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The Correlation Between Esports and Desired College Majors


Shawn Smith

General Findings

This report was updated on Feb. 5 at 12 pm to accurately reflect the most updated statistics

A recent study developed and hosted on GYO Score reveals esports athletes are more inclined to pursue college majors in STEM than any other field. The GYO survey was conducted as part of their recruiting profile creation process and involved 1,156 esports players primarily at both high school and collegiate levels who completed demographic survey questions.

Of the 1,029 esports athletes who answered questions about their desired major or study interests, 50.4% answered that they are primarily interested to pursue college majors in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) category. In this study, the STEM category includes majors such as:

  • Computer Science / Computer Programming
  • Medical Practice Majors
  • Engineering
  • Applied Sciences
  • Additional STEM-related fields
Esports Major Study
Graph 1. Demonstrates the correlation between
esports athletes and their desired college majors. 

The entire list can be found in the full report, which may be downloaded below.

After the STEM category, the report found high reports for players interested in Arts, Business & Finance, and Esports & Gaming related majors. 

The GYO platform study found that a combined 18.1% of esports athletes are interested in business/finance (9.5%) and arts degrees (8.6%), which are commonly associated with athletes in traditional sports such as basketball and football. Arts degrees include majors such as:

  • Art design
  • Graphic design
  • Fashion
  • Acting

The business and finance fields includes majors such as:

  • Business
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Accounting

The entire list of players reported majors as well as the grouping of the majors into our categories can be found in the full report, downloadable below.


Esports Athletes Compared to Traditional Sport Athletes

Bleacher Report Study
A 2016 Bleacher Report study showed preferred
major categories for collegiate football players
in the Power 5 conferences.

When compared to traditional athletics, esports players appear to have a higher variety of desired majors and study focuses than athletes pursuing a path with traditional sports such as football and basketball.  In 2016, a Bleacher Report study found college football athletes pursued degrees in business/finance and arts/social sciences much more heavily than degrees related to STEM degrees. Due to the methodology of the Bleacher Report study, direct comparison is not possible, as they have provided results with differing major groupings that are incompatible with the GYO study results.  However, the Bleacher Report results do show a high percentage of college football athletes gravitated towards business and social sciences, with only 9% of studies athletes falling into the “Arts and Sciences” category of the study.

These findings are supported further by a study on major “clustering” by traditional athletes as published in the Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, 2010.  In the study, the authors, Sanders and Hildenbrand, point to the clustering of traditional athletes towards the social science majors.  This effect appears enhanced when the athletes pursue high-profile sports such as college football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball and is also influenced by race and gender of the participants.

The Concept of an “Esports” Major

Esports Gamers
Photo by Anthony Brolin on Unsplash

With esports becoming a prominent form of entertainment, esports athletes appear intent on the idea of entering an esports collegiate program or gaming-related major. Approximately 13.2% of surveyed athletes would be interested in a major related to gaming and esports.  As “Esports” is not currently a major with a clear delineation in most collegiate institutions, the study noted a variety of write-in responses that were counted towards the “Esports & Gaming Major” category featured in this study. Some of the included responses were “Esports Player”, “Esports Coach”, and “Esports Management”. 

For these players, they may be seeking study options that are similar to “Sports Management” programs which are significantly popular with traditional athletes. While further study is warranted in this case, there does appear to be a strong desire among respondents to somehow study a field in college that allows them to stay within the esports industry section following graduation.

Full Report

The full report downloadable PDF contains all of the raw data including specific answers, major grouping methodology, and additional demographic details. Report does not contain any personally identifying information for players.

Click to request to download the full report.

Methodology

GYO Score is an esports and gaming sabermetrics platform that seeks to discover gaming talent early and often through advanced statistics processing. This report collected responses from 1,156 GYO platform users via a scholarship recruitment survey. It’s important to note that data presented in this study relied on player self-reporting, which can introduce issues such as, but not limited to, selective memory and exaggeration. GYO grouped together majors when results were similar enough to one another to reasonably assume the answers were the same (i.e. “Computer Science” and “Computer Sciences” answers were grouped together, as were “Criminal Studies” and “Criminology”). GYO removed data that appeared to be erroneously entered or captured, such as dates out of range and improperly formatted answers.  Statistical testing was not conducted in this study, and the research conducted was exploratory. Future research could explore other behavior.

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