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Academic Eligibility Requirements for Student-Athletes

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Academic eligibility may not be the most exciting topic, but it’s crucial for your sports journey. Many talented athletes have missed out on college sports opportunities because of academic issues, so it’s crucial to start thinking about your eligibility early on – especially if you’re eyeing NCAA D1 or D2 sports.

We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about meeting eligibility requirements for NCAA, NAIA and JUCO schools. If you’re unsure about which institution is the best fit for you, don’t worry! You don’t need to have all the answers right away. Start by checking out your target schools. If D1 is your goal, focus on meeting their standards first because they usually cover requirements for other divisions as well.

Insider tip: Just because you meet the minimum academic eligibility requirements to compete at that division level, doesn’t mean you meet a school’s entrance requirements. For example, if you’re interested in a school that requires all students to have at least a 3.0 GPA and 25 ACT, then you need to consider if you qualify when you’re creating your list of target schools.

For the complete breakdown of NCAA eligibility requirements, visit our NCAA Eligibility Center.

How to become NCAA eligible

If you’re getting recruited by NCAA D1 or D2 schools, you’ll need to create an NCAA Certification Account through the NCAA Eligibility Center. This account allows the NCAA to review your eligibility based on academic criteria and amateur status.

The Certification Account is $100 for athletes in the U.S., U.S. territories and Canada. For international athletes, the cost is $160. If you are unable to pay this fee, the NCAA does have fee waiver options available. Here are the main components that determine D1 and D2 NCAA eligibility:

The ACT/SAT is no longer a requirement for NCAA eligibility. However, you should check with the specific NCAA school you plan to attend regarding whether standardized test scores are necessary for admission or scholarship requirements.

NCAA D3 colleges have their own academic standards, so you’ll only need to focus on meeting the admission criteria of your chosen college rather than worrying about D3 rules. If you’re attending a D3 college and you’re not an international student, there’s no need for an NCAA Certification Account. However, international student-athletes must have their amateur status reviewed by the NCAA. You can find more information about this process, here.

If you are unsure what division level you will be competing at, start with a free NCAA Profile Page Account and you can easily transition to a Certification Account later if necessary.

Your path to NAIA eligibility

NAIA eligibility is much more straightforward than NCAA D1 or D2 eligibility. There are two main requirements every future NAIA athlete must meet:

In addition to these requirements, you must meet two of the three following criteria:

For the NAIA to check your eligibility, register to create an account.

Learn more about the NAIA Eligibility Center.

Junior college eligibility requirements

Junior colleges simply require that a student-athlete be a high school graduate, earning an approved standard academic diploma. Student-athletes can also be eligible if they’ve completed an approved high school equivalency test, like the GED. Learn more about junior college on the NJCAA.

Many athletes who aren’t able to meet the NCAA or NAIA eligibility requirements will gain eligibility by competing at a junior college for two years. Or, sometimes, athletes who unsure of their major, will attend a junior college while they decide what their four-year course of study will be.