The University of California at Irvine continues to be a pioneer in collegiate esports by expanding their esports scholarship program to Overwatch.
The Fall 2017 semester will be the first to take advantage of this scholarship valued at $2,500 (£1,935) a year. For students to continue receiving the scholarship, they take part in 15-20 hours per week of practice and training as well team meetings, community service and various competitions.
Students accepted into the program will be provided with coaching and other necessary equipment by the University. The tryouts for the scholarship will begin this summer at an undisclosed date.
This will be the University’s second esports scholarship as their League of Legends one went into play last year. According to the GamesIndustry press release, the decision for an Overwatch scholarship followed the success of UCI’s Overwatch team at the Tespa Summer Series last year. UCI’s eSports director Mark Deppe explained the decision for the new scholarship as follows:
“We are very excited to take this next step in growing out scholarship program for top gamers who are also strong students and great members of our community. We look forward to connecting the excitement generated by our competitive teams to advance efforts along our other pillars: Academics, community and entertainment.”
Irvine is not the only University to expand their programs into esports. Other schools, like Miami University in Ohio, Lourdes University and Robert Morris University in Illinois have followed suit. Kansas Wesleyan University has been doing this the longest with an esports program dating back to since 2015.
Esports Insider says: As more colleges and universities promote esports as a real sport or activity, more students will be able to take part in an activity or club which they enjoy. Hopefully more colleges recognise the benefits of competitive gaming and through their own programs help esports break through into the mainstream.