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Majors & Degrees

DSU adds graduate certificate in esports coaching

November 13, 2023

This article was initially published on SiouxFalls.Business on Sept. 12, 2023.

After successfully adding a competitive esports program at Dakota State in the fall of 2019, DSU is expanding it from the athletics arena to the classroom. It is now offering a graduate certificate in Esports Coaching.

“Since including esports in the varsity athletics here at DSU and seeing its popularity, Athletics Director Jeff Dittman has been among the first to suggest that esports could present some curricular opportunities for us at DSU,” said Dr. Mark Hawkes, Dean of Graduate Studies, and professor of educational technology.

In June 2022, DSU partnered with the South Dakota High School Activities Association to help K-12 personnel learn more about starting high school esports programs. This was offered as a continuing education credit at the graduate level.

High school athletic directors, esports coaches, administrators, and others interested in developing esports programs for their schools could attend.

Besides this growing interest from schools and students, there is also momentum in the esports industry.  Large corporations such as Nintendo, Microsoft, Intel, and Sony are investing in sponsorships, media rights, and streaming capabilities in esports, presenting DSU with an opportunity to create undergraduate and graduate classroom opportunities in esports.

“We’ve developed the esports courses at the graduate level to offer folks already with degrees the opportunity to accrue graduate credit,” Hawkes said.  This certificate can benefit those working in the K-12 education, higher education, sports and entertainment, and similar areas.

He explained that the three-course certificate focuses on the esports industry and the skills required to succeed as a player, coach, or manager. In addition, “There’s also much broader information about fan engagement, technological platforms, strategic branding, and using the digital ecosystem to handle things like marketing and e-commerce.”

Students will complete courses in Esports Foundations and Systems; Fan Experience, Sportainment, and Brand Management; and Facility, Risk, and Event Management in Sports. DSU College of Education faculty Dr. Scott Klungseth and Dr. Kevin Smith will teach the classes.

Klungseth, an associate professor of education at DSU, is teaching Fan Experience, Sportainment, and Brand Management as the starting course for the certificate this fall.

He developed the course curriculum based on visits with professionals in the field, personal experience, and looking at similar types of classes.

“This course could be for anyone working in the sports profession -- athletic directors, coaches, sports marketing and promotion professionals, sports media professionals, and booster club members,” Klungseth said.

Students will develop knowledge and understanding of fan engagement in today’s sports industry.

“Since there are new technological platforms present in today’s industry, it’s becoming more important than ever to better understand fans and their motivations for attending games, interactions, retention rates, and fan loyalty,” Klungseth explained.

“Sportainment works to generate a story that connects to the fans and offers them more things to do before and after the event. Creating and implementing strategic brand plans with a keen focus on developing and implementing a strategy connected to the digital ecosystem (social, apps, blog, e-commerce, and membership).”

Klungseth’s course is designed so students can customize assignments to whatever type of sport they are interested in, enabling those enrolled to learn about more than just esports.

Anyone with an undergraduate degree can apply to earn the certificate. For more information about the Esports Coaching Certificate, visit the Dakota State webpage for the program.

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