Field hockey is played all over the world, and the international aspect of recruiting in this sport has an impact on how field hockey colleges look for talent. Field hockey colleges span across the NCAA Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3 divisions. The opportunity to compete in Field Hockey is not available at the NAIA or Junior College levels.
Competing against recruits from around the world can be difficult — With 63,719 athletes competing in high school, the competition to earn limited scholarships is intense. Student-athletes must be dedicated to both taking a proactive approach in the recruiting process, as well as consistent improvement in skills during games and practice to reach the college level.
Countries that commonly have recruits come to the US to play field hockey on scholarships are South Africa, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
For the best chance of earning a scholarship, potential recruits should work with their family to make the most of the recruiting process. This includes reaching out to coaches, taking official and unofficial trips, maintaining good academic standing and continually improving on the field. We have compiled information to provide a resource for and to clarify questions athletes and parents might have about college field hockey teams.
The average number of players on an NCAA field hockey team is between 20 and 25. The reasoning for this range is that there are redshirts and injured players, as well. With only 11 players seeing the field at once, this makes playing time extremely competitive even for top talent. Targeting schools early in the recruiting process can allow an athlete to see which positions will need to be filled in the next couple of years.
The total number of college field hockey teams is 263, which spans across the levels of NCAA Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3. Unlike many other sports, there are no opportunities to compete at an NAIA or junior college in field hockey. However, many NAIA and junior colleges have club programs. Field hockey is immensely popular in the northeastern United States, with colleges as far south as the University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasting two of the NCAA’s top programs. The sport is growing across the country with many midwestern schools and even schools out on the west coast climbing the NCAA rankings.
The highest level of competition that a field hockey player can potentially reach is one of the many NCAA Division 1 field hockey colleges. There are scholarships available at this level with some of the largest schools in the country being included. The larger the athletic department’s budget for field hockey, the wider reach of the recruiting coach. Programs with a smaller budget will recruit in a more local fashion, while those with larger budget recruit all over the world. The best Division 1 field hockey colleges not only deliver on athletic experience but also quality of education.
NCAA Division 2 field hockey colleges are still very competitive with some athletes having the ability to compete at a high-level Division 1 field hockey program. Division 2 simply offers a better balance, in terms of being a student-athlete with the ability to join campus groups or take up hobbies. An athlete that would have been on a partial scholarship in D1 could receive a far larger scholarship simply by going to a D2 school. The best Division 2 field hockey colleges will have a larger budget to recruit throughout the country, while others might just recruit locally.
NCAA Division 3 field hockey colleges differ from both Division 1 and Division 2 in the characteristic that they do not give out athletic scholarships. The misconception that D3 schools do not have any form of scholarships is far from the truth. There are plenty of academic and need-based scholarships given out on an annual basis. Academics are important in all divisions, but in D3 they are the most important as it could impact the amount of scholarship money received. In the other divisions, meeting a minimum test requirement or GPA will help an athlete in recruiting but will not impact scholarship money offered on a majority of cases. The best Division 3 field hockey colleges can compete with D2 schools, and some D3 schools even have the talent to compete at the D1 level. The balance between athletics, academics and college social life for a field hockey player is at maximum levels when playing D3.
College field hockey rankings differ depending on a variety of factors whether they are performance-based or taking the student-athlete’s overall experience into account. According to NCSA’s Power Rankings, below are the best field hockey colleges:
NCSA has compiled this list of the 10 best college field hockey colleges based not only on performance at conference and national tournaments, but with additional factors off the field that impact college experience immensely. Our rankings give student-athletes a clear idea of which schools may be the best fit, including data about financial aid, graduation rates and number of favorites on the NCSA platform. Favorites indicate how many users in our athlete database are interested in attending a specific educational institution. Here at NCSA we understand that what happens on the field is important but also remember college is more than just the athletic experience.