Can you get a field hockey scholarship? The answer is yes, but there’s more to getting an athletic scholarship than just being a talented athlete. There are roughly 6,200 field hockey players that compete at all different collegiate levels. To earn a spot on a field hockey roster, these student-athletes had to compete for the attention of college coaches, meet NCAA eligibility requirements and more. In this section, we walk student-athletes and their families through how to get a college field hockey scholarship.
|Division Level||Number of Teams||Total Athletes||Average Team Size||Scholarships Limit Per Team*||Scholarship Limit Type**|
*Scholarship limits per team: The NCAA sets a scholarship limit per team, which dictates the maximum number of scholarships that a program can award each year. Fully funded Division 1 and Division 2 college field hockey teams can award 12 and 6.3 scholarships, respectively. Unfortunately, not all programs are fully funded, which means most college coaches have even fewer scholarships to award student-athletes. This also makes it hard for coaches to award full-ride scholarships. It should be noted that Ivy League schools do not award athletic scholarships. Instead, these elite schools provide financial aid through academic scholarships.
**Equivalency scholarship: As an equivalency sport, NCAA field hockey programs are given a scholarship budget based on the scholarship limit per team and the funding available at each institution. College coaches have the freedom to divide up their scholarship budget however they like to award recruits and current roster players with scholarship funding. For example, a field hockey coach could divide the equivalent of 12 scholarships in any portion among 15 field hockey players. Due to the limited number of scholarships allowed by the NCAA, most student-athletes only receive partial funding, as opposed to a full-ride scholarship.
The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that loosened regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Starting August 1, 2020, teams in equivalency sports like field hockey will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against a team’s athletic scholarship limit. Prior to this rule change, athletes had to meet certain criteria for their extra aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.
Field hockey teams will still have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes can seek to increase their overall financial aid via as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they can secure. With school and family budgets being impacted by the coronavirus, this rule change should allow field hockey programs that have the funds to extend more money to families and athletes that need it—especially at private colleges with higher tuition.
While it is possible to receive a full ride for field hockey, it is extremely unlikely. As an equivalency sport, field hockey programs are given a pool of scholarship money that college coaches can divide up amongst athletes. To make the most of this budget, college coaches generally award partial scholarships, which allows them to provide aid to many athletes, rather than awarding full ride scholarships to a few athletes. Student-athletes who receive a partial athletic scholarship are able to combine alternative forms of financial aid to cover costs.
Field hockey scholarships are most often awarded first to athletes in positions that directly impact scoring opportunities. For field hockey, this means college programs prioritize goalies and well-rounded forwards, as these positions prevent scoring and put points on the board. Following these positions are defenders and midfielders.
Regardless of what positions an athlete plays on the field, here are a few tips to better their chances of getting an athletic scholarship.
Just less than nine percent of the 64,025 high school field hockey players go on to compete at the collegiate level. Many of these athletes, roughly 57 percent, go on to play at NCAA Division 3 programs, which do not offer athletic scholarships. Due to lack of funding, the 43 percent of student-athletes who play for Division 1 or 2 programs must fight for a shot at receiving a scholarship. With few scholarships available, student-athletes will need to find ways to stand out and develop relationships with college coaches.
The NCAA has established eligibility requirements that student-athletes must meet in order to be eligible for a roster spot on an NCAA team. Eligibility is determined by a student-athlete’s academics and amateurism status. There are three factors in determining academic eligibility: core course requirements, core course GPA and the NCAA sliding scale. The NCAA requires student-athletes to pass 16 core courses during high school. If the student-athlete completes all 16 courses, then the NCAA uses a sliding scale that combines the athlete’s SAT/ACT test scores and their GPA in these core courses to determine eligibility.
NCAA Division 1 field hockey programs are allotted a maximum of 12 scholarships per team. This does not mean that every team will have the full 12 scholarships to award, as program funding varies across institutions.
NCAA Division 2 programs are limited to just over half the number of scholarships that Division 1 programs are allowed. While only 14 percent of all collegiate field hockey players compete at the Division 2 level, the level of competition is still high.
Over 3,500 student-athletes play field hockey at a Division 3 school. Known for their high academic standards, Division 3 schools award academic scholarships to eligible student-athletes, rather than athletic scholarships. In some cases, the financial aid packages offered at Division 3 schools are stronger than the athletic scholarships offered at Division 1 and 2 schools.
Which colleges offer field hockey scholarships? Student-athletes can find scholarship opportunities at every NCAA division level. Division 1 and 2 programs award full or partial athletic scholarships, while Ivy League and Division 3 institutions award academic scholarships to student-athletes in high academic standing and with strong ACT/SAT test scores.
Below is a list of the best college for field hockey scholarships at each NCAA division level. These programs were identified using NCSA’s Power Rankings system, which ranks schools based on academics, cost, graduation rates and more. Student-athletes can view a full list of the top college field hockey programs on our Power Rankings page.