Syracuse University will soon begin offering a new, unique degree focused on esports.
The Esports Communications and Management program is offered jointly by the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications and the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. It will consist of three tracks: Esports Business and Management; esports communication; and Esports Media and Design. The university will begin enrolling students for the program in the fall of 2024.
“The eSports program is a natural extension of Syracuse University’s leadership in esports-related programs and its commitment to 21st-century academic excellence,” said Chancellor Kent Syverud. “This new major is the latest example of Syracuse University innovating, expanding career opportunities in emerging fields and delivering programs that students desire.”
“This new academic offering is particularly exciting because it leverages the university’s key areas of strength, distinction and excellence to tap into an emerging, fast-growing field and provide our students with the tools to get started in this field” , says Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter. “Investing in our sport-related academic disciplines will be one of the keys to our future success.”
A proposal for the Esports Communications and Management major was approved by faculty at Falk College and Newhouse School last fall. It was subsequently passed by the University Senate in December and approved by the New York State Department of Education in February. Esports is currently looking for a Managing Director.
The program, which will be among the first of its kind at a major university, leverages the fast-growing, multi-billion dollar esports industry and builds on the work already happening on campus. The Barnes Center at The Arch, the university’s recreation center, includes a dedicated Esports gaming room equipped with Omen Obelisk gaming stations; Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo consoles; SIM racing stations; and a virtual reality unit. An active esports club has also developed in recent years.
Jeff Rubin, the Chancellor’s special adviser on esports and digital transformation, has spearheaded efforts to bring an esports major to Syracuse. For more than a year, Rubin has been working with faculty and deans at both Falk College and Newhouse School to develop the program, which will span both colleges.
“It has been an extraordinary experience working with some of the brightest minds in communications and sports management to develop a program that will be at the forefront of this burgeoning industry,” says Rubin. “I’m particularly proud of the collaboration that creates the educational opportunities and experiences that students are looking for.”
In 2018, the Newhouse School partnered with social video service Twitch to launch an innovative new course, Esports and Media, which is still offered through the school’s Sports Media Center (SMC). Rotating industry partners serve as case studies for the students, who develop skills to improve the company’s social media strategy, distributed content, and brand management. Some new partners are ESL, Microsoft and Super League. The course will be co-taught by SMC Director Olivia Stomski and Chris Hanson, Associate Professor of English at the College of Arts and Sciences, who has taught several courses with an eSports component over the past several years.
“The Newhouse School has long been known for excellence in sports communication, with roots stretching back to 1939 alumna Marty Glickman, one of the first major sports broadcasters,” said Mark J. Lodato, Dean of the Newhouse School. “We are excited to build on this foundation with this new degree which – as we have already seen with our academic program in esports – will prepare students for success in this burgeoning field. Our partnership with Falk College ensures a truly world-class program that provides students with the best possible education and training to keep up with the industry.”
Falk College has been at the forefront of education in the sports industry for 20 years. In 2005, Falk introduced one of the nation’s first bachelor’s degrees in sports management, followed by one of the first-ever bachelor’s degrees in sports analysis in 2017.
“Falk College is an established leader in academic education in sports management and sports analysis, preparing future leaders who have achieved great career success in the sports industry,” said Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of Falk College. “With this partnership between Falk College and the Newhouse School, Syracuse University is well positioned to enter the next era of growth in esports academic programs.”
“This landmark esports degree will focus on an emerging sector of the global and national esports industry,” said Michael Veley, Chair of the Department of Sports Management at Falk College. “It combines the strengths of Falk’s and Newhouse’s programs in sports communications, media production, technology, business and events management to offer a state-of-the-art degree.”
“This eSports major embodies the culture and reputation of both the Newhouse School and Falk College,” says Stomski. “We have spent countless hours researching the industry and our students’ interests to create a rigorous and dynamic curriculum that prepares graduates to succeed in this thriving, ever-changing field.”
Stomski, Veley and Hanson worked alongside Newhouse School Assistant Director of Academic Operations Rachel Francisco, Sports Management Undergraduate Director Gina Pauline, David B. Falk Endowed Professor Rick Burton and Falk College Senior Associate Dean Eileen Lantier Establishing the new degree as part of a university-wide task force convened last spring. The well-rounded curriculum is designed to provide students with industry-specific skills in event management and marketing, broadcasting/production, communication, content creation, entrepreneurship, strategic communication, and eSports experience and design. The three tracks offer students the opportunity to adapt the degree to their career goals.
Esports Business and Management: Covers topics such as esports sponsorship, sports facility management, and finance for emerging businesses. Esports Communications: Includes courses in virtual reality storytelling, esports and advertising, public relations principles, and sports in the metaverse. Esports Media and Design: Includes 3D animation, game experience design, and virtual production.