College esports are more popular than ever--check out this ranking of the 10 best college varsity esports programs

The top 10 college esports programs


College esports are more popular than ever--check out this ranking of the 10 best college varsity esports programs

Playing video games isn’t restricted to dorm rooms–now, colleges are offering scholarships for esports athletes who join an institution’s esports program. This increased competition for student gamers means students are looking for schools with great academics and top-level resources and equipment.

Esports is surging in popularity, with the overall market expected to reach nearly $2.2 billion by 2023.

Colleges and universities are recruiting esports athletes, along with those in support roles such as IT and business management, left and right. Along with the growing demand for esports comes the need for modern esports facilities designed to handle the infrastructure needs such programs demand.

Here’s a look at the top colleges for varsity esports programs, compiled by BestColleges.

1. Miami University — Oxford, OH

Miami University was one of the first top-ranked institutions in the U.S. to launch a varsity esports program. In 2017, the school’s varsity Overwatch team took first place in the National Association of Collegiate Esports Overwatch season. Two years later, the school won statewide esports competitions in Overwatch and League of Legends. MU’s esports program includes three varsity teams for League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Overwatch.

2. University of California, Irvine — Irvine, CA

UC Irvine was the first public university to create an official esports program. The school viewed an esports program as both a practical extension of its successful computer game science major and the thriving gaming community. Up and running in fall 2016, UC Irvine’s esports program now offers several scholarships.

3. Maryville University — St. Louis, MO

In 2021, Maryville was named Esports Collegiate Program of the Year. The school’s League of Legends team also won national championships in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Maryville’s esports program includes a high-performing League of Legends team and a nationally ranked Overwatch team, with former Maryville players and esports professionals serving as coaches.

4. University of Utah — Salt Lake City, UT

In fall 2017, the University of Utah became one of the largest U.S. universities to offer varsity esports. The U currently supports teams in Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League. In addition to a highly competitive esports program, The U maintains a rich gaming history and has offered a video game development degree since 2007.

5. Illinois Wesleyan University — Bloomington, IL

Illinois Wesleyan University supports over 20 varsity sports teams and began offering esports in fall 2018. The institution, which recruits top gamers and offers scholarships to the most talented esports players, maintains teams in League of Legends, Rocket League, Overwatch, Fortnite, and Super Smash Bros.

Visit the BestColleges ranking to round out the top 10.

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Laura Ascione

Sign up for our newsletter

Newsletter: Innovations in K12 Education
By submitting your information, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.