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NCAA Eligibility Requirements for Student-Athletes

IMG student-athlete in classroom

NCAA eligibility is based on a student-athlete’s academic readiness and amateur status. If you’re thinking about playing college sports, it’s crucial to know what this means – and it’s best to start learning now.

Read on to stay up to date on the most recent NCAA eligibility rules for student-athletes.

NCAA eligibility rules and academic requirements

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA temporarily eased initial eligibility requirements by removing standardized testing. This change will now become a permanent policy for students starting college full-time from the 2023-2024 academic year onward.

This means the NCAA will no longer require standardized testing as part of the eligibility criteria.

Your academic eligibility is based on two factors:

  1. Core Course Requirement: You’ll need to pass 16 approved NCAA Core Courses during your high school years. Exact requirements vary slightly between D1 and D2 schools. View our full breakdown of the NCAA core course requirements
  2. Core Course GPA: Your GPA will be calculated based on your performance in core courses, not your entire high school transcript. The NCAA provides a core course worksheet to help, but we recommend you meet with your high school counselor too. Here’s more more information on how to determine your core course GPA.  

Did You Know? 75% of college student-athletes typically meet NCAA academic minimums. Just because you are a good student doesn’t guarantee academic eligibility. Surprisingly, 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.

Although the NCAA isn’t making the SAT or ACT mandatory, you may still need to take them. Some colleges continue to expect these scores for admission and specific scholarships may request them too. It’s a good idea to check what each college and scholarship requires to make sure you meet all the criteria.

NCSA can help you prepare for the SAT/ACT through Method Learning. Think of it as making sure you have the right tools for your academic game – you wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity just because you weren’t prepared!

NCAA amateurism requirements

Your amateur status is determined by following NCAA amateurism rules, which are in place to ensure that student-athletes do not receive compensation or benefits that could jeopardize their amateur status. Students who are enrolling at a D1 or D2 school for the first time must obtain a final amateurism certification before becoming eligible to participate in college sports.  

Examples of situations that may impact a prospective student-athlete’s amateur status include:

The new NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) rules allow college athletes to earn money from endorsements and promotions while remaining amateurs. However, it’s important to understand these rules, including state laws, to ensure you maintain your eligibility.

You can learn more about the NCAA NIL policy here.

NCAA Division 1 eligibility requirements

For high-school athletes enrolling in college full-time in 2023-24 and beyond: 

Once you enter your senior year, the grades you’ve received in your core courses are “locked in” and cannot be changed. If you’re currently a junior in high school, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your core course count. You might need to take additional courses during the summer between your junior and senior years to meet this requirement.

NCAA Division 2 eligibility requirements

For high-school athletes enrolling in college full-time in 2023-2024 and beyond: 

NCAA Division 3 eligibility requirements

Division 3 schools are responsible for setting their own academic eligibility rules. If you are going to be competing for a D3 institution, or if you are unsure what division level you’ll be competing at, you can start with a free NCAA Profile page. If you do decide to pursue a D1 or D2 program, you can always transition to a Certification Account later.

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 D1 or D2 college. This process will begin once you graduate high school and complete the minimum 16 core courses with a minimum GPA average in these courses.You also need to request your final amateurism certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center.

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:

COVID-19 policies

The chart below has been created to help people understand the NCAA’s new legislation and stay informed about COVID-19 policies that might affect students who start full-time enrollment in the academic year 2023-24 and later.

See these NCAA FAQs regarding COVID-19 policies for more info.

covid-19 NCAA eligibility

NCAA eligibility FAQs

Is the SAT/ACT required for NCAA eligibility?

No. In January 2023, the NCAA voted to remove test score requirements for initial eligibility for incoming college freshmen student-athletes following a recommendation from the NCAA Standardized Test Score Task Force.

What are the NCAA academic eligibility requirements? 

To meet NCAA academic eligibility requirements, student-athletes must complete a specific set of high school core courses, maintain a minimum GPA in these courses, and graduate from high school.

How long do you have NCAA eligibility? 

NCAA eligibility rules allow student-athletes 5 years to compete athletically in 4 seasons.  

What is the NCAA 10/7 rule?

The 10/7 rule is a specific requirement for NCAA D1 eligibility. It means you must complete 10 of the required 16 core courses before your senior year of high school, or seventh semester. Seven of these 10 courses should be in subjects like English, Math or Natural/Physical Science. This rule doesn’t apply to students with international academic credentials, including those from Canada.