The popular consensus is that schoolwork and gaming do not go together. However, with the rise of eSports competitions, the number of gaming/eSports programs and clubs on college campus’ around the world is skyrocketing.
In fact, in 2014 Robert Morris University started offering scholarships to gamers to help the University build a competitive eSports team. And, many universities have followed suit.
eSports-specific scholarships have ranged from as high as $20,000, to as low as $2,000-$5,000.
Much like the NCAA regulates college athletics, the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE) is looking to bring college eSports under the same association. To date, NACE consists of 57 different schools that have a varsity-level eSports program.
That means that, if you are a competitive gamer and you are soon heading off to college, you have a ton of different options out there that will allow you to pursue a higher education as well as help you take your gaming career to the next level.
In this article, we’ll take a quick look at some of the top colleges for eSports (in no particular order).
Columbia College (Columbia, Missouri)
Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri formed a League of Legends program in 2015 and began offering partial scholarships to gamers to come join their eSports program. Backed by school president Dr. Scott Dalrymple’s willingness to embrace eSports as a varsity sport, as well as continuing to offer partial scholarships to gamers, Columbia College has been able to stay among the top college eSports programs in the country.
You can fill out Columbia’s eSports application/questionnaire here.
Robert Morris University (Chicago, Illinois)
In 2014, Robert Morris University became the first college in the country to offer scholarships to students to be on their League of Legends team, thus forming the school’s varsity eSports program. By being one of the first adopters of eSports as a varsity program, RMU has turned into a powerhouse. They currently compete in multiple games, including: League of Legends, CS:GO, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and DOTA2.
Their gaming facilities are also top notch, thanks to sponsors like iBuyPower, ASUS, Cooler Master, and DXRacer (they make computer chairs for gaming.) Students interested in joining the Robert Morris University eSports program can email [email protected] for more information.
University of Pikeville (Pikeville, Kentucky)
The University of Pikeville was another smaller school to jump into eSports early. In 2014, UPike became the second college to make eSports a part of their varsity athletics program and they began offering scholarships for eSports in 2015. Their current program focuses on playing League of Legends and Hearthstone.
If you’re interested in joining the University of Pikeville’s eSports program, follow the instructions here.
Maryville University (St. Louis, Missouri)
Maryville University has quickly become the biggest name in college eSports thanks to winning the League of Legends championship at Dreamhack in 2016 and following it up by winning the League of Legends Collegiate Championship last year. Their eSports program was founed in 2015 and they were one of the original colleges to offer eSports scholarships.
University of California, Irvine (Irvine, California)
While UC Irvine wasn’t one of the first colleges to create an eSports program, they have quickly become one of the biggest and well-backed programs in the country. UC Irvine has two eSports teams, one for League of Legends and one for Overwatch. They offer scholarships to players of both teams ($5,610 for members of their LoL team and $2,500 to members of their Overwatch team).
Tiffin University (Tiffin, Ohio)
In the fall of 2017, Tiffin University launched their varsity eSports program, complete with a dedicated eSports facility. The facility is 4,000 square feet and houses 15 high-end gaming computers, dual monitors for each computer, DXRacer gaming chairs, and Razer keyboards/headsets/mice.
Tiffin University also offers scholarship opportunities for the members of their eSports program. For information on joining Tiffin University’s eSports program, fill out their application here.
Midland University (Fremont, Nebraska)
Midland University opened up their varsity eSports program in the fall of 2016. Along with offering scholarships to members of their eSports team, Midland also offered their initial eSports team members with free room and board. They currently have teams that compete in League of Legends, Overwatch, and Hearthstone.
Southwest Baptist University (Bolivar, Missouri)
Southwest Baptist University created their eSports program in the fall of 2016 in an effort to engage new groups of students who weren’t active in other clubs or groups on campus. SBU offers scholarships up to $10,000 to the members of their eSports team. In 2017, they also gave a scholarship to a Twitch streamer and have since established a daily streaming schedule.
To apply to Southwest Baptist’s eSports program, fill out their application here.
Stephens College (Columbia, Missouri)
In the fall of 2017, Stephens College became the first all-women’s college to have a varsity eSports program. They currently compete in Overwatch leagues in Tespa (college eSports organization) and offer the members of their team partial scholarships.
Students who are interested in joining Stephens College’s eSports program can apply here.
University of Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
The University of Utah wasn’t one of the originals universities to offer an eSports program, but they are one of the first big schools entering into into varsity eSports. Utah’s program started in the fall of 2017 and they currently offer partial scholarships. Their program currently supports teams in League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Rocket League.
For students who are interested in joining the University of Utah’s eSports program, you can submit your recruitment form here.
Lourdes University (Sylvania, Ohio)
Lourdes University rolled out their varsity eSports program in early 2017. Lourde’s new school president Mary Ann Gawelek wanted to take the school in a more innovative direction and as a part of that, the eSports program was born.
Lourdes is also offering scholarship packages to members of their eSports team. Students who are interested in joining Lourdes University’s eSports program can contact Cory Cahill at [email protected]
Should Your College Be Listed Above? Let Me Know!
This list isn’t a definitive list, but rather a list of schools who offer at least partial scholarships and have made headlines with their programs success. If your school is making waves with their eSports program and it’s not listed here, let us know in the comment section below! I may follow up with a request for some information, but I will gladly add your school to the list.