Preparation Starts in Ninth Grade

Student-athletes need to prepare early to meet all the academic eligibility requirements of collegiate sports programs.  The College Board, a non-profit organization that promotes college-readiness, recommends that student-athletes begin the process in ninth grade.  Students should consult with their guidance counselors regarding the process.  An important tool is the NCAA worksheets (see pages 15 & 16 of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete).  Student-athletes can use these worksheets to keep track of their course and grade information. 

As you may know, intercollegiate teams are organized into associations - the three largest being NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA.  Be aware that each association sets the rules regarding academic eligibility requirements, recruiting and athletic scholarships.  For example, prospective Division I and II athletes need to take NCAA-specified core courses beginning in ninth grade.  In contrast, NCAA Division III colleges have no academic eligibility requirements.  Although it may not take much to adjust  your course schedule to meet these requirements, you need to start early!

NCAA Eligibility Requirements for High School Student-Athletes

Most high school student-athletes know they need to study hard if they hope to make admissions at their college of choice.  But do they know they also need to meet all the academic eligibility requirements set by the NCAA for Division I and II colleges?  Preparing to meet these requirements should start as early as freshmen year.

We have compiled the requirements in an easy to read document.  This document will help you answer common questions such as:

What are the Core Courses required for Div. I vs. Div. II?
What are the new requirements set by the NCAA?
How many courses must be completed before the start of 7th semester?  

Click here for the full document.  If you have any questions understanding the rules, post a message on our blog. 

Rules for NCAA Eligibility You Should Know

Understanding NCAA Freshmen-Eligibility Rules

Q1.  What are the NCAA core courses?

NCAA DI & DII requires 16-core courses.  This rules applies to all students entering college for D1 & DII in the fall.

Q2.  What core courses do I need to be eligible for college?

DI – 16 Core-Course Classes:      DII 16 Core-Course Classes:
4 years of English                                               3 years of English
2 years of social science                                   2 years of social science
3 years of Math (Algebra 1 or higher)                2 years of Math (Algebra 1 or higher)
---------------2 years of natural/physical science (if offered by school)-----------------------
1 year of additional from one of above             3 years of additional from above
4 years of additional courses from any area   3 years of additional courses from any additional area

Q3.  What board test should I take to be eligible through the NCAA?

It does not matter which test you take to be eligible under the NCAA. 
SAT Test - For the SAT test, the NCAA use only the critical reading and math sections to calculate eligibility.  The writing section is not used.
ACT Test – For the ACT test, the NCAA uses the SUM of all four sections (English, Math, Reading & Science).

Please note that some schools require the writing section to be completed.

Q4.  What do I need to submit to the NCAA?

The NCAA requires that all students submit board scores through the testing agency directly to the NCAA Clearinghouse. In addition, all students should also submit official copies (in a sealed envelope) of a high school transcript.  Test scores that appear on a high school transcript cannot be used a proof of a valid test score. When submitting a test score, use the eligibility code of 9999to make sure scores reach the NCAA Clearinghouse.

Q5.  How is the sliding Scale relevant to me if I want to play DI?

Division I – You need to use the sliding scale to evaluate test scores and NCAA core GPA
Division II – Has a minimum score requirement of 820 or a SUM ACT of 68 & a minimum of a 2.0 core GPA. The sliding scale is currently not used for DII.

Q6. Are my high school core courses supported by the NCAA Clearinghouse?

Visit the NCAA Clearinghouse at to make sure that the core courses listed at your high are approved by the NCAA.