What are the best Esports colleges?

Hey there, fellow gamer! You know, I used to be like you, wrestling with the question of whether to game on or get serious about my studies. It felt like I was stuck on a loading screen, no progress bar in sight. But then I discovered the existence of a magical realm where gaming and academics intertwine – the world of esports colleges.

Imagine a place where you don’t have to choose between your love for gaming and your career aspirations. A place where attending class can mean perfecting your MOBA strategies, developing your FPS aim, and mastering real-time strategy games. This is what esports colleges are all about. Here’s what you’ll find in this guide:

  • The lowdown on esports colleges: What they are, how they differ from traditional colleges, and the unique benefits they offer.
  • A tour of top esports colleges: Their programs, degrees, scholarships, facilities, clubs, and how they fuse gaming with academics.
  • Your quest to apply to an esports college: Application processes, success tips, and how to pick the best esports college for you.
  • A glimpse into the life of an esports college student: How to balance gaming and academics, promote teamwork, network, and the support systems available.

If you’re ready to level up your game and education, then grab your controller, keyboard, or whatever your weapon of choice may be, and press “Continue.” The game of your life awaits!

What are Esports Colleges?

Esports colleges are tertiary institutions that offer structured programs focusing on the competitive gaming industry. These colleges provide comprehensive courses in game theory, strategy, teamwork, game development, and more. They’re where the best gamers go to become even better, transforming their skills from a hobby into a potent tool for a career in the booming esports industry.

How Do Esports Colleges Help You Become a Pro Gamer?

Esports colleges are like traditional sports academies but for video games. They offer the right environment for honing your gaming skills under the guidance of seasoned professional gamers and coaches. Furthermore, they provide insight into the strategies, tactics, and nuances of various games. Just like traditional sports colleges that train athletes, esports colleges focus on creating professional gamers.

Apart from gaming skills, these colleges also provide knowledge on other essential aspects like game theory, the business of esports, broadcasting, event management, and more. This broadens the horizons of students and opens up a plethora of career opportunities in the esports industry beyond being a pro gamer.

Difference Between Esports Colleges and Traditional Sports Colleges

Traditional sports colleges focus on physical sports like football, basketball, or track and field, while esports colleges specialize in competitive video gaming. Training in esports colleges often involves hours of gaming practice, understanding game mechanics, strategy planning, and teamwork. In contrast, traditional sports colleges place significant emphasis on physical training, athleticism, and field strategies.

However, both types of colleges share some similarities. They both encourage teamwork, develop strategy-building skills, and offer potential career paths within their respective industries. They also both often offer scholarships for exceptional talent and performance.

The Top Esports Colleges in the US

1. University of California, Irvine (UCI)

As the epicenter of the thriving gaming culture on the West Coast, UCI boasts a dedicated esports program that fosters top-tier talent and innovation. Nestled in the vibrant, sunny city of Irvine, the university has been a trailblazer in the esports domain. The curriculum encompasses an array of gaming aspects from game science, computer game design to a comprehensive understanding of the esports industry’s nitty-gritty.


  • Offers an extensive, well-rounded esports program that is among the first of its kind in U.S. public universities.
  • Provides scholarships to top-tier gamers, creating an environment conducive for esports talent to thrive.
  • Students have access to a state-of-the-art esports arena equipped with high-end gaming systems.


  • Admission into the esports program is highly competitive due to its prestige.
  • Irvine is a high cost of living area, which could pose a financial challenge to some students.

Immerse yourself into the electrifying world of esports at UCI by visiting their esports page.

2. Maryville University

Tucked away in the culturally-rich state of Missouri, Maryville University opens doors to a wide range of possibilities in the esports arena. The university offers an all-encompassing curriculum that includes esports management, game design, and game performance, providing an intricate understanding of the esports industry.


  • The university fields successful esports teams that regularly compete at a high level.
  • A curriculum that includes a perfect blend of practical and theoretical knowledge of the esports industry.


  • The university’s esports program is extremely competitive, with a limited number of spots available on the team.
  • As the institution puts a lot of focus on esports, it may be challenging for students not part of the team to get the same level of attention and resources.

Step into the competitive gaming world at Maryville University by visiting their esports page.

3. Boise State University

Located amidst the scenic landscapes of Idaho, Boise State offers an intense, competitive gaming environment. The university’s esports program extends beyond just gaming to include other facets of the esports industry such as coaching, broadcasting, and marketing.


  • Boise State’s program is unique in offering a degree in esports broadcasting, a rapidly growing field.
  • The university provides state-of-the-art gaming facilities to its students.


  • The university’s focus leans more towards competitive gaming which might not be the best fit for students interested in other aspects of esports.
  • It may not have as diverse a set of programs or courses as some of the other universities on this list due to its emphasis on esports broadcasting and competitive gaming.

Experience Boise State’s unique take on esports by visiting their esports page.

4. University of Utah

The University of Utah, with its picturesque campus in Salt Lake City, offers a thorough esports program that caters to various interests in the gaming industry. The curriculum encompasses a blend of game design, game art, and esports management, preparing students for a wide array of roles in the industry.


  • It is the first Power Five school to offer varsity esports, reflecting a strong institutional commitment to the field.
  • Offers partial scholarships to its players, encouraging the development of esports talent.


  • The program is still relatively new and may not have the same level of established industry connections as older programs.
  • Like many esports programs, the competition to get selected onto the school’s teams can be stiff.

Explore the dynamic world of esports at the University of Utah by visiting their esports page.

Each of these esteemed institutions offers unique and exhilarating experiences in the esports world, forming the professionals who will lead the gaming industry in the future. So get ready to level up your game and immerse yourself in the exciting world of esports!

How to Apply for an Esports College

Applying to an esports college is very similar to applying to any other college or university. You’ll need to follow the standard application process, which usually includes providing your academic records, submitting an application form, and in many cases, writing an application essay. However, since these colleges offer esports programs, there may be some additional steps or requirements. Here’s a general step-by-step guide:

  1. Research: Start by researching the top esports colleges that offer the programs and degrees you’re interested in. Each college might have a different focus, like game development, esports management, or esports performance, so find one that matches your career goals.
  2. Visit College Websites: Once you’ve shortlisted a few colleges, visit their websites to understand the specific admission requirements for their esports programs. Make sure to look for any specific courses, grades, or extracurricular activities they might require.
  3. Prepare Your Application: Next, you’ll need to prepare your application. This usually involves gathering your high school transcripts, any college transcripts (if you’ve attended college before), and possibly letters of recommendation. Some colleges may require you to write an application essay, which is a chance for you to explain your interest and experiences in esports.
  4. Esports Portfolio: Since this is an esports college, it might be beneficial to have an esports portfolio. This could include your gaming achievements, any teams you’ve been a part of, or even clips of your gameplay. It’s a way to demonstrate your dedication and skills in esports.
  5. Submit Your Application: Once everything is ready, you can submit your application. Some colleges may use online platforms like the Common Application, while others will have their application process on their website.
  6. Interview/Audition: Depending on the college, you may need to attend an interview or audition as part of the application process. This is another chance for you to showcase your skills and passion for esports.
  7. Financial Aid: Don’t forget to explore financial aid options. Some esports colleges offer scholarships to talented players, so look into these opportunities.

Remember that the exact application process can vary from one college to another, so always make sure to check the specific requirements of the colleges you’re interested in. Good luck with your esports college journey!

What is Life Like as a Student at an Esports College?

Student life in an esports college has its unique flavor, blending traditional academia with the dynamic world of competitive gaming.

  1. Academic and Gaming Balance: Esports students are often tasked with balancing rigorous academic schedules with demanding gaming practice. Just like traditional student-athletes, esports athletes have to carve out time for both their academic responsibilities and their gaming commitments.
  2. Teamwork and Collaboration: Esports is inherently a team-based activity, promoting teamwork and collaboration among students. Students frequently engage in group strategies, fostering communication skills and camaraderie.
  3. Gaming Facilities: Most esports colleges feature top-tier gaming facilities and esports arenas where students can train, compete, and even relax with a casual game.
  4. Extracurricular Activities and Clubs: Outside of class and practice, students can engage in various esports-related clubs and activities. These might include game design clubs, esports business clubs, or clubs focused on specific games.
  5. Networking Opportunities: Many esports colleges have close ties to the gaming industry, providing students with opportunities to network with industry professionals. Guest speakers, internship opportunities, and job fairs are common.
  6. Diversity and Inclusivity: The esports scene in colleges supports a diverse and inclusive environment, welcoming gamers of all backgrounds. Many colleges make concerted efforts to ensure inclusivity in their esports programs.
  7. Health and Wellbeing: With the awareness of the physical and mental strain high-level gaming can cause, many colleges offer support in the form of physical fitness programs and mental health services to their esports students.
  8. Competitions: A significant part of the esports student life involves participating in competitive gaming events. Competing against other colleges and universities adds an exciting edge to the campus life, fostering school spirit and pride.

Overall, life at an esports college is a unique blend of traditional college experience and the electrifying world of esports. It’s a place where passion for gaming and academic pursuits meet, creating an environment that’s both exciting and challenging.


From the humble beginnings of arcade gaming, we’ve journeyed through a narrative where esports is now a mainstream phenomenon. The rise of esports colleges has only added another level to this thrilling journey, catering to gamers who wish to convert their passion into a professional pathway. Let’s circle back and take a look at some of the waypoints we visited:

  • Esports colleges are institutions that combine traditional academics with a focus on various aspects of gaming and the esports industry.
  • These colleges differ from traditional sports colleges by focusing on mental agility over physical prowess and emphasizing skills like strategy, communication, and game-specific knowledge.
  • The top esports colleges, like UCI, RMU, Maryville University, Boise State, and University of Utah, offer unique opportunities and challenges in the realm of competitive gaming.
  • Each college has its own application process, but generally, they require academic records, an application form, an essay, and sometimes an esports portfolio.
  • Student life in an esports college is a unique blend of academic and gaming responsibilities, teamwork, and networking opportunities, all while promoting diversity and inclusivity in gaming.

With your inventory now stacked with knowledge, it’s time to plan your next quest in the thrilling realm of esports. Continue your journey in the “What Next?” section, where we discuss the next actionable steps you can take.

What Next?

As gamers, we’re used to unlocking achievements and leveling up. The conclusion of this article shouldn’t mean “Game Over”; instead, let’s load the next level with some specific actions you can take to further your esports career:

  • Identify Your Goals: Start by understanding your own career aspirations in the esports industry. Are you more interested in game design, esports management, or competitive play?
  • Research Esports Colleges: Dive deeper into the top esports colleges we’ve outlined here and look for specific programs and resources that align with your goals.
  • Create Your Esports Portfolio: If you’re serious about competitive play, start putting together a portfolio showcasing your skills and achievements in gaming.
  • Connect with Esports Community: Join online gaming communities, participate in local tournaments or gaming conventions. Networking is key in this industry.
  • Start the Application Process: Once you have all the necessary information, start preparing your application to the esports college of your choice.

With these actionable steps in your quest log, you’re well-equipped to navigate the exciting world of esports. Good luck, and happy gaming!


Nick Sinclair

Nick Sinclair, a gaming aficionado since the Commodore 64 era, studied Creative Computer Games Design in university before founding his own gaming company. Discovering a passion for content creation, Nick now helps gamers squeeze every drop of fun out of their favorite gaming hardware

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