The Next Level: Esports Scholarships on the Rise in Missouri

Esports has been viewed by many as the awkward younger sibling to the sports that we know and love like football and baseball. However, the esports army is arriving, and they are only getting stronger. The first official video game competition took place in 1972 on the Stanford University campus with a game called Spacewar. The grand prize of that competition was a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

professional gamer wearing headphones looking at camera and smiling while participating in eSport tournament

In 1990, Nintendo began the Nintendo World Championships in which players competed in games like Super Mario Bros and Tetris. Fast forward to 2021, when a game called DOTA 2 hosted its championship with a prize pool of $40.1 Million, nearly triple the prize pool for the Masters Golf Tournament.

All of this shows how far this movement has come. From a subscription to a magazine to $40 million, and it continues to grow. Competitive gaming has grown so much that people like Robert Kraft, Shaquille O’Neal, Drake, Mike Tyson, and P Diddy, just to name a few, are investing. Along with these well-known figures, colleges have begun to take an interest in the subject, and many have made large investments in their esports programs. Robert Morris University in Chicago was the first to offer esports scholarships back in 2014. With the global esports market valued at $1.2 Billion in 2019, several other colleges have followed in its footsteps. As of May 2021, 175 colleges around the country offer esports scholarships. Missouri has over 15 schools that offer scholarship opportunities in this field.

How Can I Get an Esports Scholarship?

female gamer getting ready to participate in esports tournament by putting her headphones on.

Getting an esports scholarship for college is slightly different than getting a scholarship for other sports. Esports programs don’t typically have scouts attend events and watch you play or even reach out to you. Most colleges host annual tryouts and give out scholarships based on those. Esports competitions are almost always livestreamed somewhere online, so a good idea would be to watch one of those and see how you may stack up to the competition. These scholarships don’t come without stipulations, though. There is almost always a GPA requirement to even get on the team, much less receive and maintain a scholarship. However, the perks are well worth the hard work in the classroom. Players can receive jerseys, travel opportunities, gear, and media attention, and gain a large social media following. Schools with esports scholarships tend to make it well-known that this opportunity is there for students, especially if the school has made a large investment in the program. So, if you have a school in mind, check to see if they offer esports scholarships and what that college’s specific requirements are!

Are These Scholarships the Same as Other Athletic Scholarships?

The short answer is it depends. It depends on the school and how much money that school has put toward its esports program. Typically, your scholarship will work more like an academic scholarship since there aren’t many full-ride esports scholarship opportunities out there…yet. That means you will receive money from the college that you can use any way you see fit as long as it is used for college. So, funds could be used for on-campus food, tuition, books, and more.

What is the Outlook for Esports in College?

esports team practicing The outlook is only positive! The global esports market is projected to rise from $1.1 billion in 2020 to $3.6 billion in 2027. How does this translate to college scholarship opportunities, though? With many major universities and smaller colleges investing already, it’s safe to say that if esports continues to see the growth that it has in the past, more colleges will take notice. If the market value of esports does hit the $3.6 billion projection, it would be nearly nine times more valuable than the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments combined. And if esports were a sports franchise, it would make it the 15th most valuable franchise in the world. Statistics like this will certainly attract more attention to the scene and likely bigger financial contributions from universities around the country. With bigger financial input from schools, students will be able to receive more from their scholarships, along with schools being able to expand their programs and offer more spots for students on these teams leading to more scholarships. After all of this, you may still wonder, what are students gaining out of this past college? Well, just like other professional sports, there is a professional esports scene where gamers around the world are making millions in this industry. Students can gain scholarship money through their schools and take that talent to the next level.

Collegiate Esports Opportunities in Missouri

an esports team celebrating a victory.With over 20 college and university esports programs in Missouri, there are plenty of options. Each program offers a unique array of titles that they compete in, so it’s important to do your research beforehand. This article has discussed how to go about receiving a scholarship, if your chosen school offers it, how these scholarships work, and the outlook of esports in college. However, as mentioned, each institution is different. It’s important to note that esports opportunities aren’t limited to playing on a team. There are several classes you could take to gear you up for a career in esports once you graduate. Some colleges offer esport-specific classes. For others, you need to get a bit more creative. Classes on information technology, live event entertainment, team management, and sports marketing are all great ways to get a step ahead of your competition. The best method, however, is to talk to your counselor. They are a fantastic help and will be able to guide you down the best path toward your goals!

Some schools that have esports programs are the University of Missouri, the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), Columbia College, Missouri S&T, Missouri Western, Northwest Missouri State, Maryville University, University of Central Missouri, Southeast Missouri State, Missouri Baptist University, and Mineral Area Community College. (Note: There are more options out there in Missouri, these are just a few!)

Overall, esports is on the rise, and collegiate esports is important to growing the industry. Kids can take something they truly enjoy and make a career out of it that has endless possibilities. There are many more professional gaming opportunities than there are in other professional sports, but the road to get there is just as challenging. Competing in these games at the highest level takes years of practice and hard work, and finally, all that hard work and all the late nights playing video games is paying off. Literally.

7 Reasons You Should Live, Learn, and Work in Missouri

1. Companies are hiring

Three companies on Forbes 100 Best Places to Work list – Veterans United, Jones Financial (Edward Jones), and World Wide Technology – are headquartered here in Missouri. Each company employs large numbers of people and reported hundreds of job openings company wide as of March of 2021. Jones Financial reported 910 job openings, Veterans United Home Loans reported 558 openings, and World Wide Technology reported 268 job openings.

According to an October 2021 report from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC), there were around 67,700 job postings in Missouri with companies hoping to hire people. If you’re looking for a new job or career change, Missouri is a good place to start. 

two people talking in a hip office space.

2. Great for remote work

A woman working on her laptop in the kitchen of her house.

Missouri is centrally located in the country, making working with both the east and west coasts convenient for remote workers or just those who need to be centrally located for travel. Additionally, high speed internet and better broadband access in rural areas has been made a priority by Gov. Mike Parson. In 2021, $400 million was budgeted to help with broadband access.  

3. Affordability

Missouri allows you to live in one of the most affordable states in the U.S. Missouri ranks the 12th lowest in the U.S. for cost of living (MERIC) and the 12th cheapest state to buy a house ( To do a little comparison, let’s look at the cost of buying a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. According to AAA, in Missouri, as of December 2021, the average cost of a gallon of gas is $2.95 while the cost in Illinois, Missouri’s neighbor, is $3.44. 

4. Fun and romance

A riverfront view of the city of Washington Missouri

Missouri is the 10th best place to be single. We rank 12th for dating opportunities, 12th for dating economics, and 16th for romance and fun, according to 

If you live and work in Missouri, there are plenty of opportunities for romance as well as places to take your romantic partner on a date. Check out 8 Places to go on a Date Night in Missouri or just go to Visit MO’s Things to Do page

5. A Land of Opportunity

Missouri ranks No.4 in the nation in opportunity for its citizens, according to Missouri is a great place to start or own a business, boasting a rank of 11 in the country. Missouri’s businesses weathered the pandemic better than most and the state was ranked third in the nation for pandemic proof small businesses. 

If you’re interested in taking advantage of Missouri’s business-friendly atmosphere, the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office has step-by-step instructions for starting a business in Missouri.

6. Striving for Equity

Missouri ranks No.9 in the nation for equality. According to, “the ratio of men to women in the labor force, as well as gaps between their median incomes, as well as the difference in unemployment between people with disabilities and those without, and gaps in educational achievement, income and employment between non-Hispanic whites and other racial groups” are measured to determine this. Missouri ranked 6th in the nation for equity in the income gap by race on this same list.

7. Family Friendly

Missouri is a great place to raise a family. Wallet Hub says Missouri comes in third in the nation for low cost child care, surpassed only by Mississippi and South Dakota. All 10 of’s top 10 places to raise a family in Missouri are suburbs of St. Louis, with highly rated school systems, bright job prospects, and lower costs of living. However, St. Louis isn’t the only great place to raise a family and if you prefer the country or small-town life, there’s plenty of that too. 

This information is accurate as of December 16, 2021.

Find your Best Fit in Missouri

Two-Year Vs. Four-Year vs. Technical College

Missouri is home to over 65 colleges and universities that each offer their own unique culture and opportunities. So whether you’re looking for a change of scenery or to stay close to home, there are plenty of options to choose from. Degree program, size, location, distance from home, sports, culture, and student resources are all important things to consider while trying to find the best fit. We’ve highlighted several of these characteristics for you to consider below and a corresponding Missouri school to consider.

Big City vs. Small Town

Do you want to be in the heart of it all or in a small community with a lot of heart?

Big City vs. Small Town

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is nestled just south of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City – a well-known area for shopping, events, and art. Kansas City is packed with unique and vibrant neighborhoods and offers pro-sporting events, live concerts, and some of the best BBQ in the country. But if you’re looking to slow it down, consider Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) in Cape Girardeau. This small, historical river community is known for being friendly and having a great downtown area of its own. You can see a show at the annual Lanford Wilson New American Play Festival, or explore the Mississippi River at Cape Rock Park. Also, with St. Louis and Memphis being nearby, there’s always the opportunity to change it up, visit the big city, but come home to a small town.

Big School vs. Small School

Big School Versus Small School

Do you want to get to know all of your peers or do you want to see new faces every day?

Going to a school with a large student population versus a small student population can make a big difference. Missouri State University is one of the state’s largest schools with over 26,000 students. If you’re looking for a fresh start and to make a lot of new friends – this could be the school for you. A larger student population can also offer many benefits including more activities and organizations, more networking and potentially more diversity. However, if you’d rather spend the next several years making lifelong connections, a smaller school like College of the Ozarks is a great option. With a population of under 1,500 – you can expect small class sizes and a tight-knit community.

Two-Year vs. Four-Year vs. Technical School

What degree are you looking for? How much time and money are you prepared to invest?

Two-Year Vs. Four-Year vs. Technical College

The type of school you attend can make a big difference in your college experience, especially in the classroom and in your bank account. Two-year institutions offer certificates and associate degrees, and many students choose these schools to save money in the long run. State Fair Community College in Sedalia is a great example because it offers a wide range of two-year programs while also being one of the most affordable in Missouri. A four-year university offers bachelor’s degrees, which provide both a well-rounded education outside your major and an in-depth coursework in your chosen field. Truman State University in Kirksville is a great option because it offers a variety of excellent programs and top professors while being the number one best value school in the region. Technical schools can be a different experience altogether, offering certificates and associate degrees while giving students affordable hands-on learning and career guidance. State Technical College of Missouri in Linn offers small class sizes, unique career options, and a job placement rate of 99 percent.

There’s plenty to consider when deciding what will fit you best after high school. Missouri offers a lot of options. If you are considering multiple options and you’d like to compare them side-by-side, use the printable Best Fit Worksheet or the College and Degree Search compare option. No matter what you decide, you’ll make it the best fit for you.