What Classes Are Required For NCAA?
Competing in college athletics involves more than just showing up for practice, even if you’re playing at the Division I level. There are classes to attend, exams to take and a lot of academic challenges to take into account. To be prepared for the college educational environment, the NCAA requires high school student-athletes to take certain classes before they can be admitted to a university. But what are these classes?
The NCAA requires that high school student-athletes take 16 core courses in several subjects, including English, math, natural or physical science, social science, a foreign language and comparative religion. These classes aren’t the only requirements to be admitted to an NCAA school. Student-athletes need to achieve a certain GPA and score above a benchmark on the SAT or ACT.
The 16 core courses often overlap with classes that are required to graduate, so it isn’t too difficult to fit them into your schedule. It would be best to sit down with your high school guidance counselor in ninth grade to determine which classes fulfill NCAA requirements.
Depending on which division you are planning to compete in, requirements can vary slightly. Division II core course requirements are less rigorous, requiring only three years of English and two years of math, while Division I requires four years of English and three years of math. By completing Division I requirements, you will generally be eligible to compete in Division II as well. Division III schools set their own admissions standards, so there’s no need to to worry about theNCAA’s core courses if you plan on competing in Division III athletics.
What Are NCAA Core Classes?
NCAA core classes are one part of achieving academic eligibility. The NCAA must clear student-athletes for both academic and athletic eligibility before they can compete in athletics at the college level. The NCAA Eligibility Center verifies that student-athletes have accurate academic records and are prepared for the college educational environment. Taking these 16 classes will give you a good foundational education that can be grown in college. But what exactly are these classes?
English: Usually, any year-long English class will meet this requirement, but you may also be able to take an American Literature or creative writing class to receive credit for this standard. Division I schools require four English courses.
Math: The NCAA requires three math courses for Division I, which can be any Algebra class, a geometry course or statistics. Personal skill classes, like personal finance and consumer education classes, won’t count for your math credit.
Social Science: To receive credit for a social science class, student-athletes can take civics, American History or any government class.
Physical or Natural Science: This type of science credit can be fulfilled with a standard science class, including biology, chemistry or physics. Division I schools require at least two years of physical or natural science classes.
Additional Courses: If you take the minimum required amount of courses for the above subjects, you’ll still need to take four more classes to reach the 16 required. The NCAA allows student-athletes to take four additional courses in any of these subjects, including English, math, social science, physical or natural science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy.
Academic And Rigorous: NCAA core classes must be within the core areas and academically rigorous. For this reason, physical education, vocational art or music classes won’t fulfill the core course requirement. To receive credit, take courses that are at your grade level and rigorous. Check with your counselor or the NCAA to verify if you’re on track to meet the core course requirement at your high school.
High school graduation requirements are usually similar to the NCAA core classes. To find courses that can count for both of these requirements, double-check with your counselor or use the NCAA’s list of high school classes that meet the core course requirement.
What The NCAA’s Academic Requirements?
There aren’t just class requirements to be considered academically eligible. The NCAA requires a certain GPA and score on the ACT or SAT from potential Division I or II student-athletes. Of course, you must also successfully graduate from high school to be admitted to an NCAA university, so taking the courses required by your high school should be your number one priority.
GPA: The NCAA will calculate your grade point average with the grades you achieve in your core classes. Division I student-athletes need to earn a 2.3 GPA, while Division II student-athletes need to make a 2.2 GPA.
Test Scores: What test score you need to reach depends highly on your GPA. The NCAA uses a sliding scale method to calculate what your base level test score should be. This means that the lower your GPA, the higher your test score needs to be to achieve eligibility. Student-athletes have the choice of taking the SAT or ACT or both. Whatever you choose, be sure to use code 9999 on the test to have the NCAA Eligibility Center receive your score. The NCAA can only accept test scores sent directly from the SAT and ACT, so this is an important step. It will take a few weeks for the NCAA to receive your test score, and then they will have to upload it into the NCAA Eligibility Center.
Timeline: By the start of your senior year in high school, you’ll need to have completed at least ten core courses. After starting senior year, you won’t be able to retake or switch out any of the previous courses to boost your GPA. Working hard to improve your grades throughout high school consistently will go a long way in ensuring your eligibility when it comes time to enroll in college.
Register With NCAA Eligibility Center: The NCAA recommends that sophomores create an account with the NCAA Eligibility Center to start the process of being cleared for eligibility. This process continues throughout high school as the NCAA verifies your academic and athletic records, but registering early helps keep you on top of deadlines.
By fulfilling all of these steps, you will be prepared to enter Division I or II colleges and be ready to focus on the recruiting process by your junior year. All of your hard work throughout high school will lead up to an intense recruiting process during your junior year, depending on the division and sport you compete in. Make sure you’re on track to complete the necessary classes and tests early on in high school so that you can focus on contacting college coaches in your sophomore and junior year.
How To Receive Credit For Core Courses?
So you’ve taken all the high-school classes required, but is there anything else you need to do to receive credit for these NCAA courses?
Maintain Your Grades: You can only get credit for a core course once, so it’s essential to keep your grades up to achieve your desired GPA. You won’t need to do anything besides taking an approved core class to receive credit from the NCAA. Knowing which classes fit the NCAA core course requirement can also help prioritize how much studying you need to do per class.
Number Of Credits: The number of credits that your high school gives out per class is the same number that the NCAA will give for a core class. The NCAA doesn’t take credit by exam and remedial courses.
After You Graduate: You may be able to complete one core course requirement after you graduate if you are attending a Division I school. You’ll have to have graduated in eight semesters and take the class before starting college. Fulfilling a credit after graduation can be a good option for students who have additional graduation requirements to fulfill and didn’t have space to take one of the NCAA core classes.
Keep Records: In case something comes into question, you should keep your papers and work from classes. The NCAA will ask you to provide your coursework if there are any discrepancies in your overall academic record.
Most of your work to receive credit for NCAA approved courses will be on the front end, verifying which classes to take and working hard during class. Knowing your options and focusing on academics throughout high school is key to ensuring you receive credit for the 16 NCAA core courses.
Things To Keep In Mind
If You Don’t Meet The Requirements: There’s still an option available for you if you don’t meet the academic requirements for Division I. An academic redshirt player can’t compete their first year in college. Still, they can practice with the team and be on an athletic scholarship. Academic redshirts are required to have graduated high school, have taken the 16 NCAA core courses, made a 2.0 GPA and received a high enough SAT or ACT score—depending on GPA.
Focus On Academics: Even if you have always known that you want to compete in college athletics, it’s still important to focus on your academics. College coaches want to see a well-rounded recruit that can manage their time wisely.