Throughout the United States, more and more universities are offering funded varsity esports programs. If playing esports is something you aspire to do, you’ll want to figure out what is the best college to do that. That’s where we come in. We studied nearly 60, 4-year universities with esports programs and evaluated them on 7 crucial factors. After weighing each factor for all the schools we created a ranking of the best schools.

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Best Colleges for Gaming and Esports

1) Miami University

Miami University is the best school to pursue esports. Announced in 2016, Miami University had the first varsity esports team at a top tier U.S. university. Only one year later Miami University’s Overwatch team won the 2017 National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) season. Their League of Legends team had similar success, reaching the finals of the NACE invitational. In addition to the program, Miami University offers a course on esports as well as a minor in digital gaming. Overall, Miami University boasts a strong academic record, a prime campus and a stellar nightlife.

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2) University of Utah

We found University of Utah to be the 2nd best school for esports and gaming in the U.S. Stylized as “Gamer U”, the University of Utah has had an Entertainment Arts and Engineering program since 2007 which explores the artistic and engineering aspects of game development. In 2017, the school introduced a fully supported varsity esports teams as well as began offering a bachelors of science in Games. The University of Utah scored amongst the highest in our “value” category – a measure of a school’s cost vs average expected income after graduation. As a state school, students pay an average of $11,000 but end up with salaries averaging over $50,000 within six years out of college.

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3) University of California Irvine

Esports at University of California Irvine are taken seriously. Irvine was the first public university to introduce an esports team. Since its creation in 2015, Irvine has since created one of the most elite programs in the country complete with an esports arena. At Irvine, gamers will definitely feel at home with 72% of the student body identifying as ‘gamers’. Like Miami University and University of Utah, academics at Irvine are top notch. You also get great value at Irvine, with students earning an average salary of $55,000 six years after graduation (amongst the highest on our list)

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4) Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern is another university that has been a pioneer in collegiate esports. The college currently has six esports teams that have been around since 2012. At GSU, members of the esports teams enjoy full athletic perks. The school also hires professional esport players as coaches to help athletes progress into professional gaming after college. GSU boasts a great party scene, as well as stellar professors and academics.

5) Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University is another great spot for gaming while at college. Though newer than the schools above it on our ranking (the esports team will begin competing in the fall of 2018), gamers should feel at home in this midwestern university. The esports program has its own facility like at Irvine and has recently hired experienced gamer Callum Fletcher as head coach. IWU is one of the best schools in terms of academics on our list. It is a bit more expensive compared to the four universities we list above.

Rankings

RankSchoolWeighted ScoreAcademicsCampusFoodLocationNightlifeProfessorsValue
1Miami University101.7959592921009285
2University of Utah101.692928895929592
3University of California Irvine100.795928885829592
4Georgia Southern University98.7889592821008885
5Illinois Wesleyan University97.195928285889278
6Ashland University96.38210010078758578
7Bellevue University95.9759210092857295
8Fontbonne University95.6828888100858585
9Georgia State University95.588858892928585
10Boise State University95.585888588888588
11Maryville University94.885929288858278
12St. Ambrose University94.785928588888578
13Robert Morris University94.288929585858272
14University of Akron93.782858888928882
15Western Kentucky University93.482858585958585
16Missouri Baptist University93.478959588827578
17Brescia University93.282888878788288
18University of Jamestown92.882888882857885
19Indiana Institute of Technology92.578888892887882
20Trine University92.482928885887875
21South Dakota School of Mines & Technology92.488787882829585
22Lourdes University9275959285787578
23Illinois College91.985857585858582
24Northwest Christian University91.782858288828282
25Stephens College91.682888892827875
26St. Louis College of Pharmacy91.488757885858292
27Oregon Institute of Technology91.188758875788888
28Texas Wesleyan University91.185828278788882
29Columbia College90.7788810085827872
30Southwestern College90.678888282827882
31Morningside College89.982858278828278
32Stevenson University89.782858278788278
33Menlo College89.585829275788275
34Embry Riddle Aeronautical University89.388788275758878
35Coker College89.288787875828878
36West Virginia Wesleyan College88.982787582858582
37Grand View University88.978857882827582
38Florida Southern College88.688787582828575
39SUNY Canton88.578788285827885
40Kansas Wesleyan University88.482827888827875
41Lebanon Valley College88.385827872758278
42King University87.685757878757885
43McPherson College87.482787882787582
44Tiffin University8778787585828278
45Culver-Stockton College86.882788272857878
46St. Thomas Aquinas College86.378758278827882
47Central Methodist University85.982788262788575
48DigiPen Institute of Technology84.8928282858285
49University of Pikeville84.775758572728278
50Midland University84.478758275787875
51Averett University84.178728275788275
52Southwest Baptist University82.978727572628278
53Lees-McRae College82.178727575757872
54Centralia College77.97585758288
55ECPI University76.385881008278
56College of St. Joseph54.27582757282
85

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Methodology

To find the best colleges for gaming we first compiled a list of all four year universities with varsity esports teams. We then turned to data from niche.com to determine which was the best schools from that list. We looked at a school’s ratings for their academics, campus, food, professors, location and night life. We then took the average salary graduates from the school had six years after graduating and divided it by the average cost of the school according to Niche to determine it’s value. To make it so every factor did not have equal importance we gave extra weight to academics, campus, professors and value. We also gave less weight to nightlife and the campus food quality.