How many men’s wrestling colleges are there?
There are currently 395 men’s wrestling colleges throughout the D1, D2, D3, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
Division 1 wrestling colleges
NCAA Division 1 wrestling colleges are full of top-level talent with many wrestlers only losing a few matches over a matter of years. At the highest level, the best Division 1 wrestling colleges, wrestlers oftentimes go undefeated for a few years straight. Top D1 wrestlers compete at Olympic trials and at other national wrestling events often winning or placing high. There are athletic scholarships, both partial and full, at this level. A scholarship could be reserved for a specific weight class, so potential recruits should proactively research schools where they may be the best fit for the team’s needs.
Here is some general information about what to expect at this level:
- Most competitive level: For many student-athletes, the allure of competing at D1 wrestling colleges lies in wanting to compete against the best of their peers. The level of competition will be generally much stronger than anywhere else.
- Well-funded programs: D1 college men’s wrestling colleges often have the most modern and well-equipped facilities. These schools often have bigger budgets for athletics than schools in other divisions.
- Large campus: At the D1 level, campuses often have thousands of students. Especially freshman year, student-athletes will take courses in large lecture halls, which often are primarily taught by teaching assistants.
On D1 college men’s wrestling teams, athletes will find elite competitors who were likely the best athletes on their high school teams. If a wrestling recruit is ready to greatly commit to their sport, D1 might the right division level for them.
Division 2 wrestling colleges
At NCAA Division 2, student-athletes will find almost as much of the athletic talent seen at the D1 level with more balance between athletics, academics and a social life. There are many wrestlers at NCAA Division 2 wrestling colleges who simply felt a better fit at a D2 school yet have the talent to wrestle and win at the Division 1 level. At D2, wrestling will still be a huge part of your college life, but it will not have to be the only thing you have time for. The best Division 2 wrestling colleges include the Colorado School of Mines and Gannon University within the top 5 rankings.
Here are a few key reasons to compete on a D2 college men’s wrestling team:
- More free time: D2 college men’s wrestling is almost as competitive as D1 but with a less demanding schedule than D1. Athletes at D2 wrestling colleges have a little more time to spend on their personal interests and other activities on campus.
- The right size: At the D2 level, student-athletes will find a wide range of campus sizes, ranging from student populations of 2,500–7,499 all the way up to 15,000 students. When looking for wrestling colleges, student-athletes have a wide variety of types of campuses to consider at the D2 level.
Division 3 wrestling colleges
A wrestler may want to compete at a certain weight class in order to live a more comfortable lifestyle. This would be unheard of at the NCAA Division 1 level, but at Division 3 wrestling colleges, it is a possibility. D3 is all about balance between life, academics and athletics, which for many student-athletes may be the best college experience. With the largest amount of college men’s wrestling programs compared to other divisions, D3 offers a variety of options for the right school fit.
The best division 3 wrestling colleges include Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago, which are incredible academic institutions.
Here are some benefits Division 3 wrestling colleges:
- Financial aid options: While D3 men’s wrestling colleges don’t offer athletic scholarships, student-athletes can lower their college costs through academic-based financial aid, if they have solid transcripts and test scores.
- Lots of balance: Division 3 wrestling colleges offer a great deal of flexibility in their athletes’ schedules. This level may be the best choice for those interested in other hobbies and activities outside of wrestling. While the athletic season will be busy, wrestlers will have more personal time during the off-season.
- Strong academics: Student-athletes who place academics as a leading factor in their college decision should consider schools at the D3 level, where many schools are highly ranked academically.
Men’s NAIA wrestling schools
For many student-athletes, NAIA men’s wrestling colleges may be the right choice, in terms of flexibility between athletics, academics and social aspects of college. Here are a few key points to understand about NAIA wrestling colleges:
- Campus experience: NAIA wrestling schools tend to have smaller campuses and classes, compared to many schools at other division levels schools. A more tight-knit community experience may be the right choice for some student-athletes.
- Less restrictive recruiting: Unlike the NCAA, NAIA does not have mandated recruiting rules and calendars. This gives coaches and potential recruits more freedom in navigating their recruiting process.
- A well-rounded college experience: NAIA men’s wrestling colleges provide more flexibility and free time for student-athletes to pursue other activities outside of wrestling. For wrestlers who want to join campus groups, work an on-campus job or even study abroad, NAIA wrestling schools could be the right choice for them.
Junior colleges with men’s wrestling
Another option in searching for colleges with men’s wrestling programs is JUCO wrestling – junior colleges. Here are some of the key benefits of junior colleges:
- Cost: The average published yearly tuition and fees for a public two-year junior college (for in-district students) is about $3,440, compared to a private four-year college average of roughly $32,410.
- Academic development: For many student-athletes, junior college provides a way to complete some course requirements at a lower cost. Student-athletes who didn’t have a strong GPA or test scores in high school can wrestle competitively while continuing to grow academically.
- Athletic skills training: JUCO wrestling is still a high level of competition. Student-athletes will continue to grow while competing at this level and may reach a point where they have the ability to transfer to a school in another division level.
- Scholarship opportunities: Many families don’t realize that junior colleges do offer athletic scholarships. Student-athletes can seek these opportunities as a way to even further reduce the costs of their education.
Men’s college wrestling rankings - what are the best wrestling colleges?
NCSA understands that the college experience includes more than just athletics for student-athletes. For this reason, NCSA uses a variety of data sources to compile college wrestling team rankings, assessing more than just the wrestling program. The best wrestling colleges are based on proprietary analysis of NCSA Favorites data obtained from the college search activity of the over 2 million student-athletes on the NCSA recruiting network, U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, IPEDS graduation rates, and IPEDS average cost after aid.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Stanford University
- University of Michigan
- Duke University
- Princeton University
- University of Virginia
- University of Wisconsin
- Ohio State University
- Harvard University
- University of Illinois
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford University top the NCSA college wrestling team rankings. Both institutions do a good job of providing financial aid and graduating a high number of their athletes. The programs both have large athletic department budgets due to success in various revenue generating sports like basketball and football.