If you're looking to turn your passion for video games to the next level, game design scholarships can go a long way towards making your virtual dreams becoming a reality.
Thanks to the exploding growth of employment in the video game design and development field, notable studios and professional associations are handing over free tuition money for attracting top talent to the gaming community. Students can now make their hours spent playing and designing new mobile, computer, or video games pay off.
To help in your quest for earning a college education in game design, below we've compiled 20 of the best scholarships available for undergraduate and graduate students building a career in interactive entertainment.
1. Adobe Design Achievement Awards
Deadline: June 19th
Annually, the Adobe Design Achievement Awards are granted for up to $5,000 apiece to current college students 18 years older or above from qualifying countries who enter a unique project in the competition categories of web and application design, game design, exhibition design, digital publishing, social impact design, animation, motion graphics, illustration, or photography. Each entry must include a completed application form, a digital copy of student identification, a short 100-word artist statement, and an original work created within the last year. For game design, appropriate entries can include digital games, real-time interactive experiences, video game consoles, electronic computer games, or phone-based mobile games.
Adobe Design Achievement Awards
345 Park Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110
2. Aspiring Animation Professional Scholarship Program
Deadline: June 1st
With the goal of encouraging talented artists to consider a career path in animation and its related fields, the Aspiring Animation Professional Scholarship Program offers $1,000 annually to graduating high school seniors in the United States who intend to pursue a major in 3D animation, computer animation, digital design, game design, game development, electronic media, interactive design, motion graphics, visual effects, or web animation. Applicants must be attending an accredited post-secondary school, have a passion for a design-related career, have a record of academic success, and write a 1,000-word essay describing what specific skills they most want to develop.
3. Eric Dybsand Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: December 2nd
Sponsored by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the Eric Dybsand Memorial Scholarship was created to award $1,000 each year in honor of a noted artificial intelligence developer, author, and lecturer who passed away unexpectedly in 2004. Qualified applicants must be high-achieving high school seniors or currently enrolled undergraduate students, plan to attend an accredited post-secondary education, and display similar interests in the artificial intelligence development field of game design. Recipients will also receive a travel stipend to attend the Annual AI Summit and mentoring from a range of AI professionals.
4. ESA Foundation Scholarships
Deadline: May 14th
Since 2007, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) Foundation has offered several up to 30 scholarships for $3,000 apiece annually to financially assist women and minority students who are pursuing a relevant degree to start a career in the computer and video game arts industry. Eligible candidates must be graduating high school seniors or current college students, be accepted for full-time study at an accredited four-year university in America, have U.S. citizenship, carry a minimum overall GPA of 2.75, and show professional potential. Interested individuals can apply by filling out the application administered by International Scholarship and Tuition Services, Inc.
5. Evo College Scholarship Award
Deadline: April 15th
In collaboration with Shoryuken.com, the Evo College Scholarship Award is presented annually for up to $20,000 by the Game Center at New York University to an outstanding gamer currently enrolled in the university's Tisch School of the Arts to earn the two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Game Design. Eligible candidates should demonstrate active participation in the fighting game community, have a clear interest in a game design career, specialize in innovating within the field of competitive gaming, and exhibit legitimate financial need. Students must submit an application, provide college transcripts, attach letters of recommendation, and prepare a creative portfolio via Slideroom.
Evo College Scholarship Award
2 Metrotech Center 8th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
6. Halucinated Scholarships for the Aspiring Creative
Deadline: June 1st
Each year, the Halucinated Scholarships for the Aspiring Creative are distributed for $1,000 to three incoming freshman, current undergraduate students, and graduate students who are developing their passion for creativity at an accredited U.S. institution. Applicants with significant financial need can be majoring in any creative field, including 3D animation, architecture, cartooning, computer animation, digital media, graphic design, electronic media, film, game design, game production, illustration, interactive design, multimedia, visual effects, and more. All candidates will be asked to submit a design project in any medium that clearly illustrates their passion for their creative field.
Halucinated Scholarships for the Aspiring Creative
244 West 54th Street 9th Floor
New York, NY 10019
7. IndieCade Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 31st
In partnership with the IndieCade international game festival and conference, the IndieCade Scholarship Program is offered by the NYU Game Center to provide $25,000 towards currently enrolled students whose game has been selected for inclusion in the festival. Qualified winners must be pursuing the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in game design within the Tisch School of Arts, show a strong commitment to smaller-scale experimental game development, and be talented young designers who are taking creative risks. Anyone fitting this criteria who works on a game that has been chosen as an Official Nominee by IndieCade will automatically be eligible.
8. Karrlin Field Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: April 5th and September 5th
In honor of a young designer of imaginative and dramatic computer games who died at the age of 17 from cystic fibrosis in 2004, the Karrlin Field Memorial Scholarship is awarded twice each year for $1,000 to women attending the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe with a major in game design. Eligible applicants must be current UAT resident gamers, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, exhibit financial need, and show the creative qualifications needed to succeed in computer game development and design. With the application, women are asked to write a 500-word essay describing their creative dreams and aspirations.
9. Manzer-Keener-Wefler Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
Administered by the Stark Community Foundation (SCF), the Manzer-Keener-Wefler Scholarship is awarded annually for $1,000 to students who are accepted by or currently attending a two or four-year college within the United States with a major related to photography, animation, illustration, game design, graphic design, printmaking, or any other visual art. Eligible applicants must have created from high school in Stark County in Ohio, be enrolled in a university or art institute full-time, carry a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, exhibit financial need, and demonstrate outstanding involvement in academics and extra-curricular activities related to their chosen career path.
10. Mark Beaumont Scholarship Fund
Deadline: June 28th
Created in 2010 to honor the memory of the COO of Capcom North America and Europe, the Mark Beaumont Scholarship Fund is granted through the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences to provide $2,500 to two college students who have the intention of entering the game industry as a developer of interactive entertainment. Eligible candidates must be enrolled full-time at an accredited U.S. college, maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.3, have significant financial need, and address leadership potential through service. Applications must include proof of enrollment, two signed letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and a two-page essay providing information about their goals in the gaming world.
Mark Beaumont Scholarship Fund
9800 South La Cienega Blvd. Suite 100
Inglewood, CA 90301
11. Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition Awards
Deadline: January 7th
Within the Game Path, Microsoft Imagine Cup offers $3,000 awards to student teams who win challenges each year to advance to the National Games Competition. This competition gives game designers over the age of 16 the valuable opportunity to hone their skills while creating a desktop or tablet game using Windows, a mobile game using Windows Phone, or an online web browser game through Windows Azure. Students who enter on teams of no more than four people by submitting their proposal and creating innovative game software could make it to the World Cup Finals for winning $50,000.
12. Penny Arcade Video Game Scholarship
Deadline: August 15th
As an online comic strip focused on the video gaming culture, Penny Arcade (PA) offers an annual Video Game Scholarship for $10,000 to one extraordinary college student who has demonstrated a strong potential for positively impacting the video game industry. Qualified candidates must be enrolled full-time at an accredited college in the United States, intend to enter the game industry in any capacity, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.3, and share a passion for video games. Applicants can be studying animation, video graphics, interactive technology, computer science, game design, graphic design, digital multimedia, and other game-related majors.
13. Phyllis Craig Scholarship Program
Deadline: April 29th
In honor of the founding member of the Women in Animation (WIA) who helped countless young people fulfill their dreams of learning the art of animation, the Phyllis Craig Scholarship is given to one deserving student annually for $1,000 to cut tuition costs of higher education. Eligible candidates must be U.S. citizens or registered aliens, demonstrate artistic talent, be attending an accredited college-level program in America, and wish to become an animation professional within the gaming industry. Applications must include one letter of recommendation, student identification, one 500-word typed essay, and an online portfolio with the $25 non-member application fee.
14. Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund
Deadline: June 30th
Also offered through the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences to honor the co-founder of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon, the Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund grants two $2,500 awards annually. All applicants must be full-time college students attending a U.S. institution with a minimum overall GPA of 3.3 in a program of study related to art, animation, game design, sound design, game direction, or programming. Completed applications should be accompanied by proof of enrollment, two letters of recommendation, official college transcripts, and a two-page essay describing how candidates will specialize in the development of interactive entertainment.
15. Sande Scoredos Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: April 3rd
Annually, Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. awards the Sande Scoredos Memorial Scholarship for full-time college students currently enrolled in accredited universities across America who have the overall goal of pursuing a profession in animation, visual effects, motion graphics, game design, video production, filmmaking, or a related creative field. Eligible candidates must carry a minimum of 12 credits each semester, receive passing grades in all glasses, achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and show great artistic potential. With the application, students must attach a faculty recommendation letter, official college transcripts, a 1,000-word personal essay and a web address to their online portfolio.
16. Scholarship for Gamers College Scholarship
Deadline: March 15th
Specifically targeting e-sports players and gaming enthusiasts, the Scholarship for Gamers College Scholarship is presented annually for $2,500 to college-bound graduating high school seniors who have maintained outstanding academic credentials while participating in competitive gaming at the highest level. Qualified applicants must rank in the top 25% of their high school class, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.3, take rigorous courses, be planning to attend an accredited U.S. institution, boast high in-game rankings, and show a clear interest in pursuing a career within the exciting gaming community.
17. Sony GIRL Game Design Competition
Deadline: March 19th
Beginning each February, Sony Online Entertainment hosts the Gamers in Real Life (GIRL) Game Design Competition to provide $10,000 to one outstanding winner to fund their tuition, room and board, and other educational expenses at an accredited U.S. university. Participants must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program related to video game design or production, possess a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, be 18 years of age or older, and submit two pieces of original concept art inspired by PlanetSide 2 or EverQuest. Recipients will also be given a paid 10-week internship at SOE's headquarters in San Diego.
18. Twitch & Alienware Scholarships
Deadline: August 22nd
Funded by SteelSeries, the Twitch & Alienware Scholarships are distributed each year for $10,000 to five of the most active and successful gamers in the United States who are planning to pursue post-secondary education full-time to pursue a career in gaming. Qualified applicants must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0, display significant involvement in the gaming community on Twitch, boast top tournament rankings, provide proof of their gaming prowess, and have a declared major related to game design or development. For consideration, students must submit a short one-minute video explaining their love for video games.
19. Warner Bros. Reach Honorship Program
Deadline: March 2nd
As an industry giant that distributes movies, television shows, comic books, and video games, Warner Bros. has decided to give back by providing the Reach Honorship Program that awards $5,000 to four graduating high school seniors annually for learning about the business of entertainment. Applicants must be accepted for enrollment at an accredited two or four-year college, maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5, exhibit financial need, reside within Los Angeles County, and show an interest in the entertainment industry. Recipients will be honored with a full-time paid summer internship at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank.
20. World Studio AIGA Scholarship Awards
Deadline: March 28th
Designed for young creative artists who lack the financial funding to influence the world with their talents, the World Studio AIGA Scholarship Awards are granted each year for $2,000 to $6,000 apiece to cut tuition costs for earning a degree in any area of interactive arts, including game design. Eligible applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies full-time at an accredited institution, plan to enter a career in a creative profession, have a minimum GPA of 2.0, and demonstrate a commitment to giving back to their community. Though not required, priority is given to students representing a racial or ethnic minority group.
Since the computer and video game industry continues to grow each year to generate more than $10.5 billion in revenue, it's clear that earning a degree in game design will prepare you for an in-demand and exciting career. Although tuition prices are climbing, there are several sources of financial aid available to help you finance your degree in game design or development without mountains of loans. Showcase your gaming skills, creative talents, and competitive spirit to win some of these great game design scholarships.