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Remaining Eligible: Academics

Because intercollegiate athletics is part of the fabric of the university, student-athletes must be committed to academic achievement and the pursuit of a degree.

Student-athletes must meet academic standards throughout their careers on campus to remain eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics. Member institutions in each division create academic standards specific to that division’s goals.

In Division I, student-athletes must complete 40 percent of the coursework required for a degree by the end of their second year. They must complete 60 percent by the end of their third year and 80 percent by the end of their fourth year. Student-athletes are allowed five years to graduate while receiving athletically related financial aid. All Division I student-athletes must earn at least six credit hours each term to be eligible for the following term and must meet minimum grade-point average requirements that are related to an institution’s own GPA standards for graduation.

Teams in Division I are also subject to the Academic Progress Rate (APR), a standard that measures a team’s academic progress by assigning points to each individual student-athlete for eligibility and retention/graduation. 

In Division II, student-athletes must complete 24 hours of degree credit each academic year to remain eligible for competition. At least 18 of those hours must be earned between the start of fall classes and spring commencement at a student-athlete’s institution (six hours may be earned in the summer). All Division II student-athletes also must earn at least six credit hours each full-time term to be eligible for the following term. 

In addition, Division II student-athletes  must earn a 1.8 cumulative grade-point average after earning 24 hours, a 1.9 cumulative grade-point average after earning 48 hours and a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average after earning 72 hours to remain eligible. Student-athletes are given 10 semesters of full-time enrollment in which to use their four seasons of competition, provided they maintain academic eligibility.

Division II student-athletes must complete their four seasons of competition within the first 10 semesters or 15 quarters of full-time enrollment.

While there are no minimum national standards for establishing or maintaining eligibility in III, student-athletes in that division must be in good academic standing and make satisfactory progress toward a degree as determined by the institution.

Division III student-athletes must be enrolled in at least 12 semester or quarter hours, regardless of an institution’s own definition of “full time.”

Institutions in all divisions must determine and certify the academic eligibility of each student-athlete who represents the school on the field of play. Institutions are responsible for withholding academically ineligible student-athletes from competition.

Waivers are available for many of these rules, including progress-toward-degree standards.

Student-athletes who are declared academically ineligible must use the student-athlete reinstatement process to be restored to competition.

Frequently Asked Questions

NCAA member institutions choose to affiliate with the division that most closely reflects that institution’s values and mission. Just as each institution has unique characteristics that attract different kinds of students, each NCAA division is distinctive and has its own requirements.

One of the main goals of the NCAA is to integrate athletics with academics. With that in mind, the memberships in Divisions I and II have approved eligibility standards intended to maximize graduation rates while minimizing disparate effects on economically disadvantaged groups. The Division I standards currently in place (both percentage-of-degree requirements and the minimum grade-point average standards) are supported by data that show student-athletes who are most likely to graduate will in fact meet these standards.

Student-athletes must achieve 90 percent of the institution’s minimum overall grade-point average necessary to graduate (for example, 1.8) by the beginning of year two, 95 percent of the minimum GPA (1.9) by year three and 100 percent (2.0) by year four.

Based on a 4.0 scale, Division II student-athletes must earn a 1.8 GPA after 24 semester or 36 quarter hours, a 1.9 GPA after 48 semester or 72 quarter hours and a 2.0 GPA after both 72 semester or 108 quarter hours and 96 semester or 144 quarter hours.