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NCAA GPA Requirements

IMG student in the classroom

The NCAA does not use the GPA listed on your transcripts; instead, it calculates your GPA using only NCAA-approved core courses. Every year, student-athletes are declared academically ineligible, not because they didn’t have the grades to achieve the minimum GPA, but because they took the wrong courses and didn’t know until it was too late.

We strongly suggest you meet with your high school counselor and go through the NCAA GPA Worksheet, but below we break down all the information you need to know to be prepared for that meeting.

Common scenarios to watch out for

What GPA do you need to be eligible for the NCAA?

Ultimately, the minimum GPA you will need to be NCAA eligible is dependent on where you fall on the NCAA sliding scale.

The minimum GPA you can have to be considered an early academic qualifier for D1 is a 2.3 GPA and a 980 SAT combined score or 75 ACT sum score. You will need a 2.2 GPA and a 900 SAT combined score or 68 ACT sum score to be eligible at the Division II level.

FAQs about core course GPA calculations

Below we answer some of the most common questions we get about how to calculate core GPA. 

How does the NCAA calculate GPA?

Your core-course GPA is calculated on a 4.000 scale. Only your core courses will be used when determining your GPA with the NCAA. There are 16 core courses, covering the subjects of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy.

Each high school has its own list of NCAA approved core courses. Meet with your high school counselor to confirm your classes will meet the NCAA GPA requirements. 

Insider Tip: Use the core course calculator to determine your core course GPA. You can also search for your high school’s list of NCAA courses using the NCAA High School Portal.

How is my core course GPA calculated?

Your core-course GPA is the average of your best grades achieved for all required core courses. If you have taken extra core courses, those courses will be used in your GPA, only if they improve your GPA.

How to calculate core course GPA

The calculation for core course GPA is the quality points for all core courses divided by total number of core-course units you have completed. 

core course gpa calculation core course GPA = total quality points divided by total core course units

To determine the quality points you earn for each course, multiply the grade points (listed below) by the amount of credit earned. For example, a one-year class will earn you 1.00 course unit, whereas one semester of a class will earn you 0.5. Use this scale:

quality points calculation total quality points = grade points multiplied by course units


The NCAA Eligibility Center does not use plus or minus grades when figuring your core course GPA. Focus on the letter grade to calculate your core course GPA. For example, grades of B+, B and B- will each be worth 3 quality points. 

What is core GPA?

Your core GPA is the unweighted average of the grades you receive in all core classes attempted in grades 9-12. The NCAA core-course GPA is calculated using only the NCAA approved core courses in the required number of core units.

Can weighted grades for honors or advanced-placement courses be factored into the calculation of the student’s core GPA? 

A school’s normal practice of weighting honors or advanced courses may be used, if the weighting is used for computing GPAs. Weighting cannot be used if the high school weights grades for the purpose of determining class rank. 

What GPA do you need to play D1 sports?

For D1 sports, high school athletes need to earn a core course GPA of 2.3 or higher.

Maintaining NCAA eligibility

There is another element to NCAA academic eligibility, and that is maintaining your eligibility once you are in college. While you should have the full support of your college’s compliance office to ensure you maintain eligibility, here is a rough breakdown of the academic requirements once you are in college:

By the START of sophomore year, you must:

By the END of sophomore year, you must:

By the START of junior year, you must:

By the START of senior year, you must:

By the START of a fifth year, you must:

Impact of COVID-19 on NCAA eligibility: The NCAA Eligibility Center extended its COVID-19 initial eligibility policies for student-athletes who initially enroll full-time during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years. Students who intend to play D1 or D2 sports won’t be required to take the ACT or SAT by the NCAA. Students are also allowed to use pass/fail grades for core courses through the 2021–22 academic year.