There are more than 1,500 soccer colleges with women’s teams spanning five different division levels: NCAA Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA. Each division level—and school—provides student-athletes with its own unique experience. We’ve broken down some of the main features of each division level to give student-athletes a better understanding of what they have to offer, which will help student-athletes create their target list of schools. We always advise that student-athletes include a mix of schools in their target list. Every day, we hear from athletes who signed with a school they would never have thought of until they broadened their school search.
D1 college women’s soccer colleges are known for their competitive teams and athletic rigor. Here are a few distinguishing factors of D1 women’s soccer colleges:
On D1 college women’s soccer teams, athletes will find serious competitors who were likely the best athletes on their own club and high school teams. They’ll be in the spotlight, competing and practicing year-round. If a student-athlete is ready to really commit to their sport, D1 might the right division level for them.
D2 is an interesting division, as student-athletes will find much of the athletic talent seen at the D1 level with more balance between athletics, academics and a social life. Here are a few key reasons to play on a D2 college women’s soccer team:
D2 soccer colleges have women’s teams that are competitive in every sense of the word. Student-athletes looking for a competitive women’s soccer program with a more relaxed environment that still allows time for other interests might find the best fit at the D2 level.
Many people are surprised to hear that D3 is the NCAA’s largest division. With 441 D3 college women’s soccer teams, it has 100 more programs than D1 or D2. Of all the NCAA divisions, D3 provides the most flexibility for their student-athletes. Here are a few key reasons to play on a D3 college women’s soccer team:
For well-rounded student-athletes who want to make the most of their college experience, attending a D3 school might be your best bet.
For many student-athletes, the charm of NAIA women’s soccer colleges comes from their smaller class sizes and overall flexibility between athletics, academics and a social life. Here are a few key points that make NAIA women’s soccer colleges unique:
NAIA schools offer student-athletes the opportunity to be just that: students and athletes. While they’ll be expected to train hard and play harder, they can take advantage of the other activities college has to offer. Plus, they’ll be surrounded by a close-knit community of students, professors, administrative staff and athletes.
Oftentimes, women’s soccer players opt to compete on a junior college team after their senior year in high school. In fact, some junior colleges are feeder programs for D1 college women’s soccer teams. Here are some of the main reasons to consider playing at a junior college:
By playing on a junior college women’s soccer team, student-athletes can show coaches at other division levels that they’re dedicated to playing their sport and are able to maintain the difficult schedule of a college athlete.
Finding the right college fit for a student-athlete looking to play college soccer can be overwhelming with 1,000+ four-year institutions offering women’s soccer programs. To make the process less overwhelming, NCSA Power Rankings rank the top institutions with women’s college soccer based on various factors, including cost, size, location, academics and more. View the full list of best women’s soccer schools on our Power Rankings page.
View the complete list of women’s soccer colleges below.