With the advent and explosive growth of esports in recent years, collegiate sports have experienced a dramatic change in their landscape. A rising number of students are discovering ways to use esports scholarships to transform their love of video games into a route for higher education as competitive gaming grows in popularity. This change asks a question: How many institutions already offer esports scholarships? It also highlights the changing nature of sports and recreation.
How Many Colleges Offer Esports Scholarships
Investigating this matter reveals an intriguing point of convergence between gaming and education, illuminating the growing prospects in the digital sphere for student-athletes. By providing a thorough picture of the educational landscape influenced by the increase in esports, this investigation seeks to shed light on the prevalence of esports scholarships across universities.
Over 170 colleges in the United States now have established esports teams, and many of these schools offer esports scholarships to their players in the form of partial and full esports scholarships.
Esports Scholarships for Gamers
Did you know that you can get college esports scholarships for playing video games?
It’s true! Skilled League of Legends players, Overwatch enthusiasts, and other gamers can be recruited into varsity esports programmes for collegiate esports and receive esports scholarships.
What Games Can You Get Scholarships For?
Varsity esports teams are covering a wide variety of video game genres. Most games for which there is a competitive gaming league are available for recruitment.
Multiplayer online battle arena games like Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) and League of Legends are among the most played titles in college esports. These games are ideal for collegiate Esports because they stress effective communication and teamwork.
In addition, you might be asked to participate in first-person shooter games like Overwatch and Fortnite, as well as real-time strategy games like World of Warcraft or Starcraft.
Hearthstone, Rocket League, Rainbow Six: Siege, and Super Smash Bros. are among the additional popular games for college curricula.
Each college offers a different selection of games based on the size and age of their program. Make sure to research what games you can play for eSports scholarships at your school of choice.
How To Get Recruited as an Esports Athlete
The best way to win an esports scholarship is to be recruited onto a varsity esports team. You can increase your chances of being recruited by maintaining a strong high school GPA, improving your gaming skills, and contacting college esports coaches.
What Colleges in the United States Offer Esports Scholarships
University of California Irvine (UC Irvine) – Irvine, CA
UC Irvine was one of the first public universities to create an official esports program. UCI Esports launched in 2016 and currently hosts varsity teams for League of Legends, Overwatch, and Valorant.
Varsity scholar-athletes on the five-member League of Legends team earn up to $6,000 in scholarship money, and the five junior-varsity members earn up to $1,000. Scholarships are also available for many of the other varsity and junior varsity gaming teams, and UCI Esports offers other gaming scholarships for student gamers on campus, including a $2500 Pokimane Scholarship.
University of Texas, Dallas – Dallas, TX
UT Dallas’s Esports program launched in 2018 and currently has varsity teams for League of Legends, Rocket League, Valorant, Overwatch 2, and Smash Ultimate. Varsity players receive athletic scholarships, priority class registration, and varsity athlete gear, in addition to other benefits.
Dallas’s Super Smash Brothers team took home its second national championship in 2021, beating Michigan State University to bring home the Collegiate Starleague Smash Ultimate National Championships title. The Overwatch team also ranked in the top 8 that year, and the Rocket League team finished in the top 6.
Miami University – Oxford, OH
Miami University’s varsity esports program launched in 2016 and offers varsity teams for seven different video games: Hearthstone, League of Legends, NBA2K, Overwatch, Rocket League, Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Valorant.
Junior varsity teams also exist for Hearthstone, Rocket League, and Halo. State-of-the-art practice and tournament spaces are available for players to use, including a varsity-exclusive location called The Thunder Room in the King Library. All students can reserve another tournament room for show matches or competitions.
Hawaii Pacific University – Honolulu, HI
Hawaii Pacific University’s esports program began as a club of 12 students who played League of Legends and organized practices and scrimmages against other teams in the mainland United States. Now, eSports at Hawaii Pacific has expanded to offer eSports scholarships to League of Legends and Overwatch players who compete for the school at open and invitational tournaments and the Peach Belt Conference.
A 3,000-square-foot Esports Arena in downtown Honolulu’s historic Aloha Marketplace is equipped with state-of-the-art gaming PCs, virtual reality stations, and indoor and outdoor viewing areas.
Concordia University Texas – Austin, TX
Concordia University varsity esports placed first in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in 2021 and third in 2022. The program offers up to 10 $2,000 scholarships for players who are recruited to play on their varsity teams.
Esports scholarships are based on game history, ranking, and performance during esports tryouts. Players can try out for a spot on a varsity team regardless of rank and skill level, and varsity teams exist for Overwatch, League of Legends, Smash Ultimate, Rocket League, and Valorant.
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
The University of Utah began offering esports programs in 2017 and is one of the largest United States universities to have an esports program. Teams represented include League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League, and Hearthstone.
The program is sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drinks and Mountain Dew, allowing the University of Utah to provide generous esports scholarships to its players.
Full Sail University – Winter Park, Florida
Full Sail Armada, Full Sail’s collegiate esports team, offers a robust roundup of varsity esports programs for many games that do not have teams at other universities, including Rainbow Six: Siege, Halo Infinite, Call of Duty, and Smite.
Full Sail’s impressive Orlando Health Fortress is the largest collegiate esports arena in the United States, with the capacity to seat 500 viewers, 10 million pixels of LED wall, and a concert-level PA system.
In 2022, Full Sail hosted the largest North American youth esports tournament. Two Full Sail students received $5,000 each in scholarship money for their creative contributions to the event.
University of Southern California – Los Angeles, CA
USC Trojan Esports hosts both casual and competitive games for players of all levels. The program hosts frequent student-wide tournaments to foster community and fun among the student body, including an Among Us Tournament and Overwatch Competition in 2021.
Additionally, the Women in Esports interview series publishes interviews with women-identifying students at USC who are involved with Trojan Esports. Varsity and club esports teams are offered for League of Legends, Smash Ultimate, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Rocket League.
University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley, CA
University of California, Berkeley is one of the oldest collegiate esports programs, having won its first national title in 2009. The program currently offers 14 different games for Division 1 and 6 other games for Division 2.
Varsity gamers and new gamers alike can use the Cal Esports Community Center, which is equipped with 55 PCs, a Twitch broadcasting center, and other amenities. Furthermore, the Women in Gaming initiative allows women-identifying students to play more games at Berkeley, furthering gender equity in a male-dominated industry.
In conclusion, the landscape of collegiate esports scholarships is evolving rapidly, reflecting the growing popularity and legitimacy of esports as a competitive and organized endeavor. While the precise number of colleges offering esports scholarships may be challenging to pinpoint due to the dynamic nature of this emerging field, it is evident that an increasing number of institutions are recognizing the value and potential of supporting talented gamers.
Esports scholarships not only provide financial assistance to students but also contribute to the broader recognition of esports as a legitimate and valuable pursuit within the realm of higher education. As technology continues to advance and esports gains further mainstream acceptance, it is likely that the availability of scholarships will expand, fostering a more inclusive and diverse esports community in colleges and universities across the globe. As such, the journey of esports scholarships is one marked by promise and potential, reflecting the ever-changing landscape of higher education in the digital age.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does the NCAA recognize esports?
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Esports is not a sport. In 2019, the NCAA unanimously decided against bringing Esports under its purview. Perhaps that view will change over time. Contrarily, the US recognizes Esports as a sport and has since 2013.
Are esports scholarships only offered by large universities?
No, eSports scholarships are not exclusive to large universities. While many prominent institutions with well-established esports programs do offer scholarships, a growing number of smaller colleges and universities are also recognizing the popularity and competitive nature of esports. As a result, scholarships are becoming more widespread across institutions of varying sizes, allowing a diverse range of students to pursue their passion for competitive gaming while furthering their education.
Is Esports a college major?
The demand for people with specialized training is growing as Esports continues to gain traction in the educational, private, and public sectors. Esports degrees are cutting-edge, difficult, and at the forefront of new advancements in academic programming. This means many majors related to Esports, ranging from management, video game design, and Esports marketing.