At the collegiate level, academic quiz bowl competitions enjoyed broad exposure in the United States media via College Bowl, which started on radio in 1953 and aired on national television from 1959 to 1970. In 1977, the format was revived on college campuses by College Bowl Company Inc. (CBCI), which operated until 2008. In September 1990, the Academic Competition Federation (ACF) was incorporated as the first major alternative to College Bowl on university campuses. In 1996, National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) was founded. Today, most major college-level competitions are run by either ACF or NAQT, with varying formats and governing rules.

In recent years, many former quiz bowl contestants have gone on to become successful game show contestants, including two of the top dollar winners in the history of Jeopardy!: Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter.