At CMG we get a lot of questions regarding college and what it takes to be a college athlete. We want to help Swedish student-athletes understand the process so we are going to use our newsletters to answer some frequently asked questions.

The first series of college questions answered is a question we get a lot: what are the different leagues and what’s the difference between them? 

There are three major governing bodies for college sports in the US; the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Each governing body oversees participating schools and sets the rules for the organization. The leagues differ in what level of sports they offer and what type of academic requirements are necessary in order to play. Here is an overview of each league and what kind of experiences they offer their student athletes:


There are nearly 1,100 Colleges and Universities in NCAA Division 1, 2, and 3. Each division has its own rules and regulations. Division 1 generally has the largest student bodies and offers the most generous amount of athletic scholarship money. Division 1 is the most sport intensive requiring student athletes to commit a great deal of their time to athletics. Division 2 also offers athletic scholarships but prides itself on maintaining a balance between academics, athletics, and campus involvement. Division 3 is the largest division both in number of participants and number of schools. Division 3 schools place a heavy focus on academics and are only able to offer academic scholarships.



The NAIA is a governing body of small athletic programs that has over 60,000 student athletes. The NAIA is comprised of over 250 Colleges and Universities and 21 conferences. It is made up of smaller 4 year institutions across the United States. They have offered over $500 million in athletic scholarships and sponsor national championships in 23 sports. The level of NAIA teams can be very competitive and NAIA schools offer an excellent opportunity for athletic and academic achievement.



The NJCAA was founded in 1938 in order to promote and encourage athletics among 2 year junior and community colleges across the United States. The schools are divided by division and regions with nearly 525 athletic programs competing in 24 regions. These schools offer the unique opportunity to compete in your sport for two years while earning an Associate’s degree. Many student athletes choose to go to an NJCAA school for their first two years and then transfer to a four-year university to finish out their eligibility.


As you can see, each league offers a different experience with the NCAA being the biggest of the governing bodies. Next time in College Questions Answered, we will look further into the NCAA and discuss the difference between the three separate divisions.



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