As gaming enters the mainstream with professional gamers making thousands of dollars a year and competitions drawing huge crowds, colleges have finally caught up. And why wouldn’t they? After all, digital gaming and entertainment is a multibillion-dollar industry. Here are some of the top colleges offering eSports Degree Program.
1. Ohio State University
When it comes to esports, Ohio State University is leading the charge in setting up a formal degree program. At present, they have four competitive teams and a massive arena that can seat 80 gamers. As of fall 2020, they plan to offer a bachelor of science degree in game studies, a decision that earned them criticism from both inside and outside the university.
In response, the academic affairs office has made it clear that the degree will not focus on teaching students how to play esports. Instead, it will deal with game creation, marketing, media, and management in the fields of medicine, engineering, health, business, education, and ecology. Today, companies around the world are introducing gamification strategies to their offices.
A well-rounded gaming degree will leave students capable of pursuing a career in the world of digital gaming or entertainment. While this is the start of formal degree programs in the field, proponents are confident that more and more colleges will follow Ohio State’s lead in the future.
2. Shenandoah University
This Virginia-based university is among the first to offer a complete esports major,i.e., The Esports Management Track. Students cover 120 credit hours with 45 credits in specific esports courses and 18 credits in management-based courses. But this isn’t the only option they offer. You can also complete a bachelor’s degree in the Esports Media and Communication Track, a minor in Esports Management, or a certification in Esports Performance Studies.
In addition to on-campus teaching, all of these degrees incorporate the real-time experience. That means actually working with video game companies, professional esports teams, and higher-ups in the gaming industry. This approach of learning from experts is a theme throughout the program and trains students in the fields of marketing, business, administration, and event management.
3. Becker College
If you’re looking for a versatile esports department, look no further than Becker College. Their Interactive Media Design program gives students not one but five options to pick from Game Arts, Game Audio, Game Design, Game Development and Programming, and Game Production and Management.
The course uses in-person and hybrid education models. As part of their lessons, students are taught how to use streaming technology to host large-scale online events, strategies to market and promote events, construct successful teams, handle the business aspects of professional gaming, and develop online communities and following. They also learn about gaming culture and its evolution, so they are better placed to cater to this audience.
4. Caldwell University
Another great institution to study esports is Caldwell University in New Jersey. The program comes under the School of Business and Computer Science. Hence, some of the skills you learn as part of this degree prepare you for a career in event planning, entertainment, finance, marketing, and operations.
Students in this program complete their degree with the requisite 120 credit hours and internships in various related fields. Some of the electives you can take include Small Business Management and Marketing. There are also teams for League of Legends and Overwatch. But, if a complete degree is a too much commitment for you, their Sports Management Major also offers esports as an elective.
5. Saint Peter’s University
This New Jersey-based university offers a high-quality, specialized degree called the Esports Business Specialization. Unlike other programs, Saint Peter’s University focuses on the business aspect of this multibillion-dollar industry, teaching graduates the skills to get a foot in the door. During the course of the program, students will have a chance to develop real relationships with leaders in the industry and learn through internships and hands-on experience.
The university also has teams students can join to play Call of Duty and League of Legends. Some of the skills you’ll learn apart from management include planning, strategy, marketing, finance, and business development. A well-rounded degree gives graduates a complete education, so they are prepared to enter the job market.
6. Keuka College
If you want to get a degree that focuses on the gaming aspects of esports as well as the running, Keuka College is the one for you. They offer a variety of degrees such as Management, Sports Management, Marketing, etc. If you choose the Esports Management program, you can study subjects like content creation, strategy, marketing, management, planning, and broadcasting that allow you to work behind the scenes.
However, the degree still incorporates gaming into the course. You can join teams for League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch or even join the Operations Team that hosts events. There is also “Field Period,” which covers the university’s efforts to help students gain learning opportunities in the field. These usually start in the first year. Over the course of the degree, students build their portfolios from the events and tournaments they attend. This leaves them well placed to pursue a professional career after graduating.
7. University of California Irvine
The University of California Irvine offers one of the best MBA programs in the world. And now you can also get an Esports Management Specialized Studies Certificate. This is perfect for students who want to study esports but keep their options open after graduating. The program covers 90 hours and includes communication, management, and the evolution of esports.
Students complete a solid basic marketing degree with an introduction to key esports business aspects and first-hand experience working with industry stakeholders. They learn to create appealing content, target the gaming audience, use management tools and run an esports event.
The biggest argument against esports programs is the idea that potential employers will find graduates overly specialized. To counter this, universities are increasing the scope of their programs to include basic accounting, finance, and business courses.
Another criticism is that universities are using this as an enrollment strategy and launching substandard programs just to pull in students. The solution to this is to choose a well-developed program that lets you follow your passion while preparing you for the job market.