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NCAA Eligibility Requirements for Student-Athletes

 

NCAA eligibility requirements

The NCAA determines a student-athlete’s eligibility based on their academic preparedness and amateurism status. Academic eligibility is determined using a combination of their SAT/ACT test scores, high school course work and their GPA as calculated using what are called the “NCAA Core Courses.” Your amateurism status is determined based on the answers to your amateurism certificate. In extreme cases, the NCAA will investigate your amateurism status.

 

NCAA academic requirements

For 75 percent of college student-athletes, they will have no issue meeting the academic minimums laid out by the NCAA. That said, just because you are a good student doesn’t mean you can assume you will meet the academic eligibility rules. Every year, student-athletes with 3.5+ GPAs and honors courses are declared academically ineligible due to not meeting one of the following NCAA eligibility requirements.

  • Core Course Requirement – Each high school has a list of approved NCAA Core Courses (more info here). You are required to pass 16 core courses throughout high school. While there is a slight variation in the requirements for DI and DII schools, if you meet the DI core course requirements, you will also be eligible at the DII level. View our full breakdown on the NCAA core course requirements.
  • Core Course GPA – The NCAA does not use your entire high school transcript for determining your GPA. They are only concerned with your GPA in your core courses. The NCAA provides a core course worksheet, but it also likely require a meeting with your high school counselor. Check out more information on how to determine your core course GPA.
  • NCAA Sliding Scale – The NCAA uses a combination of your GPA, SAT or ACT test scores in determining your eligibility. It is impossible to say what GPA or SAT/ACT scores you will need without knowing the other. Learn more about the sliding scale to get a sense for what GPA and test scores you will need.
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NCAA amateurism requirements

The cornerstone of the amateurism rules is that student-athletes are not allowed to have received prize money (beyond the reimbursement for participation); they can’t have signed a contract with or receive benefits from an agent; they can’t receive money for promotion of products or services; and they are not allowed to make money by use of their athletic ability or fame.

Insider Tip: The NCAA does not answer questions about what you can and can’t do regarding amateurism. If you have questions about maintaining your amateurism status, you can get more information on our amateurism rules page.

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Division I eligibility requirements

  • Graduate high school
  • Earn a core course GPA of 2.3 or higher
  • Complete 16 core courses
    • 4 years of English
    • 3 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
    • 2 years of natural/physical science
      • 1 year must be lab science if your school offers it
    • 1 additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
    • 2 years of social science
    • 4 additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
  • You must complete 10 of the core courses by the end of your junior year (before the start of your seventh semester). Seven of the 10 core courses need to be in English, math or natural/physical science. The grades in these seven courses will be “locked in,” meaning you will not be allowed to retake them to improve your grades.
  • Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale.
  • Receive final certification on your amateurism status via the NCAA Eligibility Center
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Division II eligibility requirements

If you are enrolling BEFORE August 1, 2018 (Class of 2017)

  • Graduate high school
  • Earn a core course GPA of 2.0 of higher
  • Complete 16 core courses
    • 3 years of English
    • 2 years of math (algebra 1 or higher)
    • 2 years of Natural/physical science
      • 1 year must be lab science if your school offers it
    • 3 additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
    • 2 years of social science
    • 4 additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
  • Earn a SAT combined score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68
  • Receive final certification on your amateurism status via the eligibility center

If you are enrolling AFTER August 1, 2018 (Class of 2018 and later)

  • Graduate high school
  • Earn a core course GPA of 2.2 of higher
  • Complete 16 core courses
    • 3 years of English
    • 2 years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
    • 2 years of natural/physical science
      • 1 year must be lab science if your school offers it
    • 3 additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
    • 2 years of social science
    • 4 additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy
  • Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division II sliding scale.
  • Receive final certification on your amateurism status via the NCAA Eligibility Center
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Division III eligibility requirements

Division III schools are responsible for setting their own academic eligibility rules. If you are going to be competing for a DIII institution, there is no reason to register with the NCAA, as they will not be reviewing your academic eligibility. If you are unsure what division level you will be competing at, start with an NCAA Profile page and you can transition to a Certification Account later.

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Academic status: What your academic status with the NCAA means

The NCAA will only review an athlete’s eligibility status if their status has been requested by a DI or DII college. That can only happen once you have completed high school and the NCAA has official copies of your SAT/ACT test scores and your final high school transcripts. Once the NCAA reviews your account, they will assign you an “Academic Status.” Here are the various statuses you could receive and what they mean:

  • Final Qualifier: You meet all of the academic requirements and can receive an athletic scholarship your first year.
  • Early Academic Qualifier: This is the status for “early enrollees.” This means you are eligible to receive an athletic scholarship immediately. Make sure to meet with your colleges compliance office.
  • Final Nonqualifier: You do not meet the academic requirements and are not eligible to compete or practice at the college requesting your final status. You will not be eligible to receive an athletic scholarship.
  • Final Partial Qualifier: This is a status for only DII schools. Athletes with this status can receive an athletic scholarship and practice with the team, but you are not eligible to compete your first year in college.
  • Under Review: The NCAA Eligibility Center is reviewing a unique academic situation related to your case.
  • Academic Redshirt: This means you will be eligible to receive an athletic scholarship and practice, but will not be allowed to compete your first year in school. Only athletes enrolling in a Division I school after August 1, 2016, are eligible for this status.
  • Automatic Waiver Approved: This is a special status you can only get if your colleges compliance office files for a waiver on your behalf. If you receive this waiver, you will be eligible to receive a scholarship, practice and play your first year in school.
  • HS Decision Pending: If your high school courses are not NCAA Approved, the NCAA will likely need to make a more in-depth review of your high school classes.
  • In Process: The NCAA Eligibility Center is reviewing your case. Usually, cases remain in process for no more than two business days.
  • Secondary Review: On rare occasions, the NCAA will make a secondary review of your status. This will only happen with the help your college compliance office.
  • Waiver Approved: From time to time, your colleges compliance office will file for a waiver if they think you will meet one of the cases for academic waivers. This status means that waiver has been approved.
  • Waiver Denied: If your compliance office has filed for a waiver and it is denied, you will receive this status. This likely means you will not be eligible for a scholarship or to compete.
  • Waiver Partially Approved (athletics aid only): If your compliance office has filed for a waiver on your behalf, it might be partially approved. This would mean you are eligible to receive an athletic scholarship but are not eligible to practice or play your first year in college.
  • Waiver Partially Approved (aid and practice): If your compliance office has filed for a waiver on your behalf, this status would mean you are eligible to receive an athletic scholarship and practice, but you will not be eligible to compete your first year in college.
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