The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved three new degree options for Rogers State University during their April meeting.
“We are proud of this accomplishment. It’s a win for our students, our faculty and our industry partners,” RSU President Dr. Larry Rice said. “Our faculty is committed to developing innovative curriculum that meets industry demands and ensures the highest outcomes for student success.”
Esports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems are among the nation’s fastest growing industries. The coursework in these degree programs provide pathways for students to enter the workforce or pursue graduate studies. Dr. Mary Millikin, the associate vice president for academic affairs, expects the additional degree options to encourage student recruitment.
“RSU is committed to offering relevant education and college degrees that excite our students with opportunities for the future,” Millikin said. “College is a time of self-discovery. We prepare our learners for careers in an ever-changing workplace while enriching their critical thinking and captivating their imaginations.”
RSU launched the first university organized Esports program in the fall of 2018. The program is housed in a dedicated Esports Arena with 18 gaming stations and offers scholarships across four competitive teams. Among the general public, Esports has a relatively low profile but is wildly popular worldwide and quickly gaining traction in the United States. Esports is predicted to reach revenues of a half billion dollars by 2022, making it the fastest growing gaming industry.
RSU Instructor of Technology Studies Curtis Sparling said that Esports is a growing degree program across the United States and abroad.
“These options provide a technical degree in the fastest growing niche of the gaming industry. Employment opportunities in Esports vary from gamers to writers, bloggers, event planners, team managers, multimedia graphic designers and social media managers,” Sparling said. “It provides Esports education with both technology and management pathways into the profession.”
The Unmanned Aircraft Systems degree option comes alongside the annual AeroGames Competition. The drone building and piloting competition for junior high and high school students throughout northeast Oklahoma is hosted by RSU, sponsored by MidAmerica Industrial Park and powered by Google. For the past seven years RSU capstone students in the Applied Technology program have mentored the junior high and high school students as they build and pilot their aircraft.
“These new degree options increases our current offerings to better meet Oklahoma’s changing workforce and the nation’s growing industries by providing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics focused educational opportunities,” Sparling said.
The Federal Aviation Administration released the Aerospace Forecast Report for Fiscal Years 2017 to 2037 which projects sustained and continued growth in nearly every category. They further project the small model hobbyist Unmanned Aircraft Systems fleet to more than triple in size from an estimated 1.1 million vehicles at the end of 2016 to more than 3.5 million units by 2021.
Rogers State University is a four-year regional university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Tracing its roots back to 1909, RSU celebrates 20 years as an accredited institution awarding bachelor’s degrees this year. RSU offers degree programs and options meeting the needs for Oklahoma’s top 10 fastest growing industries as identified by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. RSU operates its main residential campus in Claremore, with additional campuses in Bartlesville and Pryor. RSU has been a leader in distance learning and was the first Oklahoma university to offer degree programs entirely online. RSU is consistently recognized as one of the region’s most affordable colleges, with more than half of last year’s graduates earning their degree without taking out a student loan.
For more information about the Esports and Unmanned Aircraft Systems degree programs, visit www.rsu.edu/levelup.