Students interested in continuing to play their sports at the college level must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center during their sophomore years of high school, fulfill NCAA course requirements throughout high school, and submit their scores on standardized tests. Eligibility consists of both academic and amateur certification, goals students must work towards in order to be allowed to play. Once a student is deemed NCAA-eligible, they have up to five academic years to use their four years of eligibility.


What is the NCAA Eligibility Center?

If you are hoping to continue playing a sport at a Division I or Division II school, you are required to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center at the end of your sophomore year or the beginning of your junior year of high school. The process takes about 45 minutes and only requires a valid email address.

Students will be asked to input:

  • Standard information, including name, address, birthday, and sex
  • The name and location of their high school(s)
  • All high school coursework
  • The sport he or she wants to play in college
  • Teams the student has played for (high school teams, club teams, traveling teams, etc.)

This information should be updated frequently so that schools looking for recruits will have current information about your coursework and GPA.

U.S. citizens, Canadian citizens, and those from U.S. territories are required to pay a $75 fee to complete registration with the NCAA Eligibility Center. All other international students must pay $130. There are fee waivers available for low-income students, but they are only available to students who live in the United States or one of its territories. American students who are eligible for fee waivers on the SAT or ACT are eligible to have their NCAA Eligibility Center fees waived entirely.

What are the academic requirements to play an NCAA-sport?

All postsecondary institutions have academic requirements for incoming students. The NCAA also has certain academic requirements that incoming students, with the exception of prospective Division III student-athletes, must meet before they will be accepted and allowed to play on a team. The rules for Division I athletes changed on August 1, 2016, but the standards for Division II student-athletes are not changing until August 1, 2018, and therefore, both the current and future standards are shown in the chart below.

Division I Division II (before August 1, 2018) Division II (after August 1, 2018)
Coursework
  • Four years of English
  • Three years of math
  • Two years of physical science (at least one with a lab component, if offered)
  • Two years of social science
  • One year of a physical science, math, or English elective
  • Four additional years of physical science, social science, math, English, foreign language, religion, or philosophy electives
  • Three years of English
  • Two years of math
  • Two years of physical science (at least one with a lab component, if offered)
  • Two years of social science
  • Three years of a physical science, math, or English elective
  • Four additional years of physical science, social science, math, English, foreign language, religion, or philosophy electives
  • Three years of English
  • Two years of math
  • Two years of physical science (at least one with a lab component, if offered)
  • Two years of social science
  • Three years of a physical science, math, or English elective
  • Four additional years of physical science, social science, math, English, foreign language, religion, or philosophy electives
Timing 10 required courses must be completed before the student starts his or her senior year (seven of which must be math, physical science, and English). All courses must be finished between ninth grade and entering college. All courses must be finished between ninth grade and entering college.
GPA in NCAA-required courses

(4.0 scale)

2.3 2.0 2.2
SAT or ACT Receive an SAT or ACT combined score that matches your GPA (the minimum score for a 2.3 GPA is 900 on the SAT and 75 on the ACT). The higher your GPA, the lower scores necessary on the SAT or ACT. SAT: combined score of 820

ACT: total score of 68

Receive an SAT or ACT combined score that matches your GPA (the minimum score for a 2.2 GPA is 840 on the SAT and 70 on the ACT). The higher your GPA, the lower scores necessary on the SAT or ACT.

How do I send my test scores?

Students who are hoping to play Division I or Division II sports in college will need to make sure that their SAT and/or ACT scores are sent directly to the NCAA Eligibility Center. (When listing the schools to which students want their scores sent, they should plan on entering “9999.”) In order for scores to be considered, they must come directly from the testing agency. Scores listed on high school transcripts are not accepted for academic certification.

Students who take the SAT or ACT more than once will have their scores combined, and the highest score in each subsection (evidence-based reading and writing and math for the SAT and reading, math, English, and science for the ACT) will be considered. Students should also ask their high school counselors to send their high school transcripts to the NCAA Eligibility Center following the completion of their junior years and again following high school graduation.

What are the academic requirements for Division III athletes?

Prospective Division III student-athletes should refer to the academic standards of the institutions to which they are considering applying to learn about admissions requirements. There are no NCAA-mandated admissions or eligibility standards for them. In order to play Division III sports, the student must be accepted to the school like any other prospective student. There are no athletic scholarships for Division III student-athletes, and since sports come second to academics at Division III schools, students do not have to be academically certified by the NCAA.

What is academic certification?

To receive an official academic certification from the NCAA, students who hope to participate in Division I and Division II sports are required to submit their final transcripts, proof of high school graduation, and their standardized test scores. Students will also need to be on either a Division I or Division II school’s request list. The request list is simply a list of students who the school is interested in recruiting to one of its sports teams. Students will then receive one of the decisions described below.

  • Qualifier: A student who receives this decision can practice, compete, and receive athletic scholarships during his or her first year of enrollment at either a Division I or Division II institution.
  • Academic Redshirt: Students may receive this decision at Division I schools only. This means that students can to practice and receive athletic scholarships, but they are not allowed to compete during their first year of enrollment. Students will be allowed to continue practicing after making satisfactory academic progress during their first semester.
  • Partial Qualifier: Students may receive this decision at Division II schools only. This means that students can practice and receive athletic scholarships, but they cannot compete during their first year of enrollment.
  • Nonqualifier: A student who receives this decision is not allowed to practice, compete, or receive athletic scholarships during his or her first year of enrollment at either a Division I or Division II institution.
  • Early Academic Qualifier: Students who satisfactorily complete the first three years of high school may receive the decision of Early Academic Qualifier. Following graduation, a student’s final transcripts must be sent to the NCAA Eligibility Center to confirm qualifications.
    • Division I: Students must score at least a 900 combined on the SAT or a 75 on the ACT, have a 3.0 GPA in all NCAA-required classes, and have taken at least three years of English; two years of math; two years of science; two years of English, math, or science electives; and five other NCAA-approved courses.
    • Division II: Students must score at least a 1000 combined on the SAT or an 85 on the ACT, have a 3.0 GPA in all NCAA-required classes, and have taken at least three years of English, two years of math, two years of science, and five other NCAA-approved courses.

What is amateur certification?

Division I and Division II student-athletes must be amateur certified in order to compete at the college level. For most students, certification is automatically given during NCAA Eligibility Center Registration. However, about one in ten students must provide more information to prove their amateur status. These students will need to request a decision on their amateurism status after April 1 the same year they plan to enroll in college.

Amateur students are not:

  • Contracting, practicing, competing with, or trying out for professional teams
  • Receiving monetary benefits for playing
  • Receiving prize or bonus money in amounts greater than what was expended on the game
  • Being represented by or receiving benefits from an agent
  • Postponing college enrollment to play in competitions
    • Enrollment can typically be delayed up to one year without consequence, but further information should be gathered from coaches and the NCAA before making any decisions. Students who choose to delay college enrollment to participate in competitions may sacrifice one or more seasons of NCAA eligibility.

The idea behind amateur certification is that student-athletes playing at the college level, no matter their skill levels, are playing against other college students. Doing any of the activities listed above gives a leg up to certain students (a student who has already signed with a professional team has no business playing at the college level). Amateur certification is intended to level the playing field.

Page last updated: 09/2017