For many student-athletes, the charm of NAIA schools comes from its smaller class sizes and overall flexibility between athletics, academics and a social life. Furthermore, NAIA football colleges are allowed to manage their own recruiting process—no timelines or calendars to memorize. Coaches at NAIA football schools can recruit at any time, and the window of opportunity is often open longer than at the other division levels. Learn more about D1, D2, D3 and NAIA football colleges.
For football, all NAIA teams play in the same division. Two NAIA football divisions existed until 1997, at which point they were consolidated into one. NAIA football schools compete for the Football National Championship, which is decided by a post-season playoff system with the top NAIA football teams battling to make it to the championship game.
NAIA football programs can offer up to 24 scholarships per team. The coaches can divide the scholarships as partial scholarships in order to get more high-quality players on the team. Athletes can receive full-ride scholarships, but they are somewhat rare, reserved for the players who are projected to make the most impact on the team and for athletes who are in unique positions.
There are 96 NAIA football schools across the country. NAIA football conferences include: Frontier Conference, Great Plains Athletic, Heart of America Athletic, Kansas Collegiate Athletic, Mid-South, Mid-States Football Association, North Start Athletic Association and Sooner Athletic conferences.
NCSA wants to ensure that student-athletes have the opportunity to make the most informed decision regarding their college choice. To aid in the decision-making process, NCSA Power Rankings give student-athletes and their families a more complete picture of the top NAIA football schools. NCSA looks beyond college athletics to rank these schools based on size, tuition, location and academics. Find out more about how the college football recruiting process works.
These are the top 10 NAIA football schools in 2019:
Every week, the NAIA produces a “Coaches’ Top 25” list that reflect how head NAIA football coaches to rank these programs across each conference.
To start exploring the wealth of NAIA colleges across the country, use the following list of NAIA football teams. Search by state, conference or school name.