Sports Scholarships in USA


We talk with so many students in Kenya about studying in the USA or Canada, and one common question is how to get a sports scholarship.  Perhaps you have Googled “how to get a sports scholarship” as you apply to US universities or have talked with a coach or university rep about how to get a sports scholarship.

There are two organizations in the US that govern four leagues: the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association – pronounced NC Double A) and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics). For this blog, we will briefly go over the different divisions of the NCAA. This is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes.

Before you can get a sports scholarship, it’s important to understand the various divisions in US collegiate sports: Division I, Division II and Division III. Here’s a brief and simple breakdown of the divisions:

NCAA Division I

The largest and most competitive division; the biggest universities (in terms of student enrollment) compete at DI. Your focus as a student-athlete is more on your sport, and less on your academics. Sports scholarships are awarded in various amounts.

NCAA Division II

Significant range of student abilities and competitiveness; a mix of big and small universities compete at DII. Your focus as a student-athlete is balanced; the amounts are

NCAA Division III

Least competitive of the three, but still strong and it is the largest NCAA division both in number of students who participate and the number of schools. Your focus as a student-athlete is more on academics; sports scholarships are not awarded but many athletes receive academic-based scholarships.

The NCAA governs nearly 500,000 college athletes across more than 1,100 colleges and universities. The athletics budget is massive, but less than 60% of students who compete at DI and DII receive sports scholarships. 

Regardless of which level/division you compete, you must be a current degree-seeking student and be enrolled full time at the university. For that reason, you must balance a certain grade point average in order to maintain your eligibility to compete. Above all, we tell international students your first job is to be a student.

Our next blog we’ll give tips on how to get a sports scholarship, including the importance of registering and taking the SAT or ACT.

By Laura Nye

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One Reply to “How To Get A Sports Scholarship”

  1. It’s helpful to understand that NCAA division 1 is usually the most competitive division to get into. My cousin is really good at football and he is trying to get a scholarship. I’ll talk to him about how his recruitment is going and maybe offer some advice that I have learned.

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