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A Comprehensive Guide to E Sport Scholarship in 2023

Gaming Blogs | Author: Mazen "Mithrie" Turkmani Posted: Dec 19, 2023 Next Previous

Welcome to the thrilling world of esports, where the traditional boundaries of sports are being redefined by the dynamic fusion of competition, technology, and gaming. Esports has transformed from a niche pastime into a global phenomenon, capturing the imagination of millions worldwide and carving out a place in the pantheon of competitive sports. Amid this digital revolution, a new breed of athlete has emerged — the esports athlete, a combination of gamer and sportsman, skillfully navigating the virtual arenas of play.


In this brave new world, college esports scholarships have emerged as the golden ticket for talented gamers, opening doors to academic opportunities, competitive play, and potential careers in the gaming industry. Just like their counterparts in traditional sports, esports athletes are being scouted and recruited by colleges, receiving scholarships to represent their institution in the competitive gaming world.

Key Takeaways



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Exploring the Arena of College Esports Scholarships

A group of college students participating in an esports tournament

Imagine a world where your video gaming skills could earn you a college scholarship. Welcome to the realm of college esports scholarships, where that dream is a reality for many talented gamers. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) currently recognizes 175 U.S. colleges that offer varsity esports programs, a testament to the growing recognition of esports in the collegiate environment and the expanding esports world.


These scholarships are not limited to a select few. Gamers who meet general admission requirements and demonstrate the necessary skill to join a varsity esports team can access a range of gaming scholarships, gaming internships, and places in esports teams. So whether you’re a whizz at “League of Legends” or a champion of “Counter-Strike”, there is a college esports scholarship waiting for you.

Understanding Eligibility for Esports Scholarships

Acquiring a college esports scholarship involves more than just your professional gaming skills. Eligibility for esports scholarships can vary significantly, with different universities offering varying amounts. For example:


But what about the games? Game expertise is crucial for eligibility, with colleges scouting for talented players in certain games. For instance, Full Sail University offers esports scholarships for games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and more, while Hawaii Pacific University focuses on titles including League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO.


So whether you’re an avid gamer of “Super Smash Brothers” or a master strategist in “Rocket League”, your talent could be your ticket to a college education, especially for college students looking to combine their passion with academics.

Navigating the Application Process for Esports Scholarships

Acquiring a college esports scholarship isn’t only about demonstrating your gaming prowess. Much like applying for traditional college scholarships, it involves putting your best foot forward to impress the selection committee. An exceptional esports scholarship essay, for example, reflects a strong enthusiasm for gaming, exhibits commitment and perseverance, and persuades the committee that the applicant is worthy of the scholarship.


But it doesn’t stop there. Creating a highlights video showcasing your gaming skills, strategic thinking, and achievements can be a game-changer, adding weight to your application. Participating in tryouts, where coaches can assess your skills, teamwork, and ability to perform under pressure, can also boost your chances of securing an esports scholarship.


Navigating the application process may seem daunting, but with the right preparation and guidance, you can emerge victorious.

The Role of Esports Coaches in Scouting Talent

Similar to traditional sports, esports coaches have a significant role in spotting and fostering talent. Armed with a bachelor’s degree, experience in esports, and coaching experience, they are well-equipped to scout for promising players and guide them to their full potential.


Coaches use varied approaches to identify and assess talent. They:


Beyond analyzing gameplay, coaches also:

Varsity Esports Programs: Bridging Gaming and Academia

Varsity esports team practicing in a dedicated gaming arena

With the rapid ascent of esports, a new trend is emerging in educational institutions globally - Varsity esports programs. These programs are bridging the gap between gaming and academia, providing a platform for students to pursue their passion for gaming at a competitive level while attaining a quality education. The results of these programs include:


The games at the heart of these programs include:


These games offer students a wide variety of platforms to demonstrate their gaming prowess. At the forefront of this movement is Robert Morris University in Chicago, the first university to establish a varsity esports program, setting a precedent for others to follow.

The Growth of Varsity Esports Teams

The expansion of varsity esports teams in recent years has been truly remarkable. Robert Morris University was a true pioneer in this regard, introducing the first varsity esports program in 2014 and setting the stage for a remarkable surge in the number of institutions offering such programs.


This rapid growth has been fuelled by several positive factors, such as:


Today, there are over 170 member schools with over 5,000 student-athletes participating in varsity esports programs across the U.S., providing a wealth of opportunities for students to get involved.

Academic Pathways within Varsity Esports Programs

Though the excitement of competitive gaming is a significant allure of varsity esports programs, these programs also provide distinct academic routes leading to potential careers in the gaming sector. These programs are integrated with academic disciplines such as engineering, esports management, and digital media, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of the gaming industry.


Equally important are specialized courses such as Esports Game Technology, Esports Planning Strategy, and Esports Business Models, which offer invaluable insights into the unique components and aspects of esports. Furthermore, the relevance of computer science to the esports field cannot be overstated. It forms the basis of game development, maintenance, and innovation, equipping students with the skills needed to create esports titles and program strategies.

Spotlight on Top Universities Offering Esports Scholarships

The landscape of collegiate esports is dotted with universities that have embraced the esports revolution, offering scholarships to talented gamers and creating environments where they can thrive. Leading the way are universities like:


Each of these universities offers unique esports programs and scholarships.


The University of California-Irvine, for instance, has become a force to reckon with in collegiate esports. Competing in a variety of esports games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, and Valorant, it has firmly established itself at the forefront of the esports industry. The university offers annual scholarships for esports athletes, including an impressive $6,000 scholarship funded by Twitch streamer Pokimane.

Showcasing Esports Powerhouses

Students at UC Irvine competing in a League of Legends esports match

When it comes to esports powerhouses, a few universities stand out. Robert Morris University, for instance, was the first university in the world to offer esports scholarships, setting a precedent for other institutions. RMU has several sponsors, including:


Another esports powerhouse is the University of California, Irvine. Varsity scholarships can offer up to a generous $6,000. Junior varsity scholarships also provide a generous $1,000. Meanwhile, Robert Morris University offers even more generous scholarships of up to a remarkable $19,000 per student player.


And that’s not all; UC Irvine also boasts a state-of-the-art esports arena, the first of its kind on any college campus, equipped with 72 top-tier iBUYPOWER computers and Logitech gear.

Emerging Colleges in the Collegiate Esports Scene

Students at Valparaiso University participating in a Rocket League esports competition

While established universities continue to dominate the collegiate esports scene, several emerging colleges are making a significant impact. Valparaiso University and Arcadia University, for instance, are making waves with their competitive scholarships and dedicated gaming arenas.


Arcadia University offers generous esports scholarships of up to $25,000 per student player, while boasting a 1,500 square foot gaming arena, equipped with 36 gaming PCs, high-end accessories, gaming consoles, and a projection system.


Meanwhile, Valparaiso University has created an impressive esports team structure that includes six teams, one of which is for Super Smash Brothers.

From Gaming to Career: Esports and Educational Synergy

Esports is more than just the exhilaration of competition; it also signifies the cohesion between gaming and education, paving the way for incredible career avenues. Students involved in competitive gaming have an array of career options in the esports industry, such as:


Initiatives like the ESA scholarship also encourage career growth in the esports and gaming industry by providing financial support to women and minority students interested in pursuing careers in video game-related fields, thereby promoting diversity and invigorating the industry with a diverse array of talents and perspectives.

Video Game Design and Development Degrees

For those looking to turn their passion for gaming into a career, degrees in video game design and development offer a promising pathway within the video game industry. These degrees provide comprehensive knowledge in:


Top universities offering these degrees include:


In addition, esports experience can provide a competitive edge in obtaining a career in the gaming industry, with scholarships from university esports programs and professional gaming opportunities leading to valuable connections with potential employers.

Building New Skills Through Competitive Gaming

Students engaged in a collaborative gaming session focused on teamwork and communication

Not only is competitive gaming enjoyable, but it also serves as an effective instrument for skill enhancement. Esports enhances:


These skills are highly valued by employers in various industries.


Studies have also demonstrated enhanced cognitive abilities in students involved in esports. For instance, students who reported playing video games for three hours per day or more performed better on cognitive skills tests involving impulse control and working memory compared to those who had never played video games. These skills, along with teamwork, leadership, communication, strategic thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, analytical skills, hand-eye coordination, risk-taking, patience, perseverance, and strategizing, can be applied to various industries and professions.

The Future of Esports Scholarships and Industry Growth

The anticipation surrounding the future of esports scholarships and industry expansion is as captivating as the games themselves. The esports industry is projected to experience remarkable growth over the next five years, with market size expectations ranging from $1.64 billion to $2.97 billion by 2023 and the potential to exceed $10 billion in the next few years.


Battle royale games like PUBG, Fortnite, and Apex Legends are some of the most popular and exciting esports titles out there, and the evolution of new esports games is providing amazing opportunities for talented gamers. In fact, colleges and universities have increased their esports scholarship awards from $2.5 million to over $16 million, attracting top talent and providing great academic benefits.

Tracking the Evolution of Esports Games

The progression of esports games is an intriguing voyage, with a constant influx of new games that gain popularity. New games have the potential to be recognized and included in collegiate esports competitions, due to their:


As new games are introduced, scholarship opportunities also evolve, with figures rising from $2.5 million to over $16 million in scholarship awards as colleges invest more to meet growing student interest. The most popular esports games in collegiate competitions right now are:


These games offer a wide variety of platforms for students to demonstrate their gaming prowess in the gaming world.

The Impact of Industry Sponsorships on Scholarships

Industry sponsorships play a vital part in financing esports scholarships. These sponsorships bring financial stability and support for esports teams and organizations, allowing them to allocate funds towards scholarships for talented players. Companies like ASUS and Cooler Master are among the sponsors supporting collegiate esports programs.


ASUS partners with educational institutions to provide financial support, co-sponsors collegiate esports competitions, and hosts career development events. Their involvement is invaluable, offering scholarships and resources to support students and school esports teams.


Cooler Master too has made a positive impact on collegiate esports programs by sponsoring over 100 collegiate esports and gaming events, contributing to the programs’ growth and development in a meaningful way.

Summary

Through this journey into the world of esports scholarships, we have explored the rise of collegiate esports, the eligibility and application process for scholarships, the role of esports coaches, the growth of varsity esports teams, and the academic pathways within these programs. We’ve also delved into the top universities offering esports scholarships, the synergy between esports and education leading to career opportunities, the evolution of esports games, and the impact of industry sponsorships on scholarships.


The future of esports scholarships and the industry growth is promising, as the gaming world continues to evolve and new opportunities emerge. As more colleges recognize the value of esports, and more students capitalize on the opportunities it presents, we can look forward to a future where gaming skills are not just a hobby, but a pathway to education, career growth, and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get a scholarship for esports?

You can get a scholarship for esports! Over 170 U.S. colleges and universities have official esports teams, many of which offer partial esports scholarships, full tuition scholarships, and even full rides for their rosters. Additionally, more than thirty U.S. colleges and universities offer scholarships specifically for gamers, so don't forget to check out your local universities and colleges for these competitive gaming opportunities.

Does esports have a future?

Esports has a bright future ahead, with an expected 31.6 million viewers in 2023 and ad revenue forecast to grow 10.0% to $264.3 million. With potential still largely untapped in the existing gamer population, the esports industry is primed for further growth and development.

What are esports scholarships?

Esports scholarships are an excellent opportunity for students to receive college funding in exchange for demonstrating excellence in esports. Such scholarships are increasingly popular, providing a great reward for hard work and determination.

What role do esports coaches play in scouting talent?

Esports coaches are vital to the recruitment of talented players for college teams, just like in traditional sports, making them a crucial part of scouting talent.

What academic pathways can be pursued within varsity esports programs?

Students who join varsity esports programs have the opportunity to pursue multiple academic paths such as game design, computer science, and software engineering, leading to a rewarding career in the technology industry.

Author Details

Photo of Mazen 'Mithrie' Turkmani

Mazen "Mithrie" Turkmani

I have been creating gaming content since August 2013, and went full-time in 2018. Since then, I have published hundreds of gaming news videos and articles. I have had a passion for gaming for more than 30 years!

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