Shenandoah Offers One of the Nation's First esports Degree Programs

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Students can earn a Bachelor of Science, a minor or a certificate in esports

 

Winchester, Va. — Shenandoah University is taking over the controller in the collegiate esports world with the creation of a new esports major and plans to implement a varsity-level virtual reality esports competition team.

Shenandoah will be one of the first universities in the country and the first in Virginia to offer an esports major. The major not only provides a general esports education, but also uniquely offers not one, but three tracks that students can choose from: esports management, esports coaching, and esports media and communication.

Students majoring in esports at Shenandoah will earn a Bachelor of Science. Through the major, students will learn about esports consumerism, esports event management, performance and physical training in esports, streaming esports, and coaching esports teams. The major will roll out in fall 2019, but students can apply now and the university is currently accepting applications.

All esports majors will take 30 general education credits, as well as one slate of core courses: Introduction to Esports; Contemporary Issues in Esports; Esports Performance; Esports Ergogenic Aids; Esports Physical Training, Injuries & Rehabilitation; Esports Consumerism; Esports Structure and Governance; Esports Event Management; and Experiential Learning.

Each track requires 120 credits.

Shenandoah will also offer a minor in esports management, along with a minor and an online certificate in esports sports science.


Shenandoah currently has a varsity esports team, which started competition this year through the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), with 25 team members playing five esports games. So far, the team has played Penn state and Maryland in Rocket League, Clemson in Paladins and Arizona State in Overwatch.

The Shenandoah esports team also has plans to be the first NACE institution to have a varsity-level virtual reality (VR) esports team. Recruitment has begun for this competition team, which will plan on competing in Echo Arena and Onward within the next couple of months. With this addition, Shenandoah will compete in Overwatch; League of Legends; Smite; Rocket League; Counter-Strike: Global Offensive; Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege; Echo Arena (VR) and possibly Onward (VR).

NACE has more than 80 member institutions from all levels of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). As of January 2018, more than 90 percent of all varsity esports programs in the U.S. were members of NACE.

The VR esports team aligns with Shenandoah’s emphasis on innovative programs and the projects of the Shenandoah Center for Immersive Learning (SCIL) lab, where students create virtual and augmented reality experiences. Both esports and the virtual reality program are housed in the SCIL lab, which is located in the Health & Life Sciences Building on the Winchester campus.

“With the professional esports scene continuing to flourish and more academic institutions investing in their own esports programs, Shenandoah is looking to be on the forefront of the varsity VR space,” said Joey Gawrysiak, Ph.D., associate professor and director of sport management. “VR esports exist at the professional level but on a smaller scale than more traditional esports. However, this area is seen as a place of growth and unlimited future potential. As virtual reality and esports continue to grow at Shenandoah, these new teams will be the benchmark for VR esports at the collegiate level.”   


The competitive esports team and students in the degree program will work hand-in-hand, allowing both groups to have the best esports experience possible, which will help them in both college and their post-graduate careers.

For more information, contact Joey Gawrysiak, director and associate professor of sport management, at jgawrysi@su.edu, or Becky Layne, media relations coordinator, at rlayne@su.edu or 610-608-6586.

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