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How to Get a Scholarship for Men’s Volleyball

Athletic scholarships are available for men’s volleyball at the NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 levels, as well as at NAIA colleges. Getting a men’s volleyball scholarship is an incredible opportunity for a student-athlete to finance their education, while continuing to compete after high school. Athletic scholarships are given to student-athletes who have demonstrated that they have the potential to compete at the highest level. They can cover part—and on some occasions all—of a student-athlete’s tuition.

Most scholarships are one-year agreements that must be renewed each year. For most NCAA schools, a scholarship offer does not become official until a student-athlete signs the National Letter of Intent (NLI). However, it is important that athletes and families do not get tunnel vision about securing an athletic scholarship for men’s volleyball. With a limit of 4.5 full scholarships allocated per team at the NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 levels, there is simply not that much money to be spread around the roster. Pursuing a college simply for volleyball reasons can also cause an athlete to miss out on getting accepted to a better academic school or securing more money via academic scholarships and financial aid somewhere else. It’s important to take into consideration which college offers the best fit athletically, academically, financially and socially.  How many DI college volleyball schools are there?

How many scholarships are there for men’s volleyball?

Division Level Number of Teams Total Athletes in Divsion Average Team Size Scholarships Limit Per Team Scholarship Limit Type
NCAA D1 23 408 19 4.5 Headcount
NCAA D2 25 360 18 4.5 Equivalency
NCAA D3 107 1,201 13 - N/A
NAIA 43 510 15 8 Equivalency
Other 4 year 2 25 13 - N/A
Other 2 year 16 218 14 - N/A
Totals 216 2,722 15    

The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that loosened regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Effective August 1, 2020, teams in equivalency sports like men’s volleyball will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against a team’s maximum athletic scholarship limit. Prior to this rule change, athletes had to meet certain criteria for their additional aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.

Men’s volleyball teams will still have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes can seek to add as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they are able to secure. With school and family budgets being impacted by the coronavirus, this rule change should allow men’s volleyball programs that have the funds to extend more money to families and athletes that need it—especially at private universities with higher tuition.

Student-athletes at the Division 1 and Division 2 levels can secure athletic scholarship money, but there is only a maximum of 4.5 full scholarships available per team. Because men’s volleyball is an equivalency sport, this money can be broken up across the roster as the coach sees fit, with a portion going to every athlete or larger amounts saved for top recruits. This depends on each specific team. At the NAIA level, there is a maximum of 8 scholarships per team, so student-athletes will have a better chance at scholarship money. Division 3 and junior college (California Community College Athletic Association) schools do not offer athletic scholarships for men’s volleyball. 

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Can you get a scholarship for volleyball?

Yes, athletic scholarships are available for men’s volleyball at the NCAA Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA levels. Athletic scholarships are not available at the Division 3 level and junior colleges (California Community College Athletic Association), but colleges are helpful in lining up academic and need-based aid and can offer packages that are even more appealing than an athletic scholarship. Additionally, Ivy League colleges at the Division 1 level, like Princeton and Harvard, do not give out athletic scholarships. To earn a volleyball scholarship, potential recruits will have to stand out on the court and in the classroom, among a very competitive pool of candidate. This is why finding a college that offers the right athletic, academic, financial and social fit is so important.

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How do college coaches prioritize scholarship money?

College coaches usually prioritize recruiting hitters and setters over libero/DS players. Coaches look at approach jump and block jump measurables first so they can gauge how a player plays above the net, with physicality and volleyball IQ also considered. If a player is an elite recruit that is considered “program-changing,” they can receive about 50 percent of a full-ride scholarship. For most men’s volleyball players that do receive a scholarship, the amount is often around 10–15 percent of a full ride. Other student-athletes will be walk-ons who receive academic scholarships and merit-based grants.

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Men’s volleyball scholarship requirements

Student-athletes must meet both athletic and academic criteria in order to earn a volleyball scholarship. The athletic criteria are largely up to the volleyball program at each individual school. Every coach has different methods for determining which athletes are right for their roster, which is why the recruiting process is so crucial. If an athlete isn’t sure what a college coach looks for athletically in their position, they should check out the team’s current roster. Look for the height, stats and accolades of an athlete in your position. Or, better yet, send the coach an email to ask. 

The NCAA Eligibility Center has specific academic requirements that athletes must meet to be eligible to compete at either the NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 levels. We’ve included the Division 1 requirements below. A good rule of thumb is that if an athlete meets or exceeds the Division 1 requirements, they will be eligible at the Division 2 level, as well. However, always bear in mind that each individual school has its own set of admissions requirements that athletes will also have to meet.

  • The athlete must graduate from high school.
  • They must complete 16 core courses and receive a minimum GPA of 2.3 in those courses. The core course requirements are as follows: four years of English; three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher); two years of natural or physical science; two years of social science; one extra year of English, math or science; and four years of religion, philosophy, foreign language or additional years of any of the categories above.
  • Athletes need to complete 10 of their 16 core courses before junior year of high school.
  • Athletes must take the SAT or ACT and score a minimum of 400 on the SAT (math and reading only) or 37 on the ACT (sum score).
  • Their core course GPA combined with their SAT/ACT score must meet the minimum requirements as laid out by the NCAA Sliding Scale.

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How many Division 1 men’s volleyball scholarships are there?

The number of men’s volleyball scholarships at each level really comes down to each athletic department and what kind of budget they are working with. At each division level, the NCAA only enforces the maximum number of scholarships that can be broken up and dispersed, but does not require volleyball programs to disperse the full maximum limit of 4.5 scholarships per team. Student-athletes will have to communicate with college coaches ahead of time, ask questions and find out if there will be athletic scholarship money available for them as they navigate the college recruiting process. Here is a breakdown of athletic scholarships for Division 1 men’s volleyball:

  • Division 1 volleyball scholarship limit per team: 4.5
  • Total number of D1 volleyball teams: 23
  • Average team size: 19

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NCAA Division 2 men’s volleyball scholarships

Like NCAA Division 1, there is a limit of 4.5 athletic scholarships per team at the Division 2 level, and the NCAA enforces the maximum number of scholarships that can be broken up and dispersed. Student-athletes at the Division 2 level will find a similar number of opportunities for athletic scholarship money. However, the level of athletic competition is slightly lower, so top recruits may want to consider dropping down from the Division 1 level to find more scholarship opportunities. Here is a breakdown of athletic scholarships for Division 2 men’s volleyball:

  • Division 2 volleyball scholarship limit per team: 4.5
  • Number of D2 volleyball teams: 25
  • Average team size: 18 

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NCAA Division 3 men’s volleyball scholarships

NCAA Division 3 programs do not offer athletic scholarships, but they can put together attractive financial aid packages that rival the athletic scholarships at other levels. Division 3 programs usually have limited recruiting budgets and rely on student-athletes reaching out to them to express their recruiting interest.

There are no NCAA academic requirements like at the Division 1 and Division 2 levels, with each university setting its own standards. However, many Division 3 schools are academically rigorous. Athletes should research the admissions requirements at their target schools to make sure they qualify. Here is a breakdown of athletic scholarships for Division 3 men’s volleyball:

  • Division 3 volleyball scholarship limit per team: 0
  • Number of D3 volleyball teams: 107
  • Average team size: 13

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NAIA men’s volleyball scholarships

Student-athletes will find the most athletic scholarship opportunities for men’s volleyball at the NAIA level. There are more NAIA men’s volleyball teams than NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 teams, and NAIA teams also have a limit of 8 men’s volleyball scholarships per team, which is 3.5 higher than at the Division 1 and Division 2 levels. Here is a breakdown of athletic scholarships for NAIA men’s volleyball:

  • NAIA volleyball scholarships per team: 8
  • Number of D3 volleyball teams: 43
  • Average team size: 15

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Best colleges for men’s volleyball scholarships

To see men’s college volleyball rankings that take into consideration financial and academic fit, you can check out NCSA Power Rankings of the best men’s volleyball colleges. These rankings are based on a proprietary analysis using US News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, IPEDS graduation rates, average college cost after aid and NCSA Favorites activity to identify the best colleges that offer men’s volleyball. 

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