletics national attention. The University is large enough that students in sport management are exposed to leading management approaches, but not too large that the concept of the student-athlete is lost.      

With an almost $6 billion tourism industry, Mississippi is aggressively attempting to leverage its creative economy, cultural heritage, casinos, natural assets (e.g., beaches; the Mississippi River) and Southern Hospitality to help the economy (Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division). With its tourism motto of “Find Your True South,” the region has great career opportunities for casino, hospitality, and tourism management.

It is also the birthplace of today’s practice of economic development and Mississippi continues aggressive economic development efforts to overcome its lagging economic performance.   Many economic development scholars begin the story of modern economic development with the Depression era efforts of Mississippi to attract manufacturers from the North with the Balance Agriculture with Industry (BAWI) Program (Kotler, 1993; Cobb, 1993; Eisinger, 1988; Fisher & Peters, 1998). Continuing that tradition of leading in economic development, USM was the first master’s program in economic development offered in the U.S., by that name.

All three programs in the department are applied programs with engaged faculty.  Students in the programs will interact with practitioners and get real-world hands on experience.  They will develop their networks to start careers in sport management, tourism & hospitality management and economic development.