Get in the game

New Esports Management Certificate booted up for students


Photo of individuals competing for prizes in front of an audience.

Esports pits individuals and teams competing for prizes and championship titles in front of a live or online audience. The Alberta Esports Association is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to building a network and ecosystem of local esports communities. Photo courtesy Philippe Massicotte.


Competitive video gaming is red hot, and the $1-billion-plus esports industry is driving global demand for professionals with the training and passion to manage this surging form of entertainment.

Mount Royal University’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension’s new Esports Management Certificate will position students for a role in this burgeoning business world. Offered in partnership with the University of California, Irvine Division of Continuing Education (UCI), the program’s overview course begins Sept. 7.

Esports — video games played at an organized, professional level — involves competitors, individuals or teams competing for prizes and championship titles. Fans around the world attend live events (at least they did and hopefully will again soon) or tune in online and on TV.  Esports is growing fast with a global audience of nearly 500 million. Upwards of 20 U.S. colleges and universities have esports varsity teams, and competitive gaming is catching on at the collegiate level in Canada as well, including an Ontario Esports league.

The MRU certificate’s four courses offer practical communications and project management skills tailored to planning and executing an esport event. They will also explore the structures of an esports organization, providing an in-depth understanding of the industry and its operations.

“Esports is an exploding segment of entertainment, but behind the scenes, this new sector has also identified and even benchmarked the industry skills necessary for students to be successful as part of an esports enterprise,” says Brad Mahon, PhD, dean of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.

“This program will enable students by allowing them to explore esports as a potential profession by building their management acumen.”

Expert instruction near and far


Photo of individuals competing for prizes in front of an audience.

The Esports Management Certificate’s four courses are set up with weekly module topics that include videos and readings, Blackboard discussions, virtual Google Meet sessions with the instructor (these are recorded for students who can't attend live), and weekly assignments. Photo courtesy Philippe Massicotte.


Mahon describes Mount Royal’s instructors as passionate and active in the esports community.

“Each one has years of experience in the field and they are excited to share their knowledge with our students,” he says.

As with other recent continuing education offerings such as the Cannabis Education Program, Mahon says there are hurdles to jump over in terms of public perception.

“Any time you’re pioneering a program, people will step back and scratch their heads when it’s not something they associate with the classroom. There’s always an element of education in teaching people about what it is.”

UCI, he points out, has had great success with esports and the expertise in place, making it a perfect partner. UCI was the first public university in the U.S. to create an official esports program, which is regarded as one of the best and most comprehensive in the world. It includes a computer game science major and has a thriving gaming community, which has resulted in a history of elite competition. UCI’s Division of Continuing Education’s Esports Management Specialized Studies Program builds on that.

“Esports is a rapidly changing industry creating many career opportunities. To stay on the forefront of the industry and to be able to pursue a successful career in esports, one must develop a strong foundation through education,” says Stephane Muller, director of Business and Technology Programs at UCI Division of Continuing Education.

“We developed the first professional esports certificate program in the world in 2018,  have hundreds of graduates and provide students a chance to bridge into the field and be a part of this exciting community in a unique way. UCI is delighted to partner with a reputable university like MRU to educate the next esports professionals in Canada.”

Local esports community full of opportunity


Photo of 2 Esports competitors looking at screen.

Esports is an exploding segment of entertainment. MRU’s Esports Management Program can help students find a role in this burgeoning business. Photo courtesy Andrew Tran.


The Alberta Esports Association is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to building a network and ecosystem of local esports communities, association organizations and industry partners to support community engagement, deliver events and create new opportunities within Alberta's emerging esports industry.

Victor Ly, an MRU esports program instructor and co-founder of the association, says the rapid growth of esports is creating a demand for educated professionals.

“This program will provide an overview of the esports industry and how it operates, as well as the skills required to effectively communicate and deliver events within this space,” Ly says.

“This is a great opportunity both for new and returning students interested in becoming leaders in an emerging industry, as well as for those within existing organizations and businesses seeking to incorporate esports. As esports grows in Alberta, it is creating opportunities to establish a proactive and sustainable ecosystem of businesses and communities to meet the growing demands.”

Ly, who says expanding esports has been a passion project for 15 years, got into the game himself as a player. 

“What started as a love for video games and a desire to find other people to play with eventually led to establishing local grassroots communities and student groups, delivering events for hundreds of attendees, and co-founding the Alberta Esports Association.”

The Esports Management Certificate’s four courses are set up with weekly module topics that include videos and readings, Blackboard discussions, virtual Google Meet sessions with the instructor (these are recorded for students who can't attend live), and weekly assignments. Each course is scheduled over six weeks and can be taken in any order.

An esports resource contributed to by MRU profs

MRU faculty members David Finch, PhD, professor in marketing; Brad Clark, PhD, associate professor in broadcast media studies, and David Legg, PhD, professor in health and physical education, are among the collaborators for a new textbook titled Implications and Impacts of eSports on Business and Society: Emerging Research and Opportunities.

The book provides innovative research exploring the immersion of competitive electronic sports and applications into global marketing, business and society. Featuring coverage on a broad range of topics including social networking, sponsorship branding and risk management, the work is designed for sports and entertainment practitioners, communications professionals, marketers, business consultants, researchers and students looking for current information on potential business opportunities in the esports industry.

“The global gaming market today exceeds two billion participants and $150 billion. Esports is an extension of this market and offers enormous potential for future growth,” Finch says.

“Esports competitions now rank as some of the most lucrative sporting events in the world. This expansion has opened new esports careers ranging from technical to marketing to media pathways.”

Mahon says the Esports Management Certificate hopes to tap into MRU’s internal expertise in an advisory capacity for the program in future.

Ly predicts esports will continue on its upwards trajectory.

“Game developers continue to actively design new titles and provide funding for events, live streaming grows in popularity and accessibility, and business and career opportunities flourish.”

Get in the game with the Esports Management Certificate at MRU.

Sept. 2, 2020 — Peter Glenn

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