NIU College of Education, City Colleges of Chicago pave 2+2 paths in kinesiology, sport management


City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) students now have a seamless “2+2” transfer pathway to bachelor’s degrees in Kinesiology and Sport Management from the Northern Illinois University College of Education. Thanks to a newly signed articulation agreement, students completing Associate of Science degrees who are interested in those majors can begin to enroll at NIU as soon as January, although initial recruitment will focus on the fall semester of 2023.

Available to students from all seven of CCC’s campuses, the opportunity to become Huskies falls under the Guaranteed Admissions Program and comes with the possibility of receiving NIU Star Scholarships of $3,000 per year for two years. More than 1,300 CCC students currently are in academic programs that align well with Kinesiology and Sport Management. Steve Howell, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, calls the new affiliation between the two schools “a logical fit.”

“Our partners at City Colleges are very enthusiastic about having a partner that was within a short drive, one where they could actually come out and see where they were sending their graduates. It was very important for them,” Howell said. “We showed them our buildings, our facilities and the structure of our courses. We took them to see NIU Athletics and all the opportunities there for their graduates to grow,” he added. “They were excited that their students could come to a place that was welcoming, that had a sense of belonging and that was a place for them to grow even more – moving forward eventually to becoming NIU graduates.”

City Colleges of Chicago Chancellor Juan Salgado shares that hope. “An education at NIU is sure to open more doors to career success for our students who transfer there. NIU also embraces diversity and is an incredibly welcoming environment for our students,” Salgado said. “We are thrilled to partner in these pathways because of these factors and so much more.”

Articulation agreements between four-year universities and community colleges provide students with a prescribed, sequential set of general education courses for their first two years near home and put them right on track when they arrive at NIU for their major-specific curriculum. Coordinated academic advising, along with an earlier introduction to the college’s Office for Student Success, creates strong relationships that yield improved enrollment management, retention and graduation rates.

Students who pursue NIU’s B.S. in Kinesiology study scientific principles that regulate behavior change and performance, including physiology, biomechanics, psychology, measurement, gerontology and nutrition. They go on to use exercise as a form of medicine in their work at a variety of health, wellness and sport performance settings.

The curriculum also prepares students for graduate school in exercise physiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, athletic training, sport and exercise psychology and sport management. NIU’s B.S. in Sport Management prepares students for the extensive career opportunities available with professional franchises; collegiate athletic departments; marketing and management firms; parks and recreation operations; and more.

Strong relationships with Chicagoland’s many sport organizations and with NIU’s NCAA Division I athletics program provide students with outstanding experiences for hands-on learning and networking. Students also can pursue the Sport Sales Minor in collaboration with NIU’s renowned Sales Program, housed in the College of Business. Ron Smith, director of Community College Partnerships at NIU, said the university is “thrilled to embark on these two transfer pathways.”

“The City Colleges of Chicago has been a long-standing academic partner with NIU, and we will continue to expand transfer avenues for CCC students culminating in bachelor-degree attainment,” said Smith, who worked with Amanda J. Williams, district director for Transfer Programs and Services at the City Colleges of Chicago, to bring the partnership to fruition.

“Over the past two years, NIU and City Colleges of Chicago have been intentional in our commitment to our institutional relationship,” Smith added, “with a heightened focus on strategic program alignment.”

David Walker, the NIU College of Education’s associate dean for Academic Affairs, said the new 2+2 agreements also are strategic for enrollment and for diversity.

“We have a great number of relationships with Rock Valley, Waubonsee, the College of DuPage, Elgin and the College of Lake County, and with rural schools such as Kishwaukee College. This really adds to that portfolio with a true urban partner,” Walker said. “Our new transfer applications from City Colleges, averaged over the last four years, were 11 applications, seven admissions and three students confirming their intent to enroll in one our undergraduate program in the College of Education – so the numbers are very small at present,” he added. “We feel very confident with this 2+2 program, and with our relationship with City Colleges, that these numbers will go up exponentially and be beneficial to both partners.”

Meanwhile, Walker said, Kinesiology and Sport Management have proven prime interests for transfer students. Sixty-six of this fall’s 190 new transfers are in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, he said. Of those, 31 are majoring in Kinesiology and 18 are majoring in Sport Management, meaning those two majors were the destination of 26% of Fall 2022 transfers. And, Howell said, Kinesiology and Sport Management make sense given the thriving sport industry in Chicago.

“Malcolm X College has a beautiful new building,” Howell said, “and thinking about it from a sport management lens, they’re a hop, skip and a jump away from the United Center. That could potentially create some partnerships where we could connect and recruit students by hosting an event with some of the local sports teams around that building, whether it be teams housed at the United Center or other sport-based entities in Chicago.”