NAIA Eligibility Requirements: How to Compete at an NAIA Institution

NAIA eligibility requirements

The NAIA is tasked with ensuring student-athletes are academically eligible to compete in their sport at an NAIA member institution. Athletes must also provide the correct documentation to the NAIA to show that they meet these requirements. We’ve listed out the requirements and records students need to provide to the NAIA in order to be academically eligible.

Keep in mind that NAIA eligibility requirements are different than the NCAA eligibility requirements.

NAIA eligibility requirements for U.S. Freshmen

To be academically eligible, a student needs to meet one of the freshmen eligibility options that are shown in the graphic below. Transfer students or those who took a break between high school and college will need to fulfill additional requirements.

naia academic eligibility requirements

To get started, student-athletes must register with the NAIA Eligibility Center, creating a profile at PlayNAIA.org. In order to determine they meet these requirements, student-athletes must send the NAIA specific documentation. We provide more details about the NAIA eligibility requirements, as well as the documents that prospects must provide.

NAIA eligibility requirements for international freshman

Students who finished high school outside of the U.S. or its territories must meet two of the following three requirements and provide the correct documentation:

While the requirements are the same as incoming U.S. freshmen, how the NAIA calculates them is different and the documentation requirements will vary from country to country. To calculate how the student’s GPA compares to the U.S. system, all international students are required to register for an evaluation through InCred at www.InCredEvals.org. Records submitted to InCred will be used for eligibility evaluation, so students only need to send their records once.

The NAIA has compiled the full list of records students need to submit for each country in their International Documents Required by Country guide. For more information about the eligibility process for international student-athletes, review the NAIA’s Guide for International Student-Athletes and our Guide to Athletic Recruiting in the U.S.

*These test score requirements are for any athletes taking standardized tests after May 1, 2019. The test score requirements will be a 16 ACT or an 860 SAT for tests completed between March 1, 2016 and May 1, 2019. The test score requirements will be an 18 ACT or an 860 SAT for tests completed prior to March 1, 2016.

NAIA eligibility requirements for transfer students

Transfer students from both two-year and four-year universities who have never played on an NAIA team must register with the NAIA Eligibility Center. To be eligible, they must:

Transfers who are still in their first year of college must also provide the NAIA with their ACT or SAT scores, which must be sent directly from the testing centers using code 9876. For more information about transfer student eligibility, visit the NAIA’s page about college transfers.

NAIA eligibility requirements for homeschooled students

Home schooled students only need to meet the test score requirements and provide the NAIA with their home school transcript. The transcript must include a graduation date and a signature by the home school administrator. Students who take their standardized tests after May 1, 2019 need to achieve a score of 20 on the ACT or 1040 on the SAT. If the standardized tests were taken between March 1, 2016 and May 1, 2019, a score of an 18 on the ACT or a 950 on the SAT is required. If the standardized tests were taken prior to March 1, 2016, a score of a 20 on the ACT or a 950 on the SAT is required. If they do not meet the test score requirement, they can request a home school waiver from the NAIA Home School Committee, available on their PlayNAIA profile when logged in to www.PlayNAIA.org.

How long does it take to become eligible for NAIA?

It takes about 10 minutes for athletes to set up their eligibility center account. Once athletes have created their account and all of their documents have arrived at the NAIA Eligibility Center, it generally takes three to seven business days for the NAIA to complete the review process from the date completed records are submitted for incoming freshmen. This time frame can be longer for transfer students and depending on the time of the year and the number of transcripts that a student has.