*Last updated May 2018
Many colleges and universities across the country are recruiting top gamers just as they recruit players for other sports. So, if you are an avid gamer and are thinking of playing competitively in college or university, check out these esports scholarships. After all, it’s FREE money!
Do remember though that it’s not all fun and games. You have to keep up with your grades so you can demonstrate that you are a strong academic student as well.
1. Ashland University Esports Scholarships — Up to $4,000 — Deadline varies
Ashland University, a mid-sized private university in Ohio, first announced its intent to compete in intercollegiate esports in February 2018. It is offering up to $4,000 per year in esports scholarships starting in the fall of 2018. Ashland is the first university to add Fortnite to its esports program. Applicants must fill out an esports team recruitment survey with their high school graduation year, intended college major, overall GPA, SAT or ACT scores, and the game in which they would like to compete. You can choose from the following games: Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, CS:GO, Starcraft 2 and Rocket League.
2. Bellevue University Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
Bellevue University, a private nonprofit university in Nebraska, launched its esports program in the fall of 2017. Bellevue offers athletic scholarships to both male and female student-athletes who compete in esports. Applicants can fill out an esports prospective athlete questionnaire asking for personal, academic and athletic information. You can choose between League of Legends and Overwatch as a game of choice.
3. Brescia University Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
Brescia, a co-ed Catholic university in Owensboro, Kentucky, added an esports team to its athletic department in the fall of 2017. It offers esports scholarships to talented League of Legends players, with additional games added as the program develops. If you are interested in Brescia esports, you should contact the esports head coach Jerry Forbes (firstname.lastname@example.org).
4. Columbia College of Missouri Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
Columbia College of Missouri, a private liberal arts college, has been offering esports scholarships since the fall of 2016. Applicants need to fill out an esports questionnaire asking for personal, academic and athletic information.
5. Gamers Helping Gamers Scholarships — Amount varies- – Apply by March 31
This is a need-based undergraduate scholarship for U.S. students only. While the focus is on 4-year scholarships for matriculating high school seniors, the non-profit organization also awards one-year scholarships to students already in college on a case-by-case basis. Applicants are required to submit a FAFSA form, high school transcript, and essay responses.
6. Indiana Institute of Technology Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
Indiana Tech, a private not-for-profit university, launched its esports program in the fall of 2017 and began offering 25-35 scholarships for students to compete in League of Legends and Hearthstone. Indiana Tech eSports is a top collegiate esports program that provides athletes with a state of the art esports arena, top of line equipment and a coaching staff that helps take your game to the next level. If you are interested, you can fill out an esports interest form. You can choose League of Legends, Hearthstone or Overwatch as a game of choice.
7. Kansas Wesleyan University Esports Scholarships — $5,000-$20,000 — Deadline varies
KWU, a private four-year Christian-based university based in Salina, Kansas, adopted esports as a varsity sport in the summer of 2016. KWU’s esports scholarships range between $5,000-$20,000. The KWU esports team has its own room, equipped with state of the art PCs and gaming amenities. The team competes in four games, primarily in League of Legends, Overwatch, Rocket League and Hearthstone. Applicants can fill out an esports recruiting form.
8. Kent State University Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
KSU is a large, primarily residential, public research university in Ohio. KSU’s Salem campus is offering esports scholarships beginning the fall of 2018. Applicants can submit an online esports scholarships form. TeamFlashDrive Salem competes in Hearthstone and Overwatch competitions.
9. Lees McRae College Esports Scholarships — $1,000-$5,000 — May 31
Lees McRae, a private four-year college in North Carolina, offers $1,000-$5,000 esports scholarships based on skill level. The scholarship is designed to assist incoming main campus students who excel in eSports competition in League of Legends and/or Hearthstone. Participants can apply online for the scholarship.
10. Lourdes University Esports Scholarships — Amounts varies — Deadline varies
Lourdes University, a private liberal arts school in northwest Ohio, announced the addition of esports to its Gray Wolves collegiate program in January 2017. Lourdes is the first in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) to offer an eSports scholarship program. Lourdes looks for talented video gamers who have competed nationally and internationally in the high school and/or collegiate arena. For more information, you can contact Cory Cahill (email@example.com) who’s in charge of the esports program.
Caveat: Since Lourdes is a Catholic and Franciscan University, its eSports student-athletes will not participate in any video gaming programs that feature first-person shooting.
11. Maryville University Esports Participation Award — $2,000 — Deadline varies
Maryville University of St. Louis, Missouri, has an eSports Club that provides a competitive, yet friendly online gaming environment. Players hone their skills with the help of some of the best players in the country, and are eligible for a $2,000 participation award. Teams compete in League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. For more information about Maryville’s eSports Club, you can contact Jarrett Fleming (firstname.lastname@example.org). or submit an online request.
12. Midland University Esports Scholarships — Free room & board — Deadlines varies
Midland University, a private liberal arts college in Nebraska, launched its esports program in the 2016-2017 academic year. It offers free room and board to accepted applicants. Selection is based on the coach’s recommendation. Applicants can apply online for admission and fill out FAFSA form upon being accepted. For more information on the esports program, you can contact the esports head coach Ben Nabity (email@example.com).
13. The NYU Game Center EVO Scholarship — Full tuition — Deadline varies
The NYU Game Center has partnered with the Evo tournament to create a scholarship to study game design at New York University. The Evo Scholarship is open to anyone who wants to turn their passion for fighting games into a successful career in the game industry. You can apply here for undergraduate (BFA) and here for graduate (MFA).
14. Robert Morris University Gaming Scholarships — Up to 50% tuition, room and board — Deadline varies
RMU, a non-profit private university based in Chicago, was the first university in the country to offer gaming scholarships in the 2014 fall semester. Applicants must fill out a recruitment interest form to start the process. You can choose from the following games: League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, CS:GO, Heroes of the Storm, and Smash Brothers.
15. Southwest Baptist University Esports Scholarships — Up to $10,000 — Deadline varies
Southwest Baptist University, a private institution in Missouri, was one of the first 15 universities in the country to offer esports as a varsity athletics program, offering scholarships of $500 up to $10,000. Applicants must fill out an esports recruiting questionnaire to get started. You are required to identify the game(s) you’ve played competitively.
16. Southwestern College Esports Grants — Up to $5,000 — Deadlines varies
Southwestern College, a 4-year private college located in Winfield, Kansas, offers annual renewable grants of up to $5,000 for membership as a “participant” or a “competitor.” Grant recipients are required to maintain a 2.0 GPA.
17. Stephens College Esports Scholarship for Women — Amount varies — Deadline varies
Stephens College, a women’s college in Columbus, Missouri, is the home of the first varsity collegiate all women’s esports team, which began in the fall of 2017 and is supported by scholarships. To join the team, applicants must meet certain criteria. Applicants are required to submit an application to the Stephens esports PC Overwatch team, application to Stephens along with test scores and transcripts, and completed FAFSA form. Partial scholarships will be awarded to eligible candidates.
18. Tiffin University Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
Tiffin University, a private university in Ohio, first offered esports scholarships in the fall of 2017. Applicants need to fill out an esports recruiting questionnaire and provide personal information, academic information and game of interest. You can choose between League of Legends and Counter-Strike:Global Offensive.
19. Trine University Esports Activity Award — $2,000 — Deadline varies
Trine University, a private nonprofit university in Indiana, launched its esports program in the fall of 2017. Qualified new students admitted to Trine will be eligible for a $2,000 Esports Activity Award in addition to merit scholarships based on performance and academic requirements. Trine fields teams in League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and Rocket League.
20. University of California, Berkeley Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
UC Berkeley, a public research university, is one of the most frequent champions at esports tournaments. In April 2018, it announced a partnership with Riot Games, an American video game developer best known for League of Legends. As part of UC Berkeley’s latest efforts to expand holistic program opportunities for the Cal Esports community, the university will launch the inaugural League of Legends Intramural Esports league in the fall of 2018, as well as new esports scholarships for student-athletes playing on the Cal Esports League of Legends competitive team.
21. University of California, Irvine Esports Scholarship — Amount varies — Apply by November 30 (Freshman)
UC Irvine Esports is the world’s first esports program at a public university with the nation’s first arena dedicated to esports. UC Irvine currently offers esports scholarships in the amount of $5,610 for League of Legends and $2,500 for Overwatch players. It takes a holistic approach to recruiting players, so applicants must have a strong academic record and competitive test scores as well as video game skills. Applicants must fill out a recruitment interest form to start the process.
22. University of Jamestown Esports Scholarships — Up to $2,000 – Deadline varies
University of Jamestown, a private liberal arts school in North Dakota, launched its esports program in the fall of 2017. It offers esports scholarships in the amount of $1,500 to commuter students and $2,000 to resident students. If you are interested, you can fill out an esports recruiting questionnaire. For more information on the exports program, you can contact esports technical director Chris Hoke (firstname.lastname@example.org) or head coach Josh Knutson (email@example.com).
23. University of Pikeville Esports Scholarships — Amount varies — Deadline varies
UPike, a private liberal arts university in Kentucky, has been offering esports scholarships since the 2015 fall semester. Applicants are required to convey their interest (firstname.lastname@example.org), apply for admission into the university, fill out an online prospective athlete form, and complete a FAFSA form.
24. University of Utah League of Legends Scholarship — Partial scholarships — Deadline varies
The University of Utah, a public space-grant research university, launched its esports program in the fall of 2017. Utah Esports is the first college-sponsored varsity esports program from any school in a Power Five athletics conference (Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern). The university is offering partial esports scholarships and is working towards towards filling in the gap. The university’s esports team competes in Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League and Hearthstone.
The esports landscape is changing rapidly, so check back to find out if more colleges and universities are extending esports scholarships.
Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.