List of NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA Men's Soccer Colleges
There are more than 1,400 college men’s soccer teams spanning five different division levels: NCAA Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA (also referred to as junior college or JUCO). Each division level—and school—provides student-athletes with its own unique experience. We’ve broken down some of the main features of each division level to give student-athletes a better understanding of what they have to offer, which will help student-athletes create their target list of schools. We always advise that student-athletes include a mix of schools in their target list, because the best colleges for men’s soccer are really the ones that fit each student-athlete’s individual needs. Every day, we hear from athletes who signed with a school they would never have thought of until they broadened their school search.
NCAA Division 1 men’s soccer colleges: Compete at the highest level
D1 college men’s soccer teams are known for their competitiveness and athletic rigor. Here are a few distinguishing factors of D1 men’s soccer colleges:
- The highest level of athletic competition. For many student-athletes, the allure of competing at the D1 level lies in wanting to play against the best athletes. While there are tremendous athletes at every level, D1 college men’s soccer teams will have the deepest bench, and the average level of competition will usually be higher than the other division levels.
- The largest athletic budgets. It’s no coincidence that D1 college men’s soccer teams often have the newest equipment and the best facilities. They tend to have larger athletic budgets and can often spend more money on their sports teams.
- Large campus and class sizes. At the D1 level, student-athletes will likely be on a campus with thousands of other students. Especially freshman year, student-athletes will have large lectures and may be taught by a teaching assistant, or someone other than their professor. This means athletes need to really stay on top of their schoolwork.
On D1 college men’s soccer teams, athletes will find serious competitors who were likely the best athletes on their own club and high school teams. They’ll be in the spotlight, competing and practicing year-round. If a student-athlete is ready to really commit to their sport, D1 might the right division level for them.Back to Top ^
D2 colleges with men’s soccer: Balance athletics and academics
D2 is an interesting division, as student-athletes will find much of the athletic talent seen at the D1 level with more balance between athletics, academics and a social life. Here are a few key reasons to play on a D2 college men’s soccer team:
- Strong athletics with a balance. D2 college men’s soccer is nearly as competitive as D1 but without some of the demands of a D1 schedule. Athletes at D2 schools have a little more time to spend on academics or other extracurricular activities.
- Athletes are more likely to see playing time sophomore or even freshman year. Many D1-caliber athletes will opt to play on a D2 college men’s soccer team so that they can get playing time earlier on in their collegiate men’s soccer career. At the D1 level, many players might not actually play in a game until their junior or senior year of college. However, the D2 level can give athletes an opportunity to start competing earlier on.
- Find a school that’s the right size. At the D2 level, student-athletes will find campuses that are both big and small. According to the NCAA, about 36% of D2 universities have 2,500–7,499 students on campus, while approximately 51% have fewer than 2,500. Some campuses have up to 15,000 students. In other words, student-athletes can find the right campus size for them at the D2 level.
D2 college men’s soccer teams are competitive in every sense of the word. Student-athletes looking for a competitive men’s soccer program with a more relaxed environment that still allows time for other interests might find the best fit at the D2 level.Back to Top ^
D3 men’s soccer colleges: Get a well-rounded college experience
Many people are surprised to hear that D3 is the NCAA’s largest division. With 415 D3 college men’s soccer teams, it has 200 more programs than D1 or D2. Of all the NCAA divisions, D3 provides the most flexibility for their student-athletes. Here are a few key reasons to play on a D3 college men’s soccer team:
- Many opportunities for financial aid. While D3 men’s soccer programs don’t offer athletic scholarships, they have plenty of other scholarship opportunities students can take advantage of. From academic scholarships to need-based and merit scholarships, there are several ways to help pay for an athlete’s education if they have the grades and the talent to back it up.
- The most balanced of all the NCAA division levels. If athletes want to study abroad during college or join some clubs, D3 might be the level for them. D3 men’s soccer teams have the most flexibility in their schedules. While athletes will still have a rigorous schedule during the season, they’ll have more freedom outside of the season to pursue other interests.
- Find an academically competitive school. Many schools at the D3 level are extremely competitive academically. By playing on a D3 college men’s soccer team, student-athletes have the opportunity to really excel athletically and academically.
For well-rounded student-athletes who want to make the most of their college experience, attending a D3 school might be their best bet.Back to Top ^
NAIA men’s soccer colleges: A college experience that fits many needs
For many student-athletes, the charm of NAIA men’s soccer schools comes from their smaller class sizes and overall flexibility between athletics, academics and a social life. Here are a few key points that make NAIA men’s soccer colleges unique:
- The campus and class size. NAIA men’s soccer schools tend to have smaller campuses and class sizes, and many student-athletes prefer to get to know their professors. There can also be a strong sense of community, rather than feeling like just a number in a sea of students.
- Flexibility in the recruiting process. The NAIA leaves recruiting up to the colleges—there’s no recruiting calendars or rules to memorize. Coaches at NAIA men’s soccer schools can recruit at any time and by any means they see fit. NAIA schools can be a good option for athletes who bloomed later or got their recruiting process started later.
- The balance between athletics, academics and a social life. NAIA men’s soccer colleges are known for their ability to accommodate student-athletes’ interests. If student-athletes want to study abroad, have an on-campus job or join another extracurricular activity, one of the NAIA men’s soccer colleges might be a good fit for them.
NAIA schools offer student-athletes the opportunity to be just that: students and athletes. While they’ll be expected to train hard and play harder, they can take advantage of the other activities college has to offer. Plus, they’ll be surrounded by a close-knit community of students, professors, administrative staff and athletes.Back to Top ^
Develop athletically and academically while saving money on a junior college men’s soccer team
Oftentimes, men’s soccer players opt to compete on a junior college team after their senior year in high school. In fact, some junior colleges are feeder programs for D1 college men’s soccer teams. Here are some of the main reasons to consider playing at a junior college:
- Cost. Simply put, junior colleges offer tremendous value. The average published yearly tuition and fees for a public two-year junior college (for in-district students) is around $3,440. Meanwhile, a private four-year college costs around $32,410.
- Academic opportunity. For many athletes, junior college gives them an opportunity to improve their GPA and complete some general education requirements. For student-athletes who are not sure what they’d like to major in or didn’t get the best grades in high school, this is a great way to keep playing competitive men’s soccer while moving their academics forward.
- Athletic skill development. Make no mistake, junior college men’s soccer teams compete at a high level. Competing at a junior college gives athletes an opportunity to get two more years of experience playing against college-level athletes, which can help them prepare for the rigors of four-year collegiate men’s soccer.
- Get an athletic scholarship. Many athletes mistakenly believe that there aren’t any athletic scholarships at the junior college level. The truth is that there are thousands of dollars of athletic scholarships available for junior college men’s soccer players. Student-athletes still need to go through the recruiting process, but don’t necessarily need to start the process as early as they’d need to with D1 or D2 men’s soccer programs.
By playing on a junior college men’s soccer team, student-athletes can show coaches at other division levels that they’re dedicated to playing their sport and are able to maintain the difficult schedule of a college athlete.Back to Top ^