How many colleges have women’s basketball teams?
Student-athletes interested in pursuing basketball at the collegiate level have several options, but just how many colleges have women’s basketball programs? There are over 1,300 4-year women’s college basketball teams at the NCAA D1, D2, D3 and NAIA levels. There are also over 500 JUCO women’s basketball teams. That means recruits have 1,800 2-year and 4-year programs to choose from.
Our overview of women’s basketball colleges will not only give you a better idea of the best colleges for women’s basketball and provide women’s basketball rankings, but also help you explore and narrow down your options at every division level.
D1 women’s basketball colleges
For the most elite high school basketball players, there are more than 350 division 1 women’s basketball colleges across the U.S. While competition is fierce at every division level, competing at the D1 level means you’ll be playing with and against some of the best women’s basketball teams in the world. However, athletes who want to pursue opportunities at this level need to realize just how difficult it is to get there. Out of the estimated 412,000+ student-athletes who play at the high-school level, only about 1.2 percent go on to compete at one of these 349 D1 women’s basketball colleges.
Are you ready to compete at the D1 level? Although these programs are considered the best women’s basketball teams, the time, energy and commitment to get to—and stay—at this level is comparable to having a full-time job. Between practices, games and tournaments, as well as off-season training, traveling to and from events and keeping up with coursework in order to remain eligible to play, pursuing women’s basketball at the D1 level is no joke. For student-athletes who can handle the pressure, however, pursuing open roster spots at a D1 women’s basketball college may be for you.
View the complete list of D1 women’s basketball colleges here.
Check out the top D1women's basketball colleges.
D2 women’s basketball colleges
For basketball players who want to compete at an elite level but with an added layer of flexibility in their schedule, there are currently 313 Division 2 women’s basketball colleges to choose from. However, getting recruited by D2 women’s basketball colleges is equally fierce. These are some of the best colleges for women’s basketball in the nation and they also continuously show up near the top of the list of women’s basketball rankings. In fact, just like their peers at the D1 level, only 1.2 percent of high-school women’s basketball players go on to compete at the D2 level.
D2 schools tend to be smaller in size than their D1 counterparts and offer somewhat of a less demanding schedule, allowing for a better sports-academics balance. While you may not have as much time for extracurriculars or ample free time during basketball season, D2 women’s basketball colleges provide student-athletes with more time to dedicate to academics, and even have some free time in the off-season. The biggest perk of playing at the D2 level? Playing time—while many freshmen athletes get limited (if any) time on the court at the D1 level, players at the D2 level are more likely to score some time off the bench during their first year of college.
View the complete list of Division 2 women’s basketball colleges.
Check out the best D2 women’s basketball colleges.
D3 women’s basketball colleges
There are plenty of options for basketball players interested in attending and competing for one of the NCAA’s D3 women’s basketball teams. Division 3 programs are located at some of the best colleges for women’s basketball, and with more than 400 options to choose from, it’s no surprise that some top programs share similar athletic stats, such as overall points scored, as D1 and D2 schools. In addition to being the NCAA’s largest women’s basketball division—with 439 active member basketball colleges with women’s basketball teams—landing an open roster spot at one of these division 3 schools offers student-athletes with a sports-life balance that their peers at the D1 and D2 levels can’t compete with.
Women’s basketball colleges at the D3 level provide athletes with:
- Flexible schedules. D3 programs offer less of a time commitment than those at the D1 or D2 levels. Women’s basketball players will still experience a rigorous schedule during the winter season, but have freedom during the off-season to pursue extracurriculars, add a minor or double-major to their degree and even study-abroad or land an internship.
- High academic caliber. Women’s basketball colleges at the D3 level are some of the most elite academic institutions in the nation. For athletes looking to excel on and off the court, D3 programs offer academic competition, too.
- Competitive financial aid packages. Despite not offering athletic scholarships, these basketball colleges make up for it with both need-based aid and merit-based awards. Because of a less demanding sport schedule, student-athletes can also balance basketball and coursework with work study-programs.
For a well-rounded college experience, consider adding a few Division 3 colleges with women’s basketball programs to your target list.
View the complete list of Division 3 women’s basketball colleges.
Check out the top D3 women's basketball colleges.
NAIA women’s basketball colleges
Many women’s basketball players are often surprised to find out that competitive basketball opportunities exist outside of the NCAA D1, D2 and D3 levels. While the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics may not be as large or well-known as the NCAA, it’s competitive in its own right. There are nearly 250 NAIA women’s basketball schools that have women’s basketball teams competing at the same level as NCAA D1 or D2 athletes. While NAIA colleges are comprised mostly of smaller colleges and universities, student-athletes should be careful not to overlook these schools when exploring their college options.
NAIA women’s basketball schools provide a flexible sports-life balance similar to the well-rounded college experience offered at the NCAA D3 level, with one added bonus—in addition to need-based aid and merit-based awards, they also offer athletic scholarships. NAIA schools should be on everyone’s radar—underclassmen and upperclassmen alike—because they don’t have to follow the NCAA’s strict recruiting rules around contact periods. Regardless of grad year, student-athletes can contact coaches at any time, making NAIA programs a great opportunity for freshmen or sophomores who want to get a head start on their recruiting journeys.
View the complete list of NAIA women’s basketball schools.
JUCO women’s basketball
Women’s basketball recruits who want to develop their athletic and academic skills before moving on to a 4-year college should consider starting their collegiate careers at a junior college. There are more than 550 women’s basketball colleges at the junior college level to choose from, which makes it easy for student-athletes to pursue their college degree near their home or high-school before exploring their options nationwide. JUCO women’s basketball colleges are also a great stepping-stone for athletes unsure of their desired college major, uncertain which division level is the best fit for them and even those who want to work on their athletic or academic strengths to meet D1 or D2 recruiting guidelines and get accepted by their dream school.
JUCO women’s basketball colleges are also a cost-effective option, with lower tuition costs than their 4-year college counterparts. In addition to providing financial aid and academic grants, NJCAA schools also offer athletic scholarships. And, since many student-athletes choose to live at home for one or two years, they also save on room and board by avoiding dorm room or apartment costs.
The biggest draw to competing at one of these 2-year women’s basketball colleges is that they often act as “feeder schools” to D1 and D2 colleges. It’s extremely common for college coaches at D1 and D2 programs to recruit JUCO athletes even before scouting high school basketball players. If you’re interested in sharpening your skills before topping the women’s basketball rankings in the future, consider adding a junior college to your list of potential schools.
View the complete list of JUCO women’s basketball teams.
Women’s basketball rankings and best colleges for women’s basketball
We analyzed NCSA Favorites data obtained from the college search activity of the 2,000,000+ recruits on the NCSA recruiting network, as well as U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges, IPEDS graduation rate and cost after admissions data, to create the NCSA Power Rankings, which recognize the best colleges for women’s basketball. Here are the top 10:
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Stanford University
- University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Princeton University
- Harvard University
- Yale University
- University of Florida
- University of Michigan
- University of California
- University of Virginia
These women’s basketball rankings offer an interesting perspective of the nation’s best colleges for women’s basketball. While potential recruits should not limit themselves to these 10 schools, they should see what they like and don’t like about schools on this list to help narrow down their personal preferences. The number one priority for student-athletes interested in pursuing a roster spot at one of the country’s 1,900+ women’s basketball programs should and will always be to find the best athletic, academic, social and financial fit, whether it’s at an NCAA, NAIA or JUCO women’s basketball college.