GALLOWAY — The competitive gaming industry is on the brink of a boom in the United States, and Stockton University has announced it's getting ahead of the rush by becoming the first public higher-ed institution in New Jersey to offer a degree in the field.

No, professors won't be training students on how to succeed in first-person shooter games. Instead, students will be schooled on all of the behind-the-scenes action involved in the industry, from marketing and content creation, to producing a live esports competition with spectators.

"We'll be building real, transferable skills that they can use in a variety of different job opportunities that are still emerging within the esports ecosystem," Noel Criscione-Naylor, Stockton's interim esports program chair, told New Jersey 101.5.

Students can choose esports management as a major beginning in the fall of 2023. Courses will cover topics such as event production and the economics of tourism, to go along with hands-on experience with Stockton's own competitive esports team.

Stockton's Rocket League finished second in the Collegiate World Championship last year, and it's competing again this year in early June.

"Esports can revolutionize the local tourism industry and stimulate local economies by attracting businesses," Criscione-Naylor said. "Esports has a direct connection to traditional hospitality centers, such as hotel, food and beverage, events and tourism."

Criscione-Naylor said Stockton is positioning itself as the "incubator" of esports in Atlantic City. Stockton, which has a campus in Atlantic City, opened the Esports Innovation Center along the boardwalk in the fall of 2022.

The U.S. is considered to be in the infancy stage of catching up with the billion-dollar esports industry that's been picking up steam globally for years.

Saint Peter's University, located in Jersey City, offers an esports business degree. Fairleigh Dickinson University has a minor in the field, and Rowan offers an esports certificate, according to Stockton's research.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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