For gamers looking for an esports scholarship, Ohio’s Ashland University program may hold some appeal with the addition of Fortnite Battle Royale to its offerings.
Ashland University’s esports team is the first U.S. college program to add the popular title to its official offerings, according to a recent press release. Beginning this fall, Fortnite will join four other games offered by the college as it adopts high-level gaming into its program. They include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League.
“Fortnite appeals to the core and casual gaming audience,” said Josh Buchanan, head coach of esports, in the press release. “We’re excited to provide this platform for gamers who want to showcase their skills in a more competitive space. Fortnite facilitates an environment that allows players to get creative, innovate and show off their mastery of their skills.”
The popular game was released by Epic Games in 2017 and its teenage fan base has grown immensely in its short tenure. More than 3.4 million people played Fortnite simultaneously around the world on a single day in March, according to NorthJersey.com.
In addition, varsity esports is also a recent sensation. Ashland University just launched its esports program this year with a fall kick-off date. The curriculum, coupled with more traditional college offerings, is an attempt to provide a well-rounded education supporting students interested in pursuing a professional gaming career.
To show its esports commitment, Ashland is also building a new gaming center for the program, which will include 25 gaming stations. The school also offers esports scholarships for up to $4,000 based on academic requirements and player skill level, helping to defray annual undergraduate tuition and room and board costs that come in around $30,000.
Esports Scholarship Opportunities Are Growing
In an effort to create structure and tools to move collegiate esports forward as a varsity sport, the governing body National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) was founded in 2016. The association has around 70 U.S. member colleges and universities and, according to Business Insider, member schools recruit prospect esports players similar to their varsity athletes. Many of them receive scholarships—also like their traditional-sports brethren.
As of this month, 30-plus U.S. colleges and universities are offering esports scholarships to gamers, with a running total of $9 million as of December 2017 from NACE institutions. The University of Utah represents one of the largest sports schools participating with its competitive varsity esports team, according to Scholarship.com. The school currently offers players partial esports scholarships, with a future goal of offering full ones.
The University of California-Irvine recruits students for partial video game scholarships and boasts a state-of-the-art gaming arena, while Chicago’s Robert Morris University represents the first U.S. college to offer video gaming scholarships, enabling to students to potentially earn up to $19,000 annually.
With the appeal of video games still growing, look for even more video gaming scholarship opportunities to arise. More information can be found on the NACE website.