US Universities Continue to Develop Esports Programs
The US is the largest market for esports in the world and professional gaming is now being recognised as a sport and potential career path by many universities. At least 175 colleges and universities are now members of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and offer officially recognized varsity esports programs.
This week already two more US universities are further developing their esports programs. Harrisburg University, Pennsylvania, is launching a standalone Esports Bachelor of Science degree program and Lakeland University, Wisconsin, is creating a video gaming arena for its new varsity esports program.
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology launched a varsity esports program in 2018 and won the Collegiate Overwatch National Championship in 2019. Beginning in 2020, the university will offer an Esports Bachelor of Science degree which as per a press release at InvenGlobal, “will prepare students for in-demand careers.”
The new degree will cover media content creation, event management, coaching, team management, marketing management, and esports analytics. Rather than being a “training ground” it’s a “path to turning a passion into an exciting career in the rapidly expanding Esports industry.”
Despite numerous varsity esports programs, where esports is treated like a professional sport and scholarships are available for competing team players, only a few universities in the US, so far, offer undergraduate esports degree programs. Harrisburg University’s students will be able to work with college teams as well as professional esports organisations at events.
Esports event production and facilities management group, Nerd Street Gamers, will be the university programs partner and advisor. The company’s CEO says:
“Building the infrastructure for Esports goes beyond finding talented players, it requires a foundation that increases accessibility for more individuals to participate in gaming, and educational training programs that develop talent in early stages.”
Liberal arts college, Lakeland University plans to create a video gaming arena, renovating a 3,000 square foot space to contain 18 gaming stations, six consoles, a lounge area, and space for spectators. Its esports team will be added as a varsity athletic sport within the school’s conventional athletic department, as per the Milwaukee Business Journal. The team and university will be a member of NACE and it is now recruiting for a head esports coach.
David Simon, Lakeland University’s vice president for campus life says:
“Competitive gaming is one of the nation’s fastest growing activities, and Lakeland is excited to formally add a team to our athletic department.”
He adds that “the timing is right for Lakeland to join the growing number of colleges and high schools who are adding competitive esports and to expand esports opportunities for all our students.”
Ohio State is also planning an undergraduate major in esports. Carroll University in Waukesha has announced plans to add varsity esports in the fall of 2020 and the University of Missouri created its esports scholarship back in 2018 at a time when US esports scholarships had grown by 480%.