Sports in College: NAIA Eligibility Requirements

By Peterson's Staff updated on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In order to compete as an incoming freshman for a sports college that is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), you must meet certain amateur and academic eligibility requirements. You'll want to keep these requirements in mind during your college search so that when you find a college, you'll be qualified to play sports.

Amateur eligibility
Engaging in the following activities prior to full-time enrollment will result in the loss of amateur standing:

  • Signing a contract with a professional team or entering into an agreement to compete as a professional
  • Competing as a professional
  • Receiving compensation that exceeds actual expenses (travel, meals, etc.) when competing as an amateur
  • Receiving compensation for media appearances that exploit athletic ability or fame
  • Receiving compensation to promote products or services
  • Entering into an agreement with an agent
  • Receiving benefits from an agent


The following activities are generally acceptable as long as certain conditions are met:

  • Competing as an amateur either with or against non-amateurs
  • Coaching or officiating in amateur or recreational programs


To learn more about the conditions that accompany these activities and to understand the specifics of the amateurism rules, read about the NAIA amateur eligibility requirements at

You typically need to have amateur standing in order to receive any athletic scholarships.

Academic eligibility
As an entering freshman student, you must meet two of the following three requirements:

  • A composite score of 18 or higher on the ACT or an 860 total score or higher on the SAT Critical Reading and Math sections
  • A minimum overall high school grade point average of 2.000 on a 4.000 scale
  • A top-half final class rank in your high school graduating class


Test scores must be sent directly to the colleges that you are considering. Results reported on your high school transcript are not acceptable.

You must often be academically eligible in order to qualify for sports scholarships.

Determining eligibility for an NAIA sports college

Knowing and fulfilling the eligibility requirements will help you move toward being able to officially compete for an NAIA school. The institution in which you enroll is responsible for certifying your eligibility.

Remember that meeting eligibility requirements does not guarantee college admission. Eligibility requirements are just one aspect of the college information you will need about schools you're interested in. Each school has its own admission policies, and you must still apply for admission.

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