Top 25 eSports Scholarships: Ranking US University/College Programs

eSports Academy Course 109

The New Era

cost growthGamers rise up. If you have yet to enroll in higher education, this is a must-have resource for you. College costs a lot. Cost has a huge impact on your life both pre-enrollment and post-graduation; some people can’t get into the school of their dreams because of the expensive tuition, and those that get into any college may very well be faced with a crushing reality of debt. That debt could take decades to pay off. If you thought that buying a PC or all of its parts and building it yourself was costly, then your prospect of pursuing gaming in higher-education will be nuked.

But that’s already changed for many universities! As you can read here, there are numerous programs offered to tailor exactly to passionate players. Moreover, more schools construct facilities for their eSports players each year. In recent years, the focus on the business side of college has overshadowed the fact that institutions want students. Whether or not those institutions would make themselves more affordable if they had the chance, however, none can say. The point is: there’s hope for devoted gamers.

Schools and Scholarships

esports scholarshipsWe know just how auspicious the world of eSports is. The history of this subject has been revolutionary, a permanent aspect of an electronic civilization. Long ago, filling your pocket with quarters and going to an arcade to play video games was only done by a niche group of people. Today, any person with a hard-drive and access to the internet can purchase games and keep them indefinitely. Ever hear of the ‘magic of compound interest’ in banking, where long-term loyalty to a bank results in greater return? It begins low and then in later years spikes up exponentially; the business of eSports has done the same.

On the topic of money, the future of eSports lies always with the young. That population has the promise to earn vaults-full of cash, yet the opportunity for that promise to be brought to fruition is very skewed. After all, the ability to afford the hardware and games is necessary. There are countless players who have turned to strive for success in streaming after they get their diploma. They are missing out on higher education because of economic constraints. This is precisely what schools want to assuage—if you’re an excellent player but can’t hope to pay the tuition, these universities (and undoubtedly more) offer scholarships to help lessen the load.

It’s nonetheless very important to understand that the amounts of scholarships vary. More often than not, there is no set amount awarded to players; different players who apply to and are accepted by the same university will most likely have different scholarship amounts. At this time, many schools do not list scholarship amounts on their websites. Even the representatives whom I contacted by phone could only give me a probable range or a number “up to” which an applicant could be awarded. Single numbers in the table denote this, as prospective players can be awarded up to them. In most cases, those who qualify and the amount given to them is decided by the administrators of the eSports program at a school – often the Head Coach. Time is a crucial factor here because over time much more will change in collegiate eSports and changes in scholarships will reflect that.

University/College Location Teams Scholarship Amount
Arcadia University Glenside, Pennsylvania League of Legends
Hearthstone
Overwatch
Rocket League
$25,000
Robert Morris University Chicago, Illinois Super Smash Brothers
CS:GO
Overwatch
League of Legends
Rocket League
$19,000
Valparaiso University Valparaiso, Indiana League of Legends $4,500 - $14,000
Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio Overwatch
League of Legends
$3,000 - $12,000
Bellevue University Bellevue, Nebraska League of Legends
Overwatch
Hearthstone
$1,000 - $11,000
Concordia University - St. Paul St. Paul, Minnesota League of Legends
Overwatch
NBA 2K
Rocket League
Hearthstone
$9,000
Full Sail University Winter Park, Florida Overwatch
Madden
League of Legends
Hearthstone
Fortnite
Dragonball FighterZ
Rocket League
Super Smash Brothers
SMITE
Player Unkown's Battlegrounds
$2,000 - $8,000
University of Texas at Dallas Richardson, Texas League of Legends
Overwatch
$2,000 - $6,000
Hawaii Pacific University Honolulu, Hawaii League of Legends
Dota 2
CS:GO
Super Smash Bros: Melee
Overwatch
Heroes of the Storm
$1,000 - $6,000
University of California - Irvine Irvine, California League of Legends
Overwatch
$1,000 - $6,000
Midland University Fremont, Nebraska League of Legends $1,500 - $5,500
Indiana Tech Fort Wayne, Indiana League of Legends
Hearthstone
Overwatch
$2,500 - $5,000
Lees McRae College Banner Elk, North Carolina League of Legends
Hearthstone
Starcraft 2
Overwatch
$1,000 - $5,000
Stephens College Columbia, Missouri Overwatch $1,500 - $4,000
Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin League of Legends $1,000 - $3,500
University of Southern California Los Angeles, California Overwatch $3,000
New England College Henniker, New Hampshire League of Legends
Overwatch
Fortnite
$3,000
King University Bristol, Tennessee League of Legends
Overwatch
$1,000 - $3,000
University of Pikeville Pikeville, Kentucky League of Legends $1,000 - $3,000
Coker College Hartsville, South Carolina League of Legends
Hearthstone
Overwatch
$2,500
Boise State University Boise, Idaho Heroes of the Storm
League of Legends
Overwatch
Hearthstone
Rocket League
$1,000 - $2,000
Kansas Wesleyan University Salina, Kansas Overwatch
Rocket League
League of Legends
Super Smash Brothers
Hearthstone
$1,000 - $2,000
Alma College Alma, Michigan SMITE
League of Legends
$1,500
Cornell College Mount Vernon, Iowa League of Legends
CS:GO
Super Smash Brothers
Hearthstone
Rainbow Six: Siege
$1,000 - $1,500
West Virginia Wesleyan College Buckhannon, West Virginia Fortnite
Super Smash Brothers
League of Legends
$1,000 - $1,500

**The amounts displayed above were provided by University staff at the time of publishing (8/5/19).

1. Arcadia University

Arcadia University eSports Logo
Glenside, Pennsylvania – August: that’s when the gaming arena will be completed. Arcadia University intends to have two teams per game; the titles selected are League of Legends, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Rocket League. The institution hasn’t provided what the exact set of criteria which needs to be met by applicants. However, students can earn $25,000 or more each year for an eSports scholarship. As noted in this article, that amount pays “a little over half of the $43,740 [annual] tuition.” You can find a little more information here.

2. Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University eSports Logo
Chicago, Illinois – Call this school ‘OG’ because it was the first to offer eSports scholarships back in 2014 and “created the idea of varsity eSports programs,” as we mentioned here. Robert Morris University has offered 50%-off on tuition and room and board in the past. If that sounds too unbelievable, the institution gives gamers “up to $19,000 a year” in eSports scholarships. There are competitions for $100,000 in scholarship money, too. RMU was a luminary for this entire phenomenon. It’s always interested in outstanding players and non-players that could propel their teams to the top. After all, that’s what all these colleges covet.

3. Valparaiso University

Valparaiso University eSports Logo
Valparaiso, Indiana – Knowledge of the emergence of eSports on not only a national but an international level as well has inspired this school to create its program. Scholarships become a reality by joining NACE, which Valparaiso University has done. All of this will launch this Fall; at the moment, eSports is not included on the school’s athletics page. The title of choice is none other than League of Legends. The Associate Director Of Recreational Sports expressed that the department is wont to look for players who can win matches, yet it gives more priority to the student’s experience and character-building. This may be a viable option for players who don’t always find themselves on the top of the leaderboard.

4. Ohio State University

Ohio State University eSports Logo
Columbus, Ohio – With headquarters located in the opulent Lincoln Tower, this school’s eSports teams are treated well. It strives to be different from other institutions by implementing classes in eSports-related topics (production, programming, management, etc.) that a typical club or sports team would not. Great technology and a keen grasp on the industry are among the factors that enable Ohio State University to offer scholarships. As reported here, they will be offered to “exemplary e-sports athletes.”

 

5. Bellevue University

Bellevue University eSports Logo
Bellevue, Nebraska – One of the institutions to offer scholarships from the start. It began back in 2017. The organization prides itself on supplying its teams with top-tier equipment because this reflects the school’s confidence in its success. That, and the funds granted by sponsors such as Underarmour, North Star Athletic Association, Prestosports, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. What’s more, Bellevue University “offer[s] scholarships to both male and female” gamers. This school wants applicants who have “exceptional ability.”

6. Concordia University – St. Paul

Concordia University St. Paul eSports Logo
St. Paul, Minnesota – Club competitions have teams vying for scholarship money. Now, the school has begun to offer money through itself. It will be organized and operated similarly to the other sports—a partial-scholarship model. The institution is Division II. A representative describes the amounts vaguely: “typically a couple of thousand dollars here and a couple of thousand dollars there.” The institution’s site gives few details other than the administration of scholarships by the department of athletics and the presence of “institutional financial aid opportunities.”

7. Full Sail University

Full Sail University eSports Logo
Winter Park, Florida – A representative stated that student winnings in university-hosted competitions go directly into that athlete’s scholarship. The university is proud of its eSports arena, The Fortress, which is the home of its team, Armada. Games that Armada plays include: Overwatch, Dragonball FighterZ, Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends, Madden, Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers, SMITE, and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. The premiere arena has the prestige of hosting events like the EVO Championship Series (08/02/19). Recently, the university partnered with Magic Gaming which will promote growth and development in the school’s eSports program—that will translate into a fund pool which can be used to give scholarships directly to students.

8. University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas at Dallas eSports Logo
Richardson, TexasOverwatch or League of Legends player? You may be interested in taking part in UT Dallas’ tryouts. Fill out this form, as well as join their Discord server—which you can find a link to here. UT Dallas launched its eSports program during the Fall semester of 2018. UT Dallas also has a Super Smash Brothers team which won first place in the Collegiate Starleague Southern Division Conference this past May. Said team will move on to compete at Shine 2019 (which is among the largest of these tournaments in the world) in Massachusetts later this month. Their Overwatch and League of Legends teams have played decently but they still have yet to get their ‘big break’ which means that the institution is hungry for new talent that can give them that.

9. Hawaii Pacific University

Hawaii Pacific University eSports Logo
Honolulu, HawaiiScholarships “valued between $1,000 – $6,000 per year” are awarded to players that demonstrate high skill in League of Legends. But, there is also the possibility to earn money for other games. As you’ll see on the application, the school intends to add more titles to its selection such as Dota 2, CS:GO, Heroes of the Storm, Super Smash Bros: Melee, and Overwatch. Gaming in a paradise like Hawaii is made even better with the various training camps. To register, complete and submit this form prior to camps starting.

 

10. University of California – Irvine

University of California at Irvine eSports Logo
Irvine, California – Now, this is a school known for its eSports program and concomitant scholarship. Ever heard of Hyperice Inc.? It’s a sports technology company known for developing portable ice compression devices. UCI partnered with Hyperice “to create the first-ever health and wellness esports scholarship.” They currently have two teams for League of Legends and Overwatch. Varsity teams receive $6,000; junior varsity teams receive $1,000. That’s in addition to extensive support staff. If interested, you can apply here. UCI’s program is sponsored by Gamefuel, Logitech, and iBuyPower.

11. Midland University

Midland University eSports Logo
Fremont, Nebraska – Midland University strives to be relevant, as this manifests in more students enrolling. With the addition of eSports to its list of athletics, the school has offered so much as free room and board for accepted applicants. A deal like that is a compelling incentive for gamers. Its team debuted back in the 2016-2017 season. Donors reinforce the capacity for the school to offer scholarships. Competing is a major focus of this institution’s program, so it’s reasonable to expect favor given to the more ambitious players.

12. Indiana Tech

Indiana Tech eSports Logo
Fort Wayne, Indiana – This school has been engaged in this field for several years now. In fact, video gaming as a collegiate varsity sport goes back to IT in 2015. It’s one of the six founding members of the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE). League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch are the current games for which this school will recruit players. All scholarship amounts vary by school and skill, but in 2017 Indiana Tech offered scholarships of $5,000 to varsity players and $2,500 for junior varsity players. Those went into a tuition of approximately $25,940. IT encourages any interested to contact the eSports organization here.

13. Lees McRae College

LeesMcRae University eSports Logo
Banner Elk, North Carolina – You know what’s great about this institution’s eSports scholarship? It’s easily accessible. This is the form, on which it is explained that the amount ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 “based on skill level” in League of Legends and Hearthstone. Another way to introduce your prowess to the school is through this Interest Form. Interestingly, eSports is still listed under Club Sports, as opposed to Athletics. Starcraft 2 and Overwatch are played, too, but there is no indication that scholarships are offered for excellent players of them.

14. Stephens College

Stephens College eSports Logo
Columbia, Missouri – Another ‘first,’ this school was the first women’s college to create a varsity eSports team. What enabled them to do so was the popularity of Overwatch. The game’s representation of women attracted a “stronger following among women and nonbinary students.” Therefore, the school found more success than it would have if the game was more aligned with ‘the Male Fantasy.’ Stephens College is a doorway for gamer girls to thrive. As remarked here, the team can have up to twelve players, “all of who[m] receive partial video game scholarships.”

15. Marquette University

Marquette University eSports Logo
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – The first major NCAA Division I university to incorporate eSports into its athletics department, Marquette’s varsity team launches this coming Fall (2019). As quoted here, Dr. Michael Zimmer—an associate professor of computer sciences—explained that Marquette’s action shall provide “a path to participate on a team and achieve all the social and leadership benefits” that traditional sports offer.

16. University of Southern California

University of Southern California eSports Logo
Los Angeles, California – Its participation in the NACE Overwatch tournament of 2017 indicates that this school was one of the first to establish a varsity team. The actual page for the organization, which has very little to go off of, dates its foundation to 2009. Bada Kang and Jane Chen are credited as the founders. Some sponsors of this school’s program are Monster Energy, Dell, Ubisoft, and Nvidia. The amount offered by the scholarships isn’t specified on the institution’s site, nevertheless those sponsorships suggest its substantial.

 

17. New England College

New England College eSports Logo
Henniker, New Hampshire – In order to stand out, this institution focuses not only the primary titles like League of Legends and Overwatch, but Fortnite also. The very first line of the school’s eSports page advertises this. So, when the younger generations who fueled the Fortnite FAD graduate High School, NEC is a prime destination for them. Tyrelle Appleton leads the program and serves as the head coach. Exact information on the scholarships—aimed towards skilled players—is not given at this time.

 
 

18. King University

King University eSports Logo
Bristol, Tennessee – Back in 2018, this institution announced its varsity eSports team and NACE membership. It happily supports the industry, as it embraces its identity of giving neglected sports what they deserve. So far, it fields teams for League of Legends and Overwatch. Of course, it aims to expand over time. In the words of one of their own gamers, they’re “trying to give everyone an opportunity to be included.” A helpful resource King University offers is this concise FAQ, however it does not specify the amount given for gaming scholarships.

19. University of Pikeville

University of Pikeville eSports Logo
Pikeville, Kentucky – Chicago’s RMU is crowned the first to offer eSports varsity scholarships; UPike is the second. On the very first year of its gaming program, the school presented twenty scholarships. Sole focus is put on League of Legends for this school. Players who are confident, passionate, and experienced are who UPike wants to enroll most. In any case, you can apply for an eSports scholarship here. ASUS, Steelseries, iBuyPower, and DxrAcer sponsor this school.

20. Coker College

Coker College eSports Logo
Hartsville, South Carolina – This institution is pleased to offer scholarships. That way, experienced players can offset the cost of their college education. Three games are currently presented: League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch. Coker College puts effort into incorporating gamers into its community, especially by providing them with various paths for degrees. Two ways of gaining the school’s attention are filling out this questionnaire and registering here. Exact amounts of these scholarships are not given, however.

21. Boise State University

Boise State University eSports Logo
Boise, IdahoHeroes of the Storm. BSU plays this in addition to League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Rocket League. Skilled players of these titles are encouraged to apply. On top of this, this institution isn’t only looking to support varsity gamers; BSU also seeks casters, strategists, graphic artists, social media experts, to name a few. Residents of Idaho also have the opportunity for acknowledgment by competing in organized High School tournaments. These usually take place in April, with registration sometime before. Exact information on the scholarships offered to qualifying players is not given, nevertheless you can visit their tryouts page to learn more about the process.

22. Kansas Wesleyan University

Kansas Wesleyan University eSports Logo
Salina, Kansas – NACE’s 2017 Overwatch tournament saw this school’s team shine. Ordinarily, though, the varsity eSports team plays League of Legends in the Collegiate Star League. Other titles include: Rocket League, Super Smash Brothers, and Hearthstone. The program’s vision is to engage students who otherwise might not be. All gamers, especially high-ranking League of Legends players, are encouraged to apply for recruitment. An alternative-but-practically-identical form can be completed on the institution’s eSports site.

 

23. Alma College

Alma College
Alma, Michigan – Headed by Chris Gaumond, this university is “overjoyed” to establish an eSports team. The roster has a capacity of forty people. Inclusion of both co-ed and women’s teams is planned. Participating players will be awarded renewable scholarships: $1,500 per year. You can find Gaumond’s incredible background and information on the eSports program here. Alma College is a member of NACE. And scholarships are being offered, not just mentioned. Check out this quick little article to see one of the players to receive one.
 

24. Cornell College

Cornell College eSports Logo
Mount Vernon, Iowa – Head Coach Mayson Sheehan “has achieved status as one of the top .5% of players in North American League of Legends,” as stated on this school’s eSports page. In addition to League of Legends, Cornell College also wants avid players of Rainbow Six: Siege, CS:GO, Super Smash Brothers, and Hearthstone. The school boasts the fielding of its Overwatch team for the 2019-2020 season, too. If you’re interested in joining this program and learning your eligibility for a scholarship, this is the form to submit. As with many other institutions, Cornell College has “academic requirements for continued participation, a weekly physical regimen, and a community service commitment.”

 

25. West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan College eSports Logo
Buckhannon, West Virginia – This school is a member of multiple eSports organizations—NACE, the American Video Game League (AVGL), and Collegiate Starleague (CSL). This was the first university in West Virginia to establish varsity eSports and offer athletic scholarships to prospective student-athletes. Furthermore, it was the second college in America to “formally outline” scholarships for Fortnite (specifically, the free battle-royale mode). There are clear goals to add games like Super Smash Brothers and League of Legends to the mix, which will be fielded very soon.

List Will Grow

announce moneyEach year, more schools will recognize that allocating some funds to develop an eSports program is beneficial. The hesitance of some might be explained by a preconception that video games are not the activity of mature adults, but rest assured that beliefs like this will dissolve. If they don’t, then the universities that stigmatize competitive gaming will miss out on the economic perks of being immersed in that culture.

The growing prevalence of collegiate eSports is a great thing. As more institutions join the crowd, universities will be driven to compete for new talent. That means better incentives (including scholarships) for enrollment. Teenagers with burning passions for gaming who have honed their skills may be able to reduce the huge cost of a college education by doing what they love. Fantastic! What the institutions are truly after is exposure. Streaming allows for international audiences, so they’re hungry for insane skills and interesting personalities. And with the increased revenue brought in by gaming, universities will be able to afford even better amenities for its teams. Luxury and business—that’s cash money, like the sixteen-year-old who won $3,000,000 for playing Fortnite.

  
I'm a Creative Writing-Psychology double major at Butler University, Class of 2021. My closest friends are the leaders of Butler's eSports Team, so I've become very interested in the subject and I'm excited to get involved in it myself. A lover of video games and writing, working with Lineups is the perfect opportunity for me to coalesce these two passions of mine and gain experience writing professionally.

Hot eSports Academy Stories