News & Insights

Differences in college sports divisions

October 18, 2023

College and university-level athletics are governed by three different bodies. The National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA as it is better known is the largest and most popular. The NCAA consists of about 1,100 schools across 50 states with over 500,000 student-athletes in 24 sports. The NCAA is broken down into three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III. Subsequently, each division has its own set of rules and regulations that student-athletes must abide by. There is an entire checklist that athletes must complete to be eligible to play at the NCAA level.


The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is the second-largest governing body that includes 250 schools with 21 conferences and over 77,000 athletes. Student-athlete participation at NAIA schools has increased an average of 40 percent in the last five years. You can find excellent academics as well as strong competitive play in the NAIA. In the NAIA, a student-athlete can compete during four “seasons of competition” within the first 10 semesters in college. Subsequently, a season of competition is charged when you participate in one or more intercollegiate contests. To compete, student-athletes must enroll in at least 12 hours every semester or quarter and be making normal progress toward a bachelor’s degree. They must also meet freshman and/or continuing eligibility rules.


Lastly, the National Junior College Athletic Association fosters athletic play at the junior college level for two years. There are 525 colleges that compete in the NJCAA in 24 regions across 24 states that fall into three divisions. There are over 60,000 student-athletes that compete in over 27 different sports. Much like the above governing bodies, the NJCAA has a certain number of scholarships per sports team it is allowed to give out.

We at ASM Scholarships place students at every level. To further see the breakdown of specific schools and what division they are in visit the NCAA or the NAIA.

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