Michael “Mike” Wazowski, a young monster, gets inspired to become a scarer (a monster who enters the human world at night to scare children and harvest their screams for energy) when he grows up after visiting Monsters Inc., Monstropolis’ most profitable scaring company, on a school field trip. Eleven years later, Mike is a first-year scare major at Monsters University, where he meets fellow monster James P. “Sulley” Sullivan. Mike studies hard, while the privileged Sulley, coming from a family of talented scarers, relies only on his natural ability and begins to falter. As the semester progresses, Mike and Sulley attempt to join a fraternity, but only Sulley is accepted into Roar Omega Roar, the strongest fraternity on campus. At the semester’s final exam, a fight between the two causes them to accidentally break Dean Abigail Hardscrabble’s cherished Scream Can. Hardscrabble fails both of them immediately, stating that Sulley does not study enough, and Mike is not scary enough.
Wanting to prove himself, Mike enters the university’s “Scare Games” and makes a wager with Hardscrabble to reinstate him and his team to the scare program if they win, but Mike must leave the university if they lose. He joins a group of misfits named Oozma Kappa, the weakest fraternity on campus, but they are denied entry to the Games for being one team member short. Sulley subsequently joins them, seeing the competition as his ticket back into the scare program. Oozma Kappa finish last in the first challenge, but are saved from elimination after another team is disqualified for cheating. Oozma Kappa improve gradually due to Mike’s training and intricate knowledge of scaring, and they advance through each following challenge, finishing just behind competition favourites Roar Omega Roar. In the final round, they defeat Roar Omega Roar with a decisive final scare by Mike in the simulation bedroom. However, Mike soon discovers that he only won because Sulley changed the machine’s difficulty to a much easier setting.