We use cookies to personalize and improve your browsing experience. 

To learn more about how we store and use this data, visit our privacy policy here.

There are two components of eligibility that you must fulfill before competing for a sports college that is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA): amateur eligibility and academic eligibility.

Amateur eligibility

Engaging in the following activities prior to college enrollment will violate the amateurism rules:

Division I: entering into a professional contract, accepting salary for competition, receiving expenses from a professional team, competing with professionals, receiving benefits from an agent, or entering into an oral or written agreement with an agent.

Division II: receiving benefits from an agent or entering into an oral or written agreement with an agent.

Division III: accepting salary for competition, receiving benefits from an agent, or entering into an oral or written agreement with an agent.

Participating in some other activities will violate amateurism rules if you don’t abide by certain conditions. To learn more about these conditions and to understand the specifics of the NCAA amateurism rules, visit www.ncaa.org.

Maintaining your amateur status is typically an important component of qualifying for athletic scholarships.

Academic eligibility

There are four basic requirements used to establish academic eligibility for a Division I or Division II school. You must:

  • graduate from high school
  • complete a certain number of core courses
  • earn a certain grade-point average (GPA) in your core courses
  • earn a certain SAT or ACT test score

To be eligible for a Division I school, you must complete 16 core courses, earn a minimum 2.000 core-course GPA, and earn a test score that matches your core-course GPA on a sliding scale. The higher your GPA is, the lower the minimum test score you need to earn is.

To be eligible for a Division II school, you must complete 14 core courses, earn a minimum 2.000 core-course GPA, and earn a combined SAT score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68.

When you find a college that belongs to the NCAA, be sure to find out which division it competes in, so you’ll know the specific requirements you must meet.

Core courses fall into one or more of the following categories: English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, or non-doctrinal religion or philosophy. To see how many core courses are required in each category and to see how your core-course GPA is calculated, read more about the academic eligibility requirements at www.ncaa.org.

Check with your guidance counselor to determine your high school’s list of approved core courses, or view the list at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net.

Remember that your academic eligibility, or lack thereof, may have an impact on your ability to qualify for sports scholarships.

You can take the SAT or the ACT more than once. The Writing section for either test is not used to determine whether you meet the test score requirement.

Your combined SAT test score consists of your best Math score and your best Critical Reading score. Your ACT sum score consists of your best English score, your best Math score, your best Reading score, and your best Science score.

The requirements mentioned above pertain only to Division I and II schools. If you wish to compete for a Division III school, you’ll have to contact the specific institution to find out its academic eligibility requirements. This should be part of the college information you gather about the school if you’re interested in playing sports.

Determining eligibility

If you wish to participate in Division I or Division II athletics, your eligibility must be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly known as the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse).

When you register with the clearinghouse, you must complete the Student Release Form, which authorizes your high school to send the necessary academic information to the clearinghouse. You’ll also have to fill out the amateurism questionnaire, which asks questions about benefits and activities that might affect your amateur status.

If you plan on participating in Division III athletics, the institution in which you enroll is responsible for certifying your amateur and academic eligibility.

Meeting NCAA eligibility requirements does not guarantee admission into any specific sports college. It simply means that you will be eligible to compete in intercollegiate athletics for an NCAA member institution in any division in which you meet the requirements.

Ready to take the next step in your educational journey? For 50 years Peterson’s has helped students like you. Start studying for the SAT or ACT today!